Scrivener Bug Solution

On occasion when I start the word-processing software Scrivener it’ll give me an error, telling me that my project files are incompatible with the current version. This is never after an update, but instead usually after a system crash on my end. There isn’t any way to get the program to load the project, and I’m forced to start a new one.

How Scrivener Works

Scrivener works by allowing you to break up longer works into shorter chunks, perhaps scene-by-scene, which you can then shift and move around at will to reorganize your thoughts. The program saves each of these chunks as a separate .rtf file, so in the past when the project file dies on me I’ve been reduced to copying the .rtfs back into a new project by hand — an inefficient and time-consuming process.

Solution to the Scrivener Error

I recently discovered that each Scrivener project folder contains, in its Files subdirectory, a version.txt file. There’s some unexplained bug that will occasionally overwrite this, so if you have the “Incompatible Version” error all you need to do to fix things is to open up version.txt, delete anything there, and replace it with the version number (in my case, 16). Don’t hit a carriage return after the number, just save the file.

In my experience that fixes everything.

Did this help you out? Great! I offer this information free and without expectation of reward, but if you’re feeling generous, feel free to toss a couple of bucks in my tip jar.

Questions? You are invited to either leave a comment below, or ask directly through the comment form.

16 thoughts on “Scrivener Bug Solution

  1. Mark Fradl

    THANK YOU!!! That solution worked perfectly! You saved me what would have been a lot of work trying to re-create all my files!!!

    I wasn’t sure what my version number should be so I searched old projects til I found one that worked then checked the “version” file on it, my turned out to be 16 as well.

    Thanks again!

  2. Pavel Soukup

    You just saved me a painfull loss of yesterday’s work on my thesis! Thanks alot for sharing this.

  3. SelenaBlake (@SelenaBlake)

    Thank you! I’ve used this solution several times now. Each time i forget what I did or where I found the information. I’m bookmarking this and blogging about it. I won’t forget again. okay, I will, but at least I’ll have left a trail of bread crumbs!

  4. Eric Maier

    You are my hero! I was starting to think that I was going to have to recreate my project form all the individual files. I didn’t look too hard for my version number. i just tried 16 first and it worked. Thank you!

  5. Alvin L. Reyes MD

    First time using Scrivener and first time I saw that awful sentence with that word “incompatible”. Googled the problem. Your magic number 16 saved the day. Can’t thank you enough.

  6. Sara

    Thank you! You are awesome and you just saved my entire day – I was panic attack primed when I got the error and thought I’d have to start a new project and copy-paste all of the (100+) files. Leaving a tip now. Thanks again.

  7. positive2014

    Thank you for writing this post…It is still pertinent, I used your advice to recover my novel. Bless You!!!


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