Fixing Permissions for Read-Only Projects

Scrivener cannot open files that have been set to be read-only, because it always needs write access to a file, even if it is only opening it. It requires such access so that it can create a "lock file" inside the file, which will allow other copies of Scrivener to know that the project is open; it also requires it for auto-save to work correctly.

If you try to open a project that has been set to read-only, you may encounter an error message such as, "Scrivener does not support read-only projects. Check the permissions for this project in the Finder, and ensure that it is not stored on a read-only volume such as a disk image."

If you encounter this message, the first thing to check is that the project you are trying to open is not saved on a read-only device (e.g., a USB stick or external drive). In this case, you would need to copy the file and paste it somewhere on your hard drive, or change the format of the storage device to read & write, if possible.

Next, you may need to change the permissions on the file itself. A Scrivener project is in the form of a "package file" (i.e., a folder made to look and behave like a single file), so you need to make sure that all of the files inside this package (the .scriv file) also have the correct permissions. This complicates matters, so to ensure that the permissions are correct, follow these steps:

  1. Ctrl-click on the .scriv file in the Finder and select "Get Info" from the contextual menu that appears.
  2. In the Info panel that appears, delete the ".scriv" file extension from the file name under "Name & Extension" and hit return (e.g. if the file was entitled "Foo.scriv", change it so that it is just entitled "Foo"). A warning panel will ask you if you are sure that you want to remove the extension ".scriv" - confirm the action by clicking on "Remove". At this point, you will notice that the icon of the file changes so that it now looks like a regular folder rather than like a .scriv file.
  3. Close the Info panel, and then ctrl-click on the file (which now looks like a folder) in the Finder and select "Get Info" to open the panel again. This step is necessary because if we don't close and reopen the panel, not all of the options we need will be available - the Finder needs to know that the file is a folder for the following steps to work.
  4. At the bottom of the Info panel you will find a section entitled "Sharing & Permissions", with a table containing two columns beneath it - "Name" and "Privilege". You need to ensure that the name of your current user account is listed with "Read & Write" next to it. First, click on the icon of the lock at the bottom-right of the panel so that you can make changes - you will be prompted for your administrator password.
  5. Once you have entered your administrator password, the buttons at the bottom-left of the Info panel should be available. If your user account name isn't listed in the "Name" column of Sharing & Permissions, click on the "+" button and choose it from the list that appears.
  6. If necessary, change the "Privilege" next to your user account name to "Read & Write", by clicking on the row and picking this option from the list that appears.
  7. Click on the button at the bottom with the gear icon and the downwards-pointing arrow next to it, and select "Apply to enclosed items...". This will ensure that the "Read & Write" permissions are applied to all files inside the project container.
  8. Now add the ".scriv" extension back to the end of the file name under "Name & Extension" (so if you had renamed it to "Foo", now's the time to change it back to "Foo.scriv"), and hit return.
  9. Close the Info panel.

The file should now look like a Scrivener project in the Finder again, and it should have the correct permissions. Scrivener should now be able to open it without any problem.