Tinderbox Forum

Synch Tinderbox on two Macs in two locations

I have done a search for Syncing and have not found anything helpful. That really seems odd for a note-taking app, so I am probably doing something terribly wrong. I can see stuff about Synching with Simplenote, but these posts seem old. So before wasting a lot of time, I thought I would ask here. I just want to write notes that are accessible on my home Mac and my office Mac.
I would be delighted if anyone could point me in the right direction.

Tinderbox does not have a multi-device or multi-user or multi-network syncing service. Simplenote sync works and is reliable. If you want to use your documents on other Macs then you can save them in Dropbox, or iCloud, etc. Just be sure to close the file on one device before opening it on another.

Thank you, Paul. I have Dropbox. What you are saying is save to Dropbox, turn off Tinderbox and close the file on Mac 1 and then open the document on Mac 2 from Dropbox. I will check out Simplenote. Appreciate the info.

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Exactly @John – I do this same thing, without issues. Tinderbox files are plain text XML. I’ve never had a case where Dropbox harmed one.

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Got it. I meant close on Mac 1 and open on Mac 2 which I just edited and fixed.
Many thanks.

I do the same, having worked across 2-3 Macs in 2 different locations throughout my recent studies, keeping my key research docs in Dropbox. So far so good.

It depends on your assumptions. :wink: Tinderbox is now some 18 years old and pre-dates today’s phone apps that are often a light wrapper around some web code with your private data stored somewhere who knows where. Sometimes that doesn’t matter (weekly grocery list), other times it might (e.g. your unpublished research findings). Tinderbox is best for other aspects of note-taking & review that other apps don’t really touch - the organisation and analysis of your notes, which is far more than just ‘tags’ on things.

Anyway, give DropBox (or iCloud, or other large-scale cloud of choice) a try as your TBX storage. Of course, keep back-ups too as when the clouds fall they tend to fall badly and local back-ups of cloud-saved data will save your bacon. Tinderbox auto-saves files, but if you think you’ve left an important doc open on a Mac you can’t currently reach, it’s no big deal to simply clone the file of interest and work on the copy for now.

Thank you for responding, Mark. I completely get your worry about storing stuff “who knows where.” I have just signed on to Backblaze, which seems to be a very simple and fast backup service. But I will parse this out into different problems and give this a bit of a think.

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Just to confirm: for many years I have used TBX without any crashing or conflict issues this way:

  • Open a TB file, which “lives” in the Dropbox folder, on Computer #1.
  • Work on that file, and when it is eventually ready, I Save and then Close it on Number#1.
  • Switch to Computer #2, which also has access to that shared Dropbox file. Open it, work on it, save it, and then close it.
  • Then the file is ready to be opened again on either of the two computers.

Good luck.

Excellent. Thank you.

If you do this, and forget to save and close your file on computer 1, and then open it on computer 2, at worst you will end up with 2 files in the Dropbox folder. One of them will have the string ‘conflicted copy’ in its filename. You’ll then have to decide which one is the one you want to work with. I think Dropbox always assumes you want the one that was last saved, so the other one is the one it renames that way. In any case, you don’t get a corrupted file. Just two different files. I use Tinderbox this way with no problems.


I have been using iCloud in the same manner. Just close the file, not sure that you need to close out TB. I’m a relatively new user but it hasn’t been a problem during the past month of using it this way.

Dropbox has recently imposed a 3 device limit on their free accounts. I have not run into this with Tinderbox since I have only 2 computers running Mac OS. But, I have had this issue when adding a new iPad to the mix. Keep this in mind when deciding between iCloud and Dropbox.

How about using a source code version control system? I thought it would be scarier to set up, but GitHub makes it very easy to do these days. Since Tinderbox files are ‘just’ xml, source control seems to handle them pretty well.

In short, I set up a GitHub account, and established a repository for my files (notes for a book project). Then I cloned the repo on both my computers and checked my notes files into the system.

When I start working on either computer, I first ‘pull’ from the GitHub repository (easy one click operation using the Git Desktop application) to get the latest version on my computer. I open the file from this newly-refreshed local copy (I can be disconnected from the internet at this point, if that is important) and start editing and saving normally.

When I’m done with my work, I save one last time and ‘push’ back to the repository. Since I’m the only one working on these files, I never fall out of sync- though if I did, Git offers some nice tools for managing conflicts line-by-line in the xml.

Maybe this is overly nerdy for some, but modern version control systems are a miracle of safety and productivity once you get your head wrapped around them. Simple is powerful!


I have successfully used GitHub with Tinderbox (and desktop repo + GitHub Desktop). It was a bit fidgety for a single user situation, but would be helpful with multiple users. Though – managing conflicts and changes does always require coordination between the users.

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Thanks to some early work by J. Nathan Matias (now a professor at Princeton), Tinderbox works quite nicely with git. We keep several Tinderbox documents in git as part of the Tinderbox source tree here at Eastgate, and of course plenty more in Dropbox.


I use git so I can be confident of the file version I’m using… I haven’t been brave enough to do branching and merging of Tinderbox files yet.

I just came across this post and want to thank you for providing this information. I’ve been trying to figure out why my 4th device, yes an iPad, won’t synch properly with DropBox when I’m using Scrivener. You have just solved it. Many thanks!

You’re welcome.

I wish Dropbox had an intermediate level to their account. I would happily pay for it, but their current pricing is too much for me to pay for something that does not generate an income.