Bug with Total Words in Outliner

Hi there,

I’m pretty sure there’s a bug with the Total Word count in Outliner.

I keep a sprawling outline (multiple folders, multiple text documents in each folder) in Scrivener. I also religiously track my total word count for the entire outline at the end of each day’s writing. Several days ago my word count (after adding up the Total Word count for each subsection in the Outliner view) was 28,858. The next day it was 29,950. Suddenly, the next day it was 28,356. The next day it was higher than that, but still less than 29,950. Very weird.

Then today I received conclusive evidence that something’s “up,” when I noticed that one of my documents entitled “Beta Reader’s List” was listed in Outliner view as having 0 Total Words and 0 Words. I KNEW there were more than 0 words in my Beta Reader’s List so I went to that document to ensure that they hadn’t been erased. Sure enough, my list of Beta Reader’s names was still right there, intact.

Interestingly enough, after visiting the Beta Reader’s document and returning to the Outliner view, the correct Word counts showed up: 33 words. After revisiting every folder and document under my main Outline folder, my Total Words count (summing them all up) jumped way up. I suspect that over the last few days Scrivener has been “forgetting” the word counts associated with certain documents, in whole or in part. Revisiting the pages caused Scrivener to “remember” their word counts. It doesn’t seem that I’m losing any data, just my word counts are wonky.

The way I use Scrivener is that I typically leave it open at all times, and just put my Macbook Air to sleep (running Mountain Lion 10.8.1) when I’m not using it.

Let me know if I can provide any more useful info. But that’s all I can think of…




I’ll need to double-check the code for this tomorrow, as it’s been a long time since I wrote that part, but from memory, Scrivener takes the word counts from the plain text search data for any files that haven’t been opened during the session, and from the text itself for files that have been opened (this way, it keeps its memory imprint as light as possible by only opening files as they are needed). So it sounds as though your plain text search data has gone out of sync with your actual text at some point.

Please try going to the File menu and hold down the Option key. “Save” will change to “Save and Rebuild Search Indexes”. Choose that, and a progress bar will appear as Scrivener rebuilds its search indexes (the plain text search data).

The question, of course, is how this happened. Could you please open up Console.app (from the /Applications/Utilities folder) and search for “Scrivener”, and see if you see any errors reported there. You are looking for something along the lines of “Exception raised”. Do you keep the file on Dropbox and could there have been any conflicts at any point?


Hi KB,

Thank you for your response. I searched the logs in Console.App and couldn’t find any kind exceptions raised or anything like that.

I do keep the file stored in a folder which syncs to Dropbox, but I’m not sure when/how a conflict could occur since I only access the file from one machine. My understanding is that as long as I’m using a single machine to access a locally stored file that merely syncs to Dropbox’s servers, there shouldn’t be any lock/access issues. It doesn’t always happen, but it does seem to happen ever couple or few days.

Could it have anything to do with leaving Scrivener running through putting the Macbook to sleep and waking it up through out the day? I typically leave the application open even when I’m not actively using it.

Warm regards,


Hi Abe,

Sorry for the late reply. I doubt this has anything to do with leaving the computer asleep and Scrivener open - I do the same. One thing you can do the next time this happens is to ctrl-click on the .scriv file in the Finder and choose “Show Package Contents” from the contextual menu. This will show the project file internals. Then open the “Files” folder inside the .scriv project and look for the search.indexes file. If there is more than one search.indexes file, perhaps renamed with your computer name, then you know it is a Dropbox issue. If not, then something odd is going on with Scrivener somehow not updating the search.indexes file, and we need to dig a little deeper.

Thanks and all the best,