Control Keys not working and temporary lockups of Scrivener

I am new to Scrivener and this was my first test of importing a large document (1 meg total with 244 different files) into Scrivener. Previously I had gone through the interactive tutorial and the videos, read a few how-to articles as well as imported and played with some small documents.

Into a new blank template, I imported the 244 plain text files into the Draft folder. The total size of all files was 1 meg.

Using the default settings I started changing the imported document names from their original file names to what I wanted. Two “BAD” problems were noted and after figuring out a setup (by accident) that made them go away–I am convinced that they are “somehow” related:

First Problem:

When I started editing the document names, at times Scrivener and Windows would lock and not permit any other actions to occur and the disk monitor showed a lot of disk writes and reads. When the disk stopped reading and writing (several minutes later) Scrivener and Windows started working again. This happened several times (at irregular intervals) and it seemed to have something to do with my editing actions. I was unable to repeat causing the problem at will though.

In fifteen minutes of editing document names I realized that Scrivener locking up all the time like this was unusable and started testing anything I could think of. First I checked the hard disk log and discovered that Scrivener had READ over 1 gigabyte of data and WRITTEN over 2 gigabytes of data during fifteen minutes of minor editing.

I have no way to tell exactly what it was reading and writing… but the only thing I know of that; 1 - would slow a “high power” computer down that much and 2 - would require so much reading and writing for 1 meg of data, is something like an old style bubble sort routine that used the hard disk for all of the sort storage.

So I decided to up the ram to 4 gigs as well as increase all other system resources as much as possible. The lockups continued, BUT the disk access lights no longer lit up during the lockup and the duration of the lock up was less–but still over a minute. So I decided to give up and go back to changing document names using copy and paste with the mouse.

Second Problem:

While having the lockup problems, I also noticed that in the Draft Editor AND in the synopsis box, these key commands did not work:

Ctrl C
Ctrl V
Ctrl X
Ctrl Z
Ctrl Y


But they did work using the mouse pop-up window or using the menu bar selections.

Only in the Draft Editor did this key not work:


I decided to give up on editing for a while and check out the lockup problem (see Frist Problem above) and see if I could fix that. When I gave up on the lockup problem, I decided to set the screen layout up to the way I normally would want to use it and in the process perhaps speed up the copy and paste operations (I had 244 documents to rename) instead of continuing with the renaming process.


I set up:

A split screen layout with Top Editor showing the outline and set to display anything clicked in the outline in the other editor at the bottom. Saved the project, closed and restarted the project.


All of the above key commands started working; in the outline in the Top Editor, in the Other Editor in the lower window, and in the synopsis box. And after one hour of editing the “lock up” problem never re-occurred.

Though I have a little experience with programming, I have no clue as to what or how the above could have occurred (other than my guess at a sorting algorithm being involved).

Hopefully this will help the programmer figure out what was going on.

My computer and software setup:

Computer is; ASUS motherboard with AMD quad core CPU with 8 gigs of ram and a 1 TB Sata II hard drive.

I am running Scrivener Beta 29 on Windows XP service pack 1 in a VirtualBox window with Ubuntu 10.10 as the host machine.

No other problems with running XP or Scrivener have been noticed.

It is possible that the above problems are because of my setup but if so they could still be related to “different” problems other people are having since a virtual machine from VirtualBox is “supposed” to be exactly like a “real” machine to Windows and all applications. In my experience has been so.

Keith Daniels

Hi Keith,

Thank you for the detail of this report! I’m forwarding all the information on to Lee for investigation. Initially, how were you renaming the files in the binder? I don’t think this really should make a difference, but then I don’t know what the initial trigger for this was so every detail helps. Were you double-clicking and typing in a new name, selecting “Rename” from the context menu, something else? And when you switched to copy pasting names, how were you doing that?

I suspect that the real fix here wasn’t changing the layout but closing and reopening the project, although certainly it’s possible somehow that was related. If you do see this again, please let me know.

Also, you might want to try updating your service packs on XP; now that Lee’s been able to include some additional libraries in the Scrivener installer in order to get Scrivener to run on XP, that’s not strictly necessary to run Scrivener, but I don’t know what other changes might be subtly affecting things in your VM.

Re: Thank you for the detail of this report! – You are welcome!

First off the slowdowns (complete halts actually–which is why I call them freeze ups) and the control keys not working–were already occurring before I started copying and pasting. They started after I first tried to create a new project for sure. I do not remember if they happened while I was going through the interactive tutorial–since most of the time I was reading, not making changes…

It is possible that the several different things (including two re-installs) I tried when I first started Scrivener in order to get the users manual to install could have triggered this problem, but I can’t see the problems going away like and when they did if that was the cause.

Re: Initially, how were you renaming the files in the binder?

I tried several methods of copying and pasting, since for a while I thought that might have something to do with the freeze ups. It didn’t that I could tell. In the first two methods I used the mouse menu for the copy and paste commands since that was faster than using the drop down menus from the menu bar. I had to do this since the keys; Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V did not work.

Here is the “time line” so to speak:

I used this method first:

With only the Binder, Top Editor and Synopsis columns open and the default settings:

I would click on the document that needed to be renamed in the Binder.
Go to the editor.
Highlight and copy the name from inside the document.
Go to the Synopsis window.
Highlight the text there and then paste in the new name.
Then I would click in an empty area to make sure it worked.
Then I would start the process all over again.

I did about 25-30 documents like this with a couple of restarts after the times it froze.

Then tried this method–still using only the default settings:

I would click on the document in the binder that needed to be renamed.
Go to the editor.
Highlight and copy the name from inside the document.
Return to the binder and double click on the name to be changed.
Then paste in the new name.
Then click the next document to be renamed and start all over again.

The results from this were no different than the first method except that it was slower and more awkward. I still had the freeze ups and the control keys did not work. Since this method was slower than the first method and seemed to make do difference in the problems–I decided to go inspect the system resources to see if I could figure out what was going on.

When I finished that and changed the amount of ram settings, I restarted Scrivener and started renaming. Shortly afterwards I had a freeze up (with slightly faster recovery, as described in the original post). So instead of renaming I decided to change the layout of the Scrivener window to a dual editor setup.

In the new layout, other than the screen element positioning and setting the Top Editor to display the files in the Other Editor when clicked–I made no other changes to the configuration. I setup the “Dual editor” like this:

Binder on the left.
Split windows were used in the Editor section.
Top Editor in the upper window, with the Outline open in it.
Set the Top Editor to open any document clicked in the lower window.

There were no freeze ups during the 10 min or so that it took me to figure out how to make this work correctly.

Then I went back to renaming by copying and pasting.

I used the method below for the majority of the remaining 150 file names:

Click on the document in the outline.
Go to the lower edit box.
Highlight and copy the text I wanted.
Go to the Outline and double click on the document to rename.
Paste in the new name.
Click on the next document name and start all over again.

At first (maybe twenty or more names) I used the mouse for everything then with out thinking I used the control keys and they worked. Since that was faster I quickly switched to using Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V to to the copying and pasting and the mouse for highlighting the text. This method was considerably faster and I tended to make fewer mistakes. I used this for the last 100 files or so.

I then tested all of the control keys that had not worked before and they now worked.

I did try about 10 re-namings each of the other two methods of copying and pasting and there were no freeze ups.

There have been no more freeze ups since and I have used Scrivener about 10 times since then.