HELP! Auto-save is freezing my laptop constantly

I have a scrivener project with maybe 30,000 words of text. Whenever it tries to auto-save, I get the spinning beachball and activity monitor says that it is taking up 100% of processing power. It thinks for maybe 20 or 25 seconds and then I get to keep typing or using scrivener although of course then it starts up again within a few seconds. This makes Scrivener unusable.

I’m on a Macbook Pro (OS 10.11.6) and using the latest version (2.8) of scrivener.

The text was originally imported from a MS Word document, so I’m wondering if this is part of the problem with how the text has been imported in? It’s fairly footnote heavy, but I used the same computer for a far-more-footnote-heavy dissertation with 200,000+ words of text without problem in the past. So not sure what’s special about this particular document.

Any help on solving this?

You can set the autosave interval in the Scrivener -> Preferences -> General pane.

Also, do you have 30,000 words in the project, or in this individual document? A 30,000 word project is not at all excessive, but a 30,000 word document would be. The autosave will only save the files that have actually changed, so breaking a document into smaller chunks will reduce the load.


I turned off the auto-saving, but it still seems to be doing something every few moments. I now have no individual document longer than 4000 words. Also, my laptop has a 2.6 GHZ i7 processor and 16 GB of RAM, so it’s hard to imagine how Scrivener is not coping with this.

So, splitting documents up into smaller pieces didn’t help. And, like I said, I was doing this in the past without any problem.

What else is running on your system? In particular, any keystroke expanders or third-party backup software?


Loads of things. But that was all running before, without any problems. I’m running key expander software as well as 3rd-party backup software.

  1. Is this happening with just this one project, or does it happen in any of your Scriv project? Does it happen outside of Scrivener? Like in TextEdit?

  2. I would try selectively turning off your utilities that are related to typing (text expander, etc.) and automated backups. (You have determined that it is not an auto-save problem, so these seem like the next most likely explanation.)

I would also reboot for good measure.


It was happening only in one document.

I closed textexpander and paused my backups.

Then I reopened the file and it appears to have solved the problem.

Do you know what specifically might be causing the problem, therefore? Textexpander is obviously part of my writing workflow, so it would be a pity (at least for this document) if I couldn’t use it…

Can’t tell. Turn them on one at a time to try to figute is it is the textexpander or the backup software.

(Not to worry, there are definitely people who use textexpander with Scrivener, so it cannot be an insuperable problem.)

What backup software are you using, and what’s its save interval?

I helped one user who was running offsite backup software every few minutes. Since Scrivener saves frequently, the backup software always had Scrivener changes to save. Ultimately, it got to the point where the backup software just couldn’t keep up.


Backblaze. It is saving on an automatic schedule, so I’m not really sure. But I can open a Scrivener document that is much larger and work on it fine. There’s something specific / unique about this particular document, for some reason.


You said you’ve broken the document down into smaller chunks. Do you see the same issues with all the pieces?

The most likely document-specific problem is that some sort of problem character or markup was imported from Word.


Have you checked your anti-virus software. There could be something in the project that triggers virus-scanning.

And how does one solve that? Export as plain text an re-import in an empty project?

Exporting to plain text would lose the footnotes.

If the problem can be traced to a single sub-document, then it can be narrowed further by splitting that document in pieces. Ultimately either problem characters will be visible (Show Invisibles can help here) or the problem chunk will be small enough to just re-type.

If it’s a project-wide problem, I’d suggest either saving to RTF from Word and re-importing, or exporting/re-importing via RTF from within Scrivener.

There are also known issues related to special formatting – such as tables – inside of footnotes. Again, you would find such a problem by splitting into successively smaller sub-documents.