Ideal Memory and Storage for Scrivener

After saving up for some time, I’m a mere month away from buying a MacBook Pro. I’ve never used a full composition program before, so I’m not sure if it’s worth it for me to upgrade the memory and storage when I buy. In fact, the main reason I haven’t bought Scrivener for my Windows laptop is that it’s 6-years old, and it’s memory is so small that it could lose a battle of wits to an eggplant.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro comes with 4GB of memory and 500GB of storage. Do I need to upgrade the memory or storage (or both) to operate Scrivener?

That is the same spec as my new machine, and I have had no problems with Scrivener. Nor did I have problems running Scrivener on older, punier machines. So I would say, go for it! :smiley:

Actually, when I bought my current MacBook Pro, I intended upgrading the RAM separately, but I haven’t seen any real need for this in practice, so I haven’t done it yet. And I don’t fill my hard drive up with media files, so my storage needs are modest.


Hi Gayle,

That is more than ample! Scrivener’s memory footprint is generally quite low. It will use a bit more if you import and play media files in it, but still, 4GB is loads more than Scrivener needs. My own main writing machine for Scrivener at the moment (not my development machine) is a MacBook Air 11" with 4GB memory, but before that my old MacBooks never had more than 2GB of memory (and I used to develop Scrivener on those machines for a long time, too), and that was plenty. The more memory you have, the more things your computer will be able to do at once, and the more processes you will be able to have running in the background (different programs open), but for normal use 4GB is loads.

With storage, it all depends on the sorts of files you’ll be importing. If you are likely to be importing hundreds of gigabytes of media and movie files, for instance, you’ll want plenty of storage. That’s quite a rare thing to want to do, though, and you can always import such files as aliases anyway (links to the originals rather than making copies, so that the import doesn’t take up extra storage space). Again, 500GB should be plenty for the vast majority of uses (my MacBook Air only has 120GB).

One thing that does make a big difference in speed if you can afford it is to go for the 512GB solid state hard drive rather than the regular ATA one, though. That’s really not necessary, though, just a nicety, really.

The system requirements for Scrivener are much lower, by the way - Scrivener will still run on old iBook G4 machines, so you will definitely be fine with what you are buying!

All the best,

For Scrivener, don’t worry about either of those parameters. My last novel was 120,000 words, and I imported pictures of actors to “cast” about 12 of my characters, plus a smattering of archived Wikipedia and other web pages. The whole project weighed in at about 10 megabytes. I did all that on my 6-year-old macbook pro with 2G of Ram and 500Gb hard drive (i upgraded when the previous one died). I still have over 320Gb of free space. The vast majority of the hard drive that is used (130Gb) is taken up with videos, my music collection, and pictures from the last 15 years or so. My writing + research material is 1.4 G, which includes about 4 novel-length rough drafts in Scrivener, plus a smattering of other writing (blog entries, haiku, story snippets and ideas). I’ve never experienced a slow-down when writing in Scrivener (video stresses it a little, but it can always keep up).

I’m in no way a prolific writer, but if you weren’t interested in filling iTunes with hundreds of album’s worth of music, or dozens of TV series and Movies, then you could get by with the base-line 11" macbook air (2G Ram, 64G storage) and keep a lifetime’s worth of writing on it and use the current version of Scrivener the whole time.

Work without my beloved music on my work laptop? You heathen! How dare you suggest such a thing!? :wink:

Siren, Keith, and Robert, I didn’t want upgrade for financial reasons, but I was afraid of the technical consequences if I didn’t. Thanks for setting my mind at rest.


Begin Jest.

Mind at rest!? Are you nuts!??! Don’t you have a deadline looming or a character screaming at you about the terrible inconsistency in that last scene? We can rest when we …

End Jest.

On a serious note, you have just discovered one of the glories of what KB has accomplished. His storage methods, memory handling methods and file formats ensure efficient use of very old and technically lower end hardware. We can only hope that other development groups realize that one man has collectively called “Bull Shoot” to the current trends in software development. And he isn’t really a developer! He’s an out of control TEACHER (who is now really a developer).

Who says you can’t innovate in technology with nothing more than a book and an unmet need?

You are clearly an extravert (in the sense of the term as used by psychologists). The faintest, almost imperceptible whisper of music from a radio two streets away is enough to stop me working (I’m an introvert). Stimulation will pep you up and get you working better. For people like me, it exhausts them and runs down the (human) batteries.

You already have plenty of others telling you not to worry about memory / HD requirements, but just to add another, I still have an old PowerBook G4 running OS 10.5, and it runs Scrivener without any trouble at all. In fact, I wrote most of my last project on it. And I also had a large (three million words) Devonthink Pro database on it, as well, plus a Bookends bibliographic database with over three hundred and fifty entries.

I hope you enjoy the new machine,

Hey, you could still listen to your music. You didn’t throw away your Walkman, did you? :confused:

Actually, I’m an introvert, but some reason music doesn’t drain me like other forms of stimulation. Perhaps I’m neither an introvert or an extrovert but something in between.

A lot of psychologists conceptualise it as a continuum, not a toggle: according to that view we are all somewhere in between the extremes. … &q&f=false

Your affirmation doesn’t surprise me too much. I have very little tendency to risk-seeking behaviour (quite the reverse, actually) but I was for many years a gliding instructor. Anyway, perhaps you only listen to soothing music!


I’m about as ridiculously introverted as they get, and revel in music, especially when I’m working in public places so as to drown out all of the extroverts babbling amongst themselves about what colour carpets they’ve installed in their homes, or whether they should throw a weekend BBQ this weekend or next. Granted, I can’t really manage to work with music that features lyrics, with rare exception. Most of the stuff I listen to is noise, minimal ambient or symphonic.

Another vote on the primary question: my main working computer is a four year old MackBook Pro and my portable is an 11" MacBook Air. Neither are insanely powerful in modern terms, and neither have any problems at all with Scrivener, even huge projects.

My problem is rhythm. I’m very attentive to the rhythm of what I write, and I notice it a lot in what I read – particularly if the writer hasn’t paid any attention to it. I simply can’t cope with a competing rhythm. Traffic noise, bangs and other stuff I can put up with, but anything rhythmic throws me completely. I have to hear the music of the language.

I find that the music I’m listening to has to suit my mood. If it suits my mood, it functions as white noise and I can block out anything distracting in it once I start writing. But if it doesn’t suit my mood, it distracts me, and I can’t focus on my writing.

Thanks to everyone for sharing their personal experiences with Scrivener’s memory and storage needs.