Large Scrivener Files

My file is getting rather…huge. I’ve emptied out the trash, and I’ve deleted snapshots, but it saves soooo many snapshots that it becomes overwhelming. Heaven knows what else it’s doing that I don’t know about.

I want to have three manuscripts in one file because it’s all the same story (trilogy), but I’m a bit scared of what will happen if I do that. The file really is massive, to the point where I think…Scrivener might be acting a bit slow. :open_mouth:

Any tips on dealing with large files?



I am using Scrivener for Mac and holding a whole novel series in one project file. This adds up to 56 novel episodes, all cover titles, etc.
Just from the manuscript size, this is 11 Million characters or 1,6 Million words. (6000 Pages).
I have not yet experienced any lack of performance and this is one reason why I do love Scrivener. :slight_smile:


PS: Still … if you plan to re-structure your projects, like collecting them under one file, it is not a bad idea to save backup files of the originals.

Ahm… no, it’s not. The project might be very big but it’s actually not a file, it’s a folder with a multitude of small files in it, so size isn’t really a problem, until you try to syncronize it with your iDevice.

If snapshots are part of the problem, do you really need that many? Two commands that can really blow up the number of snapshots are the “Take snapshots of changed text documents on manual save” option (Scrivener -> Preferences -> General) and “Take snapshots of updated [mobile] documents” (Scrivener -> Preferences -> Import/Export). Both are useful commands, but you want to be aware of their side effects.

You can minimize the performance impact by breaking things down into chunks, so that Scrivener doesn’t have to load excessively large documents at once. But you could still see a slowdown when backing up, compiling, or anything else that forces Scrivener to grapple with the whole project.


Lol. Okay. The project is getting very large, and I’ve noticed a slowdown in Scrivener’s performance, namely when switching from one file to another, or recently, while typing. This did clear up a bit when I weeded out some files, so unless it’s a big coincidence, then the project (:P) being so large is slowing it down.

Are you keeping very long documents in the project? If you split the documents in shorter pieces Scrivener only loads those short pieces when you are writing.

Thanks. I did turn on the manual save option awhile ago, then forgot where it was so I couldn’t turn it off. Buuuut, I looked again just now with those directions and turned it off. It’s a very useful feature, but…I save manually too much. It’s very engrained to save basically every time I pause to think. :unamused:

And yes, I do sync this project with my iOS… D:

Mmm. My largest file is about 18k, but most of them fall under 3k. I do have pictures and such in the project though.

18 k what? Words? Bytes?

Sorry. Words. :laughing:

That probably explains it. Breat it up in smaller pieces. Most of my sub-documents are less than 300 words.

18k words shouldn’t cripple the editor, though you may notice it’s a little slower when loading and saving it from to time (Lunk is right, that’s way bigger than Scrivener is designed to be used, probably 82 times larger than the average text chunk in my binder; granted I’m the sort that puts paragraphs into single items as the case merits). Images on the other hand can be a major culprit, particularly if you find yourself resizing way down to something manageable in size. It’s a really good idea to open your files up in an image editor first and resize them to something reasonable for a text editor (by that I mean if you aren’t going to be printing high quality coffee table art books with them {and you really shouldn’t be using Scrivener for a book like that anyway} then they should be nice and tidy 5 – 40kb files each). A good rule of thumb is if you don’t have to make it any smaller to see it in the editor then it’s probably fine.

Haha. I can’t work like that. Novel chapters. Some people can work in scenes, but it just doesn’t compute for me. (The 18k word document is not a chapter. It’s a brainstorming file… :blush: )


Ohhh boy. Yeah…my smallest picture is 96KB. Largest is on up of 10MB… :laughing: :blush: They’re character pictures (not for printing), but several are my art, and I’m used to using big picture files. 300dpi PNGs generally…

Breaking it up doesn’t mean you have to work on it on a scene basis. You can still load the whole chapter if you want to. At the same time, you can’t really see a whole 15k word chapter all at once. You can only display a small portion at a time.

My experience is that sometimes it helps to be able to focus on only one paragraph and sometimes I want to be able to read through a longer piece of text.

Anyhow, now you know how Scrivener is built and supposed to work and be used. If you decide to use it in another way is of course up to you, but then you will have to accept problems rising from the fact that you use the software in a manner not intended by the creators.

Well, 5 – 40kb is an ideal target to aim for (and a JPG target not PNG), it can’t always be hit, and having some ~100kb images isn’t going to break anything unless you have a hundred in one file (which, by the way, would be about 10mb to put things into perspective :slight_smile:). If you’re on Retina, 144dpi is the native resolution, anything above that is waste outside of source material archival.

Another approach is linking images, that way they aren’t saved directly into the text file as you work. That is what I do, because in some things I do need higher quality graphics (PNG instead of JPG), and with links all that gets stored in the text file is an invisible bit of text describing where Scrivener should load the file from and insert it while you work. The downside is that you have to maintain a stable external location for your images; it’s not as convenient as you can’t just paste something in you copied from a website, you have to go and save it to a file somewhere, then link it manually with a file dialogue. But if you need more than a “thumbnail” in the editor, that’ll help keep your projects speedy and sane.

That is true. But if you are syncing the project and working on it on an iOS device, it might be a good idea not to brake the text into too small chunks, as on iOS you can’t work in Scrivening mode.

On the other hand, too long text documents makes it more difficult to navigate the text, but doesn’t really slow down Scrivener in my experience. A lot of pdf documents, pictures, videos and sound files will make the initial syncing slow – esp. from dropbox to mobile device(s) – and use a lot of memory in Dropbox and on your mobile devices. If you don’t need all of them on the go its a good idea to just link to them on the computer.

As for snapshots: if you have snapshots on manual save activated, think of Cmd-S as “Save a copy”. There is actually no need to use manual save for anything else, Scrivener saves all changes automatically.

I work in iOS a lot so breaking it up doesn’t make sense, and would at best be annoying.

Yeah…I need them in iOS too. XD

It’s just a habit. I’ve lost far too many changes in Photoshop by not saving every 30 seconds or so. Lol.

I took all my images down to as small as I could reasonably get them without compromising how I wanted to view them. The largest one is sitting at about 200KB.

I don’t put any pictures into the files, so certainly not multiple pictures in one file. Each one is sitting by itself. I imagine that helps some, by what you’re saying.