My typing is lagging on regular and full screen mode

Hey folks,

When I type in Scrivener, the letters lag behind my typing. It’s much worse in “full screen” mode, but it’s also very noticeable in the regular mode. I’ve started typing in TextEdit and then transferring that to Scrivener, but Scrivener is so wonderful, I’d much rather just use that all the time!

I just updated to the new version tonight, so I don’t think that’s it (both the new and old versions did the same thing).

Thanks for your time!

Are you running Snow Leopard by any chance? There are known issues with Snow Leopard and the way Scrivener 1.5x handles text. Updates and optimisations are on the way, but are entwined with too much of 2.0x to be merged (as I understand it). If you are not using Leopard or Snow Leopard, check your system for third party spell checkers or any other applications that might scanning what you type as you type it.

Thanks for the response! Yep, I’m using a MacBook Air and running Snow Leopard.

So the answer then is to wait for the optimizations? I’m happy to do that, I love the product and will continue using it. Knowing that they’re aware of the problem makes it easy to cope.

In the meantime, some have had good luck keeping their sections shorter. It seems that for most, around 1k to 2k words is where it starts to get really slow. If you keep sections of text within a few pages, you ought to not run into too many slow-downs. I myself never had any issues with the bug, and that is because I always keep sections very small.

I get this with SL and not just with a MacBook Air. Keith is well aware of the problem and plans to fix it as Amber says. Yes, keeping your sections short does help but unfortunately that’s not something I can do because that isn’t the style of the book. Anything more than 1K can get painful even on a recent MacBook Pro.

Hmm … I must be an incredibly slow typer! I’m currently working on a document in mixed Chinese and English, which is apparently over 9,000 words/31,000 characters long — though how that would compute if it were solely English, I have no idea. The important thing is that, neither on my Rev 1 2.16 GHz MBP, nor on my Rev 1 1.6 GHz MBA, do I notice any slowdown. I don’t use full-screen mind you, only a vertical split with an unedited copy of the text in the right-hand split.

It must be me!


I’ve been getting the molasses effect since moving to snow leopard too. At first I thought I was keeping my projects too big, so I switched to using smaller projects == one per story, and using the Finder to store my research files instead of using Scrivener as a database for all my columns and the research for them in a year. (This had the added advantage of making all my research files, now stored in rtf or txt files instead of Scrivener, accessible to my iPhone via Dropbox.) It helped, but I still get the slowdown and typing lag far too often. Sometimes it helps to quit SCrivener and then reopen; other times, I get so frustrated that I’m about ready to just abandon the app and use TextEdit. Not really, but it feels like it. I’ll be so happy when 2.0 arrives and fixes this.


Yes, I’m afraid to say that this is a known issue. Scrivener uses a feature of the OS X text system called “temporary attributes” for annotations and the full screen mode override colour. Temporary attributes allow you to make the text look one colour even though underneath it is really a different colour. Even if you have no annotations and full screen mode doesn’t have an override colour, Scrivener has to monitor temporary attributes anyway. However, Snow Leopard seems to have severely slowed down temporary attributes. After seeing the slow-as-molasses full screen mode problem myself, I did some investigations. For a start, if you restart Scrivener, the slowness will be gone - it gets worse the more use use it. My investigations showed that some private calls inside OS X were getting called over and over again and using up more and more memory, all to do with temporary attributes.

Late last year I spent over a month on this issue, fixing it and optimising it for 2.0. (2.0 no longer uses temporary attributes for anything that is not absolutely essential, and overrides text colours where necessary at a much deeper level - it’s silly that it should have to do this rather than use the system Apple built for exactly this sort of thing, but it was the only way I could reclaim the speed.) So hopefully typing in Scrivener 2.0 will be nippy on Snow Leopard - so far my tests are good, although there is still a little optimisation to be done in Edit Scrivenings mode when viewing text of 100,000 words or more.

Thanks and all the best,

Speaking only for myself… I’d never edit a chunk of text more than 100k in Scrivener. Defeats the object. Might as well be in Word or Pages. Just my two pennorth…

Ah, I started having this happen in the last couple days and I was wondering what caused it.

Interestingly I’ve been on Snow Leopard ever since it came out, and I wrote my whole submission for NaNoWriMo using Scrivener and I didn’t have this issue at all-- finally sitting down this week after importing an old project brought me face to face with this problem very quickly. The specific sections of text I’m writing at a time are under 2k words right now, but the entire Scrivener project is about a hundred megs. Is this the contributing factor to the lag time?

Restarting Scrivener does improve it for a while but it’s a bit disruptive to the workflow. :stuck_out_tongue: Is the 2.0 version in a beta anywhere that I can download and use, or do I just have to wait?

The size of the project shouldn’t affect it, no. There are no betas of 2.0, I’m afraid, and there are unlikely to be any public betas at all, so the only thing is to wait for now. Sorry!

Just an update.

I just ran into this same problem of full screen mode slowing down to a point of concern. I tried a number of these solutions, closing other apps like Numbers or MacJournal, but it seems that what is slowing it down is when Safari is open. I am running a 3 MB Scrivener file on a hacked DellMini with Snow Leopard, but that shouldn’t make much difference. Shutting down Safari seems to fix it, which is fine by me. Once in a while I need to look something up when I am writing, but, hey, my dad on his 1934 Underwood never did.

Hey, the whole point of full screen mode is no distractions, right?

By the way, KB, Silent Running is one of my all-time favorite movies. And, hey, when is Scrivener 2.0 coming out?

That’s interesting, personally for me it doesn’t make any difference if Safari is open or not, but I’ll add it to the list of things that people can try if they run into issues. Thanks for the update!

Oh, and Bodsham, the idea of checking unusual limits like 100k is that, while probably nobody has a 100,000 word Binder item, I’m sure at one point or another, some novelist has had Edit Scrivenings going on with their entire book and while browsing about, comes across a word that needs to be changed or whatnot. So, it’s definitely not a waste of time to make sure even crazy cases are fast, and besides the higher you push the limit, the more robust everyday usage becomes, too.

Keith’s work definitely paid off though. I made a crazy test project with around 600,000 words in E.S. and there was zero typing lag in both full screen and regular editor. You’ll be able to use Scrivener to write the next OED. :slight_smile: Granted, by the time you finish we’ll all be living in botanical space domes.