New User: Scrivener seems molasses slow... is it my bad?

Good evening,

I’m a PhD grad student in the middle of field research in South America and I’m checking scrivener out to ultimately use it in writing up my dissertation.

I’m running it on a macbook (early 2008) OS 10.5.5, a 2 GHx Intel Core 2 Duo, 1 G 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM.

I seem to get the “waiting processing” ball every single time for an average wait of 30sec, sometimes a minute (and taking over the entire computer, rendering the trackpad nearly unresponsive) when I flip through the data I’ve imported (namely under “Research”) and I’m wondering if I’m taxing the scrivener system. I’ve currently imported 70 photographs (jpg), 3 hrs of voice recordings (wma) as my non-text data. Is that an unwieldy amount of data for the program to process?

I’ve checked out my Activity Monitor (under utilities) and I’ve got more than 30% of my system memory free even as I write (I’ve got firefox and scriv open).


Welcome to scriv…

Are you using an external storage for your project? Ex a thumb drive, USB attached hd, or a network share.

If so, this MAY be your issue and you can check by moving your project to the internal drive and seeing if it is still slow.

If you are not using an external drive, you might want to run scriv with the console app open and see if there are any errors being logged. KB (Keith the scriv developer) will need those to help determine if there is a real problem.

Your system is certainly fast enough and I can’t think of a good reason why Scrivener would be slow in this circumstance. That said, it would depend on the size of your files. Give that you say that you are “flipping through” files, I am guessing that Scrivener is trying to open some rather large files here… How big is your project (in MB)? How large are the photographs you have loaded in, or the WMA files? If you open one of the WMA files that takes a long time to open in Scrivener, does it load faster in QuickTime?


Thanks for the quick responses. Here are my answers:

  1. I’m not using an external drive, just my mac.

  2. I’ve got about 300MB of photos.

  3. Everytime I click on the folder icon for my sound files, it shows the same “Importing Flip4Mac WMV” window repeatedly, no matter that it imported this before (i.e. yesterday).

I just don’t know what to do-- this is but one month’s work of research and I hadn’t really thought to complain against the strategy I was using of doing a combination of Word, Quicktime, and Preview/Adobe to move through all my writing and data. I never encountered the spinning ball of death with my old solution and now I can’t click on the folder icons for a collection of, say, 15 2.5MB photos without waiting for a minute for it to materialize on my corkboard during which time I’ve lost control of my mouse (I timed it tonight!).

I’m going to uninstall all of it and see if that works? Otherwise, I’ll go back to shuffling between programs.

But, I am sooo grateful for the quick input and suggestions from this forum!

One thing to try:

Go to the Preferences > Corkboard and turn OFF “Show image files as photographs”. This setting is on by default, but it could cause slowdown in your case, as every time a folder is clicked on, the previews of the images in the corkboard have to be built. If you have 300MB of images in one folder in a flat list, then each time you click on that folder, Scrivener will have to rebuild previews of those images for all of them. (Like when you first open iPhoto and it takes a while to generate all of the thumbprints - for Scrivener that will have to open every time you open that folder.) This isn’t a problem for most users who only have a few photographs in one folder, but in your case it may be taxing that preview system. Turning of the above option will prevent Scrivener from having to do that.

The “Importing Flip4Mac WMV” message is a little stranger. Scrivener uses QuickTime to play sound files, which is why I asked you to try opening one of these files in QuickTime to see if you get the same issue. Flip4Mac is the QuickTime plugin for playing Windows Media files, so this seems like something to do with QuickTime…

Let me know if any of the above helps.
Thanks and all the best,

Keith, I get the same “Importing Flip4Mac WMV” message, which I why I stopped importing sound files to Scrivener. The “Importing Flip4Mac WMV” is very slow (I have a 2,2 gHz MacBook with 2 GB ram) and repeats itself whenever I open the file in question.


Can someone at least send me a file that causes this? :slight_smile: It sounds as though it’s just a general QuickTime problem with Windows Media files, but I need a file that causes the problem to see for myself (I just tried creating a WMV file in QuickTime and that had no problem in Scrivener).

On a side note, I found that many times some wmv files can cause hesitation or sluggishness on my system especially when FLip4mac is taxed.

If they are sound files something you could try is importing them into iTunes and then convert them to Mp3’s and then import them into SCR.

Just a thought.


Just a thought so feel free to shoot me…

Does scriv try to “preload” or open for stats audio files like it would an image file? If so that MIGHT be part of what is going on. Flip, much like other MS compatibility things doesn’t always behave nice-nice. It might be blocking on reads waiting for a previous thread to finish.


Try Wock’s suggestion of converting a few to MP3 and putting them in a separate folder. Copy the WMA files for these to a third folder. Does the MP3 folder open faster than the one with the WMA? Just a thought.

It doesn’t try to preload them… But it does try to grab the “poster frame”, from which to create an image. If this is causing the problem, then again, turning off “Show images as photographs” on the corkboard should fix it.
All the best,

Keith and Jaysen,

Again, many thanks for your problem solving. I appreciate the help.

  1. Switching off the “show media files as images on corkboard” indeed addressed the spinning-wheel-of-slowness problem when flipping through my photo files. I’ve got plenty because visuals are part of the research project I’m doing.

  2. As for the audio files, since iTunes doesn’t support wma files, I’m going to convert the sound files to mp3s and then see if I have the same Flip4Mac slowness issues. I have no trouble listening to the original sound files in Quicktime (the “Importing Flip4Mac” announcement doesn’t even pop up when I open the files directly in Quicktime, though, obviously, this conversion process is taking place).

If you’d still like me to send along one of the culprit .wma sound files, I certainly can (email address, please?), but in any case, I’ll post a quick update on whether it helps to have a different sound file format once Switch (, the audio conversion freeware I’m using) is finished converting the wma files to mp3 format.


Support e-mail address: support AT literatureandlatte DOT com. Yes, an offending WMA file would help. Which version of Flip4Mac do you have installed, by the way? The pro version or the free one?

I’m glad switching off the photo preview has sped things up on the corkboard. It’s not really opimised for image-heavy stuff. I’ve made a note to myself to look into optimising that, though I’m not sure if I’ll be able optimise it much without a major rewrite.

All the best,

I’m using the free version of Flip4Mac… and it seems having switched the files to mp3 format also helped eliminate the “Importing Flip4Mac WMV” annoyance when flipping through soundfiles that have already been imported to Scriv.

FWIW I don’t really expect Scrivener to handle lots of multimedia staff and be a speedy text machine too. Seems a lot to ask and I find that complex reference material is best handled by something else (see many threads here on this subject), not least because that way you have access to the stuff through a separate window. I use Scriv mainly for the absolute minimum of reference required to keep alongside the manuscript.

I found Scr could meet most of my (modest) reference requirements, but I’m more comfortable using EagleFiler for the externals, and using Scr first and foremost as a writing tool.

And at the other end of the process, most of the material I print out (nowadays) needs little more than a title and page numbers. I sympathize with those who need foot-noting, TOC, bibliographies and the like. If Scr or anything like it had been available in my grad school days, I’d have wanted that stuff too.

To tell the truth, my grad school days were so long ago that I’d have been thrilled with TextEdit.