Not writing to file?


A user reported the following problem to me yesterday, and I’m at a bit of a loss as to why this would happen, so I’m hoping someone might have a general OS X reason for why this problem might have occurred:

Now, these errors are generated by Scrivener when, for some reason, Scrivener cannot write to file. If the disk was full, for instance, Scrivener would generate these errors. But the user informs me that his disk is most definitely not full. So why else would OS X tell Scrivener that it can’t write to file?


The only things I can think of offhand:

A: there’s a problem with the permissions on the disk
B: the disk became corrupted

But if he’s done the backup before it wouldn’t make sense, unless his disk is going south.

—The filename is longer than 31 characters and although theoretically it can be much longer, I regularly see problems with long file names.
—Could there have been a part of the project that was still open in an external editor?
—Sometimes the OS will write errors like this to the Console log. Might be worth a look.
—Disk corruption is a real possibility. I’d be tempted to boot from the install CD and run a Disk Utility repair.


Try: View > Document History > Clear Document History.

It might help. I got the clue from dafu’s post (long file name). Sometimes the file name causes problems - even if it is shorter than the legitimate 31 characters. It’s an OSX thing, not a Scrivener problem.


I had these errors, when trying to save a project with a (very large, around 1GB) audio file. I tried to use Scrivener for the transscription of interviews and other reordings. Sometimes (also when saving the project to an external disc) Scrivener crashed without an error message. I deleted the file(s) from the project and everything is okay until now.

For lack of time I could not reproduce the problem exactly enough to report it. I went the simple way, not using Scrivener for transcription.


I detect a sense of desperation. I take it you are doing a qualitative research project and up against a deadline.

I am sure Keith would want to know what kind of files they were. Were they proprietry or bog standard Quicktime files?

It may just be possible that your transcription files were not set to give you permission to use them. Check a couple for permissions to see if you had inadvertently locked yourself out. It is easy to reset the permissions using GET INFO.

There is an application just made for qualitative projects using transcriptions - if that’s what you are doing. It’s called HyperRESEARCH.

Functional learning time is about two hours.

HyperRESEARCH can be downloaded for free. This free version has all of its features available, with the following limitations:

The Master Code List is limited to 75 codes.
A Study is limited to 7 cases.
Each case can have no more than 50 code instances.
These limits make this free version suitable for teaching the basics of qualitative research without requiring students to purchase the full package.

pm me if you think I might be able to help. I know the application very well. Their web site is quite helpful and you can download a working demo that only has project limitations. It’s a Mac and Windows app.

Yes, you are right, Lord Lightning, a sense of desperation and deadlines are everywhere…

I don’t think I had a problem with the permissions of these files. But, as you said, it’s on my list to try it again, maybe I can reproduce the crash. (But why should I reproduce this crash, that’s the question, when it is so simple to avoid the problem? I believe my audio files are too big, they are .wav files, recorded with 24bit/48kHz, no problem for QuickTime.)

Furthermore, I don’t believe Scrivener can be a good transcription tool for my purposes. The audio files are imported to another computer and edited in ProTools. I need a special numbering system for transcription, and am still looking for the right application. I’m very familiar with workarounds…

Thank you for the hint with HyperRESEARCH. I will have a look on it. At the first glance it seems not to be, what I am looking for, but who knows?


Hi Ursula. I am sure Amber or Keith will get onto this ASAP.

I agree with you 100%

You would only reproduce it if all of your other research stuff was in Scrivener. Say for example you wanted to examine and code the transcriptions in a quicktime file in a left hand split - say for certain phrases.

For example, phrases containing references to say ‘social anxiety’ = SA000. Then you might look at phrases suggestive of Social Anxiety in intimate relationships = SA001 or SAir001, then in family settings = SA002 or SAfs002.

The sort of thing that you might code in a right hand split buiding a theory or setting up a line of argument. So you had your source phrases and their frequencies in the left hand split and the conclusions you are drawing from these frequencies in the right hand split.

HyperRESEARCH has the major advantage that as you code you are building a hypothesis based on the aggregating data. Your phrase frequences can also be treated in theory building and theory checking passes.

HyperTRANSCRIBE might also be worth a look:

Using Apple Computer’s QuickTime® technology, HyperTRANSCRIBE can play MP3, AIFF, WAV, MPEG, AVI, MOV, and many other media file types.

When you’re done transcribing HyperTRANSCRIBE can export your text to RTF or plain text for use in any other program, such as Microsoft Word or ResearchWare’s HyperRESEARCH.

It feels like you might be involved in an ethnomethodological, hermeneutic, or phenomenological enterprise. If so, I would strongly urge you to look at HyperRESEARCH, NVivo, or one of the other specific research tools.

You will still find that Scrivener is a terrific project management and first pass writing tool.

Knowing your topic and your data collection process as well as your methodology would help a lot of other Scriveners are to help you. There are some whizz bang researchers using Scrivener, so help them help you.


Please do report all and any bugs - I can’t fix them if I don’t know about them. :slight_smile:

Thanks for the ideas on what might have caused the problems for the other user…



That’s pretty impressive!
Not enough coffee, eh?


Lol. Okay, I’ve edited it. Not a coffee issue, just the result of a school trip and marching 30 kids up and down South Bank (and the effort of resisting the urge to throw some of them into the Thames :slight_smile: ).

First of all, I have to say, that I am using Scrivener since months. I really love this application. It helped me a lot to reorganize my work. I’m writing more than ever, with more interest and fun. And just for fun too, sometimes. I hope the fun will turn into work some day.

Concerning my work: I am a journalist, working for the radio. It seems strange, but in fact for that side of my work, (creative) writing is only a small part of it. Writing means first of all transcripting. For the transcript of recordings I have to insert different speakers (or sounds, noise and music), the timecode, exact beginning and end of a phrase and characteristic sentences in between.

I’m using Circus Ponies NoteBook for this, developed my own system with stickers and keywords and numbering and links and priorities. Reading in Scriveners forum I realized, that Transcriva could be helpful, I’m testing it at the moment, exporting the transcript to NoteBook and my holy numbering system (which is very important, because the same numbers are used when editing the audio files, splitting them into different ‘regions’). I am editing in ProTools, arranging the snippets of the transcript according to this editing process in NoteBook and writing my comments and presentation in Scrivener (where all the other stuff is waiting for the final touch, notes, drafts, and all the documents I collected in Devonthink Pro), at the end exporting the final draft to Pages or TextEdit. This workflow produces no crashes and error messages in Scrivener, I’m wondering every day. (Looks like a posting for the Zen of Scrivener…)

Don’t worry, Scrivener is very useful for me, even when I’m not using it for transcripting interviews. In my case they are very long, one hour and often more. You are a little bit right assuming I might be involved in an ethnomethodological, hermeneutic, or phenomenological enterprise, the enterprise is me in this case, I am a freelancer working for ethnomethodological, hermeneutic, or phenomenological enterprises, called (radio) broadcasting stations, which are looking at, sometimes watching, most of the time only reporting ethnomethodological, hermeneutic, or phenomenological research. But this has nothing to do with Scrivener and it’s error messages.

I will have a look at Hyper RESEARCH too (very ugly at first glance… I love Scrivener for his outstanding simple look and feel!),

thank you for helping


Keith, I promise, I will try tomorrow morning to reproduce the crash with the audio files. You wrote different times, that error messages without the story behind are rather useless. At the moment I am preparing this crash with a full backup of my home directory…


see this:
transcriptions with LoopyLoop_Lite and Scrivener … 4486#14486

As Ron would say, jean-louis, that is wicked!

Looks like it does everything Ursula needs.

Thanks for recommending it. The VPedal mode is particularly helpful. Very impressed.

:smiley: :smiley:

Thank you…
I have no time currently but I’d like to improve LoopyLoop when Scrivener will be scriptable (but first my Opera finished thanks to it!)

Ähem. No crashes at all. I tried my best, even with large audio files. The backup took it’s time, but no crashes. Sometimes Activity Monitor said: Scrivener is not responding (“Scrivener antwortet nicht”, in my german OS), but these messages disappeared and everything has been saved as .zip.

Maybe the problem existed with an older version from Scrivener or the Mac OS, maybe it had nothing to do with Scrivener…

Keith, I will send you old crashlogs I found in Maybe they can give you a hint.