Project Size & Very Large PDFs


I am considering using Scrivener for my master’s thesis. My research requires many large PDFs that I highlight and notate. To date, I have stored those PDFs in Dropbox. I became interested in Scrivener when I learned I could “hold” and work on those PDFs in the Research folder of my thesis project. However, the User Manual in Section 10.1 cautions against importing PDF files when the “research material measures in gigabytes.” The alternative suggested is to use References or Aliases.

“While it is possible to easily edit many file types from within Scrivener with an external editor, if you wish to retain maximum external control over the files, you might wish to use References (section 19.5) or aliases (subsection 10.1.3) instead, which are useful when your research material measures in gigabytes.”

However, that is not sufficient for my purposes because a user cannot highlight or make notations in a PDF that has been “Referenced” or “Alias’d.” If I used this method, then I would be forced to have the “Master” copy outside of the Scrivener application.

My question is, how many PDFs can one store in a project and what are the size limitation of each and in total before application performance is negatively impacted? Does anyone have experience with PDFs of 500meg and larger (these largest ones are really image files of text documents)?

Thanks for your help


Welcome to Scrivener and the forums, bikeski.

I don’t know whether there are limits on the size or number of PDF’s stored in a Scrivener project (I suspect that in practice within the limits of your computer hardware there are not - one of the USP’s of Scrivener is that at any one time, it only loads into memory those parts of a project that you are working on - but as I say, I don’t know).

However, one thing which you should be aware of - and one which has cropped up in these forums before - is that if you have set Scrivener to back-up your project, for example on closing it, large and/or numerous PDF’s inside your project will inflate the overall size of your project and so will increase the time that it takes to back-up, and so to close. In such circumstances, users have questioned why closing down a Scrivener project can be so slow, and have been known to turn off their computer before Scrivener has finished backing up (and then have wondered why their back-ups are damaged :frowning: ).

That’s one reason, as I understand it, that the features of aliases and references were added to the application.