Ram Limitations, Extremely Large Projects

I’ve got a project with a extremely large number of files (more than 3500), and every time I open it my system bogs down. Then, when I close it, the system doesn’t recover.

I’m wondering if this is expected behavior, if it’s indicative of a deeper problem, or if there’s a known workaround.

3500 files is kind of a lot.

Depending on your backup settings, Scrivener may be running a full backup both when you open the project and when you close it. With a project that size, doing so will take a noticeable amount of time.

(You can check the backup options in the Scrivener -> Preferences -> Backups pane.)

It’s hard to offer more suggestions without knowing what the files consist of. Small text files? Lots of large images or research files?

Also, did the project grow to this size organically over time, or did you create it by importing a large group of files all at once? How are the files related to each other, and might splitting them into smaller groups make sense?


The project is entirely small text files, which have been added and modified over the course of its lifetime. No images, web links, or PDFs.

The slowdown isn’t due to the backup process, or even a sync with an external folder. It’s while the project is open and being used. It slows down everything on the computer.

I’m guessing this is due to pageins and pageouts from RAM<->disk, because the slowdowns persist even after the project is closed, which is typical of OS X in high RAM usage situations.

Does Scrivener “open” all constituent files when it opens a project, or only when you view one (click on it in the sidebar)?

Scrivener only opens the selected documents. Note that it is possible to use Scrivener’s multi-document Scrivenings mode to open the entire draft at once, which definitely would cause performance issues with a project that size.

What version of Scrivener do you have, and with which version of OS X? Also, what is your hardware like? Is the project stored on the local disk, or elsewhere?

If this project used to perform well and now does not, what changed? Hardware or software changes? Large additions to the project? Change in your work habits?