Repairing a frozen/broken file

I need some help fixing an unresponsive file!

I accidentally pasted a bit of “Zalgo” text (which looks like this: without thinking into my document, and it has caused the file/program to freeze. The first thing I did was try to quit, but it saved the file automatically before closing, which has pretty much trapped it in this frozen state. When I re-opened Scrivener the first time, it opened both the “frozen” file and another one I had open before closing. The other one worked fine—I could click on it and edit the text—but the one I accidentally pasted into is just frozen.

Here’s a picture of what the window looks like. (I blocked my work out, because I’m not comfortable sharing it with the entire internet yet.)

I am pretty much positive that the erroneous pasting is what is messing up my file, but I have no idea how to fix it, short of nuking the file itself from orbit. In the state it’s in, it’s impossible to do anything with, including editing the text, deleting the scene, or exporting it in any way. Rolling it back to before I pasted the text in is probably impossible at this point, since it autosaved over the previous version. The only thing I can think to do is just delete the file and start over with an old version of the file I have lying around, but I REALLY don’t want to do that, since I would lose at least three or four months worth of work.

I’m very frustrated, and quite irritated with myself! This is my biggest Scrivener file and I really don’t want to lose the whole thing, but I have no idea how to fix it, since I’ve never encountered this problem before. Thanks in advance and sorry for the long post.

When I have problems like this, I use FileJuicer.
I don’t know if it will work on Zalgo,
Usually I am just extracting text from PDF files.

As for the file “frozen” in Scrivener,
Can you not just delete it and then empty Trash?
That is, the Trash in Scrivener.

Here’s the first thing to try:

  1. Ctrl-click on the affected .scriv project in the Finder so that the contextual menu appears.

  2. From the contextual menu, select “Show Package Contents”. This will open up the innards of the .scriv file. .scriv files are really just special folders that only look like regular files (and act like them for the most part). This file package format means that Scrivener only has to open files it needs for a particular session (rather than loading everything into memory, and thus allowing it to support large projects), but it also means that if one document in your project gets corrupted for some reason, everything else should be intact.

  3. Drill down into the Files/Docs folder inside the .scriv package. You’ll see lots of numbered files (Scrivener uses a numbering system internally to identify files).

  4. Make sure the Finder is in list view and sort by date.

  5. Find the most recently-edited text document. The most recent .rtf file should be the one that is corrupted. Double-click on it to open it in TextEdit. If it opens, you can confirm it’s the file you think is corrupted; if TextEdit freezes, then you know it’s the corrupted file.

  6. Once you’ve located the corrupted file, move it to the Trash.

  7. Now try opening the project in Scrivener again. (If it opens, the document that contained the corrupted text will now be blank.)

If this doesn’t work, please email us at AT literatureandlatte DOT com, so that we can sort out taking a look at the file ourselves. I’m sure we’ll be able to get it working again one way or another.

All the best,

That did the trick, Keith—thank you SO much!