Scrivener 3 Freezing OSX High Sierra

I use Scrivener every morning for a couple of hours to write. Invariably, once or twice a week, the program will freeze my computer. Everything will lock - no inputs will work - closing the lid wont even turn off the screen. It is just frozen, running, often with the fan spooling up to maximum speed. Once or twice I ddin’t realize Scrivener had frozen my computer and I put it in the bag, closed up, only to find it later, super heated inside the unventilated bag. The only solution is a manual shutdown. Often, I lose my work.

I’m using a newish 2015 MBP 15" with 16gb of ram and a 1TB hard drive. I dont’ have tons of stuff running. I don’t run other software while writing. This is crazy. I’m using the latest version of High Sierra.

Anyone else have these problems? It is very frustrating. I have a 100k word manuscript in Scrivener and so it isn’t realistic at this point to switch software platforms – but the problem is so mind-numbingly aggravating that I’m considering it.

Thanks for your help!

What do you have running in the background? Cloud drives? Backup software? Anti virus? Anything else using the HD?
Where do you save the project?

Scrivener has been designed from the ground up to help to reduce or eliminate the sort of problem you are facing, mainly by only reading into RAM from your hard disk the files within your project that you are using at any one time. So the smaller such individual files - or documents in other words - the less goes into RAM, the less demanding on the computer’s resources your project is likely to be and the less likely it is to freeze.

Therefore may I ask: how big are the individual documents (in terms of words) within your 100k manuscript? Do they contain any or many images? Is there anything else within your documents that’s out of the ordinary? Do you have any means of measuring how much of your RAM is being used before the computer freezes (there are several cheap or free appllications that could tell you this)? Obviously, other factors could cause the freezing, but checking there’s nothing in the project itself that could do this, alongside the external factors lunk lists above, would be a good place to start.

(I too have 16Gb of RAM on my computer, and Scrivener has never in over ten years got anywhere near to filling it up or freezing the computer.)

Yeah I don’t think this is Scrivener unless there’s something very unusual with your project. I regularly run Scrivener and a dozen other apps concurrently and go a month between reboots with no problems. Can you look in Activity Monitor next time you run Scriv and see where the memory is actually being used?

I am having the same problem. The entire Mac will lock up. I can’t close any program and I can’t force quit any program using the normal method. I finally found that I can force quit using Command+Option+Shift+Esc but I have still lost work. This has happened three times. Using 2014 Macbook Pro with 16gb RAM.

As suggested, run Activity Monitor to see what is actually consuming the CPU.

If it’s definitely Scrivener, use the View -> Sample Process command, and send the results to our support address.

You might also use the Console application (in your Applications/Utilities folder) to see if any error messages are being reported. You can search for Scrivener to filter out irrelevant errors. Send those to the support address as well.

Without more information, it’s hard to offer a definitive answer, but if it were my project I’d look at web pages in the Research folder. I’ve seen a few situations where embedded scripts have led to this kind of behavior.

Other than that, the two most CPU-intensive tasks that Scrivener does are Compiling, and assembling large Scrivenings sessions. Are you doing either of those things when the problem occurs?


I have the same problem, but intermittently. My cursor simply freezes in place for 2-6 seconds then unfreezes.

If you are working on a very large project and have very large documents in the binder, in combination with a slow HD, then it could possibly be Scrivener. Otherwise it sounds more like it is antivirus software or something else running in the background that is causing this.

Intermittent freezing is probably a different issue. First thing to check is the autosave interval, in Scrivener → Preferences → General → Saving.


I have the same issue, but I find Lunk is correct. My machine is old, my project has 5800+ items and I have little memory. Scrivener takes a long time to open/save/close (esp. if you backup the project on close) in such circumstances.

One final dreadful possibility to consider: A few years back I was convinced that my Scrivener project was corrupt. It took forever to open or close, etc. with much spinning of the beach ball. It turned out that my hard drive was failing. It showed up in Scrivener because Scriv is so very disk intensive, much more than other apps. So if all else fails and your Mac has a mechanical hard drive, it wouldn’t hurt to make a backup and get it checked.

To that I’d add, if you can, get the hard disk replaced with an SSID (solid-state drive), it’ll make it feel like a new machine.