Scrivener and PDFs

Hello All,

First time posting here, and was curious if anyone knows the approximate number of pdfs scrivener can hold without compromising the program’s speed and functionality? Each pdf is approximately the size of a 20 page journal article.

Thank you so much and apologies if this topic was already discussed in another thread.


Technically the only limit is the number of files you are allowed to keep in a single folder in OS X (which is thousands). Scrivener only opens the files you choose to look at during a session, so if you have 1,000 PDF files in your project and only look at two during a particular session, only those two will be opened into memory (and they will be cleared from memory when you select to view a different document, as only text files are kept around in memory as the program runs). However, there are some considerations:

• If Scrivener crashes, upon re-opening it re-indexes all files containing text in the project for search purposes. With many PDF files, this re-indexing-after-a-crash can take a long time. (Obviously I don’t plan for Scrivener to crash and work to squash all bugs, but in reality there is the rare crash.)
• Some PDF files - mainly those with no text - can cause a crash on re-indexing (although I can fix that for you if it happens).

I’ve done some work on this for 2.0 so that neither of the above will be issues for Scrivener 2.0, but it is something to be aware of. There should be no problems with memory and suchlike though.

All the best,

Thanks, Keith, for your quick and helpful reply!

Maybe this is something already included in the mentioned optimisation, but I wonder if it would be safe to consider PDF documents as immutable? Alter the index system to keep two index caches, one for mutable text and one for immutable text, like in PDFs. The immutables index would alter as items are added or removed, but otherwise wouldn’t ever be changed and could be considered safe to use between crashes. Keep the manual re-synch option to do a full rebuild though, for those unusual cases where people have a full copy of Acrobat and periodically really do edit their PDFs for whatever reason.

This is already included, yes. Once a PDF file is imported in 2.0, Scrivener won’t re-index it again unless the search indexes file is missing altogether.
All the best,