Scrivener crashes when trying to open project

I finished my big graphic novel project last night. Yay!

I went to compile the manuscript. This worked.

Then I went to try to compile all the numerous art references and notes with pictures. Scrivener freaked out, had some error, and now will not open the project successfully on either machine.

I have them linked via Dropbox.

I had some troubles with it complaining about there being no room on the drive, so I dumped a ton of music files and freed up 20 GB, so that shouldn’t be an issue.

Unfortunately, since it was an issue for a while, I hadn’t done that many recent backups because those had crashed when I exited. I was going with the copy on Dropbox which was also copying to my laptop.

How do I get this open so I can get my files? Will it work to open in on a Mac instead? I bought a copy of Scrivener for Mac and may able to get a Mac laptop from a friend. I’m trying right now with a more powerful Windows laptop. It seems the problem is that the file now makes the computer run out of memory.


Okay, I just put Dropbox onto an otherwised unused newer laptop, along with Scrivener, and tried to open the project. It said either it was open or it wasn’t saved properly. Since both the other machines were off, it definitely wasn’t open. So I saved a copy. Now, when I try to run Scrivener, even on the fancier Windows laptop, it crashes.

Will it possibly fix this to try with a Mac system? How do I get my files? The project is over a gig, and since dropbox has those files, they’re obviously there.

I tried the method listed here, but no luck:

I went and peeked into some of the subfiles and found that they’re all there. The program just doesn’t know how to organize them. Is there a way to manually just put all the Scrivener directories back together again? I can sort 800 pages of a manuscript if I have to, but I’d rather have a way to recover each.

Are you getting an error message when Scrivener tries to open the project? Does it start to open but then just go into “Not Responding” mode?

If the problem is just a corrupt project.scrivx file, you may be able to fix it simply by removing the .scrivx file from the project folder and replacing it with one of the backup copies found in the project’s Files folder, binder.autosave or binder.backup. Normally Scrivener should fall back on one of these automatically if the .scrivx file isn’t working, but depending what kind of error is going on, it may not be doing that.

The .autosave and .backup files are both just zipped folders, so you can copy the files from the project, then change the extension on the copy to “.zip” so you can open it. Then drag the .scrivx file in the zipped folder into the project’s .scriv folder to replace the original .scrivx file that you moved. (I would move rather than delete the original, until you’re sure later that you don’t need it.)

Before doing this, it’s best to make a backup if you haven’t already. Either right-click the project’s .scriv folder and choose “Send to \ Compressed (zipped) folder” or save a copy of the project folder to an external drive if there’s insufficient space on your local drive.

I think what happened was that the system got short on space–too many music downloads–then had problem saving a few things. I remedied the space problems quickly, but those must have made a few gaps in the directory structure. I read the project through beginning to end before compiling it. That went well. But when I tried to put together all the art-heavy research files–and moreover, reorganized them into a more logical directory structure–Scrivener had more problems. I then tried to compile everything, including the art files, and it crashed. It hasn’t opened since. What happens is that it attempts to open, but nothing shows up on the screen. But Window Task Manager reveals that Scrivener is doing TONS of stuff before failing to come. This may be what also caused the troubles opening things on my laptop when Scrivener crashed on the desktop, since Scrivener wasn’t gone, just invisible. But I’ll try your solution and cross my fingers, since there’s a file dated just before the crash.

Do you remember what view mode you were using? It might be that Scrivener is trying to load all of your large files onto the corkboard or, if they were embedded images, in a Scrivenings session, and that’s just draining too many resources so it burns out before it can get the project open. Something else you can try then is editing the ui.ini file in ProjectName.scriv\Settings. Open it in a text editor and set the following lines to 0:


Save that and then try opening the project. It should open with the Draft folder loaded but as “single text”, which means nothing will actually display there since the Draft folder doesn’t have any text of its own; it will just say “Draft Folder” in the editor. If that works, you can switch to outliner mode (View > Outliner) and try working that way for a bit, as it should be a little less intensive than corkboard for images.

I definitely wasn’t using the corkboard. I’m not really certain how the corkboard works and I’m not a corkboard sort of person.

What I was doing was writing a graphic novel using Anthony Johnson’s template, then saving all my image references in files an then having the files in folders. Pretty standard.

Anyway, I was able to get the program to open with a saved file from about 2 hours before the crash. Apart from the directories being back in their original order, this was fine.

The trouble is, while not just hanging forever, it kept having STD::Bad:allocation errors. This is what had happened before, when I’d run out of file space. Scrivener, while opening, would crash if you looked at any file it forgot it had. It was also weird, going back and forth from crash to crash forgetting then remembering a file.

I exported all of my files for my artist and I think I managed to save everything, but there’s no way I’ll be able to revise anything in Scrivener with it acting like this.

Is this a Windows problem? Would it be solved by moving to a Mac platform?

Working on the Mac might solve it; it’s hard to say exactly. The error you’re seeing is a memory issue, resulting from having a lot of huge graphics embedded in your documents if I understand your set up correctly. So in some sense it’s tied to how the Windows version is programmed and how software works on Windows. The fact that you have huge graphics embedded in the project will obviously not go away when you switch to the Mac version, so you could still run into problems, most probably just that things would run slowly, but possibly other errors depending on your system.

There are some ways around it, though, or at least ideas to keep in mind for your next project. For one, rather than embedding your full-scale images, you could use linked images in your documents and display a lower-res version while you’re working, then swap those for the high-res images when you’re ready to compile. Linked images are described in §15.5.2 in the user manual.

The Mac version also has the option of using placeholder tags for your images, so you’d completely avoid loading images while working by using a text code instead. This isn’t supported on the Windows version yet, although the code itself isn’t going to be affected, you’d just need to always compile from the Mac. If you have access to both versions regularly though, that shouldn’t be much of a hardship. The main question for this one is whether you need to have an image of some sort in the text to reference when you’re working, or if the placeholder text is sufficient. Keeping in mind you can always load an imported image in the split editor (rather than embedding it in your text), this might be a good option for you. Image placeholder tags are discussed in §15.5.4 in the Mac user manual.

Finally, just in case you haven’t already, check that you’re up to date with version 1.6.1 on Windows. There were some older image loading issues causing the allocation error, so if you’re on an older version, some of the problem may be resolved simply by upgrading Scrivener. Help > About Scrivener will show your current version number.

I’m using 1.6.1. The text of my project itself doesn’t have graphics in it, thankfully, but I was creating very large scrapbooks of graphics in my Notes section. Basically an appendix with art references. Is there a way within Scrivener to split these out into separate projects? And once there are separate projects, to toggle between them easily?

If you’re talking about distinct files in the binder (as opposed to the “document notes” in the inspector), you can copy these to a new project easily by dragging and dropping from the one project’s binder to the other. Multiple projects can be open simultaneously; just use File > New Project… to create a new project while one is open or File > Open… to open an existing one. You can toggle between them with the Alt+Tab shortcut or from the task bar.