Scrivener file problem; crash

I use Scrivener as a way to store all of my notes and research for my dissertation. Today I experienced a problem with Scrivener, and I haven’t been able to remedy it, even after reading the troubleshooting section of the FAQ. Since all of my research is in this file, I’m terrified to lose access to it. Here’s what happens:

I copied and pasted a great deal of text into a new text file, and Scrivener crashed.
Now when I try to open the file, and Scrivener says “Syncronizing Search Strings…”
Then nothing happens, and finder says the application is not responding.
It’s a rather large file (500 mb), so perhaps I should split it into several, but first I need to get it working again…

Scrivener will open other projects perfectly fine, but not this one.

Even if I can’t get the file to open all the way, is there any way to recover the text files inside it? Please help me! I have backed up my information, but only in the form of the Scrivener file, so if I can’t open it, I’m up a creek without any dissertation notes!

Just a bit more information. Scrivener actually just freezes during the synchronisation, and I have to force quit, so it’s not an actual crash, I suppose. I’ve also attached the crash report below.

I searched on the forum for the synchronisation problem and saw that it often has to do with corrupted pdfs, so i went through the package as suggested, but none of them messed up in Preview.

Also, I’m using version 1.2 on OSX 10.5.8, if that helps. Sorry for the lack of details earlier. I’m pretty new to Scrivener, and I was in the midst of a freak-out moment.



I think you forgot to attach the crash report. It turns out that PDF files can also cause a problem if they have no text in them. I’ve just e-mailed you with a build that will hopefully fix the issue, but let me know.

All the best,

I just came to the forums to see whether there are any fixes for a similar situation, although my book file’s only 200MB–! It’s been requiring a force-quit almost daily this week, followed by synchronizing the search strings. Yup, that takes a while, but then everything’s okay.

I’m on deadline for the book–two years of work that I would NOT have been able to survive without Scrivener. I have multiple backups, and this force-quit/synchronize business is only an inconvenience, but it’s cutting about 15 to 30 minutes of work time out of every day, and if there’s a fix I’d like to find it!

Thanks, Keith, for the fantastic program. I recommend it to everyone who has a Mac, and for folks on PCs I recommend they buy Macs so they can run it. (I know a lot of writers.)

Deborah Robson
Nomad Press
writing a book for Storey Publishing that will be released this fall whether I get it finished or not. . . .

Is the useful crash report the one that’s generated automatically to be sent to Apple? If so, here’s the most recent one.

TextEdit saved as .RTF, which the forum didn’t want to accept, so I’m trying .DOC. I couldn’t find a .TXT, which was my first choice. . . .

2010-03-02Scrivcrash.doc (401 KB)

That’s the one, but unfortunately there’s not much in that one to go on (that’s the way with crash reports - sometimes they tell you exactly where the crash is happening, sometimes they return some obscure system information that doesn’t help much other than to tell you, yup, it crashed). Could you please tell me what is happening at the time it crashes? Anything you notice that you are doing in the file when Scrivener crashes would be really useful.

Thanks and all the best,

Hi, Keith: It just crashed again, and I’m resynching again.

The two times today, I have been working in a particular folder. The second time, I was about to compare two research files to see if they’re the same and whether I can get rid of one. The second one is an .htm web file, imported. The second one was, I think, a copy/paste of similar material into a Scrivener text file . . . I can’t go back to double-check until it finishes synching again. I may actually ZAP the .htm file when I’m in there (if it doesn’t freeze first). I can always go get it again if I need it–I’ve already pulled the data I wanted out of it.

However, I’m not sure I even had those files yet when it was crashing before. I was working on other topics all last week.

I’ll see if I can get another crash report from this occurrence. I’m not sure it gave me one because I hadn’t sent the previous one yet. . . .

Thanks for being there.



Okay, I don’t know if we have ALL the problems isolated, but we do have one identified.

Both files I’m looking at are web imports, .HTM, of the same site, with different names on the files.

ONE of those files definitely causes the program to crash (I haven’t been able to check the other one yet, due to crashing {wry grin}). I thought I’d managed to highlight and delete it quickly before the most recent crash (it disappeared as if actually deleted), but it showed up again in its original position after resynch. I can’t click on it without crashing the program, which leaves me not sure how to get rid of it. Although I’m going to go look for the PDF-clearing techniques elsewhere in the forum, in case that helps.

The other version of the file did not cause a crash.

The first version is toxic.

Again, I don’t know if this is the ONLY problem, but it’s clearly identified as one major trap that causes an immediate freeze.

Found the PDF-search instructions you’d posted, Keith, and used them to search out HTM files within the .scriv file. Found the one I’d imported 2/24, number 3031, and . . . it froze Safari while I was viewing it. I’ve deleted it from Finder and am resynching (and fixing another cup of tea).

IF this series of crashes has all been since 2/24 (and they may have been), this file may be the only culprit. Hoping that’s the case.


That’s good to hear - let me know if it carries on crashing though.

I’ve just e-mailed the op with a solution for her problem - cpurnell had a bad RTFD file in there. I’ve never seen an RTFD crash Scrivener like that before, but it crashed TextEdit too.

All the best,

That file’s gone, and although it appeared to load with the new file opening, there was a “failed to load” message, so I deleted its reference from the folder.

WE MAY BE OKAY NOW. Will let you know if anything else goes awry.

Thanks for the clues here that led me to what might be a solution.

Interesting that there were RTFD and HTM problems just now. The other HTM file (same site) does appear to be fine.


Hi, Keith:

The freezing isn’t over. I just got back to actual work and was opening another folder, and just a straight Scriv doc that I’ve been using for almost two years, and it froze.

Crash report from this incident attached, just in case it’s more useful than the last one.

2010-03-02-b-Scrivcrash.doc (412 KB)

Not much in there again, I’m afraid. Where are your projects stored? Are they stored locally, on the hard drive, or on something like iDisk?

Locally. I have backups on an external drive and Carbonite. I keep some files on iDisk, but I don’t work from them and none of the Scrivener files are there.

Temporary fix to get working again: I copied the Scrivener file, then went into the copy and stripped out everything other than what I need to work with right now. (I initially thought I’d check all the HTM and PDF files individually to see whether another one froze Safari or Preview, but then I looked at how many of them there are. . . . And my deadline for the ms. was yesterday. . . . )

So I haven’t identified the further problem or solved it, but I’ve had the stripped Scrivener file open and working for a while without a freeze-up.

I still need to go back into the other file to work later, but not right this moment.

Glad things are working for now. It is possible that it was a web page problem, actually. If you get chance when you’re less busy, you could try bring the files back in a few at a time, to narrow it down to which ones are causing issues.

All the best,

This is definitely a workaround–I don’t have access to my complete project, and at some point I will need to figure out how to merge the two files (the truncated one I’m using now, and the master file) while making sure the most recent versions of the changed files and folders don’t overwrite the old ones. At the moment, thinking of that gives me a headache, so I’m putting on blinders and plowing forward. Unless there is a way you already know of to do this?

If it was a web page problem, then it seems strange that one instance of the page was corrupted and another of the same page was not (I have been running full speed ahead toward this deadline and imported that one twice, with different names).