Scrivener on new Mac hangs (Not responding) when opening a scrivener project

I have used scrivener on two macs using zip files to manually transfer the projects back and forth. I recently replaced one of the machines (a work machine). I transferred my Scrivener project to that new machine. When I open it on the hard drive (not in a sync folder) Scrivener hangs and goes to “Not Responding”. On other attempts to open the project it tries to update the search index and then never opens the project (resulting in Not Responding).

The project continues to work on my personal Mac. I have tried making copies of the project and transferring it to the new mac and I get the same results.

I should say that the project I am trying to open is ~80k words with ~50 sections broken into chapters. I am relatively new to Scrivener so I don’t know if this is considered “big” and I should just let the program sit at not responding for awhile to see if it works through the issue.

Any thoughts?

Are you able to create new projects, open them, and so on with the new Mac?

Are your existing Mac and the new Mac using the same version of Scrivener?


Thank you for the response. Yes, both Macs are running Scrivener 3.1.5 and both are on the same version of macOS.

I can open and start new projects on the new Mac.

I allowed Scrivener to sit “not responding” and it eventually opens the project after 5-6 minutes. But when I try to switch between documents in my project is hangs again usually for 5-6 minutes each time.

The project continues to work on my old Mac with no issue besides some lag when switching between documents. It is only on the new Mac. I have also had my IT person delete my Mac user account on the new machine and start with an entirely new user account and the same thing is happening (my old work computer ran Scrivener just fine. The only switch is the new machine is a 16" macbook pro rather than a 13").

The machine type should have no impact. I’m running Scrivener on a few month old 16” and have opened projects from the previous machine ranging from a few lines of example text to a couple of completed works.

Have you uninstalled and reinstalled Scrivener? Does the new machine display any similar process with other apps?

I figured the machine should have no impact. I have uninstalled and reinstalled Scrivener with the same issue. All other apps seem to be working as expected (no issues).

I’ve seemed to found the issue (will explore more tomorrow when I work with the project). I installed Scrivener on my partner’s computer and loaded my project. It worked as expected. However, when installing Scrivener on my partner’s computer I did NOT grant access to my contacts. Which made me think to see if I had done so on my new machine. Apparently I granted Scrivener access to Contacts on my new Mac (whether intentional or not). After removing that permission (and checking my personal machine for permissions and seeing that I had not granted contact access) the project seems to work as expected.

This is all to say that perhaps this is a unique occurrence but I would appreciate developers looking into this conflict. It seems that a simple disclaimer in Scrivener documentation about granting access to contacts and the possibility that it will slow down the project could be helpful to resolve such issues.

I will see how the project behaves tomorrow.

What version of Mac OS do you have?

There have been some cases where not granting Scrivener access to Contacts can cause performance issues, but this is the first I’m aware of where granting such access causes a problem.

Just to clarify what you’re seeing, it sounds like you gave Scrivener permission when it asked, but did not allow Contact access at the system level?


I am using mascOS 10.15.6 on both machines.

I’ll try to clarify here: On my old macbook I did not grant Scrivener access to contacts when installing (or at least it did not have the box in the Privacy pain checked to allow it to access my contacts). On the new mac, however, I did grant access. I granted that access when Scrivener installed and asked for access to Contacts (I did nothing beyond that, which I assume is what you mean by system level access). After troubleshooting on a third machine and realizing that it asked for access to contacts (to which I said no and the project opened just fine), I went back to my new machine and went into System Preferences–>Security and Privacy and in the Privacy Pane under Contacts I unchecked the box that allowed Scrivener access to contacts . So now all machines do not grant Scrivener access and all are working fine. I have been using my project on my new machine for about two hours this morning and have had no issues.

I wonder if, perhaps, all machines either have to have access granted OR not granted. It seems that there was a conflict since I had granted different permissions on each machine. I wouldn’t expect this to be an issue but from my trial and error having removed access to contacts on my new machine so that the permissions are the same on both machines has seemingly solved the problem I was experiencing.

Scrivener installations are completely independent of each other, so the setting on one machine shouldn’t affect the others.

Also Scrivener doesn’t use Contacts access for very much, just to populate some of the project metadata.

Very odd. One test might be to enable Contact access on one of your older machines. Catalina locks a lot of things down by default, so it’s possible that there are some other differences between the new machine – which presumably has Apple’s default settings – and the old, which you’ve presumably tweaked yourself over the years.


Apologies for the delay. I tested allowing Scrivener to access contacts on my old machine and opened the project. It resulted in the same issue (unresponsive, 5-10 minute load times, etc) that I was having on the new mac with contacts access allowed (no other application on old or new machine has asked for access to contacts). After closing Scrivener and then removing Contact access the machine reverts back to normal functioning when opening the Scrivener project in question.

Not sure if this is a fluke unique to me but it definitely seems that when I allow access to Contacts (on either machine Scrivener hangs.

Thank you for the update. That’s definitely useful for us to know and investigate further.