Scrivener routinely crashing and becoming unresponsive

Hi All,

I use Scrivener 3 on a 2019 mac book air running OS Mojave (10.14.2)

I often import a good number of long PDFs and other documents into scrivener to organize my research, but have found that external docs seem to make the program prone to crashing -I’m guessing because the overall project file just becomes too big and unwieldy. The crash generally comes not when I’m actively working on a project, but when I try to open it or, more often, save and close it - I end up having to force quit.

For that reason, I have stopped importing any photo/audio or even word docs into the program, but it hasn’t seemed to resolve the basic issue, even when I throw many of the external files in the trash, empty it, and then clone the project to try and start fresh.

I have backup settings so that I rarely lose my work in this way, but it’s still quite buggy+ frustrating.

Any tips?

Wondering if I can change project settings so there’s some way to view PDFs etc in the Scrivener window without adding them to the project file, or some de-bugging update I"m missing (Scrivener three).

The latest version of Scrivener is 3.1.5. The last version of Mojave was 10.14.6. If that’s not what you have, upgrading both would be a good first step.

The File -> Import -> Research Files as Aliases command is a good way to keep the project size under control. Note that if research files are stored outside the project, Scrivener’s automatic backups won’t include them, they won’t automatically be transferred to other systems with the rest of the project, etc.


Thank you - I do have Scrivener version 3.1.5 installed, and this problem has been persistent for at least a year, so I don’t think the OS is the driving factor, though I will also update that.

The command to import research files as aliases is grayed out in all of my projects. What can I do to activate it?

Do you have any other info about why Scrivener would be crashing so frequently and how to prevent it? Is there a recommended limit to project size, or a way to monitor within the app?

This is happening for me in projects with <20mb of PDF files and perhaps 5-10,000 words of text, so I can’t imagine using Scrivener to work on something book length, which I know some people do…

Routine crashing is definitely not normal, even with projects much larger than yours. I’d need to see a crash report to offer any real suggestions beyond the obvious: make sure you have current versions of everything, and see if the crash still occurs if only Scrivener is running.

If the “Import As Aliases” option is grayed out, make sure you’re in the Research area of the Binder. You can’t import aliases into the Draft folder.


If I were having crashes that regularly, the first thing I would do would be to run some sort of maintenance software, like Onyx. Clearing out all the caches, repairing permissions, rebuilding the Spotlight index and launch database might have an effect. Onyx will scan the hard drive for errors, so it that scan comes back OK, that is probably not the problem. If that did not work, I would reboot in safe mode and see if that helped. You might also try running Activity Monitor while you are working, and see if anything is using a lot of memory. A corrupt pdf or preferences file can create trouble, so it might just be that.