Scrivener temporarily halts/freezes/lags

Hi, I did a forum search and found only one thread similiar to mine —, which is unfortunately still unanswered. So I’m posting my version of the question here:

I am in the midst of editing my 600-page or so novel, and constantly find myself entering a few characters, then getting the spinning ball for five to ten seconds with no response from Scrivener whatsoever, after which all characters I entered during the “freeze” appear in one quick, buffered swipe.

This has been going on for a while — specifically, since writing the last couple of chapters in the first draft. So it COULD be an issue with the manuscript being too long to handle — but should it? Should long documents cause Scrivener to choke?

Some random info:
MacBook Air 13" early 2015 — best specs available at the time.
Everything updated to latest versions, including OSX of course.
Halt/freeze only occurs in Scrivener, but regardless of view mode: full screen, composition mode, regular page view.

Any thoughts? Not only is it frustrating, but also constantly jerks me out of “being there” and out into the reality of struggling with software…

All advice appreciated!



The suggestions there worked for me when experiencing a similar issue.

Great suggestion but unfortunately the problem remains. :neutral_face:

I’m wondering if it’s related to being in revision mode, having Scrivener halt when entering revised (red) text into a paragraph of normal black text?
Can’t really see why that should happen, but it’s the only “non-normal” thing I can see that I’m doing…

Anyone else recognizing this?

Have you looked at the swap usage in the Memory tab of Activity Monitor? That’s the only other cause I can think of.

Have you got the whole 600-page text loaded in a Scrivening’s session, or a large part of it?

Just thought I’d ask.

Mr X

You say that as if it’s a bad thing… :smiley:

Yes I do, in my eyes that’s one of the strengths with Scrivener.
Please don’t tell me I can’t have all of my novel open at once…? :open_mouth:

(About the Memory tab, I don’t see anything out of the ordinary — then again, I’m not sure I would recognize what out of the ordinary means… None of the graphs are hitting the roof though, so I’m guessing memory and CPU-wise things looks okay.)

The feeling is as if once I enter some text, either in a new place in the document or somewhere where I’m already working, I will hit a “buffer limit” — sometimes after just a few characters, sometimes after a sentence or two — and that Scrivener has to dump/save the buffer at that point, causing the system to lock up and show the spinning ball while doing so.
Again this is just my interpretation, you know how we all look for patterns in the inexplicable…

There’s nothing wrong with my hard drive (it’s an SSD with a lot of room) and my memory configuration was the highest available when I bought the computer a year ago.

Anyways, I’ll try to see what happens if I only load smaller parts into the scrivening session. Will report back to see if that solves the issue.


Hi Fredrik

If you have updated to the latest version of Scrivener, cold-booted the Mac, etc, etc, etc, these suggestions might be worth a try.

  1. Open the project and press CMD ALT S (CMD OPT S, depending on your keyboard) to force Scrivener to Rebuild Search Indexes for the project.

  2. Increase the auto-save period (and then use CMD S regularly), as suggested by developer Keith in this thread: Scrivener getting slow - #2 by KB

Hope this helps.


Briar Kit

I don’t say it’s a bad thing … it’s one of Scrivener’s great features, but I just thought, if you’ve got the equivalent of 600 pages loaded at once—which must be the equivalent of over 1.2 million words—if you add a couple of words near the top, that is inevitably going to take time as they change the wrap on that line so each of the lines below in your Scrivening’s session is going to have to be recalculated … even though you can’t see them.

For a text of that length, I’d load it chapter by chapter into Scrivenings, rather than the whole lot at a time.

Mr X

Wow. 1.2 million words / 600 pages = 2,000 words per page. You must have very big pages or use a very small font (and have amazing eyesight). You really get that many words on a page, or a miscalculation?

I usually work on 300 words per page. My guess, 600 x 300 = 180,000. Sizeable, but within Scivener’s working parameters, I think.


Briar Kit

180.000 is a very accurate estimate. (It does round up to a million or so characters though, so I’m guessing the thought was right but the wording wrong.) :smiley:

In fact, since the book is divided into “parts”, I tried loading them one at a time. So far (fingers crossed) this seems to be helping. Which means that about 50.000 words at once works fine, while all 180.000 does not.
I imagine this could also be complicated by how many comments (a lot) or footnotes (none) that have to be parsed and hidden, too?

Anyways, a pity scrivener can’t handle my entire story right now, but more importantly, I can keep writing without stopping all the time. So that’s a trade off I can handle!

(About the search indexes, I’ve seen scrivener doing that spontaneously when opening the project, several times. Is that an indication that something is wrong…? )

Thanks for everyone’s help!


Top score for diplomacy. :slight_smile:

How about the auto-save period?

Re the search indexes, the manual says:

If someone doesn’t answer this question on the forum, it might be worth checking with tech support to find out if regular rebuilds for a 180k-word project are of concern:


Briar Kit

Haha. Thanks. :smiley:

Have to admit I never really checked if changing the auto-save time might work — partly because the smaller scrivening portions seem to be doing the trick, but also because I stubbornly feel like saving shouldn’t be a problem regardless of a project’s size.
As far as I understand, Scrivener only saves the actual document I’ve changed, right? So if I’m right there, that means even if the novel may be somewhat of a brick, the documents range only from a couple of hundred to a few thousand words and should manage to save without stuttering too much…

Oh well, I’ll have to investigate further when I’m not on a deadline.
Right now, I’m just happy it works!


Wish I knew the answer to that one: if a text is loaded in scrivenings, do all the files in the scrivenings view get saved or only the single document that has been edited? :unamused:

Still, if you have a solution that works, no need to chase another solution.

Happy writing.

Briar Kit

I’m almost positive that it’s only the documents that have been edited, but even assuming that’s the case, having X documents open in memory at the same time as opposed to X*2 or more means that you have a lot more internal memory overhead for the various data structures required to track those documents (file handles, etc.) – some of which can be optimized for in the program, some of which can only be optimized for in the OS. If you only have a limited amount of memory in specific structures like the stack or heap for tracking changes, you may be incurring some un-designed for swapping, etc. to switch back and forth throughout the entire collection of open documents.


Briar Kit

Well — yes, and no — I thought I had it, but it seems I didn’t.
Loading smaller chunks into the Scrivenings windows helps sliiightly.
But unfortunately far from completely.

The amount of text in my Scrivenings window is now just above 60.000 words — that shouldn’t be outside of the limits, right? — and yet, I still get those hiccups of unresponsiveness (followed by a stream of misspelled letters when the buffer comes onto the screen).
I don’t see the spinning ball now — because of the lower number of words? — but it sure freezes just as described. Perhaps slightly, slightly briefer.

Some observations:

It doesn’t help how long I set the “auto-save after xxx seconds” to because the hiccup doesn’t come after that certain period of inactivity. If that were the culprit, it would only appear when I start working exactly around xxx seconds after stopping. Right?
Rather, the problem does appear to always come as I start typing again — i.e. following a period of inactivity (let’s call it thinking, that feels better) whether that pause was seconds or minutes or anything in between.
(It also doesn’t happen at every thinking pause — so it’s really hard to find a pattern).

This has become my way of working with Scrivener now: type, stop to think, come up with something, start writing, see a handful of letter appear, continue typing without anything popping up, see what I just typed appear in a stream, notice the inevitable typo, go back and fix it, realize I forgot what I came up with. Rinse and repeat… :unamused:

Also: Turning off “allow the harddrives to rest when possible” (or whatever is the correct label in English) under Energy Saving in System Prefs doesn’t help either (I had good hopes for that one, as the lag seems to appear after som inactivity, but alas.)

So, I’m back to square two. Or something.
Any more thoughts?

I see Keith isn’t posting in the support forum anymore — any other official voices in here?
All help appreciated,


What else are you running on your system? Having lag after “minutes” of thinking time suggests that your computer is going off and doing something else while Scrivener is inactive, and the lag is because Scrivener needs to recover its chunk of the system resources.

Backup software, virus scans, and system “cleanup” utilities are especially notorious for this kind of behavior.


Also, are you in Page View mode, or doesn’t it matter?

If you combine Page View with a large Scrivenings session, even trivial changes can force Scrivener to re-paginate the whole thing.