Slow in full screen mode

I’m just evaluating Scrivener. I like it in concept, but I’m having some real problems with how slowly it works.

In full-screen mode, one of the features I’m most excited about, I can type several words ahead of what appears on the screen. I don’t have this problem in other programs. Is this a known bug? The program appears to keep up with my typing (which really isn’t all that fast) in regular mode.

I’m running Leopard. Could that be the problem?

I’ve sporadically seen this problem. It helps if you check the “Hide Main Window” checkbox in the full screen preferences.

This box was already checked (guess it’s the default).

Another thing that might be causing a problem is the auto-save. Scrivener auto-saves when there is no activity for some time. If this is set too low (eg. 2 seconds) it may begin an auto-save just before you try to type, hence the slowness.

This was a problem a while ago, with the fix being to make this a larger value (it appears somewhere in the preferences, but I cannot remember where off the top of my head). I’m not sure if it is still a problem at all, or what the default value might be. But it is one worth checking out.

Barring that:

Not sure if it will be relevant, but what sort of machine are you running it on? How much memory, free hard drive space, etc.

Scrivener doesn’t have particularly heavy requirements, but if it is a very old machine it may have some bearing.

Are you running other programs at the time or Scrivener alone? Are you using an external monitor (if on a laptop)?

None of these things should cause a slowdown, but the extra information might be useful to Keith for diagnosing your problem.


I changed the auto-save to 30 sec. but that didn’t do anything.

An iMac (the older model with the monitor attached to the moveable arm). 1.25 GHz Power PC G4. 768 MB. Hard disk has 23 gig free.

I am running other programs. At the moment, Mail, Safari, iTunes, iCal, Omni Focus, Quick Silver, and iChat are running. Nothing is playing on iTunes.

No external monitor (not a laptop). I am running Spaces with 4 virtual screens.

I just turned on Activity Monitor. In full screen mode, Scrivener only uses 1-2% of CPU. When I type, though, CPU usage for Scrivener can spike to 75% of CPU. Is that normal?

23 GB free is not very much. That may not be the problem, but isn’t helping.

768 MB of memory is also not very much. Try shutting down the other programs, particularly Safari, which can use a huge amount of memory depending on the page being visited. If running fewer programs helps, then the problem is that you are paging out to virtual memory, which is much slower. (And even slower than that if space on your hard drive is tight.) Buy more memory and/or run less stuff.


That seems like an awful lot of stuff running and not very much RAM. My G4 PowerBook was ok with 512Mb and a couple of apps, once I upgraded to 1Gb things became vastly improved. I wish I could afford an upgrade to 2Gb.

Try killing everything but Scriv and see if things improve.

Also check for the applications you might be running that do not show up in the Dock. In the past, these types of problems have nearly always been caused by some third party application running in the background and watching everything the user types. Examples include typing expanders such as Typinator and TextExpander, spell check and grammar check programs, key loggers and so forth.

As noted, auto-save should not impact typing speed. Auto-save waits for you to stop typing before it saves. At the worst, you’ll notice a slight lag when you start typing sometimes. This happens when you have paused for two seconds and start typing as soon as the auto-save kicked in. It will lag for a second and then should be full speed again.

Your computer should be fine. I agree with the lack of RAM issues and trying to run too much at once, though that should impact typing speed, just overall application switching and such. But Scrivener was originally developed on an old iBook, and ran fine on that.

There is one other person that had lag issues, a long time ago back in beta. I don’t remember if it ever got resolved. One thing you can try is to make a temporary account on your computer with nothing in it, and try Scrivener from there. If the lag disappears, you know it is something in your settings, or some application you are running in the background.

It was me!

And it is much better now, though I do still see it from time to time. Of course I don’t follow my own advice and have a TON of stuff running. I’m usually fine right after a reboot and then things start to slow down a bit as time goes by.

Someone mentioned 23Gb not being very much space available, well my Power book has not quite 3Gb free. I just have far too much music on this hard drive and can’t recover the space as it is all “important” to me in some way shape or form.

For the record, Scrivener was initially designed to run on an iBook G4 1GhZ with 768MB RAM, and which rarely had more than 3GB of hard disk available - and I test it on that system from time to time still - so it should run on anything of that spec and better without issue (should being the operative word, of course; unfortunately there are always systems where everything should be fine but for some reason one particular app doesn’t work as it should…).

In other words, you shouldn’t be seeing this slowdown, and as I haven’t received other reports about this since I set the main window to be hidden by default, and since I haven’t seen it myself, it’s difficult to know what could be the root of this problem.

As others have suggested, first try closing everything else and rebooting, then only having Scrivener running. Does the problem persist?

What about if you create a new user account and install Scrivener there - does it have the same problem on a “clean” account?

When you encounter this problem, are you on a particularly large screen? Is there a lot of text?


Oh yes, lots of text is a good question. Full screen can get a little murky on my Dual-core 2.1ghz tower with 2GB of RAM, when there is a lot of text in the full screen display. By lots, I mean 77,000 words (441,000) characters). I never actually do that intentionally. I just did it right now to test and make sure it was still slow before speaking up. Generally, with Scrivener there is no reason to be editing that much text at once!

I was not working on a large file (about 1,000 words), but I do have a very large monitor. I think it’s the 21" monitor (I can’t remember the exact size and don’t have a tape measure handy–it was the large monitor they made on those iMac).

I’m willing to quit Safari, but I draw the line at the other programs! :smiley:

I’ll try it without Safari and see what happens. If that doesn’t fix it, then I’ll make a clean account.

It’s not a huge distraction when I’m writing. I can’t actually write as fast as I type. The problem is when I’m transcribing interview. Then the program couldn’t keep up with my typing. Very confusing when the screen lags a word or two behind what you typed and the conversation on tape is already several words ahead of that.

Hi there,

I’ve been trying out Scrivener and had the same problem: full-screen typing was really lagging on my machine (1.33 ghz G4 powerbook, 1.25 gb ram, 10.4.11, 6 gb hd space free).

However, I think I figured out why:

Back when I was writing my master’s thesis, I was using LaTeX heavily, and this lead me to install cocoAspell, because the built-in OSX spell-checker would flag all my LaTeX formatting commands as misspellings. After a bit of detective work, I figured out that turning off cocoAspell (i.e., system preferences -> spelling, then uncheck all dictionaries) made the Scrivener full-screen lag go away. It’s not a completely ideal fix because I’ll have to remember to turn them back on next time I do any work in LaTeX, but it’s livable.

Perhaps this will be helpful to others experiencing similar problems.

Thanks Scrim, for posting that.

TAPrice - do you have anything installed like that?

If not, could you try opening TextEdit, set it not to wrap to page, and then stretch out the TextEdit window to the same size as the text area is in Scrivener’s full screen. Then set the font and attributes in TextEdit to the same ones you are using in Scrivener. Finally, start typing away in TextEdit and see if that suffers the same lag. It may be that the OS X text system struggles with enormous sizes - I have certainly seen something similar before. If TextEdit struggles when set to the same size and attributes as Scrivener’s full screen, then it shows it is a more system-wide problem. If not, it shows there is something happening in Scrivener.

If TextEdit works fine in this instance, what about coloured text? Do you override the text colour in full screen? If so, try turning that off. It shouldn’t make a difference but it is worth trying.