Text search in large projects

I am using the latest version of Scrivener for Windows (, Windows 7) to collect my research data in a diary (one project) that I maintain since more than a year, each day in a separate document. This way, I have now collected about 200 documents with 10-20 pages each day.
Until recently, I had successfully used text search to localize those documents (and the position of the text) in which I already discussed a particular topic (gene, since I am geneticist) and it was very easy to quickly get a list of all documents in which I had collected material on the search item.
Now, I realize that it is getting increasingly difficult to get any search results back when searching for a particular word in the small window up right. Sometimes a subpopulation of documents is highlighted in the search window of the binder (but only the most recent ones), sometimes I do not get any results back. This is so severe that I even consider abandoning Scrivener altogether sinces text researches are most important for me and part of my daily work.
Any suggestions what could get wrong? Are 2000 printed pages too much to handle for Scrivener?

Addendum: I also own Scrivener for Mac, and: same issue: if you search for an item, you tend to get in the search results the pages that had been open last, sometimes None at all, suggesting that there may be a Memory Problem with handling such large data sets

I suddenly have the same problem. I have opened earlier versions of my manuscript from a couple of months ago and they work fine, yet now neither Find or Search works, in that No files are highlighted in the binder.
However if I open a file in the editor that contains the searched term, it is highlighted OK.
However it does not seem to be caused by the size of the file:
The manuscript has a similar amount of text as before.
However I have deleted a lot of material from the Research folder, so:
The overal scrivener file is now half the size (30Megs now, 60Megs earlier), so it isnt the project file size that is the problem.
The compiled file in docx is now 5 Megs now it was 8 Megs.

According to Resource monitor (windows 7 64bit), there is still plenty of free memory.
I just closed both Outlook and Chrome and voila!, search works again.
Now restarted both and it still works.

So Bmeister, did you find a permanent solution?


This sounds like the project needs to be reindexed. When working in the project, the search works from a plain-text file of all the document text, as this is much faster than going through each of the RTF files, but if that index file gets out of sync, you could end up with a problem like you’re seeing where documents aren’t being returned because the copy of their text in the search file is outdated. Normally of course this should all be kept up to date by Scrivener, but crashes or Dropbox sync issues or the like could cause a problem.

To force Scrivener to recreate the index file, open the project’s .scriv folder in Windows Explorer when the project is closed and remove the search.indexes file from the Files folder. Then open the project in Scrivener and run a project search in All using any search term. That will probably take a moment to complete, as it will rebuild the full project index, and then you should be good to go. (The search term is irrelevant; the point is just to make Scrivener have to search through all the text and recompile the index.)

Bmeister can do this when working in the Mac version via File > Save and Rebuild Search Indexes (hold the Option key while viewing the File menu to see this) and may need to do so occasionally if there appears to be a problem with the search; it seems sometimes the index files aren’t updating correctly when going back and forth cross-platform, so if you notice a problem with the search or where icons or word counts don’t seem to match what you expect (e.g. a blank icon initially appears for a file that has text), it may be worth rebuilding the index.

Thanks Jennifer, I will do as you suggest.
“crashes or Dropbox sync issues or the like could cause a problem.”
This may well be the source of my problem as I use Dropbox for my main Scrivener files.
Thanks again