ELAN 6.3 and 6.4 extremely buggy on all M1 macs

Our lab recently purchased new mac M1 computers (some iMacs and some macbooks). We downloaded the most recent version of ELAN (6.4 for M1) and found extreme performance issues. We use ELAN to annotate 16-hr audio recordings of infant language environments. We worked through various previous releases and the one that works most similarly to our previous experience is 6.2-M1, so we’ve been preceding with this version. All computers run MacOS Monterey.

Some issues we noticed with 6.3- M1 and 6.4-M1:

  • Frequent freezing and crashing during playback in transcription mode: coder will try to pause the audio recording and neither the pause button nor the control+space keypress will pause it; the cursor willl disappear and ELAN freezes
  • Inability to select an annotation in the viewer using double click: instead of selecting the annotation, jumping the cursor and timeline to that annotation, and opening the editor, a double click instead just skips over the annotation to a nearby annotation
  • Selecting a segment in Grid mode doesn’t snap the cursor or timeline viewer to that segment
  • Lag loading the viewer during playback in transcription mode-- the timeline skips and has pain gray boxes covering tiers and annotations as if it’s still loading
  • issues switching from transcription mode to segmentation mode etc., sometimes needing to switch between 3+ modes before the view changes to the right mode
  • Failure to select an annotation value using keyboard shortcuts for a controlled vocabulary: when we have the “modify annotation value” dialogue open on an annotation that uses a controlled vocab, pressed the letter for the designated value doesn’t fill that value in on the annotation
  • given the difficulty of selecting the right annotations or stretches of time, keyboard shortcuts that reference the cursor or the current selection often do not work

The problem is not insurmountable since version 6.2 works for our purposes, but I thought it may be helpful if these issues were documented somewhere!


Dear Lilli,

Thank you for your detailed report, disappointing as the message is. I assume the descriptions should allow us to try to reproduce the issues. For most of the seven points the “mode” is already explicitly mentioned, but for some points this could maybe still be added (point 3, Grid mode, is that the Grid viewer in Annotation mode?, in which mode is point 6?)? And do none of these issues occur in ELAN 6.2?

I’m trying to think of whatever could cause these differences in behavior. ELAN 6.3 and 6.4 include a newer version of Java and the new Spectrogram viewer has been introduced (which can be switched off). Apart from that a few other new functions and changes have been made, none of which I can immediately link to the problems you describe. But we will try to reproduce the problems and discover their cause(s).


Hi Han,

Yes, I meant to refer to the grid viewer in annotation mode in point 3. Point 6 is also in annotation mode-- that’s the main mode we work in, so unless otherwise mentioned I probably mean annotation mode! I also would like to amend 1, 4 and 5 to say annotation mode and not transcription mode-- sorry about that!

One more problem I’ve encountered since writing my post is that the crosshair and selection in annotation mode sometimes get “stuck” on a certain point, and even if I try to move the crosshair, or click and drag, or edit an annotation at a different time point, that point is the only one I can e.g. start playback from.

Intuitively it feels like it may be some interaction between Java and the sensitivity of magic mice/trackpad and other commands: it seems like some of the issues (e.g. with laggy playback) happen because ELAN is trying to zoom in and out during playback as if we had pressed ctrl+side scrolled instead of ctrl+space; same with skipping annotations when we try to double click or failing to open the dialogue long enough to choose an option when right clicking an annotation. I’m not sure if this is a well based intuition or not!

Thanks for all your help (and for creating ELAN in general!)

And no, we don’t have any of the same errors in 6.2.

Thanks for the clarifications concerning the mode, Lilli, that’s useful.
The same for your remarks concerning the magic mouse/trackpad. This is maybe something you could test; work a while on one of the M1’s with an ordinary mouse and see if that makes a difference. I’m not sure if we have a magic trackpad around here, but I guess we can try the interaction with a magic mouse at our end too.
If the divide between working and not working versions was between 6.3 and 6.4 I would suspect the problems might be related to the introduction of the scrollpane in which the timeline viewer is now embedded (replacing the separate scrollbars we used to maintain). But if the problems don’t occur in 6.3 that doesn’t really make sense.

You mentioned 16-hr audio and I didn’t ask yet whether the recording is cut up into smaller segments for the purpose of annotation. We are sometimes asked whether the duration of recordings and/or the size of media files do matter and we don’t really know that well. Is this maybe something you could try; whether the problems are related to the length of the recording being annotated?


Thanks a lot for ELAN and also this forum.
I also experienced this problem. With @hasloe comments, I tried unchecking the signal view and spectrogram view in version 6.4, and it worked smoothly.

Turning the two on, one by one, revealed that the problem is mostly with the spectrogram view. The signal viewer makes scrolling and scaling the timeline a little choppy but not by much.

So, I think I will have the spectrogram off for a while.

Thanks again,

Thanks Yahya, it’s good to get such feedback.

As of ELAN 6.1 the signal viewer can be shown based on a video alone, so without an additional .wav file being linked. But if performance is an issue and the signal- and or spectrogram viewer are essential, it is best to also link a .wav file, extracted from the video. When the audio samples can be loaded from a .wav file, this will have less impact on the performance.