A very simple question from previous One Note user

Dear colleagues,

I am very new to DevonThink. I just switched to the Mac and am loving it so far. I am in the process of evaluating DevonThink as a substitute for Microsoft OneNote which is not available for Macintosh.

I have a very basic usage scenario question. My research produces different projects and documents, but I often use the same source materials. Should I keep one DT database for this base material or do you advise maintaining more specific databases related to specific papers and projects?

I would like to get a sense from current users – how many DT databases do you have? What are their types and purposes? Does anyone use a very large general database? Has it become unwieldy?

This question is important because it seems to me that the Safari integration (through the Services functionality) as well as the DT widget implies the use of one general database.

Advice? Comments? Thank you very much!

If you use the same sources materials, I suggest you to group all the projects using those sources together.
I have, for example, three test databases (I’m still testing DTP): one for all my different hobby projects, so I can share technical datasheets, guides, links among them and not waste disk space, then I have a database with all the documents, pdfs, papers of my PhD, since there is no overlapping with my hobby projects.
I then have another database as repository of web snippets, interesting web pages, and so on.

If the projects are independant (e.g. using different material/files and no cross-linking between the projects), then usage of multiple databases is usually recommended.

I’m guilty of keeping one massive database (approaching 1GB in size) that can take a bit of time to load up. As well, when moving aruond within the database, there can be delays (evidenced by the spinning pinwheel), but the reality is that it’s a huge database and I’m only running 2GB of RAM. Am willing to live with all of this as my database pretty much holds everything relating to teaching, research, grad students, journal articles (almost 700MB sync’ed to the database) and a bevy of personal notes. I use it for everything, in fact. I often find myself actually doing my writing inside it.

I used to be an avid user of OneNote 2003 and have found DTPO to be superior in most regards, particularly searching.

A few words of advice:

  1. Make sure that you make backups. I have two external firewire hard drives and mirror my main machine every day using SuperDuper. A bit overkill, perhaps, but I don’t want to loose anything.

  2. When using a large database in DTPO, be conscious of other memory-hungry apps that are open that may impact on the performance of DTPO.

  3. Where possible, don’t import heaps of web archives. Yes, they are handy, but if you can get away with just capturing the text and then the URL for later reference, you’ll save a lot of space. I frequently capture news items from online newspaper this way. Works a treat.

Any change on the ability to import from Microsoft OneNote?

chatoyer- how did you migrate? I have hundreds of pages of OneNote files and dread the thought of converting them page by page into word. Any suggestions on a good workaround?

Coming from OneNote, I printed certain groups/folders as pdfs and imported them into DTPO. I also recall just copying into Word documents and then pasting into DTPO. Have to say, I used to think I was a big user of OneNote, but in hindsight I didn’t use it anywhere nearly as much as I use DTPO. It’s night and day, which is why I didn’t have a huge amount to copy/port over from OneNote I guess.

Thanks for the suggestion to print and scan, I hadn’t thought of that. From OneNote to Word, I lose most of my formatting :frowning: