Accessing DT content as Volume in Finder

Now, as new DEVONthink user, I am a bit underwhelmed by the fact that the DT content is not usable as regular Volume within Finder and for the command line (Terminal, iTerm2, …).

Why is that so?

DEVONthink To Go offers this since it beginnings and I “naturally” expected the same for DEVONthink.

This would make DT much more usable and offer endless possibilities.

Cryptomator does the same and offers itself as regular mounted Volume to be used from any application:

http://localhost:42427/xxxxxxxx/OneDrive_TJA_Cryptomator/ 482797652 89821008 392976644 19% 0 0 100% /Volumes/OneDrive_TJA_Cryptomator

Is this so difficult to implement, compared to DTTG?


Thanks for the suggestion! A future release might add this but so far we have received very few requests of this kind. Personally I would suggest to use indexed files/folders instead as the integration is bidirectional since version 3 and as you can use these indexed files/folders even when DEVONthink is not running.


As far as i understood indexing, changes from DT (rearranging in new hierarchies of groups) is not reflected by changes of the folder structure within the original files and folders.

If this is true, your suggestion does simply not apply. At all.

The original folders may, for example, just be giants folders of PDF files and images, without any order, structure or file system hierarchy.

But having them indexed in DT would allow to sort them for projects, people, years, topics and even related tags.

And this hierarchy of groups within DT is what people want to see, access and use from other Apps.

If i still need to access the unordered and unsorted original folders, I don’t need to use DT at all.

The point is to access the new group hierarchy of DT from other Apps.
Like I can do with other Apps on iOS / iPadOS when accessing the DEVONthink document provider in the Files App.

So, finally i am not sure if you misunderstood me, or if I misunderstood you.

The goal, of course, would be to access the DT hierarchy of groups as regular Volume with folders in the Finder, Terminal Apps and any other App.

This was at least the big selling point for me with DTTG.
If i would then only access things within DTTG, the App would be pointless to me.

The same goes for DT: I want to use DT to sort and order things.
But finally, I want to use the sorted content from other Apps.

This isn’t true anymore since version 3.

Your’e saying that my 1000 PDFs from one folder get sorted into a new hierarchy of folders when I sort the indexed files in DT?
I need to test this, as I did read this differently!


This would sadly prevent LOTS of other uses for indexed content in DT, where you want the original files to stay where they are (because this is for example the structure of a backup application, or part of an Application with files and libraries and so on) … or when you cannot even move them around:

It would not work for files and folders that are read-only, like from some archive NAS, or DVD.
I don’t really like this, to be honest.
This cripples lots of possibile scenarios and use-cases for DT!

Finally, it seems that this tries to fix some issues that would never happen when the DT content could generally be accessed as a Volume.

If ANY content from DT could be access as a Volume, like this is possible with DTTG, all scenarios would work and no problems arise.

You wrote, that this was rarely or never asked, but reading some topics, it seems to me that people try to do things with indexed folder that could be perfectly solved with this!

Give this a thought, please :slight_smile:

I may have given too few examples and explanations, as I often think that things are obvious.

I just wanted to +1 this request for the record. This would unify how I think about and use DT and DT:TG. I would love to be able to have self-contained DT databases and navigate their internal hierarchy in tools. One thing I appreciate greatly is that DT collects assets for me and abstracts them from Finder and manages them internally (similar to Photos which does this and provides a media picker in other apps). I have a mental list of workflows this would improve. There is power in consistency of paradigm between iOS/iPadOS and macOS. I very carefully define databases and group hierarchy in them. This is reflected strongly in the iOS File Provider and is missing in macOS. Would love to see this happen without having to use indexes. Indexes complicate and fragment my organization, and don’t simplify my personal workflow – user journey sample size of one, of course.


Yes, as I wrote, I think that indexed content and the new feature that changed from within DT reflect back to the file system, try to solve a problem that would would much easier and better be solved by offering the DT content back to macOS in a way that other Apps can see and access the DT hierarchy of content.

This would be fantastic for both imported and merely indexed content!

I see alreadt 10000 possible use-cases.

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DTTG benefits from this functionality because of the sandboxing limitations on iOS, but in DT you can open any file in its native application from DT itself. Which for me is the preferred way of working because I can use metadata and search in DT to find files I need.

I do see some benefits of being able to access DT data from the Finder, but as DT would need to be open to have the data accessible why not use DT as the entry point? You can use workspaces to have certain projects you are working on open so you easily access the file you need from them.

I guess it depends on your workflow. I only use indexed folders for data that needs to be accessible on systems without DT or by other software like Bookends. It is also convenient for indexing data on external drives. Being able to access DT data from the finder would not change the way I organise this.

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DT considers itself to be a database. In that sense, providing its content “as a Volume” (which could presumably be unmounted from outside the program… whoa) is pointless. It has to organise its content in a way that provides for the best access from inside the program.
Just imagine someone doing a mv /Volume/DT/database/myfile.pdf /Volumes/USBDrive/… how would you want that to be reflected in DT?
It’s of course not my decision, but if I were the developers of DT, I’d certainly not open up the internal structure of the database to manipulation with external tools. It’s like saying, “hey, lets use sqlite3 to fool around in our Photos library” and expect Photos to still work ok. When I felt that I didn’t want to be boxed in by Photos’ internal organisation, I moved my photos out of it into the filesystem. Where I can work on them all I want with all the tools I want. And with all the drawbacks of that approach, too.


I don’t understand your point.

I was explicitely not talking about Apps that you would use to open things in DT.

I was talking about accessing the content of DT from the Finder and any Terminal App!
So, that you can use “cd” to enter a folder and run scripts and command on them.

This is not possible when DT does not offer to mount it’s content as Volume on a mountpoint.

Also, this would totally remove all the problems with indexed content!

It would be a Gold solution for many many problems and offer even more possibilities!

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Now … what can I say.

It works exactly like this on iOS / iPadOS!
And for other Apps like Cryptomator on macOS, as I showed above.

It seems you understood what I wrote in a completely other way than intended.
I recommend, reading the topic again.

And moving something out of the DT Volume would of course just move it - the same as when you did it within DT itself.
That’s the point finally :wink:
It would be totally flawless, easy and logical.

As I said, I have problems explaining things that seems so natural and logical to me, I often don’t understand how things got interpreted by others.

I can only try to use an example with Cryptomator:

The contents sits encrypted on OneDrive, the Cryptomator App unlocks this, when running and offers the same un-encrypted content as mounted Volume in the macOS file systems.
And there, yo can simple use it.
If you move things out, they are just moved out - like youu would expect. Like I said, DTTG does exactly the same.

I’m not sure why you choose to use DT in this case? It seems that you want to bypass the DT database, which would make it a Finder replacement. I’m not sure if I understand your workflow.


Again, I am irritated by a reply.

I use DT to sort content with Groups and hierarchies of Groups and sometimes tags.
How could I do this without DT?

For example, a folder with lots and lots of scanned PDF documents …
In DT, I sort them for their content and their relations.

So content like …/scanner/*

get’s organized within to something like this:



And tagged with people that had to do with this content.

Just as example.

For this I need DT.
I and cannot even imagine other uses for DT.
Sort things in a new way, that is not reflexed in the file system.

And then, i want to “cd” to “project_20” and enter “year_2016” and run scripts on the files in this Group.

Don’t get irritated :). Just trying to understand the way you use DT!

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I try :slight_smile:

But this is what all people do with DT, or?
Cannot imagine many other ways to do something with DT.

You import stuff and sort it into a new hierarchy of Groups.

Off-course you can use DT for indexing and organising the PDF files, it is perfect for that. You probably have a good reason, but why not store the files in DT? Is that because it does not support syncing with OneDrive?

It’s been said here a number of times, that DT is not mean’t to a Swiss Army knife of tools and features for every workflow and file type. Editing certain files in DT is not fun. Editing a collection of files by opening in an external program, saving, and closing dozens of times is not fun.

To put it another way:

1.) When I am working in DT to organize, explore, discover, etc., then yes, DT’s user interface is the right place to be. I might need to open a file or two to do a quick edit. Not much friction.

2.) When I’m doing deeper work. Looking at a set of files, or a group of markdown files. And I’m moving through them and making small edits to many of them then no, DT’s user interface is not necessarily the right place to be. It’s super high friction, extra clicks, extra context switches, etc. to edit the files one by one in an external editor. In this case having the DT database exposed through, for example the macOS file provider so it’s browsable in Finder reduces a ton of friction and context switching.

In the 1st case I have to mange two things independently, which creates three degrees of freedom and complexity. I have to 1.) arrange my DevonThink databases and groups. I have to 2.) figure out how to inject the local filesystem via indexes, and 3.) understand the consequences of how the indexing works, locally on macOS, on iOS, and across machines when I have DT on more than one Mac. I don’t want to have to think about or manage this complexity.

In the 2nd case, I could add a DT group to IA Writer via finder and access it exactly the same way I do on iOS/iPad OS. I could add a DT group to Ulysses and get the same benefit. Which is to leverage DT and get at the group hierarchy directly in the macOS app’s user interface. I could add group hierarchy to the finder side bar and use it with a bunch of different project apps without having to bounce in and out of DevonThink while I’m doing deep work.

If the DT folks find capacity and decide to prioritize this sort of feature and make happen, then it becomes an option and a choice that will be a force multiplier for some users. It should not take away anything from other users who don’t want it.



What to reply.

I want to access those DT groups outside of DT, as a normal mounted volume - the same as is possible with DTTG.

This also would be very good for indexed content!

What has this to do with the lack of support for OneDrive?

Apples… Cryptomator is an app that does nothing but encrypt a volume that’s there anyway. Its raison d’être is to offer a view of the filesystem. And apparently it is not without its own problems…
DT is another program, it has another purpose. You’ll not find Oracle exposing their database records as files on a volume for good reasons: There’s metadata to be handled, too. And that has to be kept in sync with the records themselves (sp.?). In order to work as you suggest, DT would have to provide their own filesytem on top of Apple’s, probably with FUSE or something like that. Introducing another liability.
And moving something out of the “DEVONthink” folder on an i*OS device would certainly cause interesting sideeffects if the relevant database is synced to a desktop machine.

When you say “sort”, do you mean “organize”? “Sorting” in my mind is a temporary operation: I sort by name now and by date in the next moment. But sorting does not do anything permanent to the underlying data, it doesn’t move it around.

Why? You can achieve the same thing with a hierarchy of folders in the finder (using cheap tools like “A better finder rename” etc) and Finder tags.

No. It depends very much on your area of interest. Some people are using DT for research, others organize their finances and documents. In the latter case, some use a deep hierarchy of groups, others don’t.
As @wernervp said: maybe DT is just not the right tool for you and you’d be happier to use something else, like Finder and Terminal.


Very true, Jeff!

And for indexed content, this is even more important!

As the original files should better (or at least optionally) not be moved and renamed at all!

You could sort them within Groups of DT and then access them over the DT Volumes, which offers the new hierarchy as given by the groups! Without changing the orginal file at all.