Advise to a DevonThink Newbie

Hi ya’ll,

I am a DevonThink newbie. My old ELN company Circus Ponies went out of business and their great product is no longer under development. I have had to switch my ELN (Electronic Lab Notebook) to something else. I choose DevonThink. Btw, devon folks, it was the solutions page and a review site that convinced me.

Anyhow, CP’s product Notebook allows you to export the content in html. So I exported the whole notebook as a website. Thing is now is that I want to reorganize the content in the context of DevonThink. I had some categories and established them as separate databases, but looking at each page and deciding where they go is to labor intensive since there are over 1000 pages.

I would like to ask the user community if there is a better quicker way to do this than manually. I have to repeat this as there are more than one notebook I have to do to finish my transition. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks ,

Jose -

I, too, imported into DT thousands of notes from a different system.
And, like you, I looked for a way to handle that initial problem of “looking at each page and deciding where they go”.

As a retired software engineer, I have experience thinking about situations like this.
But I am rather new to DTPO – only 6 months experience – so maybe will change my approach in the future.

My approach so far: I don’t use tags or simple groups.
Not at all.
I didn’t spend any time setting up tags or groups.
You will not find even one tag or simple group in my DT database.

Instead, I let DT do all the heavy thinking.
And do it “just in time”.
The search function in DT is so easy, and so fast, that I see no reason to spend time in advance to apply tags or groups.
To retrieve something, or a set of somethings, just enter a search or create a “smart group”.

This approach saved a lot of time when I started using DT.
Perhaps can save time for you, too.

I welcome critique of this approach, and, likely, the OP will, too.


I am a newbie too. Only used DevonThink for some years but starting to feel “Medium” experienced user. Every time I think I know DTPO and DTTG a new function pops up that I did´t know about!

I agree with the fact that the search function in DT is so powerful so I do not use tags. I just make sure that all .pdf is being OCR:ed either by DT itself or by PDFPEN PRO before.

That way search works outstanding and it is fast and intelligent - more intelligent than myself.

Not sure if you use iOS devices - if so I really recommend the totally rewritten DTTG 2.0 from the app store. Works like a dream and you can bring all your docs with you.

Welcome as a new user of DevonThink and hope you will like the “system” as good as I do today even if it took some time to get “over the hill”. I recommend reading the manual and this forum for tips and instructions. I even bought “take control of getting started with DevonThink”.

I am new to this too - my approach has been to create several databases for the areas of my life (personal, research, degree etc.) and dump everything in each one. Admittedly I don’t have thousands of documents - yet!
I was going to just use a single database, but I read several comments about the AI working better if the documents it is searching have a common theme?

This is the approach I usually recommend. If you think about it – it took quite a long time to collect the notes that you’ve migrated to DEVONthink, so why rush to reorganize them? The Search features (ranging from a simple “FInd” to a more set of smart groups) are the primary tools I would use initially when curating a set of imported notes. As you reorganize and create groups then the AI classification tools will increasingly be useful to assist the organization. Though I advise “take your time and let your organization grow ‘organically’”, the process really doesn’t take a lot of time or effort – just persistence. There’s a hidden benefit in curating a large collection of notes – you will discover connections and relationships among your data that you didn’t notice before.

I’m not a fan of tagging – in DEVONthink or elsewhere – because it’s a lot of work and the investment rarely pays back. Commitment to a tagging hierarchy can also result in a very rigid, inflexible organization. That’s just my opinion – there are long-time readers of this forum who have built and benefited from very complex tagging structures.