Anybody running DT3 on a MacBook Air M1 8Gb? (plus a question about storage)


Anybody is running DT3 on a MacBook Air M1 8Gb?
Are 8Gb good for DT3 and huge databases (many Gbs)?

I’m planning to buy a MacBook Air M1.
I can afford 16Gb RAM, but with some difficulties, so 8Gb would be easier for me.

Another question: I’d buy the 256Gb version, but I have more than 150Gb of files on my iMac, so if I downloaded all of them into the MBA I’d run out of space very quickly.
Is it possible to download only the files I need on demand as I would on DTTG?

I already have an iMac that I keep as main computer, so the new MBA would be only a kind of “mobile computer”: I need only the files for the projects I work to right now, not all the files.

I have about 40 GB of databases on the M1 MBP with 8 GB of RAM. All of them open at the same time. No issues whatsoever.

DT does not support the so-called “shallow sync” (sync on demand) as DTTG.


Thank you for your kind reply.

So DT doesn’t allow you to choose which files to download on your second machine.
Can I choose which database to sync, so that I can create a database with the files I’m working in this period and have only this database in the second machine?

That’s possible, it’s not necessary to have every database on every device. How many items and words (see File > Database Properties) do your databases have?

Perhaps you could wait just some days for Black Friday offers.

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I would lean towards the pro, 512 GB, 16GB RAM. Nothing is future-proof anymore, but this would handle all of the stuff in my workflow. As an academic, the basic stuff is no big deal—Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc. But, these days there are online classes, speaking engagements, and conference presentations that are quite demanding (export PowerPoint slideshows with audio narration), and the Air may not be able to do it all (my colleague just upgraded to a Pro when his Air crashed and could not complete the export from PowerPoint to a video). There are other things I do that are surprisingly RAM intensive (I recently got an iMac with 16GB to deal with the increasing demands of video / audio editing in a job I used to mainly do with markers and white boards).

To be clear, the Air is an amazing machine, and my demands are usually pretty light, so it would fulfill most of my needs, most of the time. But, I think the apps don’t always work as they should (especially PowerPoint) and some tasks are apparently more of a demand than they ought to be. I could get by with less RAM and less power, but I think the irritation would make it a lot less enjoyable.

DT seems to work fine with any configuration, but the more RAM the better, in my experience.

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I can’t tell you because I still have to put all of them into DT.
Because it’s lot of Gb I’m doing it step by step.

I checked out on the Finder and I see I have about 130Gb out of 12k files.
Some of them are very big, other are little snippets of few Kb, of course.
I can go down and have about 90Gb out of 11K files, because I have many video files I don’t need into DT.

Also, I can split these files into some databases such as “Home”, “Professional”, “Active Projects” and so on, so that I can sync only the files I need to work: my MBA will not be my main computer (I have an iMac for that), but it will be my mobile computer.

But of course, the more files I can sync on my laptop the easier my life :wink:

My same thoughts, but I’ve found the basic configuration for less than 1000€ (I live in Italy) and the 512GB SSD 8 Gb RAM for about 1200€.

I don’t know if I would find for less.

I agree with you, alas such configuration would be out of budget.

In that case, 8GB will work fine, and I wouldn’t worry about it. Perhaps it is the difference between a luxury car and a sedan.

As for the setup, I have all of my files on an external drive plugged into my iMac in the office or my MacBook Pro (getting long in the tooth now and it only has 8GB) at home. The restrictions of HD storage size have been solved.

Spend that RAM upgrade money on a couple of external drives (one portable and one for Time Machine backups)?

If you still have money left over, Hazel is amazing—most of my stuff is automatically filed away by it. All new stuff goes into an “unsorted” group in DT / folder on the drive. Much of it gets sorted, and what is left behind is often worth saving (web clippings) but not spending the time sorting, because that stuff will come up on a search (Find any File and/or HoudahSpotare nice). Sync via a Dropbox sync store and everything is available on mobile as well.

Indexing can be tricky (check forums), but the ins and outs can be mastered in an afternoon, and problems can be avoided with self discipline (backups, backups, backups and always test new workflows before applying them).

Thank you!
I think I’ll go for the basic model.
I’ll have a look at Hazel, though I’m still evaluating DT (I’m going to open a new thread for this).

Only indirectly relevant: I run a 2016 MacBook, weakest processor, with 8 GB RAM, as my main machine, and it still can pretty much deal with anything I throw at it. Based on benchmarks, any M1 machine should do vastly better. I have > 10GB of DT DBs, no issues (even though word # is probably more relevant). One thing I learned over the past 30 years: the biggest limitation of a machine is in the end disk space. Once you have to put stuff selectively on, it becomes really annoying. The moment you decide that you can leave a certain DT DB off the travel machine, you will find yourself trying to access a file in there. Don’t go for a configuration that starts limiting you already at purchase time. Unless funds are very tight, the next bigger disk is not that much more.


Same happens with Real Life 1.0 rubbish. You have 30 years a chitiwiniminithing in your home warehouse, using space and not used since. One day you throw it away, and two weeks after you need it. :rofl:

I have a 43 GB Devonthink database (35 million words. 5500 items) and a bunch of smaller databases along side it, running on an 8GB m1 mac mini,. It’s fine. Safari, on the other hand, will consume RAM with reckless abandon.


I don’t use an M1 Air yet (it is on my wishlist), but I have no problems with a basic-spec (8GB RAM) 2018 Mac Mini. If you want more storage than you can afford inside the Mac, think about an external NVME SSD. it is so long since I did speed tests on mine that I forget the numbers, but it is so fast, that having stuff on an external drive is no problem. My only grouse about it is that USB3.1 connectors are far too prone to get dislodged and need to be treated with much greater care than the older design USB connectors.

Advice I have read is that with the M1 processor, if you can afford to up the spec, it is better to up the SSD rather than RAM. Don’t know whether that is correct.

Depending on your workflow, Hazel may be redundant, as DT’s smart rules cover a lot of the same ground.

As for storage size, with a couple terabytes (more or less) of “useful” data accumulated (went paperless over a decade ago), it’s been several years since I could afford to work within the confines of my computer’s storage space. Personally, I’ve found investments in RAM to be worth more than the storage space. Your mileage may vary, though.

As always, the good news is that DT can be easily adapted to work with whatever parameters you establish for it, unlike competing apps that are one-size-fits-all (usually geared towards the lowest common denominator instead of thinking longterm about “power” users).

I use DTPO on a MacBook Pro 15 inch 2016 with 2 TB SSD and 16GB ram, also on a M1 MBAir with 1 TB SSD and 16 GB ram, and used to run on a 2014 Mac min with a 1TB fusion drive and 16 GB ram until the 2 computer limit for personal use was imposed,. I have about 90-100 GB of DTPO databases and everything runs fine, except sync is wonky and has been but I live with it. I dont believe the 16 GB ram is critical as I have that only because of some video processing I occasionally do. I have some DTPO databases which are indexed to folders on my iCloud storage [the files are also on my computersand that is what is indexed] and use hazel to organize those iCloud infos, I use the built in DTPO smart rules for DTPO databases that are not indexed,

I had a 2013 MacBook Pro with 16 GB RAM. Recently got a refurb M1 Air with 8 GB of RAM and it just smokes the older computer with more RAM. The M1 architecture makes RAM much less of an issue for most use cases, you can find a lot of YouTube videos of people pushing the M1 Air with 8 GB to it’s limits, it takes an awful lot for it to make an impact. It seems to me the RAM is mostly valuable now for sustained high intensive tasks like video export or working with massive files (like very very large audio, video, or photo files)…

If money is a constraint I think you will find better value in putting it towards storage instead of RAM.

M1 Air with 8 GB of RAM and it just smokes the older computer with more RAM.

The M1 Air is an absolute beast for a little machine and the battery life is incredible! :open_mouth: :smiley:

Thank you all!
After reading your replies, and watching some YouTube videos, I bought the basic version of the MacBook Air: 8GB RAM and 256 SSD.

I’ll use it as my “work and mobile machine” because I have an iMac (1 TB) at home.
Furthermore, I’ve read, here and somewhere else in this forum, about the external SSD in case I’ll run out of space or discover 256GB will be too strict.