Bad bad tags management issues

Hi. Long time license holder (couldn’t make heads or tails out how to use it a decade ago), recent upgrader (recently buckled down and committed to learning it aright, and upgraded my DT licenses for Mac and iOS), and alas, an increasingly frustrated user.

I’m having a variety of issues that I’m attempting to sort out using the books, the forums, the help files, and some hopeful sacrificial offerings to the gods of bits and bytes. The documentation is pretty good, and so progress is being made, but I I have one specific issue that’s making my eyes cross though.

In my probably overly large indexed database of PDF files and other fun things, there are many app generated tags, including a number of tags that appears to be dupes in the Tags view of the main window- dark and having no file counts n such. After checking Activity and Logs to make sure no activities are pending, I set out to clean the dupes out by deleting them, but then I find that if they are left in the Trash for any length of time, some of these ‘empty’ tags suddenly sprout associations with files- and if I empty the trash, the files will go bye with the them. Devonthink Trash doesn’t support Put Back or other restore that I could find, dragging the tag out of the trash generates a Group with the items, or at least I can’t add it back into the Tags list, and I can’t find a way to remove the group without offing the files again, aside from manually moving each file out of the group one by one- which is… messy.

Things showing up in the trash that I did not intentionally put there is very deeply disturbing behavior, and since I can’t find others screaming about it, I assume I’m doing something or many somethings wrong. Base then: what am I doing that is causing this issue, and how can I fix it for the 600 or so files its been done to?

Thank you.

They won’t. Only the tag is deleted, not the records.

If you don’t known how things work and don’t want to test with your real data (which you never should do) it’s a good idea to:

  • Create a test database
  • Duplicate some records into this database
    Note: Don’t duplicate indexed records. Duplicating indexed records does not create duplicates in the file system, so if you were duplicating indexed records and then testing with them in your test database you would actually alter the original files.
  • Test whatever you like

There‘s no need to delete the test database afterwards, just close it and you can easier test the next time something‘s unclear.

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If you’ve used prior versions of DEVONthink and created new records inside a tag and didn’t replicate those records afterwards into normal groups then those records would be deleted when you delete the tag.

If that’s the case then use this script which makes sure that all records exist in normal groups.

The linked post is part of a thread that explains how deleting tags works.

a careful test did confirm it wasn’t deleting the associated files, thank you. another batch I removed wasn’t as clear tho- it gave me a dialog box that did not give me a database only delete option. I ended up manually sorting them back down- still hope to find out how to delete tags without the app doing this…

thank you for your help.

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I was recently confronted with ‘tags’ that were actually groups nested within in the tags. If I understand correctly, that might have been caused by above behavior?

Depending on the way I deleted some of these groups - as far as I can recall - some files in those ‘groups within tags’ seemed to also end up in the trash. It’s difficult to say for sure, as I dilligently deleted these weird groups and checked macOS trash as well (I’ve actually backed it up to be sure nothing gets lost) for any files getting lost.

Below is a thread that in essence was a bug report of the organize button in DTTG3, but seemed to be related to these ‘groups within tags’. According to the DTTG 3.0.4 release notes, @eboehnisch has fixed the organize button. He might also have a better understanding whether the behavior of previous versions of DT you describe above might be what happened and caused the organize button to malfunction.

Like the recent ‘ghost’ files are now automatically detected (at least in DTTG) and thus made visible, I wonder whether the functionality of that script shouldn’t also exist as a standard in all DT3 installations. If people are unaware of records that can be nested under tags as a remnant of previous DT versions, and those can be deleted by deleting just the tags, some users might indeed delete records that shouldn’t be.