Best Practices For Tag-Happy Users

I’m fairly new to DT (6 mon.) and have migrated from Evernote thanks to what I’ve learned from the MPU podcast. I’ll switched and will never go back.

However in Evernote I kept 95% of my notes in one notebook (or group) and used tags to keep them straight. I was always able to find what I was looking for just by using multiple tags. I’m more of a tagger than a nested folder kind of guy. Its just how I conceptualize most of the data I store in DT (complex overlapping research). But I’m feeling some friction.

I’ve constantly read that in DT treats Tags and Groups basically the same. But I also always hear that to maximize DT’s robust search features to use groups.

Right now I’m tagging AND organizing into Groups. The tagging seems natural but the grouping is mental friction for me (I have ‘Exclude Groups from Tagging’ - Unchecked). I’d rather use tags aggressively and groups sparingly.

  • But would that handicap my searching?

  • Can I just abandon manually grouping items (would that mean checking ‘Exclude Groups from Tagging’)?

  • Can any other users who rely mostly on tags share their view preferences?

  • If I didn’t group items would they just stay in the inbox?

What am I missing? Thanks for the help. I’ve learned tons on this forum.

Searching doesn’t rely on groups. There is NO location parameter for a query, except for defining where to search in a general sense (like “in the database” or “in that group”). DEVONthink’s AI uses groups for auto-classification. However, you are NOT required to use that feature.

Files don’t have to stay in the Inbox of a database. However, if you’re not grouping things the only other option is the root of the database. Whatever you do, do not go into a Tag group and start creating files there. Can you? Yes, you can. Should you? No. If you delete that Tag or the files in it, there are no other copies. If you apply a Tag to a file, a Replicant is made in the Tag group. Deleting the Tag only removes it from the Tags of files, but leaves them intact.

Checking “Exclude from Tagging” will NOT ungroup anything. It merely says, “The name of this group? Yeah, don’t use that as a Tag for any of the files it contains.” Nothing more.

Generally Tags are used as a response to a poor search engine’s capabilities. However, they can still be useful even when a good one is available. If it makes sense to your way of thinking, go for it.

One thing to consider: You can still create virtual groups with Smart Groups. And… you will need to use Smart Groups as you cannot search by Tags (at this time).

Just a small note: even if you choose not to use groups (and hence not to use auto-classification), you can still take advantage of DEVONthink’s AI via the “See Also” feature (i.e. the lower half of the pane that appears when you click on the magic hat icon).

Thanks BLUEFROG, your answer is very helpful and is helping me refine my strategy. Sounds like my solution is to keep using groups but not to worry about grouping on such a granular level. Also, this enables me to keep using the Inbox workflow.

This I did not know and have done on a few occasions. Thanks for the heads up.

dgbeecher, that’s a helpful clarification. Thanks for replying.

This got my brain churning. I’m going to go do some experimenting/testing. Thanks

Also, this surprises me. I just tested it and see what you mean. In the search window I can use “Advanced” and select Tag as an operator, but without that, I DT doesn’t search the content of my tags which is surprising.

This may change in future versions.