Can't get sync to work

I fail to set up my Devonthink to sync. If I click the help symbol in the settings tab I end up in the OCR help.
I have a sync folder on a NAS, this is not touched by devon think after setup.
Same for another sync to a iCloud setting.

What the correct procedure to set it up? Do I need to copy the database first to the target?

What version of DEVONthink and operating system are you running?

Also, Help > DEVONthink 3 Help > Documentation > In & Out > Sync is the section you are looking for.

DT is 3.8 , MacOS 12.1
Seems I need to copy the Database before to get it work.

Seems I need to copy the Database before to get it work.

Not necessarily a manual copy.

  • Is this a sync between two Macs?
  • What sync method are you choosing?

No, I just want to use the sync as a backup. Only one Mac is using DTpro, no other machines involved.
I have two options: sync to a iCloud (CloudKit) drive or sync to a Synology NAS.
Both are not working and I have no idea how to get it work. How do i tell the remote location to DTpro?
I copied the database to the iCloud drive and wanted to open it, got an message that’s not possible from an idrive.

The implementation and documentation to this is not really user friendly.

Sync is not backup.

Syncing with Apple’s iCloud, as discussed ad nauseam here is problematic.

Have you re-read the instructions?

Check “on” that location in the Sync setup.

Discussed in documentation to not do that. That’s why it DEVONthink prevented you doing that.

You are attempting to do things not are not possible, discouraged, and thus not documented. Best at this point to re-read the documentation to discover the possible things.

1 Like

Thank you for your “helpful” answer. The only backup recommendation is “time machine”, yes I am using this. But I want to have another bit of safety.
What’s wrong with syncing it somewhere else?
The instructions are read and contain no helpful informations.
My location is not appearing in “remote locations”. Neither for iCloud sync, nor for local network NAS.

BTW, I was using a synced database for a long time and I think after the latest major update it didn’t work anymore.

Web is full of sync complains at DT but the user is too stupid to get it work ? Well done.

Maybe start by reading the e-book “Take Control of DEVONthink” available free of cost on DEVONTechnologies’ web site.

There’s not much point repeating here what is already documented and explained elsewhere.

1 Like

Can you please step out this thread?

Hey; my feeling is that you are assuming you know what to do, and are now surprised that things aren’t working. I would recommend going back to step 0, and taking it from there. Note that you cannot simply copy the database to a location and expect that to sync; in fact, when using CloudKit you don’t even get to determine the location.

  • the steps necessary for setting up sync to iCloud (legacy/kit) are explained on pp 63, 64 of the current DEVONthink 3.8 Documentation
  • the steps for setting up on a NAS (which presumably means using WebDAV) are described on page 66. There are also numerous descriptions here in the forum on using a NAS for sync. I have no experience of syncing to a NAS, so cannot specifically support you on that issue.

A copy of the database will be made by the sync-mechanism. Note that this copy is in a different format to the functional database. It is not something you can create yourself, nor is it something you could copy back to your device as you would from a TimeMachine backup.

That is not how sync works; sync does not sync to a 1:1 copy of the database, but to a sync store. That store is set up by the sync process when you activate a sync type following the steps outlined in the handbook.

If the steps described in the handbook don’t lead you to success, I would suggest you post the settings here as screenshots. I think it would be helpful to do one sync location at a time, rather than trying to offer support for both.

I think frustration is a pretty bad partner when things don’t work as expected. I’m pretty sure we can get things set up, but we need to go back to step 0 and take it from there. When you get stuck following the setup described in the handbook, please post screenshots. For me, at least, that makes it so much easier to understand where you are at.

As an aside: sync is not marketed as backup; there are good reasons for that, not least, because damage can propagate to a sync store (say you accidentally rename all your files “uhoh” - a moment later that error will have propagated to your sync store). There is no versioning in the sync store. Obviously, however, every additional place your data is stored may be an advantage at some point. Just pointing out that sync cannot replace a comprehensive backup strategy.

Syncing is pretty easy. Go into the Devonthink Preferences (click on DEVONthink next to the apple in the upper left of your desktop). Choose “sync” from the categories across the top of the Preferences window.

Click the “+” button at the bottom of the Locations pane in the Preferences/Sync window. Add a local sync store for your NAS device (assuming it appears as a disk drive to you).

Activate it by clicking its checkbox when it appears in the Locations list.

When a sync store is highlighted in the Locations list, to the right you’ll see a list of the databases you have open underneath the heading of “Local”. The Remote databases are the ones that are in your sync store.

In the Local databases, put a check mark beside each one you want to sync.

That should be all it takes. If I’ve missed something, please correct me.

The documentation is clearly the best source for info. Once you’ve set up your first sync store, you’ll have the process down. It’s not hard once you see how it works.

Edited to add: I do my backups once a week. For each of the 50-odd databases I have (some very odd, frankly, but that’s my fault), I check file integrity, verify and optimize, and create an archive. Everything goes in Time Machine, of course.

The Born Loser’s Axiom of Backups applies. The better my backups, the less I need them. The inverse applies, painfully.


Great. This is a description how I started to set it up.
After I finished this - nothing happens ! No actions on the remote drive or iCloud.
AFTER nothing was working and absolutely NOTHING happens in the activities window, THEN I was starting to try if it helps to copy the database into that location.

I will gladly repeat myself:


What “this”? It might help to describe in (a lot) more detail what you did. For example, I do not quite understand if you’re using your own NAS (which make/model? How do you connect to it from DT? Do you see DT data on the NAS?) or trying to set up cloud sync.

Also, to reiterate @rmschne’s remark: sync is not backup. Sync is a copy of the current state of your database(s), while backup is a snapshot in time that permits you to restore your data to that moment. You need a backup if you inadvertedly delete records, for example. Sync will simply propagate this deletion to all sync locations.

This remark is absolutely uncalled for. If you’re asking for help, you should show a minimum of politeness to those people trying to help you – even if they’re correctly pointing out that the issue has been discussed very often and that nothing new can be said about it.


What does the status in the Preferences-Sync panel say? It should say when the database was last synced.

You may have the synchronize option set to “manually”, but try this first. Click on File->Synchronize Database. That will sync whatever database you’re currently in. Hold the Option key down when you click on File, and you’ll see Synchronize All, which will sync every database currently open.

Try that, see if you get a sync. I don’t believe sync actions show in the activity window.

Also, un-synched databases have a little dot to the right in the sidebar. If there’s nothing to sync, nothing happens.

If you want to test what got synced, close all your open databases. Go into Preferences-Sync, find the database you want to look at in your sync store, and use the import function (box with a down arrow) below the databases pane. Give it a name like “trash” or “test” - you don’t have to use the original name when you import a database.

Look at the imported copy. When you’re satisfied, delete your local test database. As long as you don’t clean it from the sync store, you won’t touch your real copy.

Sync works great. I don’t think sync ever does anything in the activity window. You can see syncs in progress in the Preferences-Sync window, though.

These are the steps:

I created a new folder remotely “Backup2”.
Then I opened settings, Sync.
I have used the lower left pull down “+” , then add local sync store (can’t screenshot the pulldown window).

Then I browser to the location. Unfortunately DT doesn’t even accept keyboard inputs on the file name, so I use “ohne Titel” as predefined.

Then a new sync store appeared and I checked both active databases to sync.

After finishing the setup, nothing happens. Remote location file size is still 0.
Action Window shows no actions.

Try file-synchronize all. Noch nicht syncronisiert should disappear.

This is presumably on your NAS?

Yes folder is on NAS. NAS is a Synology DS916+ .

Or, close the databases. With Automatisch selected, they should synchronize on close.