changes to finder folder which are indexed to DT


Lately I changed some folder names and reordered things a little when tidying up my education documents on the finder. These are indexed in DT. When I clicked to “update indexed items”, some of the replicants of these items I had scattered in my database disappeared. The original files were still within the indexed folders, just the folder name had changed in some cases. They didn’t reappear even after returning a name back to it’s original. Is there any way to maintain a replicant after editing items in the finder? I find keeping these particular documents on the finder really handy, and I really want to use replicants to save having multiple duplicates throughout my database. However, I also want to be able to edit the files/folders on the finder without loosing all my replicants in my database. Is this possible? Thanks,


Indexing is not designed to keep the database file and document hierarchy as a synchronized mirror image of the related hierarchy in the file system. The key concept is: the hierarchies are related but not necessarily the same. This actually gives you a lot of flexibility in how you structure a database, but it can have a burden. DEVONthink keeps track of what database items are related to files and folders in the file system, but some actions are not tracked.

Names: Changing indexed items’ file or folder names in the file system (e.g., using Finder) will break replicants in the database. If you do the inverse - change the name in the database - then use Update Indexed Items, the change will be made in the file system, and the replicants will remain intact.

Moves: Moving a file or folder in the file system - and then Updating Indexed Items - will update the indexed groups in the database. However, if you do the inverse - move the files or folders in the database and then Update Indexed Items - the file system will not be updated. The files and folders will not be moved in the file system.

Ok, I’ll try to get my head around it all. Does that mean that the intention of the indexing feature is that you never change things through the finder?

I don’t think so. It just helps to see that some things don’t work out the way you might think, because DEVONthink is not a file system browser. I index extensively. And I don’t move documents from one indexed group to another - I do those things in Path Finder (or Finder).

Would it be technically possible for DT to be programmed to somehow retain the continuity of replicants if you move or rename folder/files through the finder? I’m out of my technical depth here, the indexed items in DT are just representations of the file in the main file system which you access though the finder. That’s why you can move them around in DT without necessarily effecting the files on the finder. Could DT remember somehow which files were replicated to where once they have been renamed/moved and then index items updated? It seems to retain information such as tags when you do this…

In this particular usage scenario, I have all of my university documents (slides, assignments, readings) on the finder. I like to keep them here because I know where they are and i find it easier. However, I also like to keep these indexed in DT so that I can replicated some items into groups that I have in my database. These might include pdfs or slides that are relevant to a line of research I am pursuing, and the ability to use DT with replicants, tags etc… is this info is now no longer stuck in a linear hiararchy. I don’t want to duplicate stuff in both the database and the finder, not just to save space, but because I often add annotations etc… to my work, and would much prefer only having one version of each documents. So replicating items from my education documents into my database is really useful for organising my information. However, the hiarchy of files and folders in the finder is a work in progress and i like to reorganise things overtime as I get more files and to make more sense. It’s a bit of a worry that by doing this, all of my hard work replicating stuff into different areas of my database, can be undone if I simply change the name of a folder in the finder. Can you see any way around this, thought my usage of the current software, or through changes to the way that DT works with indexed folders?



Well, yes. But why? It would be a very complex and time consuming piece of work to spoof DEVONthink into being another flavor of Finder. And fragile, because a future version of OS X or DEVONthink could break the whole thing and you would be far worse off because there’s no one to help set things right.

IMO, this is the gist of the question. You “know where they are” if your files are all in DEVONthink just as you know where they are when you use Finder to browse the file system. You can export the entire hierarchy back to the file system any time you wish. You mention that It’s “easier” to shuffle files in Finder than in DEVONthink because … why? You bought the program, and invested the time to work with it, so why not use it? Conversely, if DEVONthink doesn’t meet your use case, why use it?

I’d suggest that if you took a little different tack, imported the entire existing folder structure from the file system into DEVONthink (it’s not lost, it’s just stored in the database package), and worked entire inside the group structure in your database - adding new files, moving, regrouping, replicating as you please, using the AI features such as See Also and Classify - then you might find you enjoy the results. If you need assurance your data is OK, then export it from time to time, make backups, etc.

Just my opinion, but I would never use DEVONthink if I had to keep it coordinated with the file system. I’d use the Finder, and make extensive use of aliases.

I’m Jonathan on this one. Sometimes I want to change the file structure a bit in Finder, even if it’s simply renaming a folder or file to reflect a different way of thinking of something.

But if it’s indexed into Devonthink then I have to reindex everything and that can be difficult if it’s replicated all over the place. I wish I could communicate changes in finder to devonthink easily so that DT can “follow” what I’m doing to files and folders.

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korm’s thoughts on this are spot-on-trying to have a database structure largely match a dynamic structure of the documents in the Finder is masochistic. I wouldn’t expect that DEVON would put much time into exploring changes in this area either as it is not a highly requested feature.

Maybe I don’t understand, but don’t you guys ever want to change a file name or a folder name in Finder and then have to reindex it?

No, I don’t. If I want to change the file names, I do it in DEVONthink. For folder names, I really don’t care what they are called in the Finder. I navigate through the files and folders in DEVONthink, not in the Finder.

It may also be helpful to keep in mind that most users do not index their files at all-they keep the files are contained in the DEVONthink database. For the most part, the only reason that I index documents is because I believe the Tags view/search is weak in DEVONthink. I index my documents and use Punakea to maintain a tag cloud. I still do most document searches using other search criteria in DEVONthink, and if DEVONthink ever gets a tag cloud, I’ll import all my indexed documents into the database.

Like Greg, I change names in DEVONthink and update the index. I index files my clients give me (with their own naming conventions). Or index folders I access from multiple databases, like my nvAlt notes folder.

I also have indexed items and do all my naming and reordering in the Finder not DT. What I don’t do is make any replicants at all. So it is a bit of a PITA to reindex my databases regularly but I’ve just added it as a step at the end of my weekly GTD review just before I sync my DT data and calendar to my iPhone and iPad.

Ah, yes, that makes sense. It never occurred to me to keep the files in DT. Only because I started indexing and kept at it. I’ll have to figure out how to download them straight to DT. Or do you just download them to downloads and then import them?

Any sets of folders and files that are indexed in DEVONthink can be moved into the database by control-clicking the top-level group of each indexed hierarchy, and then selecting “Move into Database” from the contextual menu that pops up.

Instantly, that group and all of it’s children, grandchildren, etc., are now stored in the database. All replicants are and links are preserved. From this point, you browse, edit, move, rename, delete your files using DEVONthink, rather than Finder. The files are moved from where they were in the file system and into your DEVONthink database - they are still in the file system as part of the special folder structure that lives inside every database. You can search and find files using DEVONthink and, if the Create Spotlight Index option is set in that database’s properties, you can search for your files from Spotlight.

I control-click but i don’t see what you are seeing. I’ve attached what I see and it does not include move to database.

We’re talking about indexed groups, right? Ones with this symbol next to their name in the group list.

Unless the group you control-click has that symbol, it is not indexed, does not have indexed children and files, and “Move Into Database” is not an option.

For example, select the group shown, not its parent

ah. okay. i do it file by file, not folder by folder. thanks.

Then create a smart group with the predicate “Instance is Indexed”, which will find all indexed items. Select all, and move into database. As soon as you do that, the smart group will be empty, but all of those items are now in the database.


So I’ve moved all the files that were indexed into DT and am wondering where the heck they went. When I pick a random file and click Show in Finder, I can see the file path, but when I try to find the file when I want to attach it to an email, for example, I get stalled because the trail goes cold at a DTP2 file. My workaround has been to Show in Finder and then duplicate the file of interest, toss it on the desktop, attach it, send it and then delete the duplicate.

When I do a search in finder (as opposed to Show in Finder), I don’t find the original pdf, all I see are DTP2 files with the file’s name.

Wondering where the file is, how to access it?