Clarification on index vs import

I’ve got some Final Cut Pro and DVD Studio Pro project files I would like to be able to launch from within my DTPro DB, which works fine. I’ve used both Import and Index and noticed that when I use Import, it makes a duplicate on my HDD. I think in my situation Index is all I need, since I’m only using it as a “launching pad”. Does this sound reasonable in this scenario?



As I like to be able to migrate my databases easily among computers, or to be able to run a database from a portable hard drive, I generally make them self-contained.

But if you have your Final Cut and other indexed files in your Documents folder, then copy your Home directory to a new computer, those indexed files will move over without having their Paths broken – your database will be fine.

So in your case, indexing those big files rather than copying them can be a sensible approach.

Perfect. Thanks for the confirmation/clarification.

May I add a question converning indexed files? Is there an easy way to search and find all of the index entries in my database?

I didn’t find a search command in the search menu.
thank you.

Have you tried Tools > Search or the search tool in the tool bar?

Followup. If I have a file as an imported file and edit it, is it correct that the file will reside inside DT’s File folder, and if I should edit the original file from it’s original location, changes made when launching from within DTPro (resides in Files) will not be reflected?

In otherwords, my situation requires I index, not import if I should happen to during the edit process launch the original file from the Documents folder?

Oh, boy! Here’s goes another long and involved response. The reasons it gets involved is that some file types are stored differently in the database, and that Word files are an exception to the rule that Import-captured files are copied into the database. Those two reasons, fortunately, will go away in the next major upgrade of the DEVONthink applications.

The general answer is that if you have Import-captured a document into your database, and subsequently make changes to the original file in your Documents folder, you would need either to re-Import the modified file or to Index-capture it to include the newly modified file into your database.

If you have Import-captured a file, it will be copied into the database (the exception is Word .doc files, which remain externally linked and have a reich text representation of the text content created in the database). Assuming that Import of “unknown” file types has been enabled in DEVONthink’s Preferences > Import, all unknown file types, e.g., Excel, Powerpoint, Keynote, Mellel, etc. will be copied into the Files folder inside the database package file – along with PDF, Postscript, image and QuickTime media files.

After Import, there’s no connection between database content and the original files imported from the Finder (except for Word files). If one of those original files is edited and saved (including a Word file), the database content is not affected. So one can move the database as self-contained (except for Word files) to another computer. Or delete the original files from the Finder (except for Word files) without harm to the database.

Those files stored in the internal Files folder are actually stored in the Finder. If such a file is opened under an external application, edited and saved, the saved version replaces the previous version. So a PDF can be opened under Acrobat, Preview or Skim, edited, and saved back to the internal Files folder. Note: It may be necessary to select that edited PDF (or other edited file type) and choose File > Synchronize to see the edit changes.

In the current version of the DEVONthink applications some file types are stored differently, in the monolithic body of the database. Those file types include all recognized forms of text files, including plain text, rich text and several other text types, HTML and WebArchive. DEVONthink’s text editor can display and edit .txt, .rtf and .rtfd documents within the database. Basic editing of HTML and WebArchive files can be done inside the database. Editing of these file types within the database results directly in changes to the content of edited documents.

But it must be remembered that those Import-captured or user-created file types stored in the monolithic database cannot be directly edited and saved to the database by an outside application. Although, for example, one can open the .rtf file created by Import of a Word file under the Word application, the database content will not be changed if that file is edited and saved by Word.

Personally, I prefer Import-capture to Index-capture, both because that makes my databases self-contained and portable and because I’m totally free to reorganize the content of my database without getting confused about synchronizing the contents of Index-captured folders. The unique way DEVONthink imports Word files is merely one more reason among many that lead me to avoid MS Word (although I’ve got MS Office for Mac). If I’m sent a Word file, I’ll rarely send it to my database in that file format.

But if Word files were a format I use every day, I might decide to Index-capture them, even though that makes portability of a database trickier. :slight_smile:

Otherwise, the answer to your issue is to work with the files you have imported into the database, rather than with the originals (except for those pesky Word files, in which case Index-capture into DT Pro/Office 1.5.1 makes life less confusing).

Those files stored in the internal Files folder are as safe as other Finder files stored on your drive. But hard drives could fail or a laptop could be stolen. So I periodically use DT Pro’s Scripts > Export > Backup Archive to create a compressed external archive to be stored on another medium, such a a DVD stored at my bank. And I do routine OS X and disk directory maintenance on my computers. And I also use Time Machine. I don’t lose data.

Hi Bill, You seemed to indicate that some of the behavior of DTP on the import vs. index question might be different in the next version. Is that the case? Is it only as regards the way that Word files are handled?

I’m new to DTP and am trying to figure out how to best set things up; like, import vs. index, multiple databases vs. single database. My inclination for some reason is to be nervous about having a single database that contains all of my important information, but that may be a silly inclination that I should unlearn.

I will keep looking around the forum for helpful information, but if there is any advice you have about setting up a DTP system given changes that may be coming soon in version 2, I would be grateful to hear about them.

Thanks very much for all of your responses - I really appreciate how detailed and informative they are.


Keith, the change from DT 1 to DT 2 will be pretty transparent to the user, so I haven’t bothered to worry about that. The most significant change will be that all Import-captured documents will be stored in the Finder inside the database as individual Finder-accessible files. So Word files Imported into a DT 2 database will be copied into the database just as PDF files are copied into it in DT 1. Text documents, HTML documents, WebArchive documents will no longer be stored in the monolithic database, but will be stored as Finder-accessible files.

Future imports of Word files will no longer result in a rich text capture of the text content of the file in the database (without images and without full formatting). Instead, the Import-captured Word document will be copied into the database and will be displayed with the layout, formatting and images of the original.

Likewise, Index-captured Word files will be displayed with the layout, formatting and images of the original.

My own preference is for Import-captured, self-contained topical databases so that I can easily move them among computers. That certainly doesn’t imply that Index-captured databases are not appropriate to meet the needs of other users; the choice is up to the user. In either case, DEVONthink doesn’t trap the user into data “locked in” to DEVONthink. All documents are easily separable from the database in their native file format.

I opted for the Index-captured way.

I prefer this setup as I like to maintain the hierarchical folders in the Finder.

I prefer to edit the documents in their original applications.
Switching and resyncing is no hassle to me.
[size=85](I use mostly Nisus Writer Pro for text which stores in .rtf, I regularly convert .doc to .rtf as I do not like Word and whish not to support MS)
The database is still perfectly transferable - all that has to be observed is the original path from top level (/) to the database (as Devon stores the absolute path of an indexed file.
[size=85](Why not use relative paths – at least in all cases where the files/folders reside inside a home folder; the path would always begin with ~/ and transfer to another machine and another account would be easier?)

My backup strategy is independent of any databases and applications.
I cannot care less to have separate schedules for individual databases or applications. I need to have my data secure AND I need to be up and running in no time in the event of a hardwarre failure.
[size=85](I use SuperDuper and make an additional off-site backup in case of theft or fire).[/size]

As I understand the new 2.0 version will basically handle the original files in both db-options the same way, with the difference that in the case of Import they will reside in a folder inside the DTP.db-package without any subfolders, whereas in case of Index they will remain in their original place in the file system (FS) and not be editable directly from within DTP.

Will it be possible for an Index-capture db in DTP 2.0 to choose to have all files being handled transparently from within DTP itself?
[size=85](Via a preference setting maybe?) [/size]

  • moving a file into a different group in DTP will also move the file into the corresponding folder in the FS
  • creating a new group in DTP will also create a folder in the FS
  • creating a replicant in DTP will also create an alias in the FS
  • entering a comment in DTP will also create a Finder comment in the file
  • creating an archive in DTP will only create the archive in the FS and not inside the DTP.db-package
  • … and possibly others (- I do not understand DTP in sufficient detail yet)