Close to buying DT, have data sustainability (ie lock-in) concerns , appreciate community thoughts :)

I really appreciate the DT features that avoid permanent lockin. As mentioned, there are export capabilities, and what’s awesome is it’s round-trippable: you can import things back in and preserve DT-specific things. If suddenly DT stops working and the company has been hit by several asteroids, you can go into the package as mentioned above and save the raw files. It supports RTF, text, and markdown for a lot of the content you generate in DT. The software has exceptional support for scripting which makes it possible to automate imports, exports, and connections between other apps.

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Well @rparvu … I think there is not much I can add that our other customers haven’t already written here. I will not comment on the quality of our customer service as I think that is a question that our customer should answer. Therefore, just a few words on our update and upgrade policy that might be interesting for other readers of this thread:

We publish free updates for the lifetime of a product generation but, like almost any other software company we know of, we don’t publish free updates for legacy generations. Apple sometimes releases security fixes for older operating systems but they don’t publish bug fixes for legacy versions of macOS, iOS, or any of their applications.

When we publish a new product generation, we give our existing customers the opportunity to upgrade to the new generation with a large discount. This is what we have done with DEVONthink 3 after providing eleven years of free updates including the introduction of two sync systems.

Finally, we never force anyone to upgrade for a fee. Our applications always give the opportunity to “abandon ship” by letting you export all your data as simple files-in-folders. No special file formats, no weird migration mechanisms. We even help customers who have no intention to buy but used up their trial time to the end to get their data out. We leave lock-in tactics to other people.

Just for your reference, our Business Principles are a good summary of how we want to do business and deal with our customers. Our Prime Directive.

One thing we don’t do, however, is giving priority to those shouting the loudest. We listen to everyone carefully and then do what makes sense for our grand strategy, a strategy that we hope will ensure that we’ll stay around as long as we can to make products for you that are helpful.


As you quote the Business Principles, the first one is: " We make high-end applications." that implies quality. In my case, I had a problem that impacted my workflow on v2. The problem was actually reported to support before v3 was even on beta. There was no resolution or fix delivered for the issue but after several months, support asked to test on v3. I tested and the issue was not present anymore, so the ‘soluiton’ offered by support was to upgrade for the usual extra fee. With other words I have to pay in order to get a bug fix for a version I licensed already!

In summary, I have two (most likely rethorical) questions for you:

  1. if is not a bug, how do you explain that the issue was present on v2 and not in v3? the way you treated me in line with your first two so-called principles: " * We make high-end applications.
  • We listen to customer feedback and suggestions; we implement what makes sense and is true to our vision for our apps."?

As explained a few times the fact that the issue hit on v2 but not on v3 was pure chance. It could have hit you also on v3 too. No. 2 lies, presumably, in the eye of the beholder and I would leave it to less preoccupied people to have an opinion about it (I have mine).

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RE “As explained a few times the fact that the issue hit on v2 but not on v3 was pure chance. It could have hit you also on v3 too” the fact that we explain a bug being reliably reproduced in a version and not being present in another version as ‘pure chance’ is actually concerning and proves my point about product quality. Software engineering is not a matter of chance.

This year will mark the 18th year that I have been using DEVONthink without interruption. I believe that PCalc is the only software I have a longer history with. Is it and has it (DEVONthink) always been perfect? Of course not, but I can say that the DEVON team has always displayed the utmost integrity and pursuit of excellence in their products.

With technology, and about everything else in life, occasionally one needs to say “This is not a good fit for me.” and move on.


I can provide a case in point for that. Devonthink excels for things like Zettlekasten methods and document organization. I’ve sometimes used it as nothing more than a synchronization tool, too. I think a Devonthink developer commented that there’s nothing wrong with that, saying that a Corvette can do 20 in a school zone when needed.

Lately, I’ve started using Curio. It’s great for brainstorming. For evolving ideas over time as research becomes available, DT is a stronger tool. That is specifically not a criticism of Curio. They are different tools.

I refuse to pick which product has better customer support. In both cases, answers have always been immediate.

Both Curio and DT are better for my uses than, say OneNote, and both have far better vendor support.

Formula 1 racers and motocross bikes are both cool, but you use the one that fits the situation. Actually, I should test that before making such a bold assertion.

Note to self - ask wife for race car and motocross bike. I’m sure she’ll agree. It’s for science, after all.


Sorry, I was just asking about what exactly you felt of “inferior quality”, since I have the opposite experience of the software itself and exceptional customer support. And not only me, I rarely see someone unhappy with the support around here, and this is not an advertisement.

If DT doesn’t fit to your exact workflow, - it’s ok, there are myriads of workflows and even such a flexible soft as DT can’t fit them all. It’s also normal, if previous versions fit worse than the following ones, it’s a matter of progress. The team works hard to develop this progress and that’s why I, personally, paid for v.3. All seems logical


I’m going to honest here… Nothing you’ve stated bears any resemblance to the experience of what I or others have had, which is openly reflective in the various posts in this forum.

I can understand frustration with a certain aspect of software, but that seems to be the norm and not the outlier. IOW, I don’t know a single piece of software that runs in a manner that I would call perfect (either for me personally or in general) and one always has to find alternative ways of accomplishing goals.

Given that DEVONthink provides for so many different ways to get things done - and the support here is very good at helping people find those other ways - I find your comments rather needless.


rparvu: I have been using DevonThink since at least 2005 and in my experience, it is a very high quality application. I use it constantly, have 17 different databases, each with thousands of files, and have never lost anything. Perhaps where we differ, is that I don’t expect perfection; I do expect a product that works well for my purposes, offers more than I need so I can expand into it, and is constantly being corrected and improved,. That is definitely my experience with DT.

Furthermore, I have been consistently impressed by the prompt, thoughtful (infinitely patient) support all the people at DT provide. (Thinking of Bill deVille and thanks to Bluefrog and cgrunenberg ).

And to zeltak:

Files can be “indexed”, i.e., imported to work within DT, but left in their original location in your Finder file hierarchy, or imported and stored internally to DT, in which case they can be worked with inside DT, or in the originating app with a simple Open command (many filetypes supported). DT is Not a Black Hole where things disappear; there is no need to “extract” anything. If you don’t want a file in DT any longer, just Export back to Finder or open and save a copy… Try it; you’ll like it!



I can’t imagine why you’d continue to retain important data in a product whose support you consider to be so poor. If it’s that bad, you’re just setting yourself up for a data catastrophe in the future. You should export the data and use something else.

I absolutely disagree that the support is poor and there’s only been one paid upgrade in about 10 years. But you should act according to your own experience


The flexibility is one of the things I like most about DT. It’s a container for work, not a specific way to go about a task. Word processors are terrible accounting tools, but DT can organize spreadsheets with the same aplomb it organizes other documents.

The synchronization has never burped, and I’ve used it for syncing troublesome applications like Scrivener projects.

I keep my journal in DT, using Markdown entries that open in iAWriter. It’s not a journaling application, of course, but I have extreme confidence I won’t lose any of my feckless drivel.

Feckless drivel is my genre of speciality. I don’t want to lose a single meaningless sentence.

Edited to add - many thanks for the spectacular customer service, even though it’s barely needed. DT is like the son-in-law I’ve always dreamed of - self supporting.


In my experience DEVONtechnologies provides outstanding customer support. Also, their business and development ethics is one I can only agree with and support. There is no lock-in whatsoever and no blackmailing: your data is yours. Even if I had no access to the app, it would be just a matter of opening the database in finder and taking out my files. Congrats DT team.

And @zeltak, I hope you find what you are looking for, be it DT3 or any other software. As you can see this is a very active community so if you have any questions this is a great place to chat and exchange ideas.


thank you all for the long responses, although it went a bit off topic :smiley:
already bought DT and loving it :slight_smile:




I have been using DT for over a decade, having converted from Evernote. For me it is the killer app that prevents me going back to Linux or, God forbid, Windows. DT along with its amazing mobile counterpart keeps me organised and sane.


Hi again all
this thread has been really active which I find great!

Related back to the original question though . As I have fully moved to devonthink now, I still have a question RE long term sustainability and this time from the aspect of the metadata. Its easy to copy all my md files over anywhere, how does one “tie” in the metadata in devonthink associated with that file?
any tips and idea?

thx again


All metadata tied to the unique instance of this item in DB, which can be addressed via UUID of this item.
In other words, you can change everything in this item (name, dates, location and etc), it’ll still be recognized as the same one until UUID changes.

thx @Silverstone

that’s a great tip!
im more interested in how to export this metadata (such as rating, geolocation, tags etc) inside/alongside my .md file if I ever need to move/share it with other apps?



If I understood your question correctly, you are asking how you would tie the metadata to the file so that you would access it or keep it, should you decide to stop using the software in the future.

Now, this part is a bit trickier. If you create custom metadata fields, this data lives only inside your database. You can export it at any time using tools like create metadata overview or custom applescripts, but it won’t be associated or linked to your files outside of DEVONthink. I believe this is the case with other apps as well, but others will correct me if I am wrong.

There are ways to crank some matedata into PDF files using tools like ExifTool. But, if you are using mainly markdown files, there is some good news. You can keep all your metadata stored in the file header using custom MMD tags.
Simply type:

author: John
 tags: tag1, tag2
aliases: alias 1, alias 2
latex leader: mmd6-tufte-handout-leader
latex begin: mmd6-tufte-handout-begin
latex footer: mmd6-tufte-handout-footer

These won’t appear in the file preview and can be used for different purposes. You can find out more about this in the MMD user guide. Now, speaking personally, I am not a fan of MMD tags since they pollute the file when I am using edit mode (which I do most of the time). I am still considering if I will begin to use it or now, but the option is there.

Edited for typos.

thx so much @Bernardo_V!

this is kinda what I was looking for!
is there any chance devonthink reads and indexes these markdown tags as devonthink tags?

best and thx again