Create a smart group that collects the contents of groups

I have set up Devonthink Pro with multiple databases for different areas of interest. Each of these generates GTD contexts such as Next Actions, Someday/Maybe, etc.

I would like to have a smart group that collects the Next Actions from each database. I can do this with by tagging each item in each database in its respective Next Actions group… but that’s redundant. The group already shows that it is an NA.

I read through previous posts on this subject and the only one I could find was from 2007 and required writing a script. I wanted to know if there is a more modern approach, especially if I’m missing something when I read through all the options for a smart group.


This Smart Group in the DEVONthink sidebar will find groups with “Next Action” in the group name, across all open databases.

Groups found by Smart Groups always include their children. If you put the Smart Group in a single database, that’s the only database that will be searched.

Thanks Korm.

It sounds like what I’m asking about doesn’t work currently. As I understand your setup, the smartgroup creates a list of the groups from the individual databases. That’s different from what I’m looking for which is the collection of all items contained inside of all “next actions” folders from all of the databases.

Let me know if I’m understanding you correctly… and if the functionality isn’t there for what I’m describing.


The Smart Group shown in the example displays the groups and the “collection of items inside of all ‘next actions’ folders from all the databases”

Over here, I made an example using “Sync” groups rather than “Next Actions” (I don’t have next actions folders) - same concept though:

Just select the groups and use Data > Expand All

The content in your groups is in the Smart Group, but if you don’t want the group name to show, or expanding the group to see the content is a bother – then, I guess DEVONthink doesn’t have the functionality you’re describing.

Suggestion: Try making the Smart Group. Takes fewer than 20 seconds to setup.

Funny story…

Before I posted my earlier reply I had created the smart group you described but goofed and called it “next action” instead of “next actions” so it didn’t appear to be doing the job.

With expand all… it does most of what I was looking for. I was hoping that the groups themselves wouldn’t display. But actually… if I rename the groups that display in the smart group to something like “music next actions” and “family management next actions” then it provides me with an extra layer of context, which might be useful.

Thanks for your help!

Try View > As Columns

You’ll get the group names in the first column, and the contents in the next column(s). A nice thing about Smart Group is they retain the View setting.

Very cool. Thanks for the help Korm.

I’m making a grand return to Devonthink after a five year absence using Evernote and similar apps. Really excited to see how it fits so smoothly into my workflow.