Creating a reference in Bookends for a Devonthink file?

I want to create a new reference in Bookends based on a file I have in DTOP. What’s the simplest way?

I could manually create a new reference in Bookends and then copy over information from DTOP. I see there may be a script to link the two?

I tried dragging the DTOP file into Bookends but I think Bookends tries to import the whole file (PDF, etc).

If I had the last few years to do over I fear I should not have put everything into DTOP but instead just indexed it there. Now I have thousands of items in DTOP and am trying to figure how to integrate them into Bookends after the fact.

Any advice is welcome.

There’s File > Import > Reference from Bookends in DTPO, and there are apple scripts available for linking the selected BE item with the selected DT document - just search for them in the Sonny Software forums.

the question is what you want to achieve. From what I read, you’d be happiest to have an indexed folder in your filesystem that Bookends is using as well. And now you are kicking yourself that you did not set it up like that, right?
Just set it up now then :smiley:

The trick is to

  1. first create an empty folder where you want it in the filesystem
  2. index that folder in Devonthink (nothing much is happening because it is empty)
  3. in Devonthink move all the files you’d rather see indexed in the filesystem into that indexed folder (all within DEvonthink).
  4. right click that folder and choose “move to external folder”. Important: Devonthink will only re-locate the file as such into that external folder but all the metadata that you worked with whilst inside Devonthink are still remembered, e.g. an annotation file linked to that PDF will still be linked etc.
  5. in the Finder, navigate to that folder, it should by now contain all the PDFs you chose in step 3
  6. in Bookends you have a number of different options, but you might want to just set this folder as the location where BE expects to find its PDFs.
    Remember to check your settings in Bookends, you do not want Bookends to automatically rename the PDFs or move them into a folder that Bookends keeps under watch elsewhere.

Ask if you have more questions but this is how I am doing what I think you may want to do and it is working well.


This sounds brilliant and I will have a go when I get time—thanks for this.

Hi Prion,

I stumbled across this old thread looking through the community for tips on how to use Bookends. I wanted to ask you a couple of questions regarding your proposed solution to Allsop’s question.

  1. Would I be able to maintain my existing file structure in Devonthink if I did this? I suppose one idea would be to recreate my file structure as external folders and individually add them to Bookends.

  2. This might be more about Bookends than Devonthink, but my understanding is that Bookends either moves or copies the pdfs that it imports. Obviously moving would break the link with Devonthink, but copying the pdf would create a duplicate. Is there any way to avoid this?

I did some experimenting on this, and it looks like the copy that Bookends creates retains the same metadata as the original pdf. So I suppose I could, once all of my pdfs were in Bookends, stop indexing the original folder that I used to export my pdfs to Bookends and then index Bookend’s attachments folders.

What do you think? I apologize for the naive questions, and having resurrected such an old topic!


sorry, my turn to resurrect an old topic. Are you still interested in a solution? Spoiler: I think there is one but before typing it up it would be good to know if someone is listening :slight_smile:

Hi Prion,

What I ended up doing was simply exporting the pdfs in Devonthink that I needed references for to the Bookends attachments folder (using the export script). The process is still on-going (and time consuming), but doesn’t intrude on my devonthink organizational structure. The only thing I haven’t figured out is how to export a Devonthink pdf directly into an existing reference in Bookends.

I’d be interested in your process though, if it’s not too much of a bother!


Ah, there may be something that I missed in reading your request. You have PDFs in Devonthink that you also need to cite using Bookends, correct? Are they imported or indexed? And also: are the PDFs in DTPO a superset or a subset of what you have in Bookends? Could you live with an identical set in both, if need be in a separate Bookends library in case you have something in Bookends that you want to keep separate?

Hi Prion,

This is a bit embarrassing - my apologies for the extremely delayed response. Right now I am indexing on DTP the PDFs I store in the Bookends attachment folder. The PDFs I have on DTPO are currently a superset of what I have in Bookends. This reflects the different functions of DT in general and Bookends - I use Bookends to manage my academic reading, and DT to manage all of files. When my Bookends and DT libraries overlap, I would prefer the files be shared.

In the meantime, my solution (which involved a lot of brute force at force) was simply to use the “export to Bookends” script on all of PDFs I wanted Bookends to have access to. I also automated the Bookends attachment folder to index new files to Devonthink. This has worked for me so far.