Cross Linking Documents?

How can I cross link two or more documents without resorting to annotations?

Example - I find an article on a blog that references an academic paper. I usually also do my best to find the original paper and download it as well.


References: Health and wellbeing at work | CIPD

I would like to cross link the two so that I know that I can see I already have the academic article if I want to double check the details.

I want this cross linking to be in metadata and not an annotation in a pdf/markdown file - so I’m not looking for wikilinks.

Is this possible?

In the Pro or Server edition, you can create a custom attribute with a data type of Item Link and select a linked file. This link would show up in the Document > Links inspector under Incoming Links.


  1. Currently you have to sfroll and find the item in the dropdown in the Custom Info inspector.
    It would be nice if you could drag and drop a file onto such a dropdown, but @cgrunenberg would have to comment on the feasibility of that.
  2. This is not going to make a custom attribute applied to the original file, i.e., you’d have to st the attribute on each file, pointing to the other.
  3. You cannot assign more than one item link attribute at a time.
  4. You also can’t just add these attributes on an ad-hoc basis without going to the Data preferences.
  5. You know it’s Sunday, right? :wink:

Could you could use tags?

Wow you’re fast, I didn’t expect a reply tonight. I assumed Monday.

The other thing I wonder about was groups, however that breaks down as soon a summary article mentions a paper that has been used elsewhere.

You can replicate records into other groups.

Two follow on questions:

  • Can this be automated with either a Script or Keyboard Maestro?
  • Am I insane for thinking of this? Or better phrased do other people do this?
  • Can this be automated with either a Script or Keyboard Maestro?

Which part?
If you were talking about just adding a custom attribute with an item link to two selected documents, that is likely doable.

  • Am I insane for thinking of this? Or better phrased do other people do this?

Possibly but we’re here to talk you down :wink:

I don’t know of anyone doing this specific thing, but others doing different things than I can weigh in on it.

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I can add a custom attribute easily :slight_smile:

The thing I would automate is select - N documents, run a script and have them crosslinked to each other.

I do this; using an applescript to add a table of contents (links) to each note of a project

I want this cross linking to be in metadata

Like a tag?

Ok this is interesting. How do you name the tags? These aren’t a named project.

Usually I see a summary article, it seems interesting and I find the original to make sure the claims in the summary hold up.

All my projects are identified by tag:#Project:aaaaaaaaaaa
I only mentioned tags because you mentioned metadata

There is an app called Hook that maintains a database of documents linked to each other. It works with DevonThink and many other apps as well. This might be a better solution to connect documents from disparate apps. Hook App Homepage


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I would also suggest looking at the Hook app. Would be amazing if DT team hard baked that into DT, it’s so useful, but hook does it nicely on the mac (not iOS).

Definitely not insane - been something I’ve been trying make work for a while in my database, but could only come up with the devonlink links

I find Hook and DevonThink work well together, especially with some of the changes in version 3 of DT with the lastest Hook (both pro).

I’m looking for a similar function. Although in my case I would actually prefer the cross reference to reside within an annotation in the PDF file itself. I’ve found a workable solution, but it behaves a bit inconsistently.

It seems like the PDF highlights/annotations viewer in DEVONthink cannot handle hyperlinks. However, some annotation types created in the application Skim can contain hyperlinks. Anchored note in Skim can have rich text content. So I paste the DEVONthink hyperlink into the anchor note. Exporting the annotation from Skim maintains the hyperlink. However, when viewing the PDF within DEVONthink, the link in the anchor note becomes inert. The note is also missing its hyperlink when creating a summary of the PDF’s annotations using DEVONthink’s “Summarize highlights” script.

As a bit of an aside, is anyone interested in trying their hand at creating a Skim notes template for exporting annotations as markdown including deep links to the cited page in DT? I found a markdown export template on the Skim wiki, but I’m new to this and it’ll surely take while before I get around to learning how to make this template myself.

Would you mind sharing some examples of how you use Hook and DT together?
I use Applescript to generate markdown links for DT notes and copy that in my notes within and outside of DT. I want to see if Hook has a more efficient workflow.