DA/DT on a USB jumpdrive?

Hi all.

I’m trying DN/DT again after a hiatus, and I’d like to install both of them on a 32MB USB jumpdrive (the kind that you can stick on a keychain).

The applications install and launch, but with both DA and DT, the app launches and then…nothing. No splash page. No main window. I can access preferences, and the menus work but are greyed out.

Any ideas?



You really can’t run DT or DA from a USB external ‘drive.’ These applications should be placed into the Applications folder of your Mac.

The database for both applications is expected to be found in /Users/username/Library/Application Support/.

There are also preference files in /Users/usdrname/Library/Preferences/.

Of course, you can transport the applications (and perhaps copies of small databases) on the USB device – for example, to transfer your applications from one computer to another. But the apps should then be installed in the Applications folder of the computer receiving the apps. (When launched, the apps will automatically create database and preference files within your Users folder – you don’t have to create them. But if you are also transporting a copy of a small database, it would have to be copied to the appropriate place on the new Mac.)

Hope this helps.

Bill is right. Place the applications on your Macs and transport the database on the USB stick.

Trick: Copy the folders ~/Library/Application Support/DEVONthink and …/DEVONagent to your USB stick and create aliases to the new location in ~/Library/Application Support/. Our applications will look for their folders, find the aliases and follow them.

Please note that USB sticks are generally quite slow, which leads to bad performance when using DEVONthink and DEVONagent.



Harumph. This is what happened when I last tried to use DT to organize my work…I have 3 Macs and work on all of them, not to mention the Mac in a lab I’m using right now.

I’ll try the alias trick with a usb drive and see how it works.

Thanks for the quick response!


If you need to transport your database between multiple Macs (using the alias tricks suggested by Eric), it would be best to plan on using a portable FireWire drive. That would not only run much faster than a USB device, it would allow for database expansion over time. 32 MB isn’t much – my database, with backups, runs about 2 GB and needs still more drive space when it hasn’t been optimized for a while.

You should make frequent backups of your db to one or more of your computers, just in case the portable drive were to die or be stolen – which would leave you dead in the water if no backup existed. (Warning: Don’t copy your db to another location while it is open. I recommend running Verify & Repair, then Backup & Optimize. Then quit DT and copy your db to another location.)

Note: If one or more of your computers is limited to FireWire 400, make certain the portable drive can accommodate 400. (Most do, and 400-only portable drives are fairly inexpensive. I got a little FireFly 400 drive on sale for $99. It’s a tiny little thing, only 5 GB capacity but easy to carry around. That was over 2 years ago. Much larger capacities are available for a similar price now.)

Another important point: You will need to actually import files such as PDFs into your database, either into the db itself or into the File folder inside the db folder. Set your DT preferences to the option you prefer. Reason: If you’ve linked to files on the HD of one of your machines, they won’t be available when you run your db on a different machine and try to launch one of these files.

My own db isn’t set up for portability, since I’ve got thousands of files that are only linked to DEVONthink, and are not actually contained in my db. (I may change my db structure one of these days, to make portability possible. Of course, when I do that, my db will become much larger.)

Well, part of the issue here is that I don’t want to wag around technology unless it’s absolutely necessary. I’ve only recently cut the cord and stopped carrying my powerbook with me everywhere I go (in favor of an iPaq and a wireless keyboard).

Would such a setup work on an iPod? That is, could I just use it to house the db?

Yes, of course. My little FireFly drive uses the same HD as the original 5 GB iPod. But while I paid $99 for the FireFly, I paid $399 for an iPod back then (with poker winnings, so it didn’t seem expensive).

An iPod will always cost more than an equivalent size FireWire drive. But then you can listen to music with your iPod, so there’s the value added. :slight_smile:

I’ve been using my (10Gb) iPod to synchronise my DT database between my home and work machines and it works beautifully. It only takes a few seconds to copy my 300 Mb database.