DevonAgent rebrand: the _best personal, private search engine_

Now that “custom search engines” are a thing again, DevonAgent should market itself as one of them :slight_smile:

See Neeva and Kagi – not to mention the now-venerable DuckDuckGo

DA offers features way beyond these, imo!


Thank you for your trust in DEVONagent! I personally use mainly DuckDuckGo for all the normal searches and DEVONagent when I want to dig deeper.


Since almost 10 years I use DEVONagent Pro (Appstore-version) for all kinds of searches . Not only the bright and shiny sites but doubtful sites as well. Since I have several protection services running in the background I always felt save in case… But never experienced any assault . The search results from DEVONagent were safe and sound. Be careful nevertheless as you know the world is changing ;-))


That is exactly what I do :slight_smile: I just love DEVONtech :slight_smile:


It baffles me that DEVONagent isn’t used by everyone in the world. One killer search and you never go back. Everything else feels so primitive and limited by comparison, and the more you use it the more you learn (both intuitively and technically) about search design and optimisation, even without abseiling into the bottomless rabbithole of custom plugins. I genuinely don’t know how anyone can navigate the landscape of contemporary knowledge without it; it’s the nearest thing to an instant window on any academic conversation you’d never even heard of till you just caught a passing mention or simply wondered whether it might exist – and you can save the digest. It’s like a cognitive superweapon. (So is DT, obviously, especially in combination with it…)


Some case points where DA offers superior results to Google would be a great help for people who are not immersed into it. during my experimentation a couple of years ago, find little reasons to use it over Google. Indeed, the results from GOOGLE sound much more reasonable at the time.

Can sb make a convincing case where da is better than your regular search engine?

Well, as others have said in this thread, Google or DuckDuckGo absolutely have a place if you’re trying to find a specific thing. DEVONagent is more of a research tool; the key features are the ability to create search sets (of sites and search engines, including custom plugins); the filtering of results (to weed out the ads, garbage, and duplicates, and allow interactive ranking on the fly); the collection of all relevant results in a single live view rather than a series of pages, with auto-generated and generally very effective summaries; and the collection of all results and summaries in a single saveable document with live links.

If you’re looking for a Nepalese restaurant within two miles, Google’s your guy; but if you want to find out about Chinese narratology, DEVONagent will find, sort, and summarise everything you need to know that’s out there, and save the whole thing in a compact RTF file you can then work with in anything, including – indeed, especially – DEVONthink. (You can also save the complete search results offline if you want, though I usually find that overkill.)


As @NickLowe astutely pointed out, DEVONagent doesn’t offer an advantage in every instance.

Also, if you use an Express search, you end up with unfiltered results, if needed.

I want to be enthusiastic about DevonAgent, but… The couple of times I’ve tried to use it, I get locked out of Google Scholar immediately (I mostly want to find academic articles). I invested some time trying to figure out the work-around, but gave up when I didn’t make progress after about an hour. Since I want to like it, it’d be great if someone could point me to what I need to do to prevent Google Scholar from thinking I’m a bot. Thanks!


Good question; there are probably tips to be shared here, though I don’t have any obvious solutions myself. I also use DA mostly for academic searches, but for some reason I don’t seem to get locked out of Google Scholar, unless I’m just not noticing that I have been. I have a default custom search set for articles that includes Google Scholar alongside JSTOR,, and my own university’s library catalogue, so it may simply be that DA is capturing some of the same items by other routes. I suppose the test would be to uncheck Google Scholar in the Search Sets => Plugins tab and see what happens. But I suspect many others here, particularly outside the Humanities where I’m confined, have their own deeper experience and tips to contribute.

For what it’s worth, here’s are screenshots of my default settings for my basic academic search set, first from the Plugins tab (built-in DA plugins):
Screenshot 2022-08-05 at 14.26.57
… and then from the Sites tab (third item is my own institution’s library catalogue, for which you’ll substitute your own):
Screenshot 2022-08-05 at 14.25.13
I don’t have any user plugins in this search set, but there may well be ways to exploit some of these resources more effectively than I’ve yet found, as well as other aggregators of Open Access outlets that would be useful to incorporate.

I think I probably speak for all academics when I say that PubMed is in a league of its own as a DA-friendly resource and a utopian model for how everything else ought to work. (But a shoutout also for DA as a tool for finding, aggregating, and sorting relevant Wikipedia articles in a single synoptic document – I don’t know any other tool that can scrape Wikipedia so usefully.)


Thank you all for this conversation. It increases my appetite to use DA more often. I‘m fed up with Google‘s prioritization of paid results having nothing to do with what I‘m searching for.

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I‘m fed up with Google‘s prioritization of paid results

We’ve talked about this recently: Google seems to be becoming the front end for online shopping more and more. Good if you’re actually shopping, but not useful otherwise.

Wow, you guys must be seeing benefits to DA that I’m not. I’ve never understood the app, and now that it’s so far out of date I figured it must be on the chopping block. Maybe it’s because my research is technical (programming, linux, cloud, etc…) I’ve never been able to find a use for DA that wasn’t filled better by DuckDuckGo.

But I’d be happy to be proven wrong!

now that it’s so far out of date I figured it must be on the chopping block.

DEVONagent has also received updates, so I’m not sure where you got this idea.

Mostly that the design of the app hasn’t kept up with the times, which is almost always an indicator that the app is on the way out. When the developer doesn’t care enough about the app to update it for each OS release, I see that as a sign that eventually it’ll just stop working and become abandonware. It tends to happen slowly, like the Release Notes menu item in DA. DEVONthink gets updated, but DEVONagent does not.

A few items come to mind when launching the app:

  • The icon hasn’t been updated to the Big Sur style
  • Massive toolbar in the search results window
  • Different window styles between the built-in browser and the search results window
  • The browser still doesn’t support native full-screen, that came out in, what? 2011 with Lion?
  • Outdated button and other UI element styles

I understand that many of the folks here who love DA don’t care or even prefer that the UI hasn’t been updated, but I do.

Not to mention that I can never find what I’m looking for in DA, and the last time I tried to seriously use it for something I thought it’d be perfect at (searching our company Confluence wiki), I couldn’t do it.

Update: I got them to come up the third time I tried. :+1:

Is that important in any way? Do icons really have to be updated with every OS release, and to what purpose? And is there even such a thing as a Big Sur style?

It is to me.

Why did they bother updating the DEVONthink icon? As I said previously, design updates are an indicator of the developer keeping up with macOS. If they don’t care enough to update the icon, perhaps the app just isn’t important to the developers.

However, a good counterpoint example is BBEdit. I think Rich just doesn’t like the new round-rec icon style. But, BBEdit has received a lot of big updates over the years to keep current.

Or perhaps the app is simply doing what it is supposed to do. Well, I’m coming from the command line, and there are not even icons. So I don’t care one way or another as long as the program works.

Let me put it differently: I’d very much like Apple to rather concentrate on their UI (most notable missing discoverability) and software problems (think PDFkit) than on creating a new “style” with every new OS and forcing software developers to bother with that, taking away resources from more important tasks.


Well, version 3 of DEVONthink was a major upgrade and revision. There wasn’t a DEVONagent upgrade for quite a while (only updates) but there definitely will be sooner or later.