Devonthink as a digital process platform

having come over from evernote to devonthink about 8 months ago I am still standing in awe in front of devonthinks features and versatility. having become a frequent reader of this forum I am just as impressed by the depth of some of the posts on here, the technical expertise, and the exposure to new ideas and use cases it has given me. so first of all: thank you.

coming to think of it devonthink essentially is a digital process platform for me. some of the processes I am using I have already moved over from evernote, others I have only discovered here. right now I am running the following directly in devonthink:

  • getting things done
    • for all those actions and todos
    • mostly based on a slightly adapted implementation of (works perfectly in DT)
  • zettelkasten
    • very early stage, but all the more enthusiastic.
    • for all these ideas & thoughts. ok, fewer than tasks, but still…:wink:
  • save for later
    • anything I encounter and can’t read/view right now goes to a dedicated group (but not the inbox).
  • taxes
    • receipt collection and filing
  • archiving
    • some emails, lot’s of statistics, personal stuff, all of it sorted and tagged

now, I would be truly curious to learn what other processes some of you might have implemented on top of devonthink?

once the data is in devonthink all of these process are essentially enabled by just three features: groups, tags & links. amazing versatility really. what (from my perspective) might enable a whole new set of processes though would be more graphical representation of the data.

we have this oddly placed but fabulous map view for the geographical metadata, but what about kanban boards or graph views to just name two. is there a rationale for the lack of somewhat more graphical representation that I am missing?


I would not characterize it as a “lack”. Lack implies something missing and required; something that should be there.

Outside a forum thread in a graph view and some incidental nods to it, not a ton of interest. Kanban, I don’t recall anyone mentioning.

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I use DT for task management, with tasks stored as individual notes
Due Date was added as a custom metadata field
Status is indicated by the Label field (active/completed/…)
Priority is indicated by Urgent/Important tags (Eisenhower Matrix)

A smart group lists all my active tasks
For better presentation, I export the task list to a spreadsheet to display as a Gantt chart view

receipt collection and filing

Likewise, all receipts are stored in DT (scan, email, …)
I also process and store a monthly transaction file from my bank
I export the list to a spreadsheet to produce budget reports

zettelkasten…very early stage, but all the more enthusiastic

I’m also interested in the zettelkasten process but also early stage
I make use of the DT note link feature (warning - locks us into the DT platform)
I only have a few “atomic” notes

other processes some of you might have implemented

Digital Journalling
A daily journal/dashboard note and individual notes throughout the day

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very interesting. is this your own gradually grown setup? did you try GTD at some point and if so why did you choose your currenct setup if I may ask?

based on the framework outlined in “the secret weapon” I am using tags for both status as well as priority, while I remove completed tasks to a seperate group outside of the system (“completed”). currently I have not yet found a use for labels in this process.

good point about the lock in. but isn’t that “only” true with the x-devonthink links? when using wililinks and a filing convention for the atomic notes such as 20210619-1755 that should be easily replaceable, correct? at least I have seen purely editor based implementations that seemed to work like that…

to me the trickiest part with the zettelkasten process seems to be finding the best notes to link to new entries for the zettelkasten to grow. this is precisely where I hope DT will do best, with suggesting notes to link to. but only time will tell, after all I am just getting started, too.

interesting, thank you. what purpose does this daily journal serve, i.e. how do you use it?

well, for what it’s worth please count this as another “incidental nod” for a graph view…:wink:

also I might be mistaken, but the co-use of DT and obsidian might be another indication for such a requirement/interest/need. at least I could not find features in obsidian that DT did not have - besides the graph view…but I am sure there are more qualified folks here than me to talk about that and confirm or correct that assumption…


I read GTD and looked at TSW
They had good ideas which I included in my process
TSW doesn’t seem to make use of a task due date

I remove completed tasks to a seperate group outside of the system (“completed”)

I have my tasks organized in specific groups as required
I don’t want to mess this up by moving them to a different group

a filing convention for the atomic notes such as 20210619-1755 that should be easily replaceable

I prefix all my note titles with the date/time
It does provide a unique note-id and can be accessed using a text search

what purpose does this daily journal serve, i.e. how do you use it?

Planning out my day, a historical log
Entries for events/tasks are copied/listed

Also serves as a dashboard, with links to commonly referenced sources

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Co-use of an application is a data point to consider but it’s not necessarily going to lead to adding a feature. Realize how many apps people tout and cheers… only to abandon fairly quickly. In fact, it’s interesting how Roam is rarely mentioned lately, yet it was “the next best thing” only a few months ago. We have to consider feasibility as well as how broad the audience would be for added features.

We also have to determine if it makes sense for DEVONthink and not all requests do. We off and on have requests that DEVONthink act like a media player, with playlists, resume on playback, etc. DEVONthink can already playback media files, one by one, and there are other apps (even Spotify, if you’re so inclined) that do exactly what they’re asking.

Remember we are not trying to be any other application nor are we specifically supporting things like zettelkasten. For example, if someone who likes zettelkasten can achieve certain things in DEVONthink, that just attests to our app’s flexibility to accommodate different organizational methods. But we are not trying to compete with bespoke zettelkasten apps.

As @DTLow was nicely pointing out (even if indirectly), there is plenty of mythology about what DEVONthink is… and isn’t.

  • DEVONthink is not just a tool for academics, business people, or techies.
  • DEVONthink is not made for “knowledge work” or litigation or notetaking or customer files. It is made for anyone who wants to organize things in a more powerful manner than they would in the Finder. (And no, I am not saying it’s a Finder replacement because it’s not.)
  • DEVONthink is flexible encough to accommodate different working and organizational methods.

To describe DEVONthink as “knowledge worker software” is to overlook how much more it actually can be to people. And a lot of what DEVONthink is to an individual, is what they bring to the experience: their way of thinking about data segration, how they search, what they’re trying to accomplish.

  • We have people with recipe databases that sync to DEVONthink To Go and use it on their iPad in the kitchen.
  • We have people who have tracked their own health and/or the health of loved ones, even sadly (and we’re humbled by it), recorded their final papers, funeral, estate, etc.
  • We have students from highschool through PhD candidates with their classes and assignments in DEVONthink databases.
  • We have many lawyers, doctors, and business people running ther cases, patients, and businesses in DEVONthink.
  • Personally and profesionally, I do the great majority of my work in DEVONthink. I journal daily in it and also pay 95% of my bills in a DEVONthink database (and have for 9 years).
  • And there are so many other examples I can recall right now.

All that being said, we don’t claim DEVONthink is a recipe application and try to compete with those. Nor do we claim we’re a journaling or notetaking app. We’re not litigation software or patient record software. We aren’t even a “track your bills easily! Check it out NOW!” application. We just provide many tools that help people organize, find, and even relate their documents and information.

I hope that all makes things a bit more clear.

As a side note, I will tell you something I often hear when discussing this very topic about DEVONthink with people… "Oh wow! I didn’t know you could do all that in DEVONthink!"


thank you very much for your detailed response! I fully agree and believe the versatility of my use cases actually underscores your points nicely.

my attempted suggestion was / is to extend that amazing versatility into a more graphical space, but, yes, this “Oh wow!” is something I am going through (and am very much enjoying) often…:slight_smile:

Glad to hear it, you’re welcome, and thanks for the nice feedback. :slight_smile:

Ttrust me, I am a very visual person myself (having spent 32 years in graphic arts and printing), so I understand the desire for some more graphical elements (though any real usefulness of the network graph in Obsidian eludes me). However, Development would have to assess these things and determine if they’re the right fit.



I don’t think Roam is dead, I think it’s great :grinning: As is DT indeed. And even better is the combo of the two. It’s really a great feature of DT that items get their own url. I tend to look for my information (notes of many types, incl. tasks) in Roam but often I would have related files stored in DT. And these are just one click away - click on the link in Roam to the DT item or group (and DT links are visually differentiated in Roam via css). But sometimes Roam search or associations are not a good way to look for something, then DT hierarchies or search come to rescue.

Glad they’re both satisfactory to you. :slight_smile:

I don’t think Roam is dead

I didn’t say Roam is dead. I meant we used to hear a lot of discussion from people using it or wanting us to implement feature X or Y relative to Roam. We don’t hear that any more. Nowadays, it’s "Obsidian this… and "Obsidian that….

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thanks to your summerfest promotion I just ran across Hyperplan, which seems to allow that generic graphical representation I was thinking about (if only it could show data from devonthink):

  • DT items could be the objects to display. defining colors depending on tags, groups or other properties.
  • doing tables based on tags and / or groups
  • showing link relationships e.g. for items in a group or a tag

that would both be generic for very creative representation of the data in devonthink and would immediately allow for more “standardized” views such as graph view or kanban boards. and obviously many many more…

just as a suggestion…:slight_smile:

@toao I also adapted TSW implementation in Evernote. Now, moving to DT, I am hoping to adapt the same TSW implementation in DT. The tags and Smart Groups (Saved Search/Shortcuts in EN) work well and perform almost exactly like in EN.

However, I have a problem with Tickler File. In EN, I use the Reminder with Cronofly connector with Google Calendar. Any material/action that I need to be ticklered in a future date, I just set in Reminder. On a day to day basic, since it appears in my Google Calendar (thanks to cronofly), I will be ticklered/reminded. I am trying to see how I can achieve that in DT. Or explore other ways to implement a Tickler File.

Can you share how to implement a Tickler File in DT?

@TonyLim I must admit I am not sure what you mean by a tickler file. but I have replaced the cronofy interface between EN and my calender with two options:

  • there is a pre-installed script in DT: you find it under script (the applescript “S” between the “window” and “help” pull down menus) / reminders / add as event to calendar. it simply adds your item to your calendar. I like this a lot, even if it is only one way to the calendar. in fact I have put it into my toolbar as a dedicated item.

  • the other one I am playing around with are the reminders you can set in the inspector for each item. in theory I like them more as they would alert me straight out of devonthink, especially for items that are not exactly timed (e.g. I should do this some time today or tomorrow) and thus do not quite fit my use of the calendar. however I am having issues with when these reminders are actually being triggered (they are not triggering at the right times, and support & I yet have to figure out why)…

does that answer your question?

I’m having the same timing problem when using reminders to trigger timed script executions

I’m not enthused about cluttering my calendar with non-event entries
and I prefer to see my tasks in a Gantt view
I implemented a solution by using a script to extract the task data to a spreadsheet


Your solution certainly is a reasonable one

Another alternative is to consider that the built-in DT3 script lets you choose which Calendar you add an item to; so you don’t have to “clutter” your regular calendar with non-event entries.

Plus you could choose a Google Calendar from the DT3 script. Then in turn you can use Zapier or other cloud automation tools to add the items to a spreadsheet as well.


I use a few DEVONtech-specific calendars in Apple’s Calendar app.

@BLUEFROG alright, the sample size on the issue of erratic reminder triggering has just doubled it seems…:-). is there any progress on understanding and resolving this? thanks!

Under GTD definition:

The Tickler File is an organizational tool which can be used to simplify the tracking of date-related items and to manage work flow.

Many people implement it using the 43 folders. I once did that using tags. But have since move to use Cronofly and Google Calendar.

Thanks a lot. The pre-installed script is what I need now, even though it is one way. Good enough for now.

If I view the entry in Apple Calendar, there is a x-devonthink-item link which is very good. But the same entry view in Google Calendar has no x-devontink-item link. Anyway to overcome this?