Devonthink as a form of outliner

For a while now I’ve played around with using Devonthink as a story planning tool.

Some things appear multiple times in an outline. McGuffins, characters, locations, and each time they appear there is something to note about them for consistency’s sake.

I write notes in Devonthink RTF documents. This is my inventory of thoughts.

The ones that pertain to Chapter 1 get tagged “Chapter 1.”

Any one of those notes for Chapter 1 might get tagged “Chapter 19,” too. Additions to those notes, either as annotations or edits while writing chapter 1 are there while writing chapter 19.

While writing chapter 1, I drill into the Chapter 1 tag with a double-click, so all I see are those few notes that matter.

If none of that makes sense, I narrated a screen recording at .

The first few minutes are gushing about Devonthink. At the end I go through my outlining idea.

Many variations on that theme are possible, of course, most of which are probably better than my efforts.

Comments on this use of tags most welcome.


Some really interesting ideas. Thanks for sharing!

Thanks, rpallred.

Enjoyed your presentation.

I generally tag not by writing the tag on the docs but rather creating the tag tree first. Then, I tag by dragging the documents on to the tags. I’m more of a visual drag and drop person.


Very interesting indeed! You use tags much in the same way I use groups. Replicants make tags and groups nearly interchangeable.

But only nearly interchangeable. Your video and discussion here suggest to me that I would find it useful to review the DevonThink documentation and think about ways I can be using tags more effectively.

By the way, I watched the video this afternoon on YouTube, and came here to post it, only to find you’d done it first!

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Really nice video - I have used DT3 forever but your use case is very different from mine and that helps me to see how you use tags very differently than I do.

Really useful


Thanks, @rkaplan! The cool thing about tags is they can fit multiple purposes, even within the same database. Best of all, tagging can arise order from chaos without losing the original chaos.

I have a financial database for receipts, bills, statements, and contracts, grouped in the expected categories based on bank accounts and vendors. When I pay a bill, I tag it with something like “Paid-21-11-19 Fri,” Which is a child tag of Paid-21/Paid-21-11. That gives me a second date stamp on the entry.

Another tag called Attn goes on bills that get scanned but haven’t been paid.

I could do those things with annotations, but tags make it much easier to browse.

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It’s tags only for me; vendors, budget categories, bank accounts

Another tag called Attn goes on bills that get scanned but haven’t been paid.

Most of my bills are auto-payment
I store the payment date as subject date (prefixed to the record name)
For bills requiring action on my part, I flag them for task management
by specifying a task due date (custom metadata field)
Tasks are tagged as completed, and get a completed date/time stored as a comment in file comments

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From a Zettelkasten forum - Writing with the Zettelkasten is like building a fieldstone wall — Zettelkasten Forum .

This is as close to how I outline as anything else I’ve seen.

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Outlining works really well , you can create Groups and new notes on fly easily using keyboard shortcuts .

Only thing I feel missing is keyboard shortcuts to move the notes in and out of groups

so I created


I cannot move note4 out of GroupB to GroupA using keyboard shortcuts easily .