DevonThink Pro Manual again!

Okay I know this has been brought up before but I would really, really like and value a manual for DTP. All the electronic help stuff is fine but for me nothing beats a book that you can hold and look up what you need, it is so much easier, convenient and an aid to learning how to use any given application that I think it would become an instant 'best-seller, for people like me. Are there any plans to produce such a manual?

So take the PDF and have a copy professionally printed?

Good idea! Thanks.

Further to my previous first response to the idea to professionally print the pdf of the manual, it occurs to me to wonder if this would be a breach of copyright?

Only if you then sell/distribute it as your own product. :slight_smile:

A PDF would be great. Is there a PDF manual for DTPO 2.0 beta? If so where? If there is only an old PDF manual, where can I get it?

David … ation.html

The problem with printed manuals: A current version of the user documentation will soon be modified again with the next release — rather significantly, in fact. The documentation is updated for each new release.

That’s the principal reason why printed user manuals (other than quick start types) have vanished in the software industry. It would be too costly to continually update them, and they quickly become outdated.

The other reason is that most people prefer searchable user documentation, as it is so much easier to find information in that form. Notice that our user documentation PDFs are supplied in two formats, one designed for printout and one (which most people download) for viewing onscreen. When DEVONthink Pro Office public beta 1 was released, I printed out a few pages that described the search operators and query syntax. But from time to time new operators have been added or query features changed, so those first printouts are no longer sufficient.

The user documentation is also provided under the application’s Help menu, in Apple’s Help document format. If one wishes to learn about how to set up a Folder Action script, for example, a search here will pull up help that links directly into the actual setup procedure.

There are, of course, lots of books and guides about software and many of these are popular and sell well. In fact, there’s one in preparation about DEVONthink. But the same problem exists here. If the book is printed on paper, it rather quickly becomes obsolete. So even here, paper is being phased out in favor of ‘ebook’ versions, and some such guides are not available in paper form. A ‘dummy’s guide’ to OS X written for Tiger is less than useful if you wish to learn about Snow Leopard, which itself will change in some details again very soon with the upcoming 10.6.3 release.

I like books. I’ve got thousands of them, some hundreds of years old.

But in many fields, especially the sciences, knowledge evolves so rapidly that a book printed only three or four years ago may be of only historical interest, no longer representative of the current state of the discipline.

One of the reasons that there’s so much excitement about the iPad, especially in the publishing world, is that it embodies a paperless means of distributing content that has historically been printed on paper, from newspapers to textbooks to novels. Like it or not, we are in the early stages of a transition in distribution of information.


I understand your point of view on paper, but i thought I should contribute an alternate view on a few things.

  1. First, paper isn’t the same as PDF. I totally agree that software companies should distribute documentation electronically, and PDF is the preferred format, especially for Mac users as it is supported by the OS to the core.

  2. If a user wants paper, print the PDF. I don’t see the benefit to a ‘screen’ layout PDF, but if you have both it’s OK.

  3. IMHO, Apple help is terrible. Very poor navigation compared to preview or any other PDF viewer. I really hate the always-float-on-top window. I never use it, and I’ve experienced and come to expect that the Apple help content for most applications is minimal to non-existent. Usually you can’t tell how extensive or current Apple help is for a particular application. I could go on…

  4. I’m a new user evaluating DTPO, and finding out that there’s a current user manual in PDF is a huge plus. Please keep in mind that a new user/customer starting from scratch with reasonably complex software like DTPO will actually want to read those introductory chapters! And yes, I have printed the manual for this reason.

  5. A suggestion for Devon Technologies: Make the user manual more obvious. It should be part of the software download. It should be link #1 in DevonAcademy. If you walk through the new user experience, including the email tips, (unless I missed it), there’s no mention of the manual.


I agree it’s easy to overlook the Extras page link on the Downloads page, where another link to the Documentation page can be found.

The Documentation note/link on the Support page is more obvious (to me).

I’d prefer where to download it be clearly mentioned in a brief READ-ME-FIRST document included with the software download.

Or somewhere obvious on that page, at least in case you’ve landed there without passing through the Support page where it’s mentioned.

I also loathe the always on top Apple Help which sometimes can and sometimes can’t be closed by cmd-W (and if it can’t a random tab/window behind it might close without warning). And tweaking it to behave like a normal application still leaves it weird.

Having said that, DT is one of the few programs that have good documentation available via the Help menu. I personally prefer the PDF file but that’s just me.

I don’t find it necessary for every update, but when I first started using DT, I found it very helpful to print the manual out and read through it. So now I only ask questions with obvious answers, instead of questions with incredibly obvious answers.


I keep the current DTPO PDF manual in a database – easily searched, highlighted, clipped-from, etc. I put clippings and archives from this forum there too. Got a nice little personalized DTPO knowledge base going as a result.

Thank you to all who have contributed to this thread, I have found it not only interesting but very helpful. I have begun to use the PDF more and have also created a database as has ‘Korm’ and already this is becoming very useful. It is little tips like this that no developer’s help/manual seem to give that a separate handbook, (as for example, the Quickstart series) do sometimes offer. Having said that I do see Bill’s point about books becoming quickly out of date, and at the price that they are this is not an inconsiderable consideration! Thanks again for all of your contributions and hints.


What is the book about DT Pro which you mention above, as being in preparation? More details, please!

All I can say is that it exists and is in the near-final edit stage now.


have a look at:

Take Control make great ebooks on all/many things mac and computing. I have bought and liked especially the upgrading to new version of OSX-series.

So I am looking forward with anticipation to the release.



Great news! I like the Take Control books too. And it is being written by Joe Kissell, who wrote “the book” on Nisus Writer quite a few years ago; I still have my dog-eared copy of that, it was so helpful and well done that I’m attached to it!

I see that the Take Control manual has now been released. I’ve downloaded it and it looks really helpful.

Perhaps DTech would bundle the book with DT in the future?