DEVONthink Quickstart Question

DEVONthink for Dummies

  • Downloaded a demo version of DevonThink 2.0
  • Created a .dtBase2 file.
  • Dragged a few folders of content into second pane (in Three Pane view)

I can see ALL the content of hundreds of text files, instantly!
OK, I am sold.

I have every intention to read the 448 page manual, and watch the hours of tutorial videos.

BUT, I would like to do this NOW:
Review, organize and EDIT current content.
Would like to configure DEVONthink to directly edit these source files:

I believe some of these files will remain “read only” in DEVONthink.
I would be ecstatic if I could just edit the TEXT files:

I have successfully edited .txt and .rtf in DEVONthink, but can’t get the changes to SYNC with (and overwrite) the source file. Word files (.doc) seem to remain “read only.”

One of the main things I want to do is simply SIFT and SORT through folders and ORGANIZE files with DEVONthink.

If anyone is available as a DEVONthink consultant, please PM and I will provide contact info.
I am happy to pay an experienced mentor, so I don’t have to reinvent the wheel.


DEVONthink is already configured to let you edit documents under their (Finder-defined) parent application, or any other application of your choice that’s capable of editing a document.

Of course, plain and rich text documents can be directly edited within the database (for Import-captured documents as well as those created within the database).

To edit any document under an external application, e.g., a .doc document under MS Word, Control-click on it in a view and choose the contextual menu option, ‘Open With’, then choose the default application (MS Word) or another capable of editing and saving that filetype, e.g., Papyrus 12.

Then Save the file after editing it. (Don’t use Save As, as that will create a different file that won’t be recognized by the database. If you wish to edit as a new version a file that has been copied (not Indexed) into your database, first duplicate the document and edit, save and rename the duplicate.)

Thanks Bill.
My documents folder is 47GB with 39,500 items.
To start using DEVONthink for organizing, would it make sense to create ONE big database file?
And then, start sifting though everything in DEVONthink?

I am a college professor, with YEARS of class material, drafts, tutorials etc.
Frankly, I had no IDEA how much cool content is in my archived folders, until I was able to quickly inspect with DEVONthink.!

This is very exciting!

It probably doesn’t make sense to dump everything in your Documents folder into one large database.

If, for example, you use Microsoft Office, there’s nothing to gain from dumping the Microsoft Office User Data folder into your database.

Depending on how much RAM is on your Mac, performance will slow above some database size, generally depending on the total number of words in the database. I’m spoiled. I like most of my searches to take only a few milliseconds, and See Also and Classify suggestions to pop up right away.

Although I’m managing more than 150,000 documents, they are split among a number of topically designed databases. By no means have I imported all my files into databases, only those that are of particular interest to me.

DEVONthink Pro 2 and Pro Office 2 allow one to open multiple databases. I treat my topically designed databases like Leggo building blocks of information. As I can search across all open databases when necessary, I can “assemble” a set of databases to cover the research needs of a project.

With 4 GB RAM, my ModBook can get good performance with a database holding up to about 40 or more million total words (the total word count is shown in File > Database Properties). That is, however, a lot of information content. I tend to hold databases inside that size range. If necessary, I can open more than one if the information needs of a project demand that, and put up temporarily with slower performance. In practice, because some of my databases are much smaller than 40 million words, I often have several open with a combined total word count that’s still less than 40 million words.

Don’t confuse the file size for storage on your hard disk with the size of the word content in a file. For example, a PDF book that contains images may have a file size of tens of megabytes may have a text content that takes up only a few hundred kilobytes.

It’s easy to split or merge databases. Think about, and perhaps experiment with, database designs that pull together the information you may need for a particular interest, while maximizing performance on your Mac. In that sense, RAM is more important than CPU speed.

Thanks Bill.
That makes sense.
I will experiment with multiple databases.
Also, I found your links for DEVONthink consultants. Will contact for additional support and tutoring to get up to speed.