Digital Assets Manager (DAM)

I’ve been looking for a decent DAM for all my photos; some 100GB of stuff. Nothing makes the grade. Many photos are in RAW format and once I load them into all the modern DAM managers, they become so slow as to become unusable. I also don’t like Photos in macos as there appears to be no selective sync and I don’t want to purchase 100GB of icloud storage, so I wondered at DTPO.

Is anyone using DTPO as a DAM?

If so, is there a way to get EXIF data in, or at least set the creation date of the photo to the date it was taken? I dragged in a number of RAW files and was surprised by how easily DTPO handled them and displayed them. It would be nice to have all my photos in a DTPO database.

If you think this is a lousy idea, I’d love to hear why and better solutions (that don’t cost 100’s £)

Yes, this is a lousy idea :mrgreen:

And this is a perfect example of why it’s not a great idea. There is only a minimal amount of image metadata indexed by DTPO. EXIF is extensive and there are apps made specifically for this purpose (and yes, they may cost something). Last I knew Adobe Bridge is now free, if you’re wanting to not spend any money. Beyond that, Extensis Portfolio (not free) has been a de facto app for this kind of thing. (I have 30+ years in graphic arts / printing / photography, so this is kinda my territory. :smiley: )

There is no advantage to using DTPO for large masses of media assets like this. DEVONthink is made for words, and just supports importing images. But its forte is not handling media files metadata. If your metadata needs are very minimal, yes it can be used, but it certainly is not built for anything more than that.

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Stumbled upon this topic :smiley:

I think now that DT3 is out and supports lots more meta data (and is also faster) it may become viable as some sort of DAM solution.

I started using it at least with one photos database with 70000+ images - experiment is ongoing…

I would still not advocate it, as this is not DEVONthink’s focus nor its forte.

DAM is a very specific thing, and while you can do all manner of things with DEVONthink you’ll have to assume the heavy lifting for yourself. If you’re game, go for it. However, a real DAM application would do it better and faster… and with a more focused approach.

PS: Even though DT3 is more powerful and extensible, it is still not trying to be ”all things to all people”. The focus is still the same, text-based data and information - organizing and connection.


Have you looked at TapForms? It’s not a dedicated photo database, but there is extensive info on the forum about doing what you are talking about. It’s $40.00 and has a robust iOS version. It’s probably worth looking at. The Dev and the community are extremely helpful.

Thanks for the help on this.
I need a suggestion for the following:
Thousands of my photos are of handwritten notes.
Some are individual pieces of paper and some are of multiple sheets arranged in a specific way to indicate relationships, sequences, etc.
Some papers are of handwritten notes on hardcopy versions of manuscripts. In this case, I often have many photos of the same page, but with different editors’ comments. Some images are of magnetic whiteboards or corkboards that have combinations of index cards, hardcopies of notes, manuscripts pages, etc. Still other images are of screenshots of a layout in Scrivener window (or other software) next to a Calendar Event/Work log that describes what the image is, why it matters, What’s next.

If I am working on a certain chapter, or an article, I need to see and track those items. In mental practice, they are the equivalent of physical items spread on a table and hung on the wall while sitting with one fresh paper refining the next version of the consolidation of the surrounding data.

Despite the lack of 3PV, the fact that I can add my own custom metadata columns and view the items, offers me something NO Other document manager does. “Comments” in Finder is not enough and once you use DTP3 for this kind of thing, no other database (TapForms, FileMaker…) can help clarify and track the way DTP3 can. So, the impulse is to dump it all in.

So, you’ve stopped my impulse, what now?

Additional Info:
I do have a few hundred in PDF form and the screen shots are .png. The photos are .jpg because I read that handwriting recognition only works on jpg, so I didn’t convert my photos to pdfs.

I also have Adobe Bridge CS6
Running on a MBP mid-2013, Sierra.

Thank you for any assistance,


So, you’ve stopped my impulse, what now?

I’m not sure what “what now” ?

You are more than welcome to use (and abuse) your databases as you see fit. Does that make everything a good idea, because you can? Definitely not. But if you have thousands of photos that correlate with each other, you can certainly import them. Just don’t expect it to do what Bridge, or Portfolio, or Cumulus, etc. would do. Those apps are specific to digital asset management, so they have features specific to that niche.

Can you flex some extra functionality with custom metadata? Sure, and that’s part of the beauty of DEVONthink - the flexibility it provides to custom tailor your experience. But that is very different than including features like EXIF/IPTC reading and writing, XMP data, etc. Though these kind of things are noted, they are not core to what DEVONthink excels at.

My usual admonition is more about indiscriminate importing.

I use an app called Lyn for photo management outside of Photos. I like it, but I also admit that I don’t do a lot of “high level” stuff in it.

I only post it here as a possible alternative.

I am someone who has for years taken a reasonable number of digital photographs (photography is a hobby). I have also recently started using DEVONThink (just about at the time the first beta of DT3 was released).

For what it’s worth, I regard DT as a document management system (albeit using the widest definition of “document”). I would not use it to catalogue my photos. What I’m currently trialling for that (having waited for years for something decent to replace Lighroom—which I stopped using when it moved to the subscription model) is Photo Mechanic Plus. You won’t find much about it currently because it’s in beta and is available only to licensed users of Photo Mechanic. However, you will be able to glean details from the Camera Bits’ forums.

Sorry if this is wandering a little off-topic but, to my mind, there is a big difference between a DAM and a document management system and I hoped a few brief comments might usefully point to a source that would throw a little more light on the differences.


As Jim, I have many years of experience with DAM, and used everything from Kodak Shoebox to Expression Media to Canto Cumulus, to Lightroom (but no Extensis). And I 100% agree with him.

I would NOT use DT3 as a DAM. I do store jpegs, gifs, iPhone screen captures as png, when needed, try to capture stuff as pdf as much as I can (text or not), or as html, or as rtf(d).

For my 150k photos, about 1TB, I use Lightroom. I pay a few $ a month for it and Photoshop (the Photographer’s Bundle), and I couldn’t be happier. I get to view specific collections I want on LR for the iPhone, and it also does a brilliant job of editing photos captured by iPhone’s own photo app, or Halide, which I use a lot.

A word of caution - it is a very good idea to convert any RAW images you have (a duplicate if you prefer) to dng. Put the RAW files in a HD, or cloud, wherever, but keep much smaller and compatible dng in your DAM (LR). I did and do this.

Finally, I rely very much on LR exports (and it keeps getting better and better) to upload stuff to sites, create all kinds of export alternatives, including to DT on occasion (but I try to avoid doing too much of this)


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