DT 3 freezing with (long) PDFs

Hi everyone,

I’m currently putting DT 3 to two main uses – first, to store my PDFs of books and articles, organised thematically into different databases, and second to take down notes and quotes, which I store in a separate DT database. (NB: For a long time I wanted to keep those two uses separate, but I haven’t found either a PDF storage or note taking software that could tick all the boxes as DT 3 does for me – for the former, being able to store all my PDFs in a searchable library, for the latter, being able to replicate note files and to open multiple such files simultaneously, in tabs. Any suggestions as to software that may do either of those things alongside DT 3 is welcome).

Anyway, back to my main query. Most of the PDFs I work with are scans of long books – we’re talking 300 to 500 pages, sometimes even longer. My typical workflow involves going through a PDF and highlighting and/or annotating parts of it, and taking notes in a separate DT rtf file alongside, stored in my ‘Notes’ database. All too often when highlighting or even just scrolling through a long book PDF, DT 3 will freeze and display the dismal beach ball icon for about 10-20s. I don’t typically notice this problem occurring when I’m working with smaller PDFs (such as journal articles).

Having already looked through the forum for possible solutions, I’ve tried different things – closing down all the databases not currently in use or closing programs that may be using up too much RAM, restarting my machine, etc. None of these seem to be able to do the trick.

This being said, the main database I’m currently working with (and where I’ve experienced the problem most recently) is rather sizeable – currently at 1,192 items, 5.3 GB (or 52,539,928 words in total). Could the size of the database be the cause of the issue? If this were the case, it would be inconvenient having to split the database into smaller ones. Indeed, being able to store everything related to a specific topic of interest in a single database is one of the main attractions of DT for me.

My machine is a Mac OS Monterey 12.4, with 8 GB RAM and a 1.4 GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5.

Any advice on this would be welcome – and thanks in advance!

The size of the database is well within comfortable limits.
The size of the PDFs are likely the culprit here, especially on a machine with only 8GB RAM.

If there are chapters in the PDF, you could try using the split commands in the Tools menu.

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In addition to @Bluefrog’s idea, also try using Apple Preview with the PDFs or perhaps other PDF editors that are available. They may handle memory allocation better for huge files on small machines.

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Thanks, both, I’ll try your suggestions. In this regard, what RAM size would be adequate to the task of handling such files?

Kinda like asking how long a piece of string is needed to …

As much as you can afford and is possible. Certainly 8GB now inadequate for you now.

8GB memory, in my opinion, for doing such things as you are doing became untenable more than a decade ago. Just my opinion. I run my iMac at 40 gb and MacBook at 16 gb (max at the time), but I don’t have many huge PDFs like you have. These machines now more than 6 years old (both).

Unfortunately, it is my understanding that today’s new Mac’s are not upgradable, so important (assuming longevity is of value), get as much as possible at purchase.

Until you get bigger machines, you could try compressing the huge PDFs for your reading, keeping the originals of course. Or split them into pieces. Use DEVONthink features to keep those split files “together” in Groups. There are posts here in this forum about compression, and most of the more sophisticated PDF tools have the ability to compress and all can split.

All this makes one appreciate the “bandwidth” of a good, paper, book. :wink: