DT as image database?

On Windows, I used to use IMatch as image database.

DEVONthink has many features that would allow to use it as as an image database.

Do people actually use it as such?

An image database would probably best be indexed, not imported.

Still, the size of all images could be hundreds of gigabytes, maybe even terabytes of data.

Do we have members that actually do this?
Is it feasable?
Are there problems?

Many thanks!

There have, from time to time, been other similar threads (about using DT to index photos). The concensus, which I (as an amateur photographer) think is right, is that it is better to use applications which are designed specifically for photographers.

For what it’s worth, when I used Windows (fortunately now many years ago) I used iMatch and found it excellent in every respect. Since using a Mac it’s taken me a long time to find anything comparable but recently I’ve been using Photo Mechanic Plus—not cheap but very good indeed.

I know I’ve not really answered your specific questions about how DT might fare as a catalogue for photos but I do think an application designed for that use is a better bet. That said, there’s nothing to match the flexibility of DT for handling quantities of disparate documents. It is a superb application with unsurpassed support here.



I wouldn’t use DT as an image mgmt sys.

It is not optimized for handling image metadata (exif), does not read natively all the exotic file formats, nor is it particularly fit at batch generation of thumbnails/previews, nor provides conversion and export tools.

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Many thanks.

I have not much use for EXIF data, this was one of my biggest complains about IMatch.
The creation and modification dates could be valuable, but not much more.

IMatch versions after 3.x took hours or days to import a myriad of EXIF data from all images and converting a database from 3.x to 5.x (or whatever version that was), was a near impossible task … at least when your database was great and used several, partly exchangeable disks.

I used it mostly to sort images and used tags to find images.
The same would be possible with DT … with groups and tags, also ratings would be possible

Also, DT previews / thumbnails seems to work fine with both JPG and NEF files and I don’t need other formats.

Maybe I need to test this myself …


In case you can already see e.g. keywords of your photos in finder then you can see them as tag in DT.
You are not able the see exif data! I checked this a few min. ago.

There are 2 very useful programs in Mac app store:
Photostatistica - analyses several 1000 photos rapidly by ISO, aperture, time…and generates helpful diagrams. I recently analysed a selection of appr. 100k of my photos.

ApolloOne - a picture browser which renders really fast and has a high render quality. The app needs/generates no database. It shows exif, iptc, xmp and renders gps data on map (if available). Keywords if are visible and editable. You can batch rename…and much much more.

I bought both app, so I can’t see the price any more, as far as I remember each was about 20 € or below. Test period is available.


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Thanks, but as I wrote, I have only few interest in EXIF data.

So it is totally OK that DT cannot handle them …

Well it depends on what you use the images for. I initially got DEVONthink as an image reference system before it became something bigger.

I store images and short video clips for concept references and use the tagging system and custom metadata to provide more utilities for them. Sounds like what you use them for too.

My image reference group in my reference database is about 8gb with over 3000 images and video clips and growing. All imported. So far so good.

Still far from your projected hundreds of gigabytes, so I’m not sure what the limit is. If I remember correctly mentioned somewhere in this forum it’s the number of words that affects the performance, not the size of database. Perhaps someone from the team can shed some light?

Some other functions you may find useful if you use it like I do:

  • Annotations on the image. Creates an external file that has bidirectional link
  • URL to link back to the original site where the reference comes from
  • custom metadata
  • DEVONthink’s url scheme to link to other documents and vice versa (all back links are indicated)
  • Tag cloud
  • tag labelling

Many thanks!

I don’t really do much with the images.
This is about 3 TB of NEF and JPG files from my former photography.

I use an Image database mostly to find and rate images, that’s all.
This way, I can easily find the best from any given shooting to send them out or make prints from them.

Also, I would tag them for being selected and cropped to find any relevant subsets.
And finally, I am trying to strip the amount down to upload more of my local content to OneDrive … an image database can greatly help in such an effort.

From what you wrote, I could try to index images with DT …
Thanks :slight_smile:

The Mac has such terrific photo/image Mgmt software available… I am wondering the value of this yet another “edge-case” use of DEVONthink. Oh well.


So far, I found only Photo Mechanic Plus and maybe GraphicConverter …

Do you have other recommendations for an image database and management?

Getting way off scope for this forum. I have a favourite but best if you start with a Google for “image management apps mac” for some clues.

You could try Adobe Bridge.


I think that this forum could survive some comments about image managing apps :sweat_smile: :joy:

You choose the only company that I will never ever use :sweat_smile:

I hate their subscription system and forced login.

But still thanks for the idea :slight_smile:

A short search brought up some websites:

I already tried some of those Apps, the best impression I had from the two i mentioned above, but there are some more …

I’m not a fan of the subscription either, but Photoshop and Illustrator as still best of breed for any professional work. :slight_smile:


You are the only one who really knows what to do with your photos. Best thing is to create a test set/folder with some images and try if DT can do what you have in mind.

If you are really not interested in exif data you don’t need a photo specific DAM software.

Yes, I still have an ancient pre-subscription phase version of Photoshop, but Gimp and the Affinity Software comes close enough for me.

Yes, I will try this.
I think that DT could be enough to handle my image database needs.

And Adobe is an ecosystem too. Hard to switch to other software when your clients and vendors send you psd or ai files. At least video editing has xml files to the rescue.

By the way, can DT theoretically handle hundred gigabytes of images? Not for sync just a local database.