DT can't index (and search inside) zips?

Always hoping regular expressions will come to DT, I was disappointed with version 3 in this regard.

However, unlike even a Windows search tool like “File Locator Pro”, DT3 cannot seem to search inside zip files. I get tons of zip files from clients and so far, I am using either BBEdit to search them (Mac) or File Locator Pro (Windows).

Is there a trick I need to understand to be able to do a simple search with zips in the project?


Welcome @Devonthink

No, full RegEx is not incorporated and it’s not likely it will be any time soon.

No, you can’t search within ZIP files. The request is noted but it’s certainly the first or a very uncommon request.

Really? Clients routinely send people zip files with many files (hundreds, thousands).

From a “user-goal” point of view, it seems perfectly reasonable to drop zip files into a DT database where DT had the smarts to open and index the files within them.

It’s surprising I have to resort to a $50 text editor that can do this or a more sophisticated search tool like “File Locator Pro” ($60) that can even search nested zips – and even create an “index” (like DT) for rocket fast searches.

So, to me, as zip files are a ubiquitous file type, this seems like an overlooked feature.


Why don’t you unzip the files and import the files into a dedicated group? This would be much more powerful, e.g. you can find the individual documents, get highlighted occurrences etc.

Sure, I could do that, but it should be unnecessary and is just another workflow step dumped in my lap.

Even $60 search tools like the excellent File Locator Pro (Windows) can recursively search nested zips (or other compressed formats) regardless of how many zips within GZIPs within whatever to find text specified in just about any way (including Regex!) files like Word, Text, etc.

IMHO, I should be able to dump just about any kind of file in DT and it should have the smarts to index it.

Thanks for your reply.

I guess it depends on how you look at this. Once you find the document in a zip file, you’d have to unzip it to use it. Either way, unzipping is part of your workflow.

If it were to stay in .zip format, you would not realistically be able to make edits to the files within the .zip without first unzipping the folder.

IMHO, I should be able to dump just about any kind of file in DT and it should have the smarts to index it.

I don’t think this is a realistic expectation given the broad nature of “any kind of file”. There are thousands of types of files in the words and many are proprietary formats.

I’m really talking about search not edits so, certainly if you need to edit files, you need to unzip them.

Take a look at “File Locator Pro”. It’s my go-to search program I’ve been using for 15 years on Windows. FLP can ‘search’ a zip (with nested compressed zips or other compressed types) and find files that match almost any imaginable search term (way beyond what DT offers – including RegEx.)

If you check out FLP, and detailed searching is really important, you’ll probably buy that program. I set up a Windows VM and shared Mac folder just for FLP.

That’s the kind of search I need to (occasionally) be able to do – and not worry about when I just want to dump a zip file into DT.

On the Mac, that kind of search capability is sadly STILL non-existent.

Not a chance of this ever happening. Dropped Windows 20 years ago and have yet to see any reason to go back.

With storage space so cheap, I fail to see the point of keeping files compressed in zip files, especially if it’s something you’re going to be referencing or reading.


I don’t disagree with your windows decision and I certainly see your point. FLP is the only program I miss and still use via a VM. And, in reality, some programs are better in windows (or with a complete search program like FLP, don’t exist at all on the Mac) due to software vendor preferences.

Overall the mac is better and there are programs on the mac that will never be on windows too. Devonthink is a prime example of a program that’s reason enough to use a Mac. :slight_smile:

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