DTP not responding on import of large amounts of e-mails

I hope this is not violating the forum rules because I had submitted a support ticket regarding exactly the same issue already a week ago, but since its outcome wasn’t really satisfying and I’m interested in how other people are experiencing DEVONthink Pro’s feature to import e-mails from Apple Mail, I would like to share my thoughts also here in the forum:

I have been an enthusiastic user of DEVONthink Pro since more than 10 years now but actually I have never used the e-mail import feature very much. Over the years I had just imported single e-mails via the mail script „Add message(s) to DEVONThink“ in Apple Mail which always worked fine, as far as I can remember.

But this time I needed to get access to approximately 80.000 old e-mails, grouped in mailboxes of about 10.000 e-mails each, which I had exported from Apple Mail into .mbox-archives years ago.

Now I wonder, what the ideal process/method would be to import large amounts of e-mails into DEVONthink Pro. Because every method I’ve tried so far actually failed (the app did permanently stop responding and every attempt to import e-mails resulted in permanent spinning ball symptoms). I also tried the same with DEVONthink Pro Office, which was not better at all.

The first thing I tried was to import an .mbox export from Apple Mail with approx. 10.000 e-mails. First, I tried to drag-and-drop the mbox-file on the appliation icon of DEVONthink Pro, like described as a valid option in the DEVONthink Pro manual. But this just imported 3 files: Info.plist, mbox, table_of_contents, no separate e-mails.

Then I tried to first re-import the e-mails to Apple Mail and from there to DEVONthink Pro Office via the Import command from DEVONthink Pro Office. But already the import window, where all Apple mailboxes were shown, was not responding any longer. DEVONthink crashed.

Also via the command from Apple Mail (DEVONthink Mail plugin) DEVONthink Pro Office stopped responding and I had to force quit both Apple Mail and DEVONthink. And drag-and-drop of multiple singular .eml-files from Apple Mail also stopped DEVONthink Pro (Office) to respond.

Has anyone experienced any smooth way to get large amounts of e-mails into DEVONthink Pro? I’ve also tried the same with EagleFiler, which actually saved my life because I needed to get access to thousands of e-mails during the last weekend. In EagleFiler the same mailboxes (.mbox-files exported from Apple Mail) could be imported without any problem very smoothly and fast with one import task for each mailbox.

Isn’t there an easy way to import big amounts of e-mails into DEVONthink Pro in one batch process like it works with EagleFiler? I cannot believe that EagleFiler could be head and shoulders better than DEVONthink Pro in this standard discipline of just importing old e-mail archives.

I also wonder, why it is not possible in DEVONthink Pro to select the text of imported e-mails. And also, instead of attachments (on which I could click to open them) I always see a default icon showing a question mark in DTP. EagleFiler also shows attachments not with question marks but with standard paperclip icons and it lets you select and copy the text of e-mails, which is not possible in DEVONthink Pro.

Is there any chance that e-mail import will be improved regarding speed, stability and usability in the next version of DEVONthink Pro? I use OS X 10.11.3 (clean install), a MacBook Pro (2,2 GHz Intel Core i7) with 16GB RAM, which should actually meet the requirements for such an operation…

EagleFiler is not doing the same degree of work under-the-hood as DEVONthink, so it’s not a correct comparison.

10,000 emails at one time is a very large number to files to process. Over 2500 emails, smaller batches are definitely suggested.

DEVONthink Pro does not support importing emails via an .mbox file.

Using View > Text Alternative should allow selection of text in an email and also show a non-embedded attachment icon correctly.

Never mind

Pro Office does. Pro does not.

:blush: Sure. (I lose consciousness when I see three word names.)


I know, that’s why I use DEVONthink since more than 10 years and not EagleFiler. The comparison, which I did not declare to be an absolute one, only focused on the e-mail import experience I personally had with both applications recently. Also, please understand it as a constructive feedback for the purpose of making DEVONthink even better and not as negative criticism by use of unfair comparisons!

Yes, but the “Text Alternative” view option is available both in DTP and DTPO, whereas the results are completely different. In DTP, some e-mails are shown in source code, some show nothing (only white space), some show cryptic characters. In DTPO the “Text Alternative” view looks good, but I have to activate it for every separate e-mail I click on. The view option does not remain active until I click on the next e-mail…

See Preferences > Email - Messages: Use alternative view.

For large batches of email I use Email Archiver Pro to convert the emails into pdfs and the attachments into a folder structure. This is then easily imported into DT.


This script, which extracts the senders and recipients, from the Email Archiver result may also be useful in working with the imported files.

[url]Email Archiver - Using the output in DT]


Absolutely understood. We don’t shy away from criticism and are always working to better our products.
However, for the edification of any readers, it’s best to state when an apple is an orange. :smiley: