DTPO images disappear

I have always had problems with DT links between thumbnails and full images. Over many versions of DT I keep on having to rebuild my image files because the thumbnails suddenly start to link to unrelated full images or as at present the full images disappear completely.I have a lot of images and it is impossible to search through all the thumbnails to see if everything is ok after verify and repair though I suspect this does not help as I continually find damaged links. It has got so bad that I am thinking about no longer importing them into DT but keeping them external. Any ideas.

Do you copy/synchronize your databases from one computer to another regularly? Or did you move/rename the originals or reinstall/upgrade the OS in the meantime?

No. I run the database on one computer and unfortunately have had the problems with occasional thumbnails linking to the wrong image over several OS’s. Now I have also lost scores of full images and only have thumbnails possibly (though I think not) after moving to Leopard.


Did you index or import the files? And how did you upgrade to Leopard? E.g. are the files still located at the same location?

I did a clean install of Leopard, All the pictures were imported into DT.

I have now checked through my database and find more than a hundred pictures which have vanished. i.e. When I click on them I only get the thumbnail even though the information shows the correct image size. Exporting the database lists all the failures - the vanished images. I have now gone back through pre Leopard back ups and find that the pictures disappeared before I switched to Leopard, This problem has always been there just not at this scale! There is also the problem of some thumbnails linking to the wrong images. Back in 2006 I tried syncing with Devonsync. Is it possible that there are residue legacy effects which keep on messing up the links. Also where do the originals reside in the database. Is there no central folder?


Ed, your imported image files reside in the internal Files folder, inside the database package file.

You can check the contents of that Files folder by selecting the database package file in the Finder, pressing Control-click on the selection (right click) and choosing the contextual menu option Show Package Contents.

If you like, you can copy (Option-drag) that Files folder to the Desktop so that you can examine the contents at your leisure. I would advise that you first Quit DEVONthink Pro before you do that.

I’ve never used DevonSynch, principally because I’m used to manually transferring files between two copies of a database on two computers, and also because I’m usually working with a version of DT Pro/Office on which DevonSynch hadn’t been tested.

I have found the files folder. All the thumbnails that don’t work have paths that point to files that are missing from the folder. Those that point to the wrong image have the correct names eg Thumbnail is pict002-1 and image in folder to which it links is also pict002-1 , but that is also the image for another thumbnail also pict002. So in summary the paths appear correct but the image has either gone missing or we have two thumbnails pointing to the same image !! Not good.

But I have now tried something that has made me totally confused. I imported an rtf file from the desktop. I looked for it in the contents file. It is not there. The information path points to the file being on the desktop. I also indexed it but gave it a new name. That path also points to the file on the desktop so there appears to be no difference between index or import. I have looked at older .doc files in the database. The paths point to non existent folders on the desktop from which they were originally imported , They too are not in the files folder but they open ok in DT.
Spotlight says they are in library/cache/metadata…
Sorry but I can’t see the wood for the trees!!

I got no response to my previous posting so I have experimented. It seems that depending on the file type the path for a folder or file sometimes points to where it came from originally which bears no relevance to where it is now. Images and pdf files for instance have correct paths whereas rtf and .doc have paths to their origin only and no indication as to where they reside. They do not appear to be in the dt files folder. Hence if you are trying to see the difference between index and import it is no good trying it with rtf files!
Once the file is deleted from its original position the path points nowhere.

Or am I missing something?

Ed, the current DEVONthink database structure stores certain file types, including all text files, HTML, XML, and WebArchive in the monolithic database rather than as individual files.

A text file, e.g. an RTF document that has been created inside the database will not display a Path. That’s because there’s no external file reference (in the current version of DEVONthink).

PDF, Postscript, image, QuickTime media and “unknown” file types are stored in the internal Files folder, in the Finder.

If a file of any type has been Index-captured (File > Index), you will see a blue circle with a white lightning bolt to the right of the Name of that document in a view window. The Path of an Index-captured file points to the location of the file in the Finder. If that external file is deleted or moved to a different volume, the Path is broken and information is lost to the database. Note also that there’s one-way synchronization from the external file in the Finder to the document in the DEVONthink database. If that external file is edited and saved, the changes can be viewed in the corresponding database document if it is selected and File > Synchronize is invoked. Index-captured files, including RTF files, cannot be edited within the database; they can only be edited outside the database.

If the Path to a PDF, QuickTIme or other image document is broken, the database can only display the icon of that image, not the complete image. In the case of a PDF the icon is an image of the first page. If the icon is enlarged, it becomes blurry, as it is only a small image.

The Path to an Import-captured image file should remain very solid. The image has been copied into the Files folder inside the database package file, and its Path will so indicate. If the computer’s disk directory is sound and the hard drive doesn’t have bad sectors, such files should be very safe. But a disk directory with errors could “lose” the file, or allow it to be overwritten and damaged. Or the operating system itself could start overwriting data on a hard drive if it runs out of free disk space (which is a bad thing and should never be allowed to happen).

Bottom line: If the Path to an image file points to a location outside the database, that indicates an Index-captured image. If the external file has been deleted or moved to another volume, the Path will be broken and only an icon of the image will remain in the database.

If the Path points to the location of the image as inside the database Files folder, that image has been Import-captured. If the image file is not in the expected location, it may be because of a disk directory error, a bad hard drive sector, or inadequate free space on the hard drive. Only an icon of the image can be displayed.