DTPO - Spinning Wheel of Death

Newbie here.

Whenever I try to switch views, DTPO locks up: the spinning color wheel of death. Started yesterday. No upgrades or updates installed since it last worked.

OSX reports the app not responding.

I’ve rebuilt the DB. Doesn’t help. Any thoughts?

I’ve resigned myself to having to uninstall and reinstall the software (OS X) but wanted to do as little damage as possible, since I own the entire Devon suite.

How does one go about that? Any ideas before I go that far?

What operating system and version / edition of DEVONthink are you running?

If Pro / Pro Office, is this with the Global Inbox or a separate database?
Do you have a particular file chosen in a particular view: for example, you have a PDF selected in List View (no preview), but switch to Three Pane View (which has a preview) ?

Are you accessing indexed files that are on a network volume or WebDAV – that that network location is online but not very responsive?

Are you loading databases that have scripts stored in them - and the application(s) that the script(s) operate are no longer installed?

These and similar situations can cause OS X to ponder deeply before proceeding, and that will slow down DEVONthink.

No, I wish. No webdev or other.

And no scripts in dB.

I’m not at home right now, but latest OS X & DTPO. I’m really New user.

I let the wheel spin while I ran errands, several hours.

Please start a Support Ticket. Thanks

Such slowdowns often result from running out of free RAM.

That can happen when the database has become too large for the available RAM on your computer. The most important measure of database size is the total number of words, a statistic provided by File > Database Properties > .

We discourage treating DEVONthink as a Finder replacement. That’s not the true purpose. Don’t, for example, try to capture all the files on your computer into a DEVONthink database.

A much better approach is to create databases (in the Pro and Pro Office editions) that meet specific needs or interests. I don’t capture all of the files on my computers into DEVONthink, but do have a number of databases that are highly useful to me.

My most important database holds some 30,000 documents, with a total word count about the same as the Encyclopedia. On my MacBook Pro with 16 GB RAM, it has ample memory space, so that I can have several other databases open. But it would choke a Mac with 2 GB RAM, and the spinning wheel would appear constantly.

That database focusses on environmental topics: scientific papers, case histories, policy issues and laws and regulations.

A separate but related database holds documents about methodologies: sampling design and techniques, analytical methods, quality assurance, data evaluation, risk assessment and cost/benefit analysis methods.

I separate the related databases to let me better focus on the research of the moment. For example, if I’m interested in health impacts of mercury contamination in fish, I don’t want to be bothered by references in the methodology database about sampling, analysis and so forth. My search results are better targeted, and I find the Classify and See Also assistants much more useful.

I consider DEVONthink Pro Office the best research assistant I’ve ever had. Well-designed databases contribute to that assessment.

“A much better approach is to create databases (in the Pro and Pro Office editions) that meet specific needs or interests. I don’t capture all of the files on my computers into DEVONthink, but do have a number of databases that are highly useful to me.”

That’s disappointing news. I tend to think of my knowledge as a universe of knowledge, not individual constellations. And most of what I have in this database are the notes on and quotes from my Kindle reader from a lot of books over the last couple of decades, plus some personal stuff.

At least EN didn’t choke on my collection. I just wanted a more powerful way of search and pull my notes for projects.

Besides, my DB doesn’t seem that large compared to yours:

I have 11,000 documents, 8 million words.

What is the dB engine running here? It doesn’t seem very robust. I mean I wasn’t expecting cascading HADOOP servers, but…well, you know what I mean.

@rhkennerly, the section of Bill’s post that you quoted makes perfect sense in the context of the preceding sentence. Your database does not seem large enough to cause persistent slowdowns, so I would check the RAM possibility first. But it sounds as though most of your files are text-based, so that’s probably not your issue. You should get in touch with DT’s support staff directly.

By the way, ‘universe of knowledge, not individual constellations’ is a lovely turn of phrase.

tnx. I’ve started a Support Ticket.

“By the way, ‘universe of knowledge, not individual constellations’ is a lovely turn of phrase.”

Way back in my undergraduate program I had a professor tell me that “you’ll know when you have become ‘educated.’ It’s when the individual constellations of your knowledge (History, Literature, Physics, Psychology, Life Experiences) merge to become your single Universe of Knowledge, each constellation enhancing and informing your thinking about the rest of your Universe. Then you’ll be an educated person.”

Her words have always stayed with me. I appreciate you’re saying so.


Agreed on the poesy of the statement. However, the universe does not have to be self-contained in a single database. The universe can be the entirety of your DEVONthink databases, teeming with galaxies, full of constellations… :smiley:

So if I only have one dB open, I can still search them all at the same time and interact with them as if they were one dB?

If you have more than one database open, you can use Tools > Search to search them all.
Global Smart Groups will also show content from all open databases.
See Also and Classify will currently not work across databases but this may change in future releases.

Note that smaller, more focused databases will generally perform better, Sync faster, and be more data-safe in the event of a catastrophe (avoiding the “all your eggs in one basket” problem). Also, with separate databases you can more easily manage your resources. If you have a giant database with everything in it, you have no opportunity to limit the machine resources required to use it. With separate databases you can close unused databases to free resources for DEVONthink or other apps / processes to use.

tnx. I’ll start a test to see how it works.

Yes, there is a universe of knowledge, and that’s wonderful, though quite fuzzy.

But knowledge progresses through focus. That’s why we talk about scientific and academic disciplines. Disciplines are subsets of the universe of knowledge, built upon paradigms of definable relationships, as opposed to mere associations.

Think of biology as a cluster of galaxies, rather than the entire universe. It focuses on living organisms and includes sub disciplines from taxonomy to ecology, molecular biology and genetics. Information and methodologies from disciplines such as chemistry, physics, economics and others often play a role in research and understanding of biological studies. Like the universe as a whole (which includes living organisms and their behaviors as well as stars and asteroids), biology is a huge body of knowledge. But is has progressed by focus on many discrete areas such as how genes control production of proteins.

That leads me to discussion about why I favor creation of purpose-driven databases when using DEVONthink Pro or Pro Office, which allow multiple databases.

Unlike the Finder and most other document databases, DEVONthink includes artificial intelligence algorithms at the kernel of a database. And DEVONthink builds a Concordance of all the terms and their frequencies in the content of a database and “knows” where these terms exist in each document. These features support AI assistants in DEVONthink such as Classify (which looks at the patterns of contextual relationships of terms in the contents of groups in the database and can suggest appropriate filing location(s) for a new document) and See Also (which compares the contextual relationships of the terms used in a selected document and suggests other documents that may be contextually similar).

My main research database reflects my many decades of interest and work on environmental issues. It includes references from scientific and engineering disciplines, case histories of environmental problems, policy issues and laws and regulations. It’s large – about the word count of the Encyclopedia Brittanica – and sprawling in content, although all the content is related to my overall focus.

Most of the groups in this database have a pretty tight topical focus, which means that their contents do have distinctive patterns of contextual relationships so that Classify usually gives good recommendations for filing new content among hundreds of groups.

When I’m working on a project in this database I often use See Also to look for ideas. The suggestions I value most are those I wouldn’t have though of. An example I often cite is when I was reading a paper about the effects of invasive species on native populations in an ecological setting. See Also suggested a paper about the factors that affect chemical reaction equilibria. Although most of the terms were different in these two papers, DEVONthink had recognized the similarity of the quantitative principles that were in play. That suggestion improved my insight into the matter.

That database can run well for a time on a MacBook Air with 4 GB RAB. But as Apple’s memory management isn’t perfect, eventually memory will become clogged with “crud” inactive memory and the computer will slow down unless Restarted. On my MacBook Pro with 16 GB RAM I can have several other databases open, and work for a much longer time before a slowdown might occur. In practice, because I use a memory purge utility, I never see slowdowns on the MacBook Pro. But I would, were I to include all the databases I have at the same time.

I recommend multiple databases that are designed to meet a particular need or interest both to improve focus of work and allow better use of a Mac’s memory resources.

Of course, as my databases provide indexes to Spotlight, I can search across all my databases (open or closed) using Spotlight. But I rarely need to do that, as I know which database is most likely to contain what I’m looking for.