Duplicating an indexed item to nother database does not result in a copy?

In database A I have documents indexed on the file system. When I duplicate a document from there by dragging it to another database B, it does get duplicated, but it still indicates to be database-external.

When I now in database B move the document into the database, the document stays in database B as expected but it gets deleted from the file system and from database A!!! – Very strange and dangerous!

A workaround is no to duplicate the document from database A to B, but reveal the document in the finder and than from the finder drag it into database B. But why do I have to do this detour? Feels not very intuitive to me…

See page 56 of “DEVONthink Manual” (3.9.2 Version) “Duplicating Indexed Items” for why it works as you see:

If you duplicate the item into another database, no copy will be created in the Finder. However, changes made to the item - in either database - will affect both databases as the indexed item is pointing at the same item in the Finder.

My Bold.

You duplicated the “index pointer”, not the file.

When you “move” into the database, it does exactly as it says–Move. Moving a file means that. It does not mean copying, it means “move”. The file that was “pointed at” by the index was “moved” from the macOS file system into DEVONthink, then removed from macOS file system and into a file (with same name) in DEVONthink’s file and folder macOS “package”. Not lost, moved.

Indexed files and folder into DEVONthink brings along with it more complexity that imported files and folders. As is advised frequently on this forum and in the “DEVONthink Manual” it pays to be cognisant of that complexity. See page 54 of the “DEVONthink Manual”.


Yes, when you put it like this, then it makes total sense.

Thanks for the detailed explanation!

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This is why these interactions are clearly documented and why we constantly tell people to read and understand the In & Out > Importing & Indexing section of the Help and manual, especially the Indexing and the filesystem subsection.

Indexing is not something to be done without careful forethought and consideration. For good reasons, it’s not the default vector for getting data into DEVONthink.