Erasing all MBP and reinstalling fresh Catalina

Having some issues with my MBP (wifi connectivity) I’m
About to erase all and reinstall Catalina.

I would like to keep all my settings( I mean everything, smart rules, Toolbar costume icons and Databases costume icons, color, labels, highlighting etc, all all…)

What do I need to do so I can have all my settings back when reinstalling DT? How will that even work. Is that even possible.

Also, how do I minimize any issues once I reinstall DT? syncronization wise? I have 3 device MBP INCLUDED. Keep in mind i have added files to DT while not being able to sync to my other devices, also my other devices I have added some files too, so what do I need to do to minimize conflicts, when I reinstall DT?

What should I do first?

Note: I will be backing up my MBP to an external drive.

You will probably find this older thread helpful.


In addition to @Stephen_C’s very useful suggestion, remember to remove the license from your copy of DT (DEVONthink 3/License…) so as to be able to re-register your new installation (in some cases that may or may not be necessary, depending on how DT have linked the license to the device. But it’s easy to do, so I recommend it, unless you only recently registered that seat, in which case I suggest you first check with DEVONtech). The same recommendation also applies to other software (e.g. Adobe CreativeSuite or similar).

Also note that Jim’s instructions in the above named thread would not copy any DT3 scripts - they are to be found in /Users/yourusername/Library/Application Scripts/com.devon-technologies.think3 - that is, of course, only relevant if you have written any scripts yourself; the standard scripts will be reinstalled automatically.

Furthermore, if you use the search method described by Jim to look for your databases, you will not find encrypted or open databases. You should close any databases before copying them (the same is true of DT itself, which should be closed before copying any settings, scripts etc.) and include .dtSparse in your search. I recommend you check to make sure that all databases really have been found - in theory it is possible that if one isn’t closed properly it would have a .sparseimage ending. Of course, ideally, you’ll know where you keep your databases and have no problem copying them :wink:

Then, for good measure, I recommend deleting the (old) Abbyy folder here /Users/yourusername/Library/Application Support/DEVONthink 3/Abbyy (which you will have copied back to your new installation as per the instructions in the thread above) before reinstalling DT; I had some trouble with system protection denying access to the files in that folder; the OCR engine (assuming you have Pro or Server) will be downloaded again if you select the appropriate Add-On in your new installation.

Don’t forget to reactivate the Mail plugin, if you use it.

And one last thing: I seem to remember that despite having done all of the above, and following Jim’s instructions, a small number of preferences were not copied (or overwritten on reinstall). As I had a second device with an identical setup, it was easy just to go through the preferences and put things back the way I wanted them. If you don’t have a second device, consider screen shots of the preferences, especially if you have taken time to set things up just the way you want them. Of course, maybe things have changed with 3.6.1 and the preferences will all be preserved. Feel free to post back here and let future generations know how things went :wink:

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Thank you Stephen :slight_smile:

Thanks for all this info.

Since this is the first time doing this I thought I could copy all my databases to an external drive and backup my MBP in the same external drive but apperantely I can only use this external drive only for my MBP backup.

Can I retrieve all my databases from my external backup? To put it in the new DT like drag and drop? Remember I’m erasing everything from my MBP and reinstalling Catalina.

Yes, it’s possible to get the databases from the backup. See this…

Note you can choose what items to restore.
However you could also just get a second hard drive and manually copy items after you’ve got the reinstallation done.

Ok thank you so much.

All I want is to transfer my databases to new installed DT.

I don’t have another external hard drive to hold about 12 GB. It’s a shame I can’t use the same 2T of external hard drive with my MBP back up. But if you say it’s possible to get it from my backup then that’s all I need.

question for you, what will happen to the reading list? They will be gone eh?

Thank you.

Hmmm I replaced all current folders in (DevonThink 3) with the old folders and I get this message. Also it unregistered me. I have access to all my previous databases and all but I get this message every time I start DT

Should I click “don’t ask me again” and “continue”? I clicked Cancel and restarted DT and restarted Mac but I still see the message. Wondering if I should click don’t ask me again and continue

‘Database “inbox.dtDatabase2” seems to be already in use!’

Yes, press Continue. I’d also do a File > Verify & Repair on it once it’s open.

Thank you.

Is there somewhere in my backup where I could find the settings for General, editing, import, sorting, media and colors etc?

It was kinda simple, I thought it would be a mess.

did this:


Sync all your databases.
Uncheck iCloud sync from preference.

Unregister DevonThink

External drive.

copy the folder where all your databases are in, then paste it to the external drive then when you have installed a fresh DT just drag the folder containing the databases and drop it where the DT databases reside.

Open each database then check sync from preference .


Plus for good measure I recorded my preferences(screen recorded), some settings didn’t transferred.

I don’t get why DevonThink doesn’t stick a thread guiding ppl step by step how to properly do this. its simple but since DevonThink is complex we automatically assume this task would be difficult.

Why are you copying and pasting? :thinking:
It’s a Mac. Just drag and drop. :slight_smile:

LOL, I’m also doing copy & paste like OP :sweat_smile:. Problem with working on windows at work and Mac at home.

Because sometimes dropping it deletes the original. But I think in mac if you are dropping anything to an external drive it doesn’t delete the original.

Drag and drop on the same drive doesn’t delete the file. It merely moves it.
Drag and drop between two drives copies the file.
You can employ command keys to use alternative behaviors.

Ok thank you :slight_smile:

No problem.

If you want to compare the default install with any that you may have added, you can copy the old computer’s com folder to a temporary location on you new system and then use terminal to diff -r the two folders. It will tell you the differences & locations. Since the Application Scripts folder has a space, I like to navigate to the actual folder (not the copy) and use diff -r . [copied folder location]. If you don’t know what diff is, use man diff in the terminal to read about it.

That way, if the new install has any updated scripts, I’m not saving over them with old ones. But if you’ve made any edits to the default scripts, this wouldn’t be good.