Export all markdowns file from a group into a single folder? (Obsidian test)

I implemented a Zettelkasten / 2nd Brain into a single group in DevonThink. But now I might realize it maybe feels better for me, if all thoughts by anyone else (websites, articles etc.) go into DT and all thoughts by myself go into Obsidian.

In order to check this out, I’d like to export my markdown files from DevonThink into a single folder on my harddisk. This folder then would be my obsidian fault and I would afterwards index it from DT.

So this is my planned process for this test:

  1. export markdown from DT (and get it out of the DT database) into a single folder
  2. make that folder the Obsidian vault
  3. index that folder in DT so I can still search etc.

Also, I think I’d have to change most of the markdown links in my markdown files, from [text](x-devonthink-item://3D6A7014-FBF6-4BAC-9466-E876B7CA8530) to [text](relative_link_to_file_in_folder. Any way to automate this?

1 Like

My go-to solution is Applescript

Possibly with an AppleScript? I’d use one script to export the MD notes to the folder and the images at the same time. But parsing MD with AppleScript might be a tedious affair. Perhaps @pete31 has an idea.

Hard to say without knowing what your group structure is like.

There is a group called Zettelkasten. In it are two groups, one is Zettel with all the self-written markdown files linking to each other.

The other is Quellen. In Quellen itself there is a group called Weblese, which almost exclusively contains websites I have read saved in markdown. In Quellen itself there is all the stuff that I’ve summaried: scientific articles in PDF (for which I create a similarly named markdown file containing the summary), websites in markdown where I put my summary at the top of the file, before the website itself etc.

So in Quellen are the summarized texts from others and also, in a group called Weblese are the websites I have read but deemed not important enough to summarize. Next to Quellen sits Zettel with all my self-written notes about whatever. Most links from one Zettel to the other are within Zettel, but of course some links point to files in Quellen where the text files with summaries are (or the summary text files for PDFs) that are referenced.

This is the structure. I just want to understand what I’d have to do to tear this out of DT and put it into Obsidian. I’m torn between Obsidian and DT, but mostly because people seem so excited about Obsidian. I’m not sure Obsidian is better than what I do myself in DT. On the other hand, the way I’m doing my Zettelkasten feels not perfect, but I’m not sure where exactly.

I have dropped the idea, because it would amount to move completely out before the test even tells me if I want to move out of DT. Also because AppleScript and me have stopped chatting with each other.

Anyway. What I really love would be to be able to select markdown files in my mentioned group Zettel and be able to export them as they are to a target folder. I could then use that folder in IA writer or wherever.

My goal is this: when I think/write about something in my Zettelkasten, the entire topic gets shared among a couple of Zettels. Or if I read a book and make notes, those notes are not on one big markdown file, but on several linking Zettels. Afterwards, I could write an abstract about what I learned of a book simply by copying all markdown Zettels containing my reading notes (or related Zettels) and rearrange them in some order or the other, make one big text out of it and polish the text: voilà, ready.

So, how can I select and export markdown files from a certain group?

Select them, duplicate them into a new, temporal group, unite the duplicates within the new group and then export that one document via the finder?

I’m torn between Obsidian and DT, but mostly because people seem so excited about Obsidian.

I’d say that’s not a very good reason to be torn about this. There are many apps people get excited about, apps they often later abandon (quickly) for the next new flavor of the month. I’ve tried pretty much all the apps you all go on and on about. None really hold my interest for any length of time. (Actually, there’s one app I use off to the side I’m in love with: CotEditor. Likely not in everyone’s wheelhouse, but if I was going to go on and on about an external app, this would be it! :slight_smile: ) There’s no prize for running dozens of different apps. There’s also no prize for dogmatically using an application that doesn’t suit you - DEVONthink included. Look at an app in terms of…

  • Does it make sense to me or do I spend too much time trying to figure out how to use it or trying to find use for it?
  • Am I efficient in it? Can I get done what I need to in this app?
  • Does it play well with others? This may be more philosophical but the more open the architecture, the better the app, IMHO. If your files are stuck in some app’s mousetrap, is it really the best option? We believe in data-freedom and allowing communication with other apps that allow communication.

Just some things to consider.

PS: Stay tuned for the next release. Something big regarding your query about gathering notes is coming…


Well, yeah. Thanks for pointing out what I also feel about new apps. I was noticing my Zettel output was down for a few weeks and I wondered if that might be because my workflow in DT is too cumbersome. Another explanation would be my output is down depending on what I currently read (some stuff lends to Zetteling, other stuff not as much). In any case, I already stopped trying to test Obsidian, sticking to DT for the time being.

And now I look forward to something big… we’ll see. Thanks for the info.

You’re welcome.

PS: Did you find it? :slight_smile:

No. But the Update is great in any case. Got to learn and remember a couple of new things. Looks better, and I could even have specific markdown files with their own specific CSS and things like that.

But how can I select certain files and have them by themselves?

What do you mean by “have them by themselves”? Sorry, I’m not a native speaker, so this is perhaps an idiomatic expression I don’t get.

All my markdown Zettels sit in a group Zettel. I can sort the way they are listed, but only all of them together.

Now, if I read a book I might take notes. Those notes become markdown Zettel. But they are all in the same group, all Zettel from all books and thoughts etc. I want to be able to select certain markdown files (which I call Zettel) in order to re-arrange only those.

Maybe I took my notes in the order of Zettel 1, Zettel 2, Zettel 3 and so on. But maybe for putting them altogether into one text that I can publish somewhere else, I need to reorder them. Also, in the end they will all be glued together to make one large markdown file.

I just thought the easiest way would be to either duplicate them into their own, temporal group or export copies of them into a folder of my choice. That is what I mean by having them by themselves.

You could use sub-groups in Zettel, one for each book (or whatever your criteria might be). Or tags (which can be used as sorting-criteria, too).

Nahhhh. That would be categorizing content, which a Zettelkasten is afraid of.

God forbid. I didn’t want to scare the Kasten. Since it already contained two groups (as per your previous post), I had assumed that the phobia had been cured already.

1 Like

It’s not a phobia. What started as a simple fraud (“the” Zettelkasten Method) seems to have become a fully-fledged sect by now.


Well, “Zettelkasten” is no fraud for it works. Many writers, researchers etc. in the world use one. Niklas Luhmanns Zettelkasten is completely online and exists physically in the Niklas-Luhmann-Archiv of Universität Bielefeld (contrary to a very popular german running joke, Bielefeld probably really exists).

Luhmann in his Zettelkasten distinguished between source notes (references to articles, texts etc.) and thinking notes (my own thinking, but can contain inputs from sources that are then linked to). I put them in different groups, but I actually wonder about it.

What happens at the moment with respect to the hype is the following:

  • someone wrote a book about Zettelkasten (Sönke Ahrens), arguing writing is thinking and you should take notes all the time and systematically put them into your Zettelkasten
  • many people seem to have the problem of reading alot, but never being able to remember all that stuff, so they want to feed their notes into an external brain (which a Zettelkasten is)
  • someone named Thiago Forte wrote a summary about the book by Sönke Ahrens and published it at his own blog for Forte was under medication impacting his memory
  • he named it first an external brain, but the hype was on and he now offers very expansive workshops for people to learn how to take notes and write
  • athen, he renamed it to Second Brain, which people start to use as the term now (and just like Eric Ries named the term Lean Startup, but actually did not do much thinking about it, for most of the work was done by his Professor Blank, but Ries got more money for terming the term, a similar thing happens here with Ahrens and Forte and Zettelkasten becoming 2nd Brain)
  • this all happened at the start of the lockdown, which some people used to get together online and start coding for a solution that is easy to use, allows data transfer etc. (thus Obsidian was created)
  • and now the topic is very hot, and personal knowledge management software (or external brain software) is a hot topic which one can earn money with, which is definitely something the team behind Devon Think should focus on, for Devon Think is actually very nicely suited to host a Zettelkasten / 2nd Brain for you)

In any case, my approach involves lots of handwritten notes. So I stick closer to the original Zettelkasten. My Zettelkasten in DT is up to about 500 source notes and 500 thinking notes. I’m using it for about a year and still have handwritten notes lying around to get into my Zettelkasten.

What I feel has happened for me:

  • finally found a note taking system that works at least somehow for me
  • have not produced a publishable text YET (but have lots of text close to being publishable)
  • seem to remember much more stuff than before about certain topics WITHIN my Zettelkasten

So I think it works for me. If that makes me a member of a “full-fledged sect” in your eyes, @suavito, I can’t help it. I wonder if it’s OK if I can still be allowed to ask certain questions in the forum from time to time like anyone else.


Absolutely you can. I believe @suavito’s response was merely tongue-in-cheek. :slight_smile:

1 Like

I found it: translusion. Cool.

But I wonder: I now have an easy way to write summaries by simply having a markdown document transclude all other markdown-Zettels. This looks good when rendered.

But a question: I’d like to generate a document out of this that is a markdown document containing all the text from all the transcluded files - is that possible?

For I have some header info in my Zettels that I would like to get rid of in the final document. Also, when printing the markdown document with all transcluded files in it, it does not print the rendered, transclusion-included view, but simply delivers the markdown file.

I found it: translusion. Cool.


I’d like to generate a document out of this that is a markdown document containing all the text from all the transcluded files - is that possible?**

Yes. Select the transclusion file and choose Data > Convert > to Markdown.

1 Like