FileThis And Devonthink

Although I have had a Devonthink license since 2003, I’ve only used it off and on over those years. About three years ago I began relying on Evernote.

For a variety of reasons, I recently decided to switch from Evernote back to DevonThink Pro Office. It was very easy to import my thousands of notes, documents and images from Evernote and maintain my organizational structure. And I’m now a very happy camper.

There is, however, one feature that I had in Evernote that was a real Godsend and which would be fantastic to have with Devonthink.

There is a service called FileThis that automatically imports documents from dozens and dozens of banks, phone companies, insurance companies – health, property, auto, etc., brokerage firms, retail stores, utility companies, other financial services such as PayPal and QuickenLoans and Sally Mae, FedEx, UPS, etc., etc.

You sign up, connect with the company you want – in my case I’m connected with AT&T, my two brokerage firms, PayPal, my health insurance company, my home and auto insurance company, a department store, and a couple of other businesses with whom I have accounts.

About once a week FileThis checks those accounts and automatically transfers any documents from those places to its own notebook in my Evernote account (FileThis even created the notebooks the first time it did a transfer).

This is an amazing time-saving convenience. For example, in my two brokerage accounts I get an investment account and checking account statement every month. They send me an email to say they’re available. I could leave them on line and then go to the brokerage site whenever I wanted to see them, which is inconvenient, or I can download them and then transfer them myself to Evernote, requiring extra time and steps.

If you multiply that by all the accounts I’ve connected to through FileThis, you can see what a savings in time this is. You also don’t have to remember to do these things either, and everything is filed for you in one place and nicely organized.

Currently you can connect your accounts to Evernote, DropBox, Box, GoogleDrive, Amazon Cloud Drive, Smart Vault, About One, FileThis’s own cloud, or to your own computer.

What I’m doing now is keeping my Evernote account, of course. When FileThis sends me a notification that they’ve transferred documents to my Evernote account, I send them over from Evernote to Devonthink.

I’ve been wondering whether Devon Technologies has considered hooking up with FileThis, or, if they haven’t, would they take a look at FileThis and see whether such an arrangement could be made.

It’s a tremendous service and would make a lovely enhancement to Devonthink.

Thanks for reading,

hi. if you index folders, i suppose you could have file this save the items somewhere ( a dropbox folder?) and they would then automatically appear in devonthink. because these are repetitive, it ought to be pretty easy to use devonthink’s ai to automatically sort stuff. i haven’t done this myself, but it seems like a possibility to look into with the currently available features. i guess this person is probably doing something similar using filethis -> hazel -> devonthink. … s-at-once/

Not really addressing the technical issue at hand, but: If some entity does all this bookkeeping for you, they presumably require and hold ALL your credentials for ALL these services? And then dump that into the cloud in Evernote? Do we know who these FileThis characters are? If they get bought out, who gets the data? Having said that, it could be handy for telecom bills, utilities etc, but financial stuff? No. Maybe I misunderstand how this works.

Otherwise, Frobgoblin is right: If FileThis can make a straight dump into a folder structure on your computer, or Dropbox, you can index those folders right away into DT. Nothing else should be needed, and that’s the perfect way of making a robust handover.

The DT philosophy should remain: Do the basics of data management and do them well. Do not get entangled in complicated, limited-appeal, limited-use, endeavours.

That’s about right. You trade security for convenience. For some people, it is an acceptable risk. For me? Never.

Since FileThis came out a few years ago, concerns have been raised about it (specifically, about the competence / experience / trustworthiness of the team behind it). Maybe that isn’t fair, though, because I don’t think there is any way for them to really address those concerns, especially when far more secure entities have been hacked or allowed the data they hold to be stolen (NSA, governments, LastPass, etc.). Basically, you hand over all of your keys to folks you don’t know and trust them not to muck it up – no matter how impressive each individual at the company is, you still end up in the same place trusting a third party with access to everything.

Personally, though, anyone who claims it is “impossible” for others to gain unauthorized access to your credentials or your data has lost my trust, because that is simply wrong; not misleading – misinformation. I can’t speak to the capabilities of the team behind the service, but I can say that they have made some pretty unwise claims about the security of their service, and users would be wise to think carefully before trusting their financial lives to it.

Agreed. While it might be cool if DT developed integrations, partners, etc. I think they are onto a much more interesting line of development for long term growth and customer satisfaction (well, my satisfaction, at least). DT is the best personal information application I have ever used – it’s reliable, secure, and robust. What more could I ask for? The cool thing about it is that it works perfectly fine with any other app I use, so there is no need to make any tradeoffs in security, convenience, etc.

All these replies are certainly interesting. The security question is best answered by the comment that essentially said nothing is secure. That said, FileThis only has read access to the accounts. Does that mean that it can’t be hacked and then something bad done? Of course not, but I’m just not too concerned about that. But that’s me. If I were different I wouldn’t be using Mint, either.

The big thing that appeals to me about FileThis is the time-saving convenience. And I’m tired of building things myself so am not interested in working something out with Hazel.

As the author of the article Frogoblin linked to says: “The one friction point with that system was going out and collecting all the bills, before automatically processing them. To get them, I had to sign into websites of multiple providers, navigate to my bills, and download them.” That’s what I wanted to avoid when I signed up for FileThis.

I think what I’ll do is just continue to let FileThis import the documents into its folders in Evernote – having limited Evernote to just those folders because everything else is already in DT. Then, once a month, I’ll import those folders from EN into DT and copy them into the DT folders.

That’s not a lot of work at all compared to signing into all of those accounts and gathering the data myself.

Thanks for the responses. It’s always good to hear others’ insights into our computing tools.


No Mint for me. No FileThis. No giving out the keys to my financial records to anyone. But, I am also just fine without downloading all of that data! If I had different revenue streams, and a different lifestyle, I might well make the tradeoff. But, for me, the risks far outweigh the benefits. Fortunately, we all get to make these decisions based on our own calculations of risk v. rewards.

As for Hazel, I think that is probably an unnecessary step. Just set up FileThis to save stuff into Dropbox folders and let DEVONthink index them. Done.

You could, though, set up something with Hazel, and I don’t think it would take more than a couple of minutes. I’m also not a huge fan of building workflows, but Hazel makes it pretty easy. As I said, though, probably unnecessary. Even if FileThis can only save to a single folder (I doubt it), DT could use its artificial intelligence to easily sort stuff.

Dropbox and Devonthink indexing does sound like an interesting possibility, Frobgoblin. I’ll take a look at it and see how it might work.