Gripes with Devonthink pricing


Not sure if this is the correct thread, but I have a gripe, more than a suggestion.

I am a little frustrated with the lack of options/features in the Devonthink regular version compared to the Pro, and the double-in-price justification to use them.

I understand the reason certain major features are available in Pro (eg, OCR, mail integration, etc), but to remove—what seems to be standard features— like metadata editing AS WELL AS basic cosmetic features, such as the form view on TSV sheet documents, is quite frustrating.

I just spent a fortnight or so getting used to DT and these features and found them quite helpful in my research. So much so that they justified my purchase of a license.
But when I went to use these features this morning on my new “standard” license, I found they were not available.
Again, I can understand why major features are disabled in “standard” products, removing minor features like the above is quite frustrating.

I can’t justify paying twice for the Pro version when I will not even use a fraction of the features it has.
And the student discount (only 20%, many companies give 40-50%) wasn’t much either, given I had to pay tax on top of it (which is not DT’s fault).

Finally, if I want to use this on a 3rd computer, which I most likely will have to, I have to buy ANOTHER “seat”. So all up, spending an extra $150 (on top of the already paid $100) just to have a “form view” on a TSV doc and to be able to add metadata is a bit rich.

I think I’m going to stick with Scrivener and a good ol’ pen and notebook.

I’ve previously pointed out that I feel DT is underpriced, so obviously I’m not going to concur with your opinion (which, though, is no less valid than mine). There will always be fringe usecases - I purchased Adobe Acrobat for what felt like being robbed in broad daylight; I don’t use it enough to make the purchase economically viable - but I require a small subset of its features. You talked about student discounts 3 years ago too - so presumably in the foreseeable future you too will stop being a student and start getting paid for your work; at that point you too will have to decide between personal income (related - at least to a degree - to personal comfort) and ideals. Whilst your personal usecase might make the pricing decisions DT took look unfortunate, what a professional user pays for DT is less than one days’ income, and literally orders of magnitude less than for some other professional software.

I don’t concur that custom metadata is a minor feature - it is a very powerful feature which, especially when used in conjunction with automation, elevates DT’s potential massively. I could not do half the things I do with DT without custom metadata.

You’re looking at using 3 Macs; check what you (or somebody else) paid for them. Again, in relation I find DT very reasonably priced.

Don’t forget this forum - which you joined three years ago. It is supported 7 days a week by DT staff - who presumably want to be paid for their work.

And one last point: the DT website lists the functions only available in the Pro and Server versions in plain sight; both custom metadata and form views are on that list.

Anyway - you checked out DT 3 years ago, and again now; you’re still unsure whether it’s the right product for you. So maybe it isn’t?


Thank you for your feedback.

I don’t concur that custom metadata is a minor feature - it is a very powerful feature which, especially when used in conjunction with automation, elevates DT’s potential massively.

It may not be minor in terms of relation to the AI functions in DT, but to me it just seems weird that it is excluded from the standard version when it’s basically just adding a few extra options to file information/organising of files/documents of which there are already pretty substantial feature sets. What sets that apart from the rest so much that customisable metadata justified as a “pro” version?
Programs like Scrivener can customise metadata easily (and with no extra version/payment needed).

I could not do half the things I do with DT without custom metadata.

Yes you can. It’s called a pen and paper. People did some amazing things before computers were invented.
But actually, your retort is kind of my point. I would like to use that custom metadata option, but is it really a game changer in relation to the other features that would be associated with Pro or Server versions? Probably not. For some people who use DT like me, it’s probably more of a feature to make the workflow a little smoother, rather than adding a whole new dimension to what you can do with the entire program. It’s really just adding a few fields of information.

And one last point: the DT website lists the functions only available in the Pro and Server versions in plain sight; both custom metadata and form views are on that list.

This is true, and it’s my fault that I did not understand what “Form View” meant. I did not know that it applied to viewing a TSV sheet file in a different view than the standard one.
But again, this seems like a minor cosmetic variation, rather than adding a completely new function to DT. I am sure there are users who will use benefit the Form View over the standard view, but does it really offer “new functions” to justify only offering it on the Pro version? Can using a form view of a TSV file be the difference between a “Pro” and an amateur?

You’re looking at using 3 Macs; check what you (or somebody else) paid for them.

I paid for them all.
Are you trying to make the point that I’m paying too much for a Mac when a computer can do the same job at half the price, or that Mac owners spend a lot of money and probably won’t use all their features?
My point exactly! When the user is captured by the market they have to pay ridiculous prices.

I don’t mean to sound combative, and I’m not posting this gripe as an attack on DT developers. I’m just pointing out my own personal gripes with it so the sales team might consider in future what features go with what version.
I was really looking forward to learning a whole new system of organising data. But I think you’re right. I got through my PhD without it, so I think I might pass.
I’ll keep these things in mind if I reconsider in the future.

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Scrivener at $49 (or $41.65 for student)? Which is 15% discount, less than the 20% you use as an example of overpricing.

Your assumption that sticking with Scrivener as the best avenue is correct.

As people say here DEVONthink 3 is underpriced for what it is and as a percentage of what education costs are for most folk now.
I see now that Amazon is charging for a book by a current Philosophy professor about 60$: that is a book that a lot of students would ‘need’, I don’t anymore understand Academic Library strategies and maybe prices are somewhat geared to them. In neurology I see some standard textbooks now at 500$, a lot at about 200+$. And yes it is price gouging a captive audience, many of whom though will go on to be high earners in a now profit driven medical system: enough of my hobby horse!
You will also be aware that many scholars now turn a blind eye to a lot of ‘work round’ access methods to academic literature. I will say before I get too complicated and ‘political’ that Scrivener is also a very value for money ‘good guy’ piece of software and cheap at the price. As is most of the Apple stuff one comes across and what makes Apple gear worth it’s own markup price, DEVONthink 3 is a stand out even among them and really I think the outlay here should be bearable for you for stuff you might use for years and years.

I appreciate how tight some budgets are now. However really the only issue I see for you is having the three computers: do you really need 3? I am sure there is some workaround and some workaround that if you were specific you could be helped with here.


Useful reply, interesting reply. Maybe it is ‘get off my lawn’ syndrome but I find pricing now insane with no relation to anything sensible that I can find. With software developers being pretty much the cheapest stuff around. As you say, for some professionals DEVONthink 3 is about what they charge per hour or less. I appreciate too how underpaid most workers and the cheap labor system now endemic in Academia is a disgrace. My direct reply to this included the price of a standard neurology textbook on Amazon for 500$: captive audience…
My last ‘must have my own copy’ book in my field was $190 and I ‘need’ it but haven’t used it once to date. I am sure I will at some point.

And as we’ve said for many years: DEVONthink is an investment, not an expense.

Actually when the price is amortized, even the Server edition is more than reasonable. Currently DEVONthink 3 has been out for ~2.75 years. $500/2.75 = $181 and change per year. I pay almost that per month for my networking. :smiley:


I know, I was there (maybe not before they were invented, but certainly before their widespread use) :wink: but actually, no I couldn’t: I have automated document handling to a good extent, and custom metadata is one of the components in many of my scripts.

I think I was trying to say that you’ve got a lot of expensive gear and that in relation DT is not so dear. The point is of limited value, of course: I use DT daily and it saves me time and space. Over its lifetime it will cost me next to nothing per day, making it a great return on invest. If I used it only occasionally and only as a glorified Finder replacement, it would be of poor value.


I’m doing something which initially appears weird; I’m saying I’d pay more. I do that aware that I’m well off. I do it because I want to provide DT positive feedback; but I want them to survive too - not just personally, but as a company - catering to my needs. When times get hard, I want DT to say they’d rather up the price than drop the staff. I’ll change that if Eric ever gets that Lambo.

So I wasn’t trying to invalidate your opinion - just provide an alternative one. Again, yours is no less valid than mine :slight_smile:


That must be darn good networking. As DT is darn good software.

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In the US, internet connections, like cell phones, are often more expensive than in Europe.

Mine’s a bit of an unusual case and has failover redundancy built in. That comes at a premium. But @eboehnisch is also correct: US internet is usually more expensive and usually at slower speeds than are available across the pond.

PS: How’s this for an advert…
DEVONthink Server - now only 50 cents per day and dropping daily!!!

  • $500 for a new purchase
  • 2.75 years * 365 days per year = ~1004 days
  • 500 / 1004 = 0.498

DEVONthink is not for everyone. I think it’s worth the price, but I can understand if someone else disagrees.

On another note, discussing the value of software to professionals who spend their time in front of a computer is an interesting one. If you are a mechanic, a full set of Snap-On tools can go for $20k, but its worth the investment because the tools you use are essential for your job. I like @BLUEFROG’s philosophy of DEVONthink being an investment and not an expense. It’s an investment in your future self’s ability to recall and consolidate information when needed, freeing your mind to focus on the creative tasks that it’s good at.

There are lots of tools and lots of ways to go about things in a computer, but if you make your living on one there’s no reason not to pay for the best tools you can get. DEVONthink is industrial strength, and it costs a premium. It’s not for everyone, but if you’re on this forum, it might be for you.


Just wait until you see what academic journals cost when you’re not accessing them through a university library.

If you feel that you can’t justify the cost of a particular feature (or application), then you probably can’t.

But that doesn’t mean the company has made a poor pricing decision. It just means that you and the company have different opinions about the value and/or complexity of the feature.


Objectively speaking, the fact alone that DevonThink pricing is not a subscription but a one-time fee makes it very affordable in the long run. And the value only increases over time as one discovers new use cases and functionalities.
Unlike most Mac applications, there also isn’t a yearly upgrade fee to get the newest features (which keep on coming in each release).
Finally, no other application I’m aware of can remotely replicate the feature set in DevonThink. For people who can put that feature set to use, the value for money is absolutely worth it and for those who can’t there’s things like Evernote or OneNote (albeit with an actually much more expensive subscription and/or a limited free version).


This. I pay more than 5 times the price of DT3 Pro annually to keep up in my field of expertise and current affairs. It would be easy to spend more.


My first introduction to DEVON was when I got DEVON note just as I was starting grad school–it was useful, but at the time, I invested in Evernote instead–but as a professional, Evernote was not serving me as well as I needed it to, and then v.10 broke ALL. MY. WORKFLOWS.

I evaluated a lot of options, including my then ~10-year-old DNote license and a database of receipts and other documents I had stored in a trial of DT2. I remembered that I had really liked DN/DT but that I couldn’t afford it then–Evernote was a better fit. I downloaded DT3, trialed, and didn’t blink to pay for Server. It has changed the way I work in ways that I can’t even begin to describe–but of most import, I can find the documents I need, when I need them–that is essential:


You’re doing well to keep the multiplier at 5x. Mine is more like 50x pa for legal journals, case law and textbooks compared to DT’s one-off cost.

On the other side of the ledger, DT has replaced and therefore reduced the number of subscriptions or purchases for other apps:

Evernote then Bear then Drafts and various other notetaking apps and markdown editors

Multiple PDF apps from PDF Expert to LiquidText and others

Various email clients tried over the years for email filing and archiving

There are probably others.

Like @Blanc, I haven’t been able to wean myself off Acrobat DC at $25 pm ($300 pa), but I now use it only for a small fraction of the time I am DT - there’s not many features left that DT can’t do.

Then there’s the cost of time DT saves. DT has effectively enabled me to build a case management system which doesn’t exist in the market (I’ve tried a few).

And the help and support is outstanding IMHO, as is the constant product development.

FWIW, I don’t think DEVON charges enough. :money_mouth_face:


I made a similar point: though I have to say I think that pricing of Academic Journals is a racket, whereas softeware like DEVONthink 3 is value for money and I think the developers should be protected and encouraged. I think about this a lot: I have an interest in patents, copyright, intellectual property that kind of thing. I will confess that I have not figured out a way to square this circle.


At least in STEM fields, a lot of funding organizations are making open access to results a condition of their grants. And a lot of important university libraries are pushing back against the exorbitant subscription fees.