Groups, folders, tags

HI All,

I’m new to DevonThink and I’m currently evaluating if this solution will fit my needs. As a beginner, I’m having trouble grasping the concepts of:

  1. Group
  2. Folder
  3. Tag

In the context of DevonThink application how do the above items relate to one another?


Hi Kevin,

Group is the official name for Folder in DEVONtechnologies products. Just different names for the same thing.

There’s a simple explanation of the relationship between Groups and Tags in this blog article:

Tuesday Tip: Prepare for tagging

And no shortage of informative forum discussions on that topic though it can take time and patience to dig for/through it since there’s no convenient index/roadmap to that and lots of other useful content.

Joe Kissell’s Take Control of DEVONthink 2 Ebook, discussed in Has anyone tried the new DevonThink eBook?, may be generally helpful.

Great! Thanks for the reply. Just knowing that Groups is same as Folders makes things much clearer for me.

Well, almost the same; it’s good enough for a first approximation, or perhaps government work. :slight_smile:

In DEVONthink parlance, groups hold documents, just as Finder folders hold files.

But there are differences, notably in the differences between making aliases of Finder folders and files versus making replicants of DEVONthink groups and documents. An alias is a pointer to a folder or file. Delete the alias and the folder or file remains in the same location; delete the folder or file, and its alias now has nothing to “point” to. Whereas, a replicated group or document is another instance of the “entire” group or document; It makes no difference which of two replicants you delete, the other is still the “entire” group or document. Basically, replication is a low-overhead way to allow one to file items in multiple locations.

In the Finder, a duplicated file (or folder) is an exact copy of the original. In DEVONthink, duplicates may be exact copies, or they may be very similar, perhaps differing in content by a few characters in their content. For example, if I select a PDF and choose “Data > Convert > to rich text” the PDF and the RTF documents are marked as duplicates, although they are of different filetypes, and may be given different names. They have the same text content. Which is why, although one can send all duplicates to the Trash, sometimes that may not be a good idea. :slight_smile:

Since many people refer to DT/DN groups as folders (inaccurately, IMHO) my response was from the perspective of groups vs. folder terminology within those products. I intentionally avoided functional differences between DT/DN groups vs. folders in other apps (e.g. Finder)… but of course Bill would go there for me. :slight_smile:

Hi, sjk. I wasn’t being critical.

You correctly emphasized the similarities of the metaphors of “files and folders” and “documents and groups”. That was a good response to the original post.

I went further, in part because I had recently handled several support queries about how to get rid of all duplicates.

There are differences between the Finder and DEVONthink, and the concept of what a duplicate is can be one such difference. If one assumes that duplicates are exact copies of existing files (the Finder metaphor), the decision to delete all duplicates from a DEVONthink database may have unexpected results, as some documents that should be retained might be deleted.

Example: I select a searchable PDF and choose Data > Convert > to rich text. This results in a new RTF file that contains the text of the PDF. DEVONthink displays these two files as duplicates (they have the same text content), although they are not duplicates in the Finder sense, they are different filetypes and the RTF doesn’t have the layout and the images of the PDF. DEVONthink duplicates can also have different Names and differences in other metadata.

In other words, metaphors may be inexact, and unexamined preconceptions can result in unexpected results. :slight_smile:

No worries, even if you were. :slight_smile:

I appreciate your explanations of behavioral differences between groups in DT/DN and folders in Finder, etc., which we agree are useful/important to understand. My point was that the two terms are frequently (mis)used interchangeably when referring to exactly (not almost :stuck_out_tongue:) the one same thing in DT/DN: groups. From a pedantic perspective of terminology, DT/DN only “has” groups, not folders.

No kidding. I think inexact/sloppy terminology, e.g. over-usage of “folder” when it has contextually different behavior/meaning, can be subtly risky and tempt confusion. I’ve always preferred DT/DN’s use of group because it implies somehow not being a traditional folder, even if mostly similar, which can encourage learning any differences.