Having trouble wrapping my brain around this one

So I have Devonthink Personal. I like the idea behind it, a powerful organization tool for my documents etc…

But I am having trouble on two points.

  1. I find myself stuck in the mold of a directory structure. I have folders, inside the folders I have documents. That’s how I have imported some documents, and they are still filed the same way. I find myself thinking “Now what?” I feel rooted in that directory way of thinking, and if I stick with that, what’s the difference, why not just use files and folders the old way. So what’s a good way to break out of that mindset?

  2. I have a concern. As near as I can tell, when I import a file, I get a duplicate of that file. I know since when I imported some large movie files, my hard drive space dropped by an equivalent amount. This troubles me first of all, due to the impact on free hard drive space. Why should I use twice the space for all my documents. More to the point, since I have 2 of everything now, how do people remember to export the data out to the file system, or synchronize changes back in? If I want to edit something externally for instance, I need to make sure it’s exported, so the file system is up to date, edit in … Pages for example, then synchorize them back in. What am I missing…this seems needlessly cumbersome (ingoring the duplication of hard drive useage). The same concern exists if I want to email someone a file, I would need to remember to export it, before attaching it to an email.

I have been trying to discover some details in online reviews and the help, and they are full of comments about how easy and useful it is once inside Devonthink, but nothing addressing the implications of its relationship to the outside world (file system and intereactions from outside Devon).

  1. You are free to use the organizational structure you brought in from your drive, or change it anyway you wish.

I don’t consider my groups and documents as a hierarchical organization. Think of putting ‘clusters’ of related documents into a group, and ‘clusters’ of groups into a higher-level group.

You are free to break hierarchical rules by replicating a document into more than one group, if it’s appropriate to more than one ‘cluster’ of related documents.

  1. There are two ways of capturing information from your disk into your database.

Import results in copying files into your database, i.e. creating a duplicate of the Finder file into your database. The command to Import is ‘File > Import > Files & Folders’, or the equivalent drag & drop from the Finder into the database.

Index results in capturing text and metadata into the database, but linking to the original Finder file (no duplication of the file). The command to Index is ‘File > Index’, or its equivalent, Command-Option-drag & drop.

There are pros and cons for each capture mode.

I suspect you will prefer the Index mode. This results in somewhat less memory to load the database, takes up less disk space and, because there is one-way synchronization from the Finder file to the database document, editing the external file and saving it will result in updating the database document next time it is opened (or when the ‘File > Synchronize’ command is invoked).

I use the Import mode, because I want my DT Pro databases to be portable so that I can move them easily between my MacBook Pro and my Power Mac G5. But that’s more important with the multiple databases I use than with the single database in DT Personal.