How do you use DT in your daily workflow?

Hello group

I’ve been using DT for a long time and below I’ve tried to summarize how:

  • throwing stuff at it. From the web, on my phone, photos, files, audio, video - anything I think could be useful later but doesn’t fit in my other systems.
  • created a few databases, (which have come in handy whenever I’ve upgraded from scratch, but otherwise I don’t do much with them)
  • got stuff in my global inbox from 2012, so I seldomly revisit stuff in DT.
  • OCRed som text and merged some pdfs
  • bought books on using DT, but I don’t seem to get it.

Probably my case is not that special, and similar things have been discussed here before, but could anyone share any discoveries they’ve made with DT which now are a part of their workflow?

There have already been several threads on the various use cases of DT here. You might find it worthwile reading them.

As to your question: I do not throw whatever at DT (no videos, no photos, no audio – all that is better handled by other apps, especially since I do not use them from DT). I have databases mostly for accounting purposes, one for IT material and one for travelling. The last two are the ones that receive bookmarks, clipped web pages and so on. The inbox(es) are mostly empty – why would I need DT, if I kept everything in one place? I could simply drop everything in a folder, then.

But frankly, you seem to be working backwards. The question (in my opinion) is not what goes where but what you want to achieve. What is your goal?


Thank you for your response.

I am aware there are similar threads, and apologize if this seems like a lazy way to solve my problem, but I’ve read some of them, and I struggle with converting the information into actions that seem useful.

I said I throw stuff that doesn’t fit in my other systems, not all stuff:) I’ve got a lot of systems, and of course, it could be I don’t have a need for DT.

My goal is to have actions and routines where the software helps me structure, and make it easy to find all this stuff.

Like a paragraph in a pdf with 60 000 words. I could just keep the paragraph, but maybe the rest of the document could come in handy later, so I throw it at DT.

Or documenting something with the camera. It does not belong in my photo library, so I throw it DT-

I’m humbly asking for small tips on how people manage similar workflows.

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Similar to what?

Well, what stuff? Invoices? Receipes? Software snippets? Legal documents? Medical records?

The term workflow makes no sense if one does not know what the “work” part is referring to.


My workflow makes use of Smart Rules to move items from the Global Inbox into other databases according to their type. WebArchives will be move to one database, emails moved to another, PDFs tagged with the name of one of the financial institutions I bank with moved to another, etc. That means that my Global Inbox is usually empty save for a few things that haven’t been moved, usually because they’re in a format not covered by any Smart Rules.

I have a separate Smart Rule to make sure my financial documents are text-searchable by performing OCR as required, and another Smart Rule to clean up unused tags periodically.

I highly recommend you have a read of “Take Control of DEVONthink 3”, which is free and not only covers all of the features but suggests how best to use them.


The work part right now, is trying to make a living out of teaching, and sometimes things need to be saved for later - for reports, lessons, just documentation. There is also, of course, a non-work part, as a consequence of being interested and curious

I can see that this could be very useful for me, thanks!

I’ve read that book, and I also enjoyed Dini Kourosh’ book, so I guess I should just go revisit those, rather than spamming this forum;)

Out of curiosity, what word would you recommend to use, that could have made sense? Note that English is of course not my native language, and I used the term broadly, complemented with a few examples, thinking it coined something like, “stuff I do (the examples) trying to achieve something (a searchable structured archive)”, and assumed that someone maybe could relate to this, and have a quick helpful advice.

There’s a case for throwing everything into a note-taking system. That’s the Zettelkasten way. I don’t see why Devonthink wouldn’t make a powerful Zettel.

DT’s tags will probably forever be my favorite feature.


Neither is English my native language. Maybe that’s why I do not understand what you’re asking for – all I understood was that you want a “searchable archive”. This is (to me) so vague that I can only equally vaguely point you to DT’s bunch of tools to get the job done like databases, groups, tags, smart groups, annotations, meta data and all the rest.

My impression is, and please forgive me if I’m wrong, that you have not yet figured out what you want to do with DT that you can’t do with your other tools. Having a “searchable archive” could possibly be done with Spotlight.


Thank you and you are correct. Except for OCR, and merging pdfs I could stick with what osx got to offer - and maybe I just keep using DT for the sole reason that I spent money on it

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Welcome @oystein

As noted here and in our documentation, much of the DEVONthink experience is what you bring to it, how you think about your data. For example, some people are taggers; some like deeply nested group hierarchies; yet others a combination of the two.

Here’s a something to think about: If you can use the Finder, you can use DEVONthink. DEVONthink just has a brain underneath it all. :slight_smile:
If you were going to manage your files only in the Finder, how would you do it?

Also, what are your needs, in terms of databases?
Single monolithic databases are possible, but we usually suggest smaller, more focused databases. Even if the separation is as simple as work and personal. You can make as many as you need to, as long as tey make sense and you can find what you need. As a personal example, I have a financial database where I archive my bills. I can tell you what my electricity bill was in November of 2013. It’s a database that I get into monthly, neatly segregated from say, my work database. And considering I am in work databases far more often, there’s no need to have my bills available in an open database all the time.

So I’d start with that core idea of what databases you need / want.
Then you can develop a workflow of how you’re processing and storing incoming data.

PS: Do you know of Øystein Sevåg? Amazing musician, if you’re not familiar. :heart: :slight_smile:


Thanks. Tried for years to get into tags, and I do usually tag stuff, both in text and on files - but I’m too inconsequent while “working”, and end up with a bunch of tags

In my case I use it to run a small business (10 workers).
Every paper that enters or leaves is scanned to a fujitsuscansnap that stores it in a gdrive folder.
A macmini in my house puts it in devonthoink through folder actions. Mail attachments also enter devonthink.
My workflow is to press enter for each document I want to archive (IA is good, but if you make a mistake it messes everything up).
I have several web page-like human interfaces that link to devonthink folders. If, for example, the health inspector comes, I can show you in a moment any document you ask for (cleaning parts, raw matweria delivery notes, sanitary certificates…)
-If a job inspection comes I have all the signed time records and any documentation you can ask me for. With all this I sleep a little calmer.
Now I am experimenting with the custom metadata “amount” to make a payment forecast.
Apart from all this, I also use it for personal things and reference material. I write very badly in English and I am doing it through a translator, sorry if there is any error


Thank you. Much appreciated. I will use a couple of days now, digesting your advice while continue using it, and I guess I’m trying to get more use out of this “brain” you are referring to:)

My finances are in another software. Lesson plans and notes resides in a combination of RemNote, Google drive and Notes. Finder takes care of a lot, but I struggle finding it when I need it, i.e an illustration, if its been years, and maybe a couple of hardware upgrades and OS upgrades since I gathered or used it.

So for many years my main database name has been “messybox”, since everything there is a collection of thing that I didn’t find an immediate use for at the time being, or don’t have another good way of archiving. I’ve got a 3-4 other databases as well, but the boundaries between them, many times seem to hinder what I want - discovering or making connections between seemingly unrelated stuff.

PS: I didn’t actually know about Øystein Sevåg, but now I do. Soothing. Thanks:)

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Understood perfectly, and very inspiring! No doubt, you’re a power user! I’ve got, maybe a similar, web page-like interface for my business, set up in Google sheets, but it only links to other stuff in my Drive now

About a month ago I posted on this forum some of my personal experiences using DT Pro—including what I initially used it for and how I expanded that use as time passed and as I realised just how versatile DT was. Please excuse me not repeating similar things here, but you may find helpful some of the thoughts in the original post—and the thread that followed it.



I use tags two different ways. If there are things I want to refer to as a group, a tag does the trick.

Sometimes I don’t know how to classify things. Research could be organized by source, era, author, or event.

So why choose? Add stuff in groups according to source. Add tags for era, author, and event. The groups are one organizational view, each tree of tags is another.

Using “reveal” and “reveal tag” commands you can navigate laterally between the trees. You can mostly ignore whether you’re looking at a hierarchy of tags or of groups.

For organizing a writing project, I can do a better job with DT than I can with Scrivener. If I were to start writing in Scrivener (a fine product), I’d keep my notes in Devonthink, not Scrivener’s Research folder. Why? Because in DT I get tagging and replicants.

For my use, a word processor’s navigation pane is good enough to replace Scrivener’s Binder. Scrivener is great - but I don’t actually use it.


I think what @chrillek is getting at, if I may be so bold to guess, is that there is such a wide spread of use cases for DT that what you DO in the real world has a great bearing on how you do those THINGS with DT.
Many people find their way to DT when they are trying to tame piles of accumulated information in the shape of files or snippets of files or lists or bookmarks. If you’re looking for that kind of software and you’re googling around (and you’re on a Mac, natch) it’s likely you’ll come across this forum or some other reference to DT. The tentacles will extend and drag, I mean draw, you in and away you go.
Others come to it from a creative starting point. Writers, narrative, technical, scientific and many more, find their way here from apps they’ve been using or kludging to do the things they need done and DT appears as a solution that no one could have thought of from scratch but has grown to be a great hub for ideas, research, germs of ideas, full blown plans, outlines, and I’m guessing, manuscripts or at least the PDFs of manuscripts and versions.
Those are just two of the quite disparate use cases for DT and it’s feisty little sibling DTtoGo on iOS.
There’s probably a bunch more.

So when you ask about workflow it’s worthwhile to be a little pedantic and identify your work before anyone can contribute to your flow.

I myself use DTtoGo almost like a separate app in that I write a daily journal only on my phone or iPad and only use the desktop to back up that database. On the desktop I have financial, work, and side hustle databases some of which are desktop only and some on both platforms.
Generally I dump all info for all those things into the global inbox and process what I can when I have the time. Learning scripting and automation helps and has made other parts of my work better and reduces the amount of time cleaning up the inbox.


Good points! I will revive my tagging practise, because this suits the way I do things now.

I love Scrivener, but I have not used it the last couple of years - and maybe you point the finger to why. For text RemNote is my go-to no, but I’ve yet to link the two apps.