How do you use DT in your daily workflow?

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.

Thanks for the reply. I should maybe apologize for the way I responded to the help I got here initially. As you point out, to guide me, you must know where I am and where I want to be.

Your description of how people come to DT is probably accurate in many cases. I bought it in 2008. And during my studies, I’ve read all kinds of books on how to have an effective workflow. GTD was the hype, now it seems to be Zettelkasten. Productivity has become an industry, a culture.

But I don’t want a complete change of my workflow. I continuously try new stuff out, and some would probably accuse me of being ineffective and unproductive.

I’ve made automation work, and I have scripted stuff, mostly in Google sheets. Problem is, these things are hard to remember, and if my needs change for a while, I need to spend more time than I like, relearning them when a similar need appears.

But I can try to describe my “workflow”, but its more about managing life in the digital domain.

I “produce” a considerable amount of documents, presentations, and assignments which I use and often share with students. That’s not a feat on its own, that’s just what teachers do. And then I talk a lot - (even though my goal is not to;) - and what I say, I guess, is a derivative of what I’ve heard, seen, observed, read, and documented for the last 10-15 years.

This works fine for me but struggles at times finding that tidbit of information I know I read in a 200+ pages pdf a few years ago, and could that connect to the illustration I made on another subject…

And if I were to describe my “workflow” even more, I have days dedicated to reports, taxes, recipes, invoices, email correspondence, and all the stuff I need to do as a freelancer. Then I leave this “creative” approach and attack methodically. Searching up a photo I took to record attendance when I didn’t have time to do it in a better way. Coupling that with some notes and the lesson plan, which in itself usually branch out, to produce a report.

I should get back to work, now:) I’m grateful for the help received and appreciate the community.

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Can you share how you do this??


I also use the Mac OS feature Folder Actions
It watches the folder and triggers for new files, launching an applescript
The script imports the file to Devonthink

Here’s the script installed with Devonthink

-- DEVONthink - Import & Delete.applescript
-- Created by Christian Grunenberg on Fri Mar 26 2010.
-- Copyright (c) 2010-2014. All rights reserved.

on adding folder items to this_folder after receiving added_items
		if (count of added_items) is greater than 0 then
			tell application id "DNtp" to launch
			repeat with theItem in added_items
					set thePath to theItem as text
					if thePath does not end with ".download:" and thePath does not end with ".crdownload:" then
						tell application id "DNtp"
							set theRecord to import thePath to incoming group
							if exists theRecord then tell application "Finder" to delete theItem
						end tell
					end if
				end try
			end repeat
		end if
	end try
end adding folder items to

right click on the selected folder/ services / action folders / execute script


Thanks - but I mean about how you get it from google drive … is that what your “gdrive” folder is ?

My wife and another employee use the scanner and send it to a Gdrive folder (work documents, for example). On the Mac you install the gdrive application and browse the folders. When you get to “work documents” right click / services / folder action / scripts (there are several from Devonthink), dial the one that interests you and you already have it forever. You can also do it with Hazel

When you open action folders, you must press + in the window and you will see the scripts.

May be Zotero would be more useful to you. I am facing the same issues than and still trying to figure out the best way to get the best out of DT

Thank you for sharing. Putting it on my list, and will read your thoughts and the thread :cowboy_hat_face:

Zotero, hmm. Maybe I should check it out. Thanks

Okay, my turn for whatever value it brings: I have two primary use cases:

  1. Archive. Scan or impoprt documents I want to be able to search for later. Bank statements, medical records, et al
  2. Living documents. Mostly for work, maintaing documents to reference project artifacts. For every project I have an Index, Cron, Meeting notes, Other notes, and Questions (with answers, ideally)

That’s just how I roll. And I love it a lot.

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use DT in your daily workflow

The organized storage archive for all my notes, documents, scans, web clippings, journals, email …

Task notes for project/task management and the generation of to-do lists

Receipt notes for the generation of budget/expense reports