How I (You) Use...DEVONthink

hey all, I was curious if anyone wanted to share how each person uses Devonthink. I will try to keep it simple and organized.

Main Work: Priest of a local church

Use Case of DTPO: Research (sermon preparation), Seminary lectures, Family Archive (receipts, quotes, hobbies, memories, house work, my wife or children’s funny moments, etc),

Database Numbers: For the last 3 years, I kept all in one database. This year, experimenting with breaking down into smaller databases for more ‘focused’ work.

Database Names/Use

  1. Seminary - stores classes/lectures notes and material
  2. Records - stores all family finances, taxes, utilities, etc
  3. Research Item - new database for whenever I am working on a new research item, anything from reading a new book, preparing for a retreat, etc
  4. Personal - catch-all for anything else, folder for articles to read later, hobbies by folder, etc.

Anyone want to share their use cases?


Not to detract from your question, but there have been some recent threads along the same lines. See here, for example. You may obtain some useful ideas from that thread, too.



In addition to your use cases, I use DT for

  • General Inbox for collection step
  • task notes
  • work time-tracking notes

I have task management, and budget/expense/billing reports
using filtered lists, scripting, export to spreadsheets


I basically use a single database (FilingCabinet), sync’d between a Mac and iPad
My “focus” is controlled using tag methodology


I’m game…

Main Work: Customer Support Specialist and Documentation at DEVONtech

Use Case of DT3: Work, work, and more work :stuck_out_tongue: Also, gathering all things interesting and paying my bills.

Database Numbers: Five constant databases. Test databases? Sometimes 100+

Database Names/Use

  1. Global Inbox - The catch-all database for quick captures and later filing
  2. DEVONthink_Support - what I’m responding in now :smiley:
  3. File Types - A database segregated by file types to ease testing or documenting things
  4. Temp - many, many work-related notes as I think about and discover things
  5. BLUEFROG - personal files, e.g., journaling, etc.

Everything goes into DEVONthink 3 now for me. I have a ‘personal’ database and a ‘creative writing’ one. Otherwise everything goes into the third one. I go one folder deep and the folders are very heterogeneous. They would make no sense to anybody else. Quite ad hoc in fact but it works because I use ‘search’, smart groups and AI really.
also use Houdah Spot all the time and stuff just turns up really, as it does in DEVONthink 3 searches. I don’t have need for ring fencing for privacy or client needs I have to add, so I can ‘afford’ the kind of system I have. Sometimes I just look through parts of the database I know stuff will probably be in too, using the different views or even thumbnails after I order it chronologically. I really think one needs to get away from the ‘folder’ mentality on DEVONthink 3; I really do.
I recognize a lot of things that way. I am so happy to be free of ‘filing’. I just, funny enough, made a similar comment on MPU forum.


Do you—the folks reading this topic—use DT for writing and note taking? If not, what do you use and how do you keep in sync with DT?

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For general note activity, I use a Devonthink editor (formatted notes)
or external editors as required (Pages for word processing, Numbers for spreadsheets, …)
For “note taking”, I use the Notability app on an iPad, with an Apple Pencil.

and how do you keep in sync with DT?

If an external editor; when the editing is completed, the note is removed from the editor and sent to Devonthink for storage/organization


Yes. Every day.


I do now, I find myself getting more and more use out of DEVONthink 3 and have moved from the ‘only for storage’ mentality which is, actually, where I started with the app. I find the ‘keyboard only’ way that sorter works invaluable for notes. I hope that system doesn’t break at any point. I do have a sort of hierarchy of notes but ones that are meant to be permanent as it were go straight into DEVONthink 3 now. I don’t know what you mean by ‘keep in synch’? I only use it on my mac now, I didn’t find I really needed it on ios and use my phone less and less for ‘productivity’.


It depends what’s going on. Currently for ‘note-taking’, I am using GoodNotes with the Apple Pencil. Eventually, depending on what the note was for, it would get processed and sent to DT.

As far as writing goes (currently, I am using Ulysses and saving them in Ulysses) My writing is weekly, I write out my weekly Sunday sermons, or anywhere where I will be speaking.

One of the things I want to tackle on a proper workflow between Ulysses and DT. Currently, I like to write and speak from Ulysses (I use an iPad Mini for display and sometimes make edits on the fly. Wondering if there’s a better way to send it to DT after I am done for proper indexing and to utilize the AI and search features of DT. Tangent, sorry.

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I should have said “everybody but Bluefrog” because I know your answer. :slight_smile:

Kind of like one of the courtroom scenes in My Cousin Vinny.


That was clumsy wording on my part.

I meant, for folks who might write and take notes in one app, and store research materials in DevonThink, how do they keep the projects together across two—or more–different apps.

If you write in Microsoft Word, that’s not a problem–just store the docx files in DT. But for Ulysses, Craft, or Obsidian, for example, that’s not possible.

And answering @FrMichaelFanous’s original question:

My main job is writing articles for a technology provider’s corporate website. And my main database is “[Company name] Projects.” Each article is its own group, containing all the research materials, notes, and drafts for that article.

I’m also active in a local community association, and have a separate database for that.

I have one called “Bookmarks,” from a short experiment using DT as a bookmark manager. I may return to that.

“Misc” is, well, miscellaneous. I plan to put personal finance and other personal documents in there at some point. I might break that out into another DB.

“Corporate and Benefits” is HR, policy, and benefits documents from the employer.

“San Diego Things to Do” is activities that might make a nice daytrip. I also have documents on that in Apple Notes. I need to decide where that’s going to live–one or the other, not both.

And “Share and blog” are for links and ideas for things to write about, or share on social media. (For example, on my Twitter account.

I also have about a dozen or more other databases for past projects and experiments, which I rarely or never open. One of the tasks on my to-do list is to neaten my DT databases up and organize them better.

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I see! I don’t really work that way is the briefest answer, I don’t rely heavily on that kind of deliberate linking or ordering in your sense, I keep a lot of things in mind as it were. So this reply isn’t very relevant to your question really but I do feel I am ‘linked’ to other apps by using DEVONthink 3 though I am not quite sure I can fully explain how. Houdah Spot ‘reads’ DEVONthink 3 and Ulysses for example and that is my pivot as it were between them.

I do have some ad hoc folders but not for specific projects I don’t find. For example I once had to get an important paper by screenshooting every page as I wasn’t allowed to download for some reason. So the images are all together in a single folder as I couldn’t ‘merge’ them. I also, to give another example, have a folder for a sequence of replies that were interesting on a blog post comments section, only one and I am unlikely to use that as a standard way of dealing with that: very rare I find anything interesting worth that amount of trouble. Present company excepted!

I keep some files that are markdown extensions alive and available in Ulysses itself. I am not sure any more how I do things with these apps now. I can keep them there in the ‘open files’ folder temporarily. I don’t think you would find that sufficient though somehow?

I also keep a lot of notes and files in Ulysses too anyway but I can’t tell you the rule for that exactly. The basic very fuzzy and grey criterion is ‘will I keep this forever or a long time?’ I also have a coded set of file name prefixes that help no end and I insert with a snippet when I take notes.

LIke I say, I rely on the AI and search in DEVONthink 3. I sometimes just paste in search what seems to me a key word, or relevant terms or author. I also do a lot just by sorting chronologically, I would say that has been my traditional habit. So I always kind of know where I am. If I need specific materials they are usually in a date range.

That is why I am a bit over dependent on the apps. I couldn’t even recreate my work flows easily from scratch now. I did drop Ulysses but put it back really for this kind of reason, I am fine with it but it is a ‘weakness’ potentially.
I am going back to some LaTeX writing and that will be an interesting challenge on this count as LaTeX used to tend to create a lot of files I found. I never kept the intermediate ones. Was this too complicated and vague? How does Lurch do it?


That is how I do it too really. I just keep the end result mostly in DEVONthink 3 for permanent. In the old days I ended up with a mass of intermediate LaTeX files and it was a mess to be honest and no help ever. I stopped even keeping the text file part of some LaTeX shorter docs.


WooHoo! What don’t I use it for? Here’s a list of my databases (too much disparate stuff in one creates confusion in my busy mind). Art/Photo (I collect images from various sources; many I use for screensavers; just as many for inspiration), Books/Art/Music (all the books I read, would like to read, art is about artists and periods in art, music is composers, eras, etc… Computer: details re all my apps, my computer, etc., Design: sort of like art, a collection of images related to “the made world”. Downloads: Miscellaneous stuff related to history, culture, medicine, journalism, politics – you get the idea. . Food and Wine, should be self-explanatory; recipes, info about ingredients, sources, etc. Garden, everything we have in the garden, or should have, or would like to have, Household: banking, remodeling, purchases, all that stuff. Personal: just about me – friends, family, medical, etc., Shopping: all purchases. Plus two databases related to books I’ve written, or am working on – all the relevant research and more. Don’t know what I’d do without it. JHH


After reading the previous replies, it seems I’m a very light user of DevonThink.

I use it as a very effective PDF search engine, indexing a mixture of modern direct-to-digital documents along with scanned old print media. The OCR engine transformed the poorly extracted text that was previously in the scanned versions, to give me a great way to trawl the documents for articles that would otherwise have been hard to find.

Before DT, I would have used Spotlight, but that would only take me to the document level. DT takes me to the article on the page (or pages).

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Very interesting thread …

I started initially with one DT DB and moved in the meantime to:

  1. Personal OS - main DB organized acc. evolving model of PARA
  2. Antilibrary - DB with 100s of books and PDFs I want to read (synced to DTTG on iPAD for highlighting)
  3. Pocket - DB used primarily on the go (iPhone) to capture stuff
  4. Separate Notes DB - used as a container for Obsidian Vault

I should say DT grew on me over time and probably next step would be deconstruct PARA DB into separate DBs.

Some of the use-cases I was able to realize so far (thanks to all the ideas on this forum):

  • smart groups to filter and organize notes on a couple of health and sport topics (filters through 100s of PDFs for combination of themes I am interested in)
  • RSS integration for a couple of must read blogs: gets RSS data, transforms into nice PDFs
  • integration with Apple mail client to get our multiple newsletters our of mailbox and generates nicely formatted reading notes
  • usage of universal DT links in Obsidian Vault for reference material (for example PDFs for courses etc)
  • OCR for non-OCR incoming files
  • listening to some random podcasts episodes I am normally not subscribed to in the podcast app but founds on the internets (directly in DTTG via “All audio files” filter or “listen” tag)
  • Reading list - well I guess it says it already
  • Read me later type of service (directly in DTTG)
  • Special minimal writing DT Workspace configuration (discussed elsewhere as “beautiful writing environment”) for writing notes on the days I prefer DT to Obsidian :slight_smile:

Such a great question.
I’m an academic: I use dif databases for personal, work, research, personal growth. Personal is everything from household manuals to vip docs to recipes. Work is tricky (cos word and one drive are my university’s choice) but basically everything that isn’t academia, so pro bono, requests, and contracts etc. Personal growth is reading, logs for fitness, mental wellbeing, and readings for that. Research is divided into my countless projects in motion.
But I also use scrivener, bookends, Omnifocus for professional stuff and things to keep track of personal todos. Im not pleased with my scriv, bookends and dt workflows,
Nevertheless DT is wonderful for giving me ownership of my storage of all the scraps of my life in writing. And when it makes the connections across my research, oh my - that’s brilliant.