How should I be embedding images so they don't disappear when original is deleted?

I thought I had this figured out, but…. My embedded images keep disappearing, and being replaced by dead links. Very frustrating.

Problem description:
When I take notes on Zoom conversations, using Markdown format, I often grab screen captures to insert into my notes. My screen capture programs work in different ways: they either COPY the capture into the MacOS buffer, or they save it as a png file in my Downloads folder. (I use Capto or CleanShot, although I think behavior is similar for others.) I then insert the image into my Markdown document (using paste, or drag and drop, respectively).
This looks great when I do it. The Markdown preview pane shows the embedded image fine. I then delete the original image from my Downloads folder. However, when I return a few days later, the image is now gone, replaced by a dead URL link.
I thought I solved this by Export to PDF of my original notes in markdown. But I just discovered that even then the images in the PDF can disappear as well!
Thus the image is not getting embedded into the PDF that DT creates when I Export from Markdown. Only the link is left, and when I delete the image from Downloads, the link becomes useless.
I discovered that the lack of embedding into MD files is deliberate; see these threads.

But how can I create SOME file that preserves the images? For example, if I email a document to someone, the images must be embedded to be useful. Should I do a 3rd step of PRINTing the PDF into another PDF?
This seems pretty elementary, and I apologize if I’m missing something. Clearly I could just move the image files into DT, and then drag/drop them, but that leads to a multitude of files each time I take notes.

The behavior you are reporting is expected.
Markdown files don’t embed images by design. And embedding them is not necessarily a good idea due to the file size blossoming quickly.

I assume you are deleting the files since you incorrectly assumed they’re embedded.

Yes, I would suggest you add the files to DEVONthink and link them from there… or you don’t delete, move, or rename the originals in the Finder.


Oh, friend, I feel your pain …

More seriously, I also take notes during meetings. I use OmniOutliner instead of trying to use Markdown. Other document editors would work too – basically, anything that is fast & comfortable for editing and lets you paste screen captures directly into the document instead of having to manage them as separate files. The latter takes time and distracts you from the ongoing conversation.

(OmniOutliner files can be stored in DEVONthink, and DEVONthink will search their content, so they are pretty good as far as that goes.)


Is there a limit on image sizes which are embedded in the markdown file?

I used one shortcut which was shared on the devontimes blog to „embed“ several images into a markdown file. The markdown file is created successfully, but the images are just shown as a questionmark

The images are not in the markdown file, they’re pulled in from external files at render time. The specs for markdown set no limits or restrictions on file sizes or dimensions of embedded images.

As pointed out in this thread, the smart move is to pull the images into DEVONthink first, then to embed those images (using a x-devonthink-item:// style link).

Alternately, if you’re using the clipper and need to preserve a page with images, capture as pdf or webarchive.

Yes I know but as I mentioned I used a shortcut shared in the devontimes Blog.
The images are stored in devonthink and pulled into the markdown file. They are not displayed correctly - there is just a red frame in the markdown file, doesn’t matter if I open the md file on Mac or iOS in DEVONthink.

See the Screenshots attached.

Anyway I found out that this can’t be a Limitation of the file size, since it’s working with another document (I created it as table of contents and just added the „!“ before the markdown link to an image

The MD links look a bit weird
Maybe that is valid MD in some dialect, but I suggest to use
i.e. leave out the surrounding brackets.
But this is of course irrelevant if you deleted the files anyway – if they’re not there, DT has nothing to display. Obviously.

It’s longer than that… it’s


This creates an image that links to the original document in the database.

If I understand you correctly, this syntax is used for arbitrary documents, not necessarily images - the famous transclusion thingy?

Nope. It’s a Markdown convention for allowing images to link to full size originals, similiar to using thumbnails on a web page

Any advice why these images aren’t correctly embedded?

I am not able to reproduce any issue here.
Try copying the item link from the source and open it in Safari. Does it open the image file in DEVONthink To Go?

I run this shortcut: Shortcuts

To reproduce it just set a subject and select three images from camera roll.

The links to the DEVONthink item are working, but I receive red frames with no content again

So you tried what I suggested?

Yes I did, the file is opened

I used to use OmniOutliner extensively. I will try it for this purpose. thanks

I have also found it very useful to create templates for different situations, like meetings, and put them in the DEVONthink templates directory. That makes them accessible from the Data → New from Template menu. The template files for DEVONthink can be in any format, OmniOutliner included.

1 Like