How to create a bookmark to a file or folder outside of DEVONthink

Maybe this is obvious and old news to a lot of people, but maybe it will help some others.

For idiosyncratic reasons, I wanted to create a bookmark in a DEVONthink database to a folder outside of DEVONthink – not to index the folder, not to copy the contents of the folder into the database, but to have a bookmark that, when opened, would open the folder in the Finder. How to accomplish that was not immediately obvious (to me) because the most obvious method, creating a bookmark with a destination like


did not work. But it was close, and an old somewhat-related discussion thread gave the answer. The URL in the bookmark needs to start with localhost like this:


Example screenshot of creating such a bookmark in DEVONthink:

Beware that (1) doing this means that DEVONthink will not index the contents of the folder, (2) the bookmark is useless in DTTG on iOS, and (3) the bookmark will not work in multiple instances of DEVONthink running on separate computers unless the destination folder also exists on each of those computers. Still, in certain scenarios, those issues may be irrelevant, and having a bookmark/link of this kind may be very handy.

Update: per @BLUEFROG’s comments and subsequent discussion below, you can use the syntax file:///Users/yourlogin/... instead of file://localhost/Users/yourlogin/...


I used to do this often in the olden days…

Actually, you were just missing a forward slash as /Users is a directory and file:// is the protocol…


And a little clue if it’s working or not, DEVONthink will show this if the URL is incorrect, even for the file URL…

…and a hard drive icon in the Navigation bar above the view/edit pane, if it’s legit…


And for the more curious, no the URL won’t expand the tilde (~), so file://~/Desktop won’t work.

However, check Window > Download Manager

@cgrunenberg would have to respond on this behavior.

1 Like
  1. Well, how about that. I actually did try triple slash, but it didn’t work for me at the time, which is why I went the route of the addition of localhost. So I tried triple slash again just now and indeed it works. Evidently something else was going on in my too-brief earlier test of triple slash. Thanks for mentioning this because it’s a better syntax.

  2. W.r.t. the download manager: I just now came back to this forum to post a question about how to make it stop doing that :-), but you beat me to it. Thanks for raising the issue.

I looked around for a way to tell DEVONthink not to add the bookmarks to the download manager, but there does not seem to be a way to control that behavior.

You’re welcome.

I looked around for a way to tell DEVONthink not to add the bookmarks to the download manager, but there does not seem to be a way to control that behavior.

Nope. Criss may have something to say on it.

The Hook app will probably work for this.

Interesting as a point of information about how DT3 and macOS work

That said - can you give us a practical example of how this would be preferable to indexing or use of Hook?

Yes Hook Files work great in DT on Mac OS

Finder is free, and as part of Mac OS is likely to be updated as necessary. Hook is neither.

So why not use indexing?

Fixed for the next release.


Here are several. These have in common an assumption about how one is using DEVONthink to organize information: a folder/group is used to organize materials relevant to some subject, and contains subfolders/subgroups of documents (notes, PDFs, images, files, whatever). In the usual DEVONthink scheme of things, those subfolders/subgroups would be either (a) stored in the database, or (b) indexes of external folders on disk. Sometimes, though, you may want avoid indexing:

  1. a folder of source code for software your’e writing – lots of things here are better left outside of DEVONthink and not indexed, such as the version control database (e.g., for git if that’s what you use), compiled code files, auto-generated files, etc.;
  2. a folder located on a networked drive – sometimes it’s okay to index the location, but sometimes you don’t need or want to;
  3. a folder of binary or opaque (to DEVONthink) files, such as data files – if it’s large, there might not be any value to indexing the folder, but you may still want a pointer in DEVONthink to help you jump to it quickly;
  4. a folder being managed by another file synchronization system.

There are other cases, I’m sure.

Some people would follow up and ask why not keep a document, like a table of contents, and put normal hyperlinks in that document? My answer to that is simply, sure, they can do that if that’s how they prefer to work, but maybe someone else finds the write-it-in-a-document approach inconvenient and prefers to organize information differently. We all have cognitive differences, and these come into play, affecting what each of us considers “obvious”, natural, and easy to use.


That’s interesting -thanks

The logic makes sense. Though it seems somewhat concerning that if you were to move or rename the file, your link would no longer work.

While the original problem seems solved, here just another observation or a workaround I just tried:

  1. Create a new Formatted Note (rich text or markdown might also work)
  2. Drag the location from the Finder into the content area of the new file - it automatically creates a link.

So you might curate a “jump note” for your reference needs. I can see, that a direct bookmark might be more versatile – but maybe it is a option for some.

Regards, Roland