I can't find anything with search!

I’ve used Devonthink off and on for years. I use it for work where I have documents related to radio, telephone, data, etc. I file vendor quotes and orders into it. I also load it up with tech notes, system manuals, etc.

Every time I try and search for something specific, I almost never find it. Usually I have funnel down to the group folder, then painstakingly click through each document until I find what I need.

Just the past week I started trying to tag documents. Maybe that will help. I try to think of what I might use as a search term later and use those for tags.

What’s the best way to go about filing documents so that you can actually find them on a search later?


It might be more helpful to share with us more specifically some examples of how you are searching, as searching is one of the more powerful features of DEVONthink. Refining your search techniques will likely be more useful to you than changing your filing method.

Thanks for the response.

A search example might be when I’m looking for a part number of an antenna that I had ordered in the past. I’d search for

900 antenna

I’ll get 50 results and the right one might be buried in there. So I have to pull up my orders group and start looking manually.

Good example, thank you.

Say I have a document with a string “I want to order 900 sparkling blue antennas”, and another document containing “Placed an order for part number 900 antenna”. If I am using the Find box in the toolbar, or the Search panel, and merely enter the string 900 antenna, then I will find both documents. If, instead, I enter the string “900 antenna” – note the quotation marks – then I only find the second document because that is an exact match.

(Search results within the found documents are highlighted, by the way, making it easier to locate hits.)

You didn’t explain what you meant by “the right one might be buried in there”, but if you’re suggesting that there is more than just the string 900 antenna, and there is a broader context that makes the search result “the right one”, then you’d want to evaluate the more complex features of DEVONthink search. Tools such as Boolean operators, wildcards, etc.

DEVONthink Help, the Manual (same info), and the tutorials in Help > Support assistant are useful resources to consult for both simple and complex searches. DEVONthink search is a very accurate and useful tool – but it can also take some practice to master.

korm beat me to it, but here is what I wrote before I saw he had replied.

Just searching on 900 antenna will find all documents containing ‘900’ and ‘antenna’. To narrow your search to an exact part number, the wrap the search terms in quotes “900 antenna” or use the NEAR command to force the terms to be within a specific proximity to each other. Searching for the string ‘900 NEAR/5 antenna’ will find ‘900 antenna’ and ‘900 HGTV antenna’ but not ‘I ordered 900 of the excellent Acme radio antenna on…’.

Thanks. I’ll look into the more advanced search functions and see if I can get better results. I appreciate the feedback!