I don't get the advantage of using DevonThink

If one „writes in either my LaTeX editor, word or pages.“ then DEVONthink might not be a good alternative.

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The question I’m asking myself is: how would I reference data outside DEVONthink that I sie invade DEVONthink? I’m not sure if I was able to explain my issue…

If by “reference” you mean an academic reference in a paper you write, then that is not really a software question.

If by “reference” you mean how would you link an item in Devonthink to some other Mac application, then answer is via an “Item Link” or “x-devonthink” link created in Devonthink.

If you mean that you want to include content or metadata from Devonthink automatically/programmatically in a new document you author to share with others, then I would suggest a combination of Devonthink and Tinderbox. Tinderbox is great for using programmatic templates to export HTML documents; it works well with Devonthink but is not a replacement for Devonthink.


Having a first experience with Zotero (helping my wife in her academic writing process) with Word, I can easily see how DEVONthink does not do what Zotero and Word do together. I presume the other citation manager applications are similiar.

Yes, there are overlaps in that Zotero and DEVONthink stores documents and information about documents, but far as I know won’t help with making the writing of the paper and making citations and bibliography easier as Zotero does. And yes, probably some scripts can be developed to make it so. DEVONthink could even do something in the far future, perhaps. I notice that elsewhere on this forum people are posting things about Zotero and DEVONthink but to me is well too esoteric to go there in support of my wife who has no time for anything related to learning how to use the computer in a better way.

So yes, for you DEVONthink may not be a good fit at this time if you really want the automation that a citation manager helps with writing.

FYI, when I do a paper that will be written and published with LaTeX for final PDF, I do it all in Scrivener. In my world I don’t have to mess with strict rules about citations so I collect all the reference documents, and notes about the content in those documents, in DEVONthink Groups and Smart Groups. DEVONthink lives on 1/2 the monitor, and Scrivener is on the other 1/2. At that point I forget about the software and get on with the project.


Tank you all for your answers! Especially @rmschne rmschne’s, @rkaplan rkaplan’s und @BLUEFROG BLUEFROG’s answers have been helpful.
I have noticed that DevonThink can insert links to a reference form inside DevonThink. When I copy that RTF text/not from DevonThink to another app I still can click the link to the reference and it will open in a new DevonThink window. That is pretty cool… I think I will really give to a try and continue to play around with DevonThink.
Are there other examples of academic workflows within DEvonZThink?

Best regards,

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If you want some more capability integrating Zotero with Devonthink you may wish to look here:

I think if you do some internet searches you will find some published articles by academically-orientated people on this topic.

My use case is different from yours, so this suggestion may or may ne be helpful: Hook can be used to link documents from different sources and plays with both DEVONthink (DT) and Zotero, for example. (EDIT: It is not ideal for linking more than two documents within DT with one another (because it then links the files (in Finder) rather than the document URLs from the database), so using a link sheet or annotation with links is probably more useful for that task. linking multiple documents within DT now works as it should, tested with v2.2.1)

And do use the search function in this forum to look for „Zotero“; there are numerous ppl using Zotero and DT together.

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One last point or question rather: Several post mention the combination other apps such as Zotero or Hook, I myself am using Papers3.
What could be the advantage off using two reference apps (im my case DevonThink and Papers3) instead of one only? Doesn’t that have a bit redundancy? I was looking for replacing several alls for one only, and that should be Devonthink…

Thanks, Michael

All depends on what you want out of your work-process and whether a change in output/results is due to or not redundancy (which it surely is) is a problem for you or not. And if a problem, are there ways to easily for yout to overcome at a cost (time and complexity) you can bear?

Suggest you experiment.

(Hook is not a reference app in the true sense of the meaning; it hooks documents to one another). In German there is a term “eierlegende Wollmilchsau” - the egg-laying wool-milk pig, a marvellous beast capable of delivering a wide variety of goods. Software - like pigs - is not like that. If various pieces of software play nice with one another, you can seamlessly leverage the advantages of each. Of course, if you can do all you want with one single piece of software, you’re home and dry - that’s very much up to you and your work flow.

(an example - and I realise you are doing something quite different: I use hook to interconnect e-mails (in Mail) to documents (in DT); I can import E-Mails to DT, but usually what I do is only import the very important ones, or the attachments which are actually what the mail is about; when I import the attachments, I hook back to the original e-mail, just in case I ever wonder where that came from. I do the same when I am working on something - I often take notes in Drafts, and hook them to a document in DT. The notes generally don’t need to be preserved for prosperity, so I don’t keep them in DT (which I try to keep tidy.))

Another advantage of DT is the ease with which you can process PDFs and images. My main use, before I even begin to do any searching, is to convert images, in large quantities, to OCR’d PDFs and them merge these into multipage searchable documents (and splitting them when I have made mistakes!). Finder/Spotlight won’t do that at all. For me, that is enough to justify having DT and the rest is a bonus (big bonus).

After that, it gets interesting, in the sense of how much of the organisation/searching do I do in DT, and how much in Bookends (or whatever reference manager you are using).

I have also taken to archiving emails in DT, because it seems much better at searching than any mail client I have tried.

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Use DT3 to hold articles, spreadsheets, notes and most importantly find them and find connections you forgot about. Open your favorite composing software in split screen, another tab or desktop. For the non-scripty, cut and paste works great.
I could send lots of links to how academics use DT3, but you don’t have time to read them. I am a retired life scientist, unfortunately I didn’t find DT3 until recently. It would have hugely boosted my productivity (once you’ve scaled the learning curve). Now I use DT3 for managing materials related to my diverse interests.


I have been working with DT Pro a couple of years now, published a thesis, couple of books, went to conferences, led project teams and kept track of my personal documents. Over the years, I got rid of any other file structures and just safe everything in my databases, have it handy everywhere, fully and intelligently searchable and, as well important: one-click-backupable.
All that is enabled by DT Pros powerful OCR and Search engine. If you compare prices, that alone justifies the investment.
However, there is so so so much more. “See also and sort”/related documents, hotkeys for changing groups, smart groups, concordances, devonagent integration, full scripting support, email fetch, nested tabs, indexed latex projects, document linking… for years now, I stumble upon new useful features every month and haven’t once experienced, that I wanted to do something, DT wasn’t capable of doing. I love it. Did not at first sight and had the same questions you have for months… but at some point it clicked: There are virtually now limits to what you can do with it.


Thanks again too all for your answers!
If I understand well

  • I still need to have a read-it-later app or can evenI replace Pocket with DTP?
  • I still need to have a reference manager to insert citations in a publications (so basically I need to have all references twice, once in DTP, once in the reference manager)
  • I can use DTP as file storage instead of storing them in a folder structure on the Mac. Once imported into DTP I can delete the an the Mac file system. DTP then does all what you have mentioned in your previous posts.

Is that right?

I think that’s a nice summary. Whether or not you can replace Pocket with DT is a question of personal preference; it would be easy enough to clip/save things to DT and mark them with a Tag “Later”, then collecting them in a Smart Group (or even several, based on additional criteria). That said, I like to use Drafts for things that are either active or haven’t got past the “important enough to go in DT”-barrier. It’s very much a question of your workflow and preferences.

Yes, I think you would do well to keep a reference manager - which one and to what extent you can get them to play together (saving you duplication), I cannot answer - various posts in this forum suggest that some level of intertwining will be possible.

Yes, you can (and I would encourage) use DTP instead of the folder structure on the Mac. I would caution against having a parallel universe here - neither will ever be up to date, with some things in one and some in the other universe. I urge you, however, to review any backup strategy you may have, or to develop one if you haven’t. I posted about mine here and have, in the meantime, added a monthly backup to WORM media.

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In addition to @Blanc comments, DEVONthink has a “Reading List”. Right mouse click on the document, pick “Add to, Reading List”. See page 88 of the DEVONthink Manual. I prefer that instead of adding a Tag (although I can think of reasons I might be better off with tags … choices!)

I use it but only to mark those documents I put in DEVONthink. I have a longer list of web sites/pages I peruse/scan and I use the app Reeder for that, which also has a nice read later feature. I stopped using Pocket a few years ago. So, depending on how you read stuff, you might need more than DT.

At this point, give it all a go and see where you get to. I’ve been using DEVONthink for more than a decade and I continue to learn about and from it.


My strategy for “read later” stuff is, well, I call it “baroque”.

Most of my read later stuff come from Inoreader. Several times in a day, I go to Inoreader and “read” my RSS. As I’m reading fast, I “favourite” ones I want to read later and/or in detail (fast: j for mark as read and go next unread, f for favourite it).

Once at home, I go to my Inoreader favourites and start reading them. If I find something interesting of save it, stop reading, open real website, reading view and CMD-P CMD-D (this is a custom shortcut to send to DT Inbox).

I have my favourites Inoreader RSS exported and imported in DT, so sometimes I directly read in them in DT. If it is interesting, repeat print and save into DT.

My next step is read those in DTTG, delete not wanted, annotate others and go back into DT and “archive” them: I have a database called Scrapbook with a Smart Rule attached to a folder called ZZ_Cache. Then I move from Global Inbox into zz_cache (CTRL-CMD-M, type zz, press enter) and the PDFs are “archived” by year/month/day. I have equivalent for Papers, but those are organised by Tags-into-folders.


(Of course, I don’t do that at same time. Sometimes I accumulate some days in Global Inbox read/unread, or in Inoreader Favourites, and so).

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I’ve increased efficiency on that one: mine is CMD-P CMD-P :smiley:

(Oh, and even in DT you’ve got to have a scrapbook - I’ve got one too :slight_smile: )

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Thanks again, I am enjoying this “conversation” very much and find profit in it. I bought DTP3 yesterday (my trial period was over without me really trying the app) and I am looking forward to using it, together with DevonAgent and DevonSphere. I will have to find my way into all of them. I realize that my learning curve will be steep but I am decided to go for it. Some of you have been writing about a possibly nice interaction with Bookends, I would like to see how that works and eventually migrate for Papers2 to Bookends…

Once I’m here another question: Safari has that nice “Reader” mode. Is there something like that in DTP, too?

Best regards and thanks again,