iCloud drive: Indexing produces no results

I’ve used DEVONthink Pro Office for some time, but just starting to get into some of the more powerful features, in particular indexing external drives.

I used File/Index to create indexes for Dropbox and for one of my network drives - great results. But when I do the same for iCloud Drive I get…nothing. An iCloud Drive folder appears, but it is empty.

I’m sure I am missing something obvious. Can anyone help, please?

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33 views and zero replies. I wonder if this means that a lot of people have this problem and no one knows how to fix it…

Maybe someone could comment, please, if iCloud indexing is working ok for them?

It does not work for me either. I get a nice iCloud icon but nothing inside, although I have rtf and txt documents inside, among other files in Finder.

This may explain the problem…

I use PathFinder as a Finder replacement. I’ve included icloud in the left panel of PF the same way Finder includes a link to icloud. However PF cannot list most of the folders in my icloud, and the same has occured for other users. In their forum, PF tech support has indicated that there is no API for iCloud and they had the conjure up their own code to access what they could inside iCloud. They hope Apple will provide an API soon. This may explain DT’s inability to Index.

Thanks, folks, for the replies. Interesting that this seems to be a problem for others too.

DEVON technologies say that indexing of iCloud Drive is supported. See: devontechnologies.com/press/ … 5562f.html which says that “Version 2.8.2 of all editions of DEVONthink fully supports indexing files and folders stored in iCloud Drive. An additional script indexes all user-generated folders on iCloud Drive without manually adding folders or documents to the database.”

I’ve got 2.8.2 and the additional script installed, but nothing is showing. I’m logged into iCloud on my Mac, but maybe DT needs its own login, too?

The thing in the Finder sidebar that Apple calls “iCloud Drive” is not a Dropbox-like mapping between folders on your Mac to storage in Apple’s iCloud. The documents that appear in “iCloud Drive” are actually stored in ~/Library/Mobile Documents. You could index ~/Library/Mobile Documents but you’ll probably end up with a series of groups in DEVONthink named “Documents” that don’t reflect the names of folders in Mobile Documents, or in the Finder sidebar’s pseudo folder “iCloud Drive”. (And you also run the risk of inadvertently changing documents and folders that affect apps and features on your iOS devices – indexing Mobile Documents has more downside than upside.)

DEVONthink’s Scripts > Index > iCloud Drive script assumes that this location is going to work as the path to your iCloud files

~/Library/Mobile Documents/com~apple~CloudDocs/

and it does – sort of – on some machines. (Over here, an app I installed – Quiver – broke that path by overwriting with Quiver’s malformed alias the aliases to other iCloud “folders” that once were there. Thus, DEVONthink doesn’t “find” anything in that folder. This is the kind of damage that an app can do to iCloud Drive that affect what you see in DEVONthink. DEVONthink can’t do anything about it.)

John Siracusa’s detailed review at Ars Technica of Yosemite notes:

As @pvonk notes, PathFinder invented some acrobatics to emulate iCloud in it PF’s sidebar in a manner similar to Finder. Over here, what PF should for “iCloud Drive” has little to do with what Finder shows, and even less to do with what’s actually inside Mobile Documents. PF on the left, Finder on the right:

I suspect DEVONtech will continue to work at making its indexing of iCloud Drive work – but will always be up against Apple’s desire to hide from users most of iCloud and its workings.

That’s great information, korm. Many thanks!

I guess the folder structure isn’t important, as the point - to me anyway - of the iCloud Drive index in DT is to be able to find data in documents that are stored in iCloud. So if I index the obscure folder that you mentioned, well, that should accomplish that result - right?


Assuming the OS is Yosemite and not Mavericks, the challenge is that you cannot navigate inside the ~/Library/Mobile Documents folder from DEVONthink’s Index command. What you see is a folder icon with no way to navigate inside the folder. You see the same thing in the the Finder if you attempt to navigate inside ~/Library/Mobile Documents. With Mavericks, it was possible to browse the mobile documents folders if the Finder was set to show invisible files and folders.

What is possible, using Path Finder, is to create an alias of the mobile documents folder(s) that one wants to index in DEVONthink, drag the alias folder(s) to the desktop, index the alias folder(s) in DEVONthink, then delete the alias of the folder(s). The index in DEVONthink will continue to work.

Or one could use Dropbox (or other cloud storage provider) for document storage, which is pretty much what I have reverted back to from my experiment with iCloud Drive. I’ve found it to be a much more reliable means of indexing documents into DEVONthink.

One thing that I neglected to mention, if you do successfully index iCloud Drive folders to DEVONthink, you will not be able to actually delete documents from the iCloud Drive filesystem. You can ‘delete’ the documents in DEVONthink, and they will move to the DEVONthink Trash. However, when you empty the Trash the user does not get the normal option to delete files only from the database or also from the filesystem. The documents are gone from the database, but they are still present in the iCloud Drive folders. The next time the index is rebuilt, the ‘deleted’ documents reappear in the DEVONthink database. Just another big reason why indexing iCloud Drive folders into DEVONthink may not be the best choice at this point. Hopefully, this will change as Apple continues to tweak iCloud Drive.

Here’s an irony: in Windows 8.1 the Apple-provided iCloud client for Windows exposes the entire contents of all iCloud folders in Windows Explorer. In other words, Apple did a better job of integrating Windows with iCloud than it did with OS X. :unamused:

Thanks for all this very helpful information.

I guess I’m confused/disappointed about DEVONtechnologies’ claim that iCloud Drive is indexed by DEVONthink. It seems like a big overstatement to me - but I’m happy to be corrected if someone from DT would like to comment…

I’m disappointed as well. I just spent some time trying to make it work and I will now have to change my workflow because it doesn’t really work as advertised.

Has there been any progress on this problem? I am also unable to index my icloud drive. Thanks, A

There have been changes in the operating system since this discussion happened. We are looking into the issue to see if it can be satisfactorily resolved.

Note that apps that put data into iCloud Drive automatically are problematic. If you put data there yourself, you should be able to index it properly.

The script indexes only files/folders added by the user (e.g. via the Finder) to iCloud Drive, it doesn’t index files/folders saved by apps.

Thanks for the reply. Does this mean that we should not expect indexing for app generated folders in the future too? My problem is that I want to index all my pdf articles and books that Bookends places in iCloud (so it is an app generated folder with attachments). Apparently, the attachment folder of Bookends in iCloud needs to be application-generated in order to automatically sync with ios devices. Bookends also allows you to generate the attachment folder on your own (independently of iCloud) but then you lose automatic iOS syncing (you can still sync via wifi but it is no longer automatic and this is a feature I like to have).

The only possibility at the moment is to index the desired folder (or ~/Library/Mobile Documents) on your own.

Thanks Christian, this seems to be working. I have more than 8000 pdfs so the indexing has been working all day but it’s not finished yet. I am surprised that this ‘solution’ to iCloud indexing is not easily available in the forum or help sections of DT. Is there any downside to indexing this way or am I good to go?

The documents aren’t editable but this shouldn’t be an issue in case of Bookends attachments.

Is there a roadmap to revolve this? I would like to index a large folder of PDFs which Bookends places automatically in iCloud. DTP refuses to index it. Thanks.