Import from Mail directly to group?

Just been poking around with Devonthink Pro for a day and it seems to be the sotware tool I have been wanting for a long time to structure my workflow. What I liked especially is the ability to store mail messages alongside documentation and other files in a group dedicated to the one project or the other, but what I couldn’t work out yet, is whether it is possible to directly import a message (from Mail) into a particular group, rather than importing it and then manually relocate it to the necessary group. Is this possible?

Yes, keep an eye on the Scripts topic in this forum, and on new Automators.

But here’s a neat trick that I use.

[1] Select Tools > Show Groups. In DT Pro Preferences, make sure that in Preferences > General the box for “Hide Groups panel when inactive” is NOT checked.

[2] I drag the Groups panel to the right side of my screen, then minimize it to the Dock. It will now be available in most applications.

[3] In Mail, click in the Dock on the Groups panel to make it visible. Select a Mail message. Open it. Press Command-A to select all. Then drag the selected content to the desired location on the Groups panel and drop it. The message will now be stored in DT Pro.

I used DevonThink Pro today at work and dragged and dropped a few emails from Entourage right into a group. No scripts no hassle. I thought that was cool. Well I got home, where I use Apple Mail (Tiger), and tried the same thing but it didn’t work.

Is there something wrong here, or is Entourage better supported?

[scratching head]


There are differences. :slight_smile:
Open a Mail message, click in the body, press Command-A, and drag the selection to a group in DT Pro.

Sure, that works alright, but this way you don’t get the header information (date sent etc.) into DT, which is a major shortcoming of this method. Wouldn’t it be possible to alter the Script “Add message to Devon think” to “Add message to DT to…”?

Agree- Ctrl-A? That kinda kills the whole idea for me. :unamused: Not very intuitive.

“As a real Mac application, DEVONthink is also tightly integrated with the operating system and its frameworks”; Taken from the DevonTHINK Description on it’s homepage.

I don’t know where the developers come off saying that it’s tightly integrated with OS X if Microsoft’s Entourage is drag and drop and Apple Mail isn’t.:open_mouth:

I’ll wait for 2.1. Shame, great program otherwise.

Hey, guys. Entourage and Mail are different programs written in different languages. They don’t behave alike.

There are DT Pro scripts that provide the same input to DT Pro from both programs, i.e, plain text.

Check out what I said about Mail. Open a message (double-click it), click in the body, select all, and drag it to DT Pro. You get everything, headers and all Plus, you get rich text instead of plain text. There are times when I find this useful.

So it’s an alternative. That alternative will be there in version 2 also. :slight_smile:

Sorry, Bill, I tried this method after your first posting and somehow I missed the headers that time - retried it and it works exactly as you say, must have done something wrong that first time. Together with the groups palette, this is not a bad method at all and quite stratightforward - surely this must be scriptable? (Don’t know anything about AppleScript).


Hmmm. I can see that. But, it won’t work if I want to select and drag say 5 mail messages (a non-contiguois selection, i.e. a cmnd-click on 5 messages). I’d have to open each message and ctrl-a and drag five times.

Drag and Drop was, and is, one of the major cornerstones of Mac OSs interoperability features. To ignore it is a shock. I’m all for keyboard shortcuts, but this isn’t one. It’s a critical vulnerability that DevonTHINK should have thought it’s way around before releasing the program.

Sounds like someone is making excuses and offering workarounds instead of just outright saying they couldn’t make it work the way it should. If you are suggesting that the ctrl-a thing is the best way to go, and you aren’t interested in getting drag n’ drop to work, then that limits the usefulness of an otherwise wonderfully innovative program, and also hints at the development team’s tenacity.



It would be challenging to get everything the drag & drop from Mail provides.

Did I mention that it will carry over into your DT Pro database images and file attachments as well? I’ve checked that it will bring over things such as crash logs and PDF files.

Still, the ideal final solution would, in my view, to have the script “Add message to DT” behave in a similar way to the script “Copy selection to” where you are presented with the groups panel and select your destination folder.


I’m not a developer, I’m a user.

I think you have a few too many preconceptions about how OS X works.

What I’ve pointed out are some tips about how to get those extras, such as formating, images and even attachments to a Mail message into your database.There are times when that may be more useful than a plain text copy.

That is most certainly not an excuse. It’s an attempt to be helpful, which you apparently missed.

You are right. Sorry. I Assumed you work for Devon, since it’s in your tag line. Also, I do understand and appreciate your point as far as the rich text drag ability. Tried it and thought, ‘neat’. But it ain’t fast or intuitive. Intuitive is a relative term, but the first time I wanted to get a message into DT, I grabbed my email from Entourage and dropped it into DT without thinking about it. That’s intuitive, and it’s preconceived. So, I hope you see that how preconception and intuition are close relatives :slight_smile:.

As far as my preconceptions about the Mac OS. When I flick a light switch, I expect up to be on and down to be off; hop in a car and the gas is on the right, brake on the left (even in the UK); when i grab a file and drag it to an icon of a program, it opens in that program. I didn’t conceive these idea, I just learned to use the, as the conventions the designers and engineers made and reenforced.

Bottom line, they got it to work in Entourage. It should work the same way with Mail. Stinks that it doesn’t. Thanks for your workaround. I’ll use that till they figure out how to get mail more tightly integrated.

Thanks- Xant

Have you tried dragging a Mail message into TextEdit? Oops. Doesn’t work. The Desktop? Oops. Doesn’t work. Tell you what, try dragging it on DropZone, an application for developers that accepts anything you drag on it. It doesn’t react to a drag from Therefore it’s not a publicly supported drag operation! It’s a shame Apple doesn’t follow the drag and drop paradigm in their own software. It smells bad. A plus for Microsoft’s Entourage to properly support drag and drop.

Please be careful voicing your frustration publicly on a forum without careful research into the (im)possibilities of co-operation between different software. We do try our best to make your life as easy as possible but without co-operation from the writers of other software that you want to use with DEVON products, this would be quite impossible. In this particular case, I’d advice you to send a suggestion to Apple that they should follow their own Human Interface Guidelines for public dragging out of In that case, chances are that without any effort of us, DEVON products will accept drags from Mail.

To be honest, I don’t care so much about drag and drop - I find it a clumsy and highly error-prone way of moving information around. What I would like to see implemented in DT, is a way of moving selected messages with attachments, headers and the like of it into DT through a precise menu action, possibly coupled with a dialogue window in which you choose the destination. Would this be possible to achieve in some sort of way, and if so, does Devon technologies plan to introdcue such a feature?


Your best bet here, where you will have the most amount of control without programming, is to use Automator workflows. A workflow is a good way of automating what you would normally click by hand. If you save these workflows as Script Menu plugins, you would have them available at all times in any application.

Now, I just tried to get the selected Mail messages into a TextEdit document as a test workflow, and I notice that Mail is not allowing me to do this. Again is not being a good citizen in the world of Tiger.

But ideally, a workflow like: [Mail] Get Selected Mail Items → [DEVONthink Pro] Set Current Group → Add Items to Current Group would be your ideal workflow (make the Set Current Group visible).

We’re working on making the inter-operability between application specific data in an Automator workflow to DEVONthink Pro seamless (in the example above we would be able to understand how to get data out of the selected Mail messages). You will see improvements in this area in the coming weeks/months. But as I said in a previous post, we are at the mercy of other software companies in their willingness to co-operate in these exchanges.

Automator unfortunately is out of reach for me, as I am on 10.3.9, and not ready to fork out the cash for Tiger, as it is less than a year ago I bought Panther. Wouldn’t it be possible to do this all through Apple-script so as to have people on 10.3 enjoy the delights of DT as well?

We already have the AppleScripts that you can put in your Scripts Menu that fulfills the same function for Mail apart from the group selection. They will transfer selected mail messages/boxes to DT Pro. In the distribution check out: Scripts/Script Menu/Applications.
Check out on the Scripts forum to help you taylor these script to your specific situation. All that Automator will do is package the different scripts into more versatile building blocks.

Also check out Script Menu in the general Apple help that will show you how to get started with this useful addition to your top menu bar.

Bill kindly offered:

Bill, thank you. (As an inveterate Vertical Split user) I’m embarrassed to say I never really understood the value of the Groups panel until I read your post.


– Paul

Likewise. It all now makes total sense. Thank you!