Is it possible to apply wikilinks/alias to imported PDFs in DevonThink?


I am currently discovering the possibilities of wikilinks and alias. I usually use an external program (Vellum) to create my writings. Once done, I export my writing to DevonThink as PDF. So it will show in DevonThink as PDF.

What would be incredibly useful is if there’s a possibility to have words in that PDF which are wikilinks/alias inside DevonThink to be recognized as such.

Example: in the imported PDF the word “dog” is mentioned. Inside DevonThink, the word “dog” is an alias. Would it be possible to have that reflect as a clickable link in the imported PDF?

This would be amazing for my workflow, as I work in legal and reference to articles/case law in external PDF imported in DevonThink to be recognized as alias would be the best.

Is there any workaround for this or a solution?


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No, currently this is not achievable by any automatic means. Also, development can comment on this if they wish to but it would likely add a tremendous amount of overhead to do and keep things up to date.

Thanks for the quick reply! Much appreciated as I don’t have to search for something that isn’t there!

Do you maybe have a suggestion for any best practices on this how to achieve this with DT?

More concrete: I’m a lawyer and it would be great to have a reference system to articles of the law/case law in DT, and quickly/automatically summon them when working with (mostly) PDF-files inside DT.

Let’s say I’m reading a docx-file or a PDF-file and I see relevant case law, is there an efficient way in DT to (i) recognize that I have made reference inside DT to this article/case law, and (ii) a quick way to access this information in DT?

Much appreciated!

As it’s the first request of its kind I can remember, does any app out there actually support (automatic) Wiki linking for PDF documents?

Thanks for your reply!

I can check, but I thought it was possible when a draft is made inside IAwriter containing alias/wikilinks, then export it to DevonThink while automatic alias/wikilinks enabled and containing the same wikilinks/aliases as in the document, it works automatically. Though I am not using IAwriter anymore so looking for a more robust ‘linking between documents’ way.

It sounds far-fetched I know, though I am mainly looking to find an optimal way to link related documents to a ‘master’ document. For instance, I want all articles/case law mentioned in a document linked to another document in which this get extrapolated in more detail.

Tags is not an option for this, as there’s a lot of articles/case law which are mentioned in many documents, which will get messy.


(i) A large PDF-file talks about a certain law topic.
(ii) In this PDF-file, art. 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 34, and 37 are mentioned.
(iii) Art. 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 34, and 37 are all handled in more detail in a separate document for each article.
(iv) I want to link these separate documents of the articles to the PDF-file, so that I know when reading the PDF-file, I can look into those documents for more detail on these articles.

I’m kind of stuck how to achieve this. These documents probably won’t pop-up in the ‘see also’ section as they may not share in substance a lot, as the ‘only’ similarity in text may be the name of the article itself, (i.e. “art. 3”). It’s also not possible to manually input the “see also” section.

Any best practices/alternatives on this linking would be greatly appreciated.

None, that I’m aware of. Especially as PDFs aren’t text-based, this seems like it would be a lot of heavy lifting to modify the underlying code.

Hi Jim,

I’ve tried it out. Apparently it is possible to have active links inside PDF-files to DevonThink document/tags/groups etc. There are probably other ways as well, but I succeeded with iaWriter.

All I did was insert a x-callback to DevonThink when working with markdown in iaWriter. Then I converted this into a PDF in iaWriter.

After this, it doesn’t matter where/with what program I open the PDF-file, there’s an active link to DevonThink document/tag/group etc.

Please see the screenshot of the PDF, where the red marked words are the active links to DevonThink (page 4, vrijwaringen, Asser).

As you were not aware of this - I thought this may interest you!

Yes, I’m aware of what you described. However, what you can’t trivially do is automatically create hyperlinked text of words in an existing PDF. Isn’t that what you were initially describing?

This reply is confusing because it seems like it’s going in the opposite direction of what your original question asked for … (I’m not trying to be harsh or annoying; I’m just confused about how this addresses the original question.)

@BLUEFROG @mhucka

I’m sorry - you are both right. It was quite late as I was typing this and I thought that I found a solution and enthusiastically posted it immediately. After a night’s sleep I indeed realize it’s exactly the opposite of what I was asking and it’s not the solution to my posted problem at all!

It seems that it is indeed no possible what I was asking originally.

Thanks for your replies!

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No worries and I am guilty of sleep-posting at times too :wink:

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When I started using DEVONthink I also struggled to get my head around how to link PDF to PDF. It still seems inefficient to me to have to create an intermediate text file to link a PDF to a PDF.

Yes, there are ways of manually adding DEVONthink links to PDF’s:

  • The “normal” PDF insert hyperlink mechanism and inserting the DEVONthink link, but this is time-consuming
  • In the Pro edition you can also add custom links, and link to files. I believe these are only 1-1 links, and it’s hard to achieve 1-many with custom links.

I concluded that the easiest way to link documents together is to:

  1. Use an intermediate text file as mentioned above. In that text file you can use DEVONthink links or Wikilinks. This is also how Obsidian operates, via Wikilinks. I tend to avoid Wikilinks as they don’t work outside of DEVONthink, whereas DEVONthink links work everywhere, even on mobile (if you have DTTG installed and the database synced.)

  2. Tags. Lately I am leaning towards using Tags, as these have the advantage of syncing outside DEVONthink into the Finder ecosystem and across Mac/iOS (files need to be in iCloud t be tagged - can’t tag in Dropbox/OneDrive etc). Whilst Tags may not appear suitable candidates for your use case, I suggest you explore them in more detail as they might be the easiest way to create links if you get the naming convention right. You probably wouldn’t want to create a Tag for every case law, but you could create tags for different aspects of the case: Criminal, Commercial, Family, IntellectualProperty, Appeal, Subrogation, etc. You can add a bunch of tags and create a bit of a meshed network that you can then drill into.

I think the challenge in getting a system right for each of us is there are so many possibilities!

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Agreed! :slight_smile: