Items disappear from folders, and end up in database's inbox

I am trying out DevonThink3. I have a data base, with replicants. When I click on one of its folders, the items in it appear in the item list area, as expected. When I try to use the down or up arrows to move to the next item on the list, it disappears from the folder/group! I thought it was totally missing, but I later realized that it’s then listed in the inbox for that database. I’m glad to find it, but how I have to re-sort it back to its folder/group.

Am I missing something? Am I making it do that because you not supposed to use the arrow keys to navigate through item lists? Is this a setting? I’m perplexed.

I’ve just tried this - I can navigate using the arrow keys as expected. Furthermore, I know of no shortcut for returning a file from a group to the inbox of that database. I have not seen anybody else here mention this phenomenon. And I can’t find any setting in the preferences along the lines of “behave in a totally weird, counterintuitive fashion” :crazy_face:

I’m not sure whether I can help, but the answers to couple of questions might point us in the right direction (or maybe help others to help):

  • you mention your database has replicants; any special reason you mention that?
  • pls can you select a file in a group in a database where the phenomenon occurs and open the inspector (⌘⇧i), preferably pasting the resulting inspector window here (or otherwise providing the location w/ path, and the instances)?
  • pls can you then “move” the file as you have done with the arrow key, locate and select it again, again open inspector and paste the result (or otherwise providing the location w/ path, and the instances)?
  • do you have any software which modifies keyboard inputs, provides shortcuts etc.?

Are you looking in a smart group with items having an unread status?

Thank you for your reply. So, it doesn’t always do it. But I can get it to replicate. I’ll be moving down the item list with the down arrow, and go past a few and all is fine, and then --poof–something ‘disappears’. As mentioned above, it actually pops over into the inbox for that database. Just now 3 items moved at once. I confirmed my in-box was empty, and 42 items were in the group folder. Then as I moved down with the arrow key, something changed. I looked in the in-box and nothing was there. I quit, restarted and 3 items were in my inbox and 39 in my items list. This was happening yesterday, and still today. Even as I prepare this note, I keep getting things popping into my inbox for the sims db.

Regarding your specific questions:

  1. I have a a db called literature that is indexing my folder where all my PDFs are put by Mendeley, a reference software. I started a new db called Sims for a specific project, and was trying to cull the relevant articles into it and its groups with keyword searches, etc. Because the files in the literature db is already indexed items (not duplicates) of the original PDFs (to save space on my HD) I wasn’t sure what would happen if duplicated an indexed item… and I didn’t want to move it out of the literature db (I’m new to DT3, so this might be a bad idea altogether…feel free to tell me).

  2. I’ve attached some screen shots to illustrate the group/folder properties; the properties of one file in it.

  3. I can’t exactly do this, because it’s as i move down the list using the arrow key that when I get to a doc it is the one list item that pops into the in-box, and that happens so fast I can’t catch it in the group and see properties. It’s never the same item, or the same spot in the list. I just got it to replicate the issue now. The first time it was the 11th doc I arrowed down to and 1 item popped into the in-box. Then the next time it was the 9th item, but 7 items popped into the inbox together. Nevertheless, I attach a pic of the properties of the inbox, and then one the items that popped into it.

  4. No I don’t have any special software that modifies keyboard inputs.

Right now I’m on the free trial of DT3, trying to figure out if this is useful for my needs and if I should buy it. But this it just weird and would be frustrating to deal with. It’s scaring me off after I’ve already invested a lot into trying to learn about DT3 and see if it will help me.

I appreciate your help @Blanc. @BLUEFROG no I am not. I haven’t even made any smart groups. Thank you!

I continue to be able to replicate the issue and in several different groups. Just now, as I click on each item, with 3 in a row it popped over to the in-box. Now that I know where to look, I don’t have to quit and restart to ‘find’ them there.

Here is a weird thing. In the sidebar, groups are supposed to show how many things are in them, right? In my group/ folder called grant, the sidebar says it has 1 item in it. But when I click on the group name to see its contents, in the toolbar it says I have 42 items. Maybe DT3 is confused about items’ locations and when I select them, it ‘fixes’ their location.
Screen Shot 2020-07-26 at 8.28.48 PM

Also, in another group, I have a document that its properties says has 1 copy but it says it’s in another group. And yet another item that in the properties pane says it’s in inbox.

Perhaps this is all because I’ve indexed originals, but then used replicants of those indexed items? Or should I not make my groups be tags? Somehow I’ve confused my databases!

Thank you for any suggestions. I otherwise can’t use this to do any work if files keep popping into new locations–even if now I see where they are going and can put them back. It’s very disruptive to the work flow!

Depends. They can also report the number of unread items. I think that’s a preference you can set.

Apart from that: your group grants is not really a group, it seems, but a tag (per the icon in the screenshot). The same goes for the other “groups” in your screenshots. The only real group I seem to be seeing is “Annotations”.

Why are you even paying any attention to what DT’s inspector says about the “location” of the record? Wouldn’t it be more useful to concentrate on the left sidebar? I don’t believe that the location down in the inspector is of any relevance.

As to your workflow of indexing and then replicating files: I’m not sure that that’s a sensible approach. But others here might know more about it.

It’s a “Group Tag” (page 9 of the DT manual), which behaves as a group.

I can’t actually explain the behaviour you are describing; I’ve never used “Group Tags”, but it seems obvious the behaviour you describe should not be occurring. Replicants exactly mirror the behaviour of the original; i.e. if you remove a tag from one, it would be removed from the other (i.e. a replicant is simply a link, if I understand the principle correctly). If you actually have made replicants of indexed files (I#m not convinced - the document "Clark - 2007.pdf shows a duplicate, not a replicant), is it possible that the tag is being removed from the original? Is anything else (a smart rule or something) acting on tags?

In “Group Tags” documents moved into the group are tagged, and that tag is removed if the document is removed from the group. What I don’t know is whether the same works the other way around - i.e. removing the tag will remove the document from the group. Currently that’s my guess - and I’m guessing when you look at your “Group Tag” called “grant” it shows all documents which it used to contain, and as you go through the documents it removes those which are no longer tagged “grant” (i.e. it’s not real-time updating at the moment the tag is removed). @BLUEFROG would the group behave like that? I haven’t got any group tags, and don’t want to change a database to try… :confused:

These are only ideas - I’ve not experienced what you are describing and personally use a completely different database structure (not better or worse, just a different decision).

If you have unread items, the count in the sidebar will show the number of unread items in bold type. If you have no unread items, the count in the sidebar will show the total number of items in standard type.

Thank you @Blanc for thinking about it.

I too came up with someone to try and did the following: I just moved all these Group Tags (groups/folders) back to my main literature db. So far nothing has disappeared as I navigate up and down the list–although it removed duplicates in that group tag folder.

I then made it a folder (excluded from tagging) and put it into a different db. The number of items remained the same, and I could navigate the list and nothing moved.

If anyone has any further explanations or different suggestions of how to keep all ref material in one db (indexing the originals), and then create additional means of how to group in folders meaningful sets of reference materials while doing a specific project or paper, by all means please suggest.

Thank you


One of the most useful features of DEVONthink, in my view, is “Copy Item Link” (under the Edit menu, shortcut Ctrl-Opt-Cmd-C). I use this all the time to get a link that I can put almost anywhere, and will take me to the original file in the database. I use Bookends as my bibliographic manager of choice, but in some respects it is similar to Mendeley. I also have an Attachments folder containing pdfs and other files, which is “supervised” by Bookends, and which I index with DEVONthink. Basically, the only thing I will do to those files in DEVONthink is to tag them or annotate them. I think of that indexed folder as my “Library” and if I want to consult an item, I go there. An item link that I have pasted into a text will take me to the original very quickly. Of course, there is nothing to stop one from duplicating items from the Attachments folder and moving them wherever you like, and that is one way of working, but I prefer having one canonical location for source materials. Another approach is to use tagging as a way of tying together material for a particular project, and I do that quite a lot. If you look around, I think you can probably find discussions of hierarchical tagging, of the form project01:chapter01, project01:chapter02, and so forth. DEVONthink is a complex program, and it takes a while to get to grips with it. We all have to work out ways of working with it, and it can take time to establish a workflow.

Good luck with it!

PS: you don’t say what field you are working in, but you might find this (rather old) blog about DT and history of some use: I used DT in researching my thesis on psychology and history.

I thought a screenshot might be useful. Here I have created an RTF file in DT, which has item links to articles listed in my Attachments folder. Clicking on the links in the RTF should take me straight to the original.

I used to use iThoughts quite a bit (less now) and I found I could put an item link in a mind map, and clicking on the link would open DT and the individual file, which I found very convenient. If I remember correctly, this even worked on my phone, with DTTG installed.

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