Learning how to use Devonthink

Morning! I have been using Devonthink for quite a few years, but I am really not sure I know how to use it fully. I discover amazing features once in a while, which leads me to think that I am really only typically scratching the surface. Is there a course you could recommend that would take from the A-Z of devonthink?



Did you have a look at the free eBooks (user handbook and Take Control of DEVONthink 3), see DEVONtechnologies | Handbooks and Extras?

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I’m unaware of any courses, and probably any you can find would be relatively expensive, or not. Don’t know.

Meantime, as you have been using it for a while and to catalyse your thinking, I would recommend you go to DEVONtechnology’s website and do these things for free.

  • grab a copy of the “Take Control of DEVONthink” e-book and read it. Store the file in a DEVONthink database.

  • grab a copy of the “DEVONthink Manual” and skim it, read the good bits that strike your fancy, and remember the content for future reference when you have a question. Store the file in a DEVONthink database.

  • routinely read the Blog

  • look at the Support articles built in to the app, under the “…” thingy in the Sidebar. Read the ones that are new to you and that you are curious about.


Thanks both! All things I routinely forget to do!.. and then when I do remember, I usually find something amazing, and I am struck with “Oh gosh, this is so good why didn’t I know that?!”


There was a post a few weeks ago about how to use Devon*-apps. Maybe this is of help:


I do not want to do a advertisment here but my courses for DevonThink, DevonAgent in English comes out early next year.


There is a Field Guide by David Sparks (macsparky):


I haven’t seen it, but David Sparks has been providing content for the Mac community for a loooong time and is a well-respected figure. His work is usually of a very high standard. You might be able to find a review online.


I’ve been with this company for 11.5 years and I still learn things :slight_smile:


learn.macsparky.com by David Sparks is the one of the best. Also Kourosh Dini - Taking Smart Notes with DEVONthink.


These are all good resources, but the best of all is this forum. Because DT’s feature set is so enormous and its use cases so varied, structured resources such as manuals and online courses (another is DEVONthink for Historians, and on the manual side Joe Kissell’s Take Control of DEVONthink is quite brilliant as a stripped-down guide to core functions) will only get you so far. In particular, there are features not documented in any of the above that you’ll only ever find out about from this forum – such as control-option-command-O to open an Annotation file in its own window, which I use all the time. And users here are constantly figuring out ingenious hacks to do things that even the DT team themselves wouldn’t have thought of; the automation-heads here are a genius bar all of their own.

A couple of minutes a day scanning the Latest view for tasks, topics, and functions that could be of use to you either now or down the line is never time wasted; it might only be once a month that you pick up something life-changing from it, but those moments amply repay the time spent scanning. (My own latest “you can do that?” revelation was @bluefrog’s tip that you can turn an existing file into a document Annotation file by pasting its item link into the URL field in the document’s Info => Generic inspector. Absolute gold. You can even turn Word documents into Annotations!)

Here’s a tip for keeping tabs on these accumulated forum nuggets. Using the current version of the DT manual as your master document, give it an Annotation file in Markdown format (for easy link editing), and whenever you find a useful addendum on the forum, quote or summarise it to that file with a URL link to the original post and an item link to the relevant passage in the manual, stripping out the start and length parameters from the link. (This last detail will enable you to replace the manual with subsequent editions while retaining working links to the relevant passage of the text; see this post for explanation.)


Most shortcuts are shown in the main menu or other menus (in this case in the Annotation popup menu inside the Annotations & Reminder inspector), by the way.

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Absolutely – there are lots of features like this that you can find by systematic (or entirely unsystematic) exploration, but which don’t make it into manuals or online courses. Keyboard shortcuts are a case in point; there’s a good roundup in the manual, but it’s not exhaustive, and even the CheatSheet app doesn’t catch them all (including this one, as it happens).

I find out things all the time. Everything I do is in DEVONthink 3 and yet I learn new things quite often, once a month probably.
Sometimes I don’t really know how something works really but I do use the function. For example though I never keep things in it, I think I was told not to at some point, I don’t really understand the Global Inbox at all. Or why it isn’t in my ‘database’ folder. I do use it all the same and then move stuff out of it, I assume that is what it is really for?

Recently I realized that I had more or less unconsciously learnt to open documents in various ways. Three ways once I have selected a writable file, sometimes I just need a glimpse. I press spacebar it gives some whatever it does, then command + O gives me usually an editor if it is text doc, markdown sometimes in what I assume is the native editor, then Command + shift + o gives me my preferred editor, Typora at present if I want to work on it a bit.
I have been doing this for some time but only realized what I was doing recently really.


It’s excellent. The great thing about David Spark’s Field Guide at learn.macsparky.com is that it’s composed of videos that demonstrate what he’s talking about, and takes you step-by-step through DEVONThinks features.


I discovered some helpful videos from ScreenCast Online. Here’s a link to the DT3 videos offered there. Much more introductory in nature but I did pick up a few tips from the site. ScreenCastsOnline Search

The MacSparky Field Guide is well presented and covers almost every aspect of DT3. I found it useful – although perhaps a bit pricey. Sparks is an excellent “teacher” and easy to listen to…


My brain went, in order: “What’s an annotation file?!”, “What?!”, “There’s a cheatsheet app companion app?!” I have some catch up to do, apparently!
I think one of the best feature of DT is… its community, really! :slight_smile:
Thanks a lot!

I can also thoroughly recommend Kourosh Dini. I haven’t finished his smart notes book yet, but the course on mindful productivity is amazing.

Have a fantastic rest of the week!


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I’ve just noticed that CheatSheet seems no longer to be downloadable from Media Atelier, though it can still be found here; I hope it hasn’t been discontinued. It plays very well with Houdah’s CustomShortcuts, which still links to the old page. Both are free.

Sweet! Thanks!!

They announced earlier in the year that it was not compatible with Sonoma and they were discontinuing it. They recommended users switch to KeyCue instead. (I haven’t, I personally decided to go without for now.)

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