Trying to understand saved search and not understanding the logic. I have a series of saved searches, each for tracking my progress on a specific project. Each name starts with "Next Step: “. When I put that as the search criterion It works - mostly. It also brought in “blah blah the next step blah blah”. I tried adding command plus to add a nested NOT but apparently this is not how DTPO operates? I can nest operations but I don’t see any NOT, only ANY and ALL.

I also tried the following, ("Next Step: ") (NOT " Next”) thinking that if I had the word Next preceded by a space that should kill It in my results. But all this does is yield an empty search result.

How is logic to be used in a search to gain results based on THIS but not THAT?


Could you post a screen print of your settings panel for the smart group created with you saved search – it would help with understanding. The panel that looks like this:

Sure thing … This shot shows the first result as what I want, there are several notes such as; “Next Step: MUSICIAN goals, Next Step: MINISTRY goals, Next Step: PHOTOGRAPHY goals, etc.” I set this up to track each project’s progress.

The second line is what I do not want to include, “Take the next step with … “. I have been trying to come up with a search criterion that just includes the Next Step: with the colon and the space after - no space before It. I thought putting the work “NEXT” with no space before It would at lease exclude this current added result.

Of course when I learn better how this works I can fine tune It.


Post Script: One might also ask why the first line allowed the extra results since It had a colon after the word and inside the quotation marks? The second result has no colon after “Step"?

DEVONthink searches for text are based on alphanumeric characters. Punctuation marks and almost all other non-alphanumeric characters are treated like the space “character”.

There’s an appendix in the PDF user documentation manual and in the Help files that provides an overview of searches, including syntax and operators.
Properly, your query should be the exact string “next step” instead of “next step:” (an exact string, or phrase, is indicated by enclosure within quotation marks).

As this phrase also appears in a document you didn’t want to see, I doubt there’s a reliable way to define the text criteria to eliminate such documents from the results list. Why? Because, unless you can be certain that the unwanted documents always either contain text that doesn’t occur in the desired documents, or the converse, I can’t think of a logical approach to filtering out undesired documents that’s based on text alone.

Of course, it you assign a tag or label to categorize items, that would work. Labels and tags (and some other metadata of documents), unlike colons, are searchable in DEVONthink.

As the late Senator Russell Long famously observed, “there are more ways to kill a cat than by stuffing it with butter.” He was talking about writing tax legislation, not document searches. But the principle holds. :slight_smile:

That’s good to know. Only alphanumeric characters and not spaces, colons, etc? Well butter my cats. I guess I will have to find what I am looking for, mark It with a tag and then I will always know where It is. Unlike some cats I have known. :slight_smile: