Migrating from Evernote to DEVONthink 3: best practices

This question is a bit different than others have asked.

After 13 years and 11,000 notes, I’m migrating from Evernote to a more robust platform.

I have in Evernote:

  • 60 notebooks
  • Arranged in 4 Stacks: Projects, Area, Resource, Archive
  • Tons of tags


  • Should I arrange these in 4 Databases (to match my Evernote Stacks) or a Database for each Notebook?
  • Is it better, in terms of note formatting preservation, to create and select a Database, then File > Import > Notes from Evernote… (which opens a window of Notebook page for selection) -or- export each Notebook from Evernote to a .enex file, and then File > Import > Files and Folders… and select the .enex file?
  • Database organization is largely a personal matter or constrained by a collaborative setup. You should set it up how it makes sense to you.
  • Either option is fine but if you’re using DEVONthink’s import mechanism, I would suggest you don’t try to import all 60 notebooks at once.

Thanks @BLUEFROG. I’m digging my way through the documentation, and don’t understand the trade-offs between a single db, or 60. I suspect something like the 4 Evernote “Stacks” might be a good way to start, right?

Based on names of the stacks you were using, each could be groups of tags in a single database or single database per stack.

Create a database and try it out. You’ll learn best by doing and getting a feel for things.

Similar experience here. Migrated from EN to DNT a year ago. 12 years, 99’500 notes, 40 Notebooks, roughly 100GB. Lots of tags, topics not nicely sorted, always relying on EN’s search capabilities.

I tried various things: Direct import initiated from DNT, Exporting ENEX from EN and “opening” from DNT. What I can say is that the process is a lot smoother since DNT 3.6., now even a database of > 70 GB got imported. Needs patience, though.

I concur Bluefrog’s suggestion to experiment a little with one database or some EN notes in it. Once I felt comfortable I mostly dropped the use of tags in DNT, as searching is so much more comfortable and powerful in DNT. And there is the best customer support on the planet.

The whole process took me about a week (between Xmas and New Year). I still keep EN, but I look at it at most once/month, mostly because of a notebook shared with my wife.

Good luck


I must agree on the customer support: it tipped me in deciding on DEVONthink over another EN alternative.


Can you add more detail as to the replacement of tags with searching
For example, I produce budget/expense reports using tags Type-Receipt, Budget-aaaaaaa, Project-bbbbbbb

Database organization may also depend on your sync preferences. You may want to sync some data “On demand” and other data always. That implies that you need a separate database for each categorie.

This is somewhat equivalent to offline notebooks in Evernote

I think I worked in Project-bbbbbbb. Wasn’t that the one regarding attaching lasers to shark’s heads? :thinking::stuck_out_tongue:

Indeed and there are people who create databases just for syncing to DEVONthink To Go.

To file emails or documents I used to tag them appropriately in EN and then search for the tag. With DNT, I rely on creating groups to file emails and documents, and then replicate items into several groups in case (in the EN analogy) there would be several tags they need to be associated with. In doing so I use smart groups extensively (especially with “time based” functions, e.g., all groups that have been worked on during the last nn days, etc.). I also use the “see also & classify” inspector to file appropriately, which is astonishingly accurate. When searching you can really narrow down through the many “attributes” like dates, file extensions, etc. Works for me.

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My EN tags converted automatically to DT tags (special groups)
My workflow hasn’t changed

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If you’re using the PARA method, and you have a ton of data, it might make sense to put the archive on an external hard drive (kind of like cold storage), then if that’s a separate database, it’s its own chunk of data that doesn’t have to take up space anywhere else.

I have created separate databases that are just large projects so I can search terms and help me to write papers. You could create separate databases for different areas even in the PARA system.

In my mind, it can make sense to have all kinds of different sizes depending on the need of the project. It’s like one more layer up from the system.

One of the advantages of Devonthink is that you can create infinite numbers of group layers (unlike Evernote), and a database in a lot of ways is just one more layer, just the other way.

Welcome @jape2116

Well said. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. :slight_smile:

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