Move items between databases and keep timestamp?

Hi Community,
I want to spilt up a database into multiple databases for better collaboration on certain topics. Therefore I have to move items from the old to the new databases. The items then get marked as „added“ with the date I moved them to the new database but I would like to keep the original date added because because some sorting automations.
Is there a way to keep the original date I added the item to the first database and not get a new timestamp for the move to the new database?

Thanks for any help!
Best, Frank

This isn’t possible, the addition date is database specific.


Thank you for the answer despite I was hoping this would be possible.

Does anybody from the community maybe has a workaround to accomplish this?

As @cgrunenberg said, it’s not possible since adding data to a new database has a new Date Added value for the files.

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A workaround I use for this is to have the date added to the file, in my case my scanner adds this to the filename as a prefix (and serves as a pseudo-unique number as time is also added).

Wouldn’t it be possible to add the import date in a custom meta-data field?

As the Addition Date ist database specific and cannot be altered you might ponder sorting your data by something else but the Addition Date.

I am fully aware that when someone asks “How can I do X?” then “Try Y instead!” is exactly the kind of answer one does not want to get. And I have no doubt that you already have considered—and turned down—alternative sortings.

And despite of knowing this I dare to continue because hopefully my suggestions are at least a bit helpful for you:

  1. If the file names do not matter that much you could change the names of the files you want to move in the source database from Name to Sortable Addition Date[space]Name. This can easily be done by a manually applied Smart Rule. Then you could sort your data in the target database by Name and not by Addition Date. You could use the same Smart Rule but now activated On Create to rename every new file in the new database.

  2. You could alter the Creation Date or the Modification Date of the files in the source database to the Addition Date and then sort the data in the new database by either Creation or Modification Date. You would have to find out first which fits best to your workflow.

  3. You could use a script to set some unused metadata field of the files in the source data base to the Addition Dates of the files and sort by that metadata field in the new database. Again a Smart Rule could automatically fill that meta data field with every new file’s Addition Date. I have never tried it but if I got the manual correctly scripts can work with custom metadata fields. And of course it would be better if you used your own Old Addition Date (or whatever you like to call it) metadata value instead of misusing an existing one.

All these suggestions circle around one point: It is not possible to set the Addition Date of the files in the old database to the Addition Date of the files in the new database. But there are ways to preserve and to move the old Addition Dates to the new database and therefore to sort by them. It’s just the question where to store the old Addition Dates. And if sorting by the Addition Date is really so critical it justifies the effort.

EDIT: Okay, I was too wordy once again. Cambrian’s posting is the prove that all of this can be said in only three lines.


Hi suavito,
thanks a lot for your ideas and suggestions on this topic! Very appreciated!

It looks like I have to learn how to script. But I have some other ideas for my workflows in Devonthink so I wanted to learn it anyway.
For the first steps I will play around with some smart rules and see how far I will get…

thanks again!
Best, Frank