Moving DEVONthink 3 to a new computer - fresh install of everything

I am moving all my apps and files from a 13" MacBook Pro to a new 16" MacBook Pro. I decided not to use Migration Assistant. I want a fresh install of everything. This is what I think the process would be. Please let me know if I am right — or if there is a step i can omit or a step I need to add. Thanks.

  1. Empty the INBOX folder from the Finder on the old computer into DEVONthink 3.
  2. Sync the old Mac, iPhone and iPad — and turn them off.
  3. Install DEVONthink 3 on the new comput4er — and do the initial set up.
  4. Move the databases from the old computer to the new computer.
  5. Open all the databases on the new computer and sync.

Is there anything I’ve left out?

Thanks again.

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I would recommend to copy the complete folder ~/Library/Application Support/DEVONthink 3 from the old computer to the new one. This folder contains the global inbox, global smart groups/rules, favorites etc.


Thank you. I will do that.

Hi, I am not too literate here but have a new MacBook pro and would like to move just the Devonthink 3 and its data base to the new computer from my Mac air. How do I do this? Thank you. Fresh start, not transferring everything so cannot use Migration Assistant. Simple directions much appreciated. Thank you!

Welcome @ccornell29

Note: This is assuming you’re importing, not indexing files into your databases. If you are indexing files, you’ll have to locate and move those items independently.

On the old machine…

  1. In the Finder, select the ​Go ​menu while holding the ​Option key​, then choose ​Library​.
  2. Go into the Application Support folder and copy the DEVONthink 3 folder ​to an external drive.
  3. Do a Spotlight search for ​kind:database name:dtBase2.
    Select ​Show All in Finder ​in the results to see all the DEVONthink databases you have. (Ignore Inbox.dtBase2 if it appears in the results.)
  4. Copy these files to the external drive.
  5. Properly eject the external drive and connect it to the new machine.

On the new machine…

  1. In the Finder on the new machine, select the ​Go ​menu while holding the ​Option key​, then choose ​Library​.
  2. From the external drive, copy the ​DEVONthink 3​ folder to the Application Support folder.
  3. Move the database files from the external drive to the Databases ​folder in your Home directory.
  4. Download a new installer from here: DEVONtechnologies Downloads and install DEVONthink 3 in /Applications.
  5. Double-click each database file to open them in DEVONthink 3.

Jim, are these instructions still valid, or has any of the inner workings moved? Obviously I have no trouble transferring my databases, but I’d like the settings and especially all my smart rules to remain intact. The seat won’t transfer automatically, I presume?

And might I suggest a menu item that allows a user to export the DT settings, with or without the data?


No, the registration is specific for each computer/seat.

Yes the instructions are still valid.
And this method would also transfer the smart rules.

I used the information you provided in this chain to install (clean) DT3 on a new MacMini (M1). I am now preparing my old MacBook Pro for trade in. I see that DTSync.dtCloud is on my older computer, but not on the new one. The Date Modified for the file is 6/22/18. Do I still need this file, or is the fact that I transferred everything according to your instructions sufficient?

Thanks for your help and great product. I spend my workdays in DT3.

Thanks for the kind comments. It’s appreciated!

I see that DTSync.dtCloud is on my older computer

You see the .dtCloud file where on the old computer?

It’s under the home folder.

That would be a local sync store. Were you using it on the old machine?

The date modified for the file is 6/22/18. If I had been using it, wouldn’t I see a later modified date? I just upgraded to the Mini in the last two weeks and was using the MBP as my primary computer until the end of November. All the databases are on it as well as on my iPad Pro.

BTW Sync on my iPad shows iCloud as the location. I recall looking into this issue several years ago, but have been too busy to keep up with the device/technical side of my work. I seem to recall reading one of your posts regarding online storage of the DTSync and may have followed up on that. June 2018 probably would have been about right for that.

I wouldn’t worry about putting it on the new machine as it’s clearly not been regularly used on the old machine.

Thanks. Much appreciated.

You’re very welcome.

Hi Jim, I am also transferring my database from an old MBP to a new one, but also sync to phone and iPad using iCloud sync store. Would this still be the best way of migrating the database would this be the best way to to that (am also doing a clean install without the migration assistant)?

Yes, I just did this.

Sync all your databases.
Uncheck iCloud sync from preference.

Get an external drive.

copy the folder where all your databases are in, then paste it to the external drive then when you have installed a fresh DT just drag the folder containing the databases and drop it where the DT databases reside.

Open each database then check sync from preference .

Done, like nothing happened.