Moving indexed folders in Devonthink means I can no longer open them in Devonthink or Mac Preview because I don't have permissions

Hi All, I’ve encountered a problem early on using Devonthink 3 Pro. I am using multiple indexed folders full of PDF papers. I want to organise these but have a problem where the PDF’s no longer show in Devonthink 3 viewer window after moving the folder or individual PDF in Devonthink to a new location in my folder structure Devonthink folder structure.

Even worse, after moving a folder or PDF it will move in my finder structure, as I want, but when I try and click on the PDF in finder to open in Preview I get the message ‘The file XXX couldn’t be opened because you don’t have permissions to view it’ ‘To view or change permissions, select the item in the Finder and choose File > Get Info.’

Before moving in Devonthink I can view the PDF’s fine in all Preview, Finder and Devonthink without any problem

This is causing me to have 100’s of PDF’s I can no longer open in anywhere, Devonthink or Preview…

Any advice would be appreciated

Agent Badger

What’s the path of the indexed folder containing the PDF documents now? And did you check its permissions in the Finder’s Info panel?

After moving the PDF or subfolder in Devonthink Pro (let’s call this PDF X) it moves to a new subfolder or the whole subfolder I moved looks to have moved correctly in my main PDF folder. This main folder is all already indexed in Devonthink. The moved subfolder and PDF X can be seen in Devonthink Pro in its new location and it can be seen in finder in its new location. But I cannot open it in either Devonthink, Finder or Mac Preview. I have read and write permissions for this PDF X, the folder it is in and all above folders in its folder structure.



Which version of macOS do you use? And where are the indexed items located in the filesystem?

I am using MacOS Mojave 10.14.5
Indexed item location, example from one PDF I can no longer open, I could prior to moving in Devonthink: /Users/me/Documents/information/Papers to sort/News Article & web stories/Malaclemys 2007 Maryland publicity/malaclem 2007 0903c muddy feet award.pdf

Thank you

And the item was indexed and is still located in this folder or was it moved into the database? Is the Documents folder synchronized via iCloud (see System Preferences > iCloud > iCloud Drive)?

The PDF X is still in finder, moved in finder to its new location. It is indexed in Devonthink and has not been imported into Devonthink. The document folder is not synchronised via iCloud.

I’ve run the test on another PDF. This one was originally at this location:

/Users/me/Documents/information/Papers to sort/papers to sort/Anatomy 2007 righting ability supplement captions.pdf

Indexed in Devonthink, I moved it in Devonthink, dragging it into a new folder location. The PDF moved in Devonthink, and in finder is at this new location. Which is where I want it for now.

/Users/me/Documents/information/Papers to sort/News Article & web stories/Anatomy 2007 righting ability supplement captions.pdf

But now I cannot open the PDF in Devonthink or Preview, in preview I am told I don’t have permission. To view or change permissions, select the item in the Finder and choose File > Get Info. In the Get Info it says I still have read and write permissions.

Thank you cgrunenberg for your help and quick response.


And do you have read/write permissions for the enclosing folders too?

yes, for all folders at all levels containing the PDFs in question. I am just applying privileges to all folders, subfolders and docs again to make sure. Its taking some time as over 2million items

Does this only happen inside the Documents folder, e.g. do other indexed folders work as expected? Or does it work using a second, clean user account (see System Preferences > Users & Groups)? A screenshot of System Preferences > iCloud > iCloud Drive > Options… might be useful.

I may be mixing up things, but I have the feeling that this problem may be related to this:

Since I upgraded to Catalina, I recurrently lose the ability to open pdfs in Preview. The solution indicated in the post works:

diskutil resetUserPermissions / id -u
/System/Library/Frameworks/CoreServices.framework/Frameworks/LaunchServices.framework/Support/lsregister -kill -r -domain local -domain system -domain user

but it works for a few hours or sometimes days and fails again.

It is not always related to using Devonthink, but whenever I use it, the permissions problem comes back.

Thank you

Which version of Catalin do you use? And do you use a regular or admin user account?

ok, so its been a long process, but it seems to be fixed. The problem was with my disk permissions on my MacBook Pro. I ended up spending hours on the phone to apples technical support. Even though I have admin user permission to read and write, and we tried to reset permissions on all levels of the drive, nothing could be done to fix this.

In the end I had to back up my computer files in safe mode. Make a complete fresh reinstall of Catalina (not from time machine) and reinstall all my apps and files. this seemed to work. I have permissions again for the poblem PDFs.

Bottom line, this was probably not an issue directly caused by Devonthink, but moving and renaming document in Devonthink brought it to light.

Thank you for your help in trying to fix this cgrunenberg.