Moving items to Devonthink that have tags with special characters - special characters are dropped

I have a .pdf that is tagged with several tags

I either drag and drop to DT or I “Share…Add to Devonthing 3” and the tags in the DT Inbox are

  • that is the “:” on :brecht is kept, but the “/” on the other tags are dropped.

Is there a reason for this? And how can I get the “/” to NOT get dropped?

Why are you prefixing the tags in that manner?

well…I’m thinking of using this scheme:

HT Enrique Nahler:
“@” where, context, area of my life
“/” things (what)
“:” who, people
“#” status, when

“*” where, place


  1. What about things that are listened to? Like music or podcasts
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A particular situation shows how it helps:
We have a family member named Summer; I also have some quotes I like to refer to that are about the season summer.
I tag pictures of family member and email from family member Summer with ":"summer or :summer
and I tag quotes of season summer "/"summer or /summer

/ is the separator used for hierarchical tags, e.g. /mainTag/subTag

I tried pre-creating the /quote and the /expandedconsciousness tags in DT thinking the document might pick it up on landing in the Inbox, but no…

meaning that it (“/”) can’t be used in the manner I’m trying to use it?


Thanks for the feedback; I’m disappointed but will work on some alternatives.

Not to get too nerdy, but is there a common or professional “guidebook” of best practices for strategies for tagging - not just in the DT world but as a general reference. I know building or putting the kind of “intelligence” I’m attempting with these special characters has these kinds of gotchas depending on the tool one would select and is not advisable.

Thanks for any guidance you can provided and for your help.

You’re running up against technical issues with your choices in prefixes.
Not only is / a reserved character for creating hierarchical tags but # is reserved for hashtags.
@ is commonly used in other applications to denote a tag by context, but it’s a relic of times when tagging wasn’t actually supported.

It would be a safer bet to use alphanumeric prefixing instead of punctuation.

Also, have you actually implemented and used your suggested schema to see if it gains any traction? Generally speaking tags don’t need prefixing. For example, would you actually be tagging something summer ? Would you also be tagging an email as Summer when the other metadata, e.g., From and To as well as the content, already contains this information?

Good points, all. I’ve just been thru a big effort to get quotes, text snippets out of Apple photos and tag them all; it looks good and feels good. Not sure exactly how useful it will be and am trying it out in as many ways as I can - photos, DT, documents, pdfs, etc. I’ve tried to use DT over the years and this is my latest drop back in to see if it works. I’m really trying to use zettlekasten approach but am betwixt and between on how and where to implement it.

Does it make sense to you? It doesn’t to everyone (myself included).

It does for my reading and “intellectualizing” work; I’m finding that the other things in my life - like listening to music, podcasts, photos, correspondence, ‘experiences’ - it doesn’t work as well and those things tend to muddy the zk work up; I’ve always been a journal writer and that has tended to be a dumping place for everything. Lately, I’ve wanted to be more intentional with my reading and the takeaways from my reading and zk helps me with that. (when I say zk, I mean the zk approach of atomicity and organizing). I’m trying to ‘mature’ my information intake and so I’m exploring many paths.

I appreciate your interest - helps me articulate some of the issues…

Indeed. Sometimes it’s good to talk things out a bit. :slight_smile:

Some years ago, the blogger Macdrifter adopted a practice of creating tags in which the initial letter was simply doubled – so the tag would be ssummer and the name would be summer. Not a complete solution to your scenarios, but …

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I’m interested in any alphanumeric prefixing people are using
I converted my tags to
a Who
c What
e Where
i Important
o When
v Goals/Projects/Tasks

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thanks - a good idea! I also use TextExpander and that is a convention that I’ve tended to use there so it would be ‘familiar’. (I feel I need ‘strategies’ for every tool!)

I was on his podcast years ago :smiling_face: