New DTPO User From Evernote

Hello all,

I am long-time heavy user of Evernote Premium. From the recommendations and influence of Mac Power Users Forum, I am considering DEVONThink Pro Office. I am trying to understand it but still having a hard time wrapping my mind around it. I am also a perfectionist and hate wasting time through several cycles.

Where do users store their database? (default Documents?)
Does that mean all my files/PDFs/etc that are in my Evernote notes will now have to be stored locally on my computer?? (that would be a big turn-off)

In Evernote, this is my setup…
-!nbox Notebook (everything goes in here before it gets sorted to the appropriate notebook/tag
-Cabinet Notebook (work notes)
-Personal Stack (which contains 10 different notebooks - each one is area of my life)
-Projects Stack (contains 4 notebooks)
-Reference Stack (contains 10 notebooks)
-Lectures Stack (contains 11 notebooks by year)

In DTPO…am I copying that same structure with databases?

  • I imported all 4 notebooks from my Projects Stacks…didn’t quite understand how I have more notes than I do in Evernote.

Why is it all so confusing!!! Ahhhhhhh

The advocated place is a folder in your Home directory, like ~/Databases.

Databases and data will be stored locally or a connected external drive.

That’s your choice, not a mandate. If you want to do that, then go for it. If you want to make a database for each, you can do that too. Or if you want a bit of both, that’s also possible.

It’s due to the mechanism provided by Evernote for us to import. It has to treat the notes differently than their application.

Umm… because it’s not Evernote. It’s DEVONthink. :mrgreen: If you expect it to be like Evernote (or any other application), you’ll almost certainly confuse yourself. Don’t approach it with preconceived ideas and you’ll fare better. And trust me, DEVONthink is far simpler than you imagine (even if it can be used in very complex ways).

Thank you for the reply. Is it possible to store my Database in any of the following?


What are you recommendations?

No. You should never put your databases in any cloud-synced folder (including the Documents or Desktop folders if you are using the disk management feature in macOS 10.12 Sierra and higher). ​Never.

Yes, this is feasible.

Until last week I buy my last iMac (2TB Hard Disk), I had all my indexed items (about 300 GB) in my Synology without any problem. Now this iMac is the “Server” with all files stored in iCloud Drive without local optimization.

The only “issues” (quoted because they really aren’t issues) having your main files in a NAS are:

*Speed. It is not the same a local file system than a remote one (even if it is a 1GB network share). Each time you browse in a indexed folder, DTPO searches for changes (this can be disabled, but then you have other disadvantages, and cannot be disabled by folders). It is not painfully slow (even with thousands of files), but you notice the delays.

*Network disconnections so and then. You will have grayed most of your files in DTPO, but once you restore connection they become available. (And I think DTPO tries to reconnect, not sure, but sometimes you must reconnect manually in Finder).

If you can afford it, and have enough local disk, at least in one Mac, is to have all your files in iCloud, index them and have the sync database in other place like Dropbox. I said enough disk space because if you select optimize files in iCloud configuration, once macOS starts to remove the local files, they start being removing from DTPO.

My current installation is:
-iMac with enough space to store all iCloud files. This is my “server”.
-MacBook Pro as mobile power device, iCloud files optimized.
-Some iPads and one iPhone, download on demand.
-Sync store in my Synology NAS via WebDav.

My local database is about 11 GB with about 2.5 GB of files inside it, 5 millions of words, 500 billion of total words, indexing about 300GB of external data. On iThings I have all the files on-demand thanks to the WebDav sync, and in the other MacBook Pro, if a file is grayed because it is not present in disk, I only need to right select “Show in Finder” and macOS downloads it.

And I’m very happy with this scenario.

Thanks @rfog for your thorough comments. It’s much appreciated.

I will personally add this: Importing versus indexing depends on the specific needs or mindset of the User. Personally, I have only one database I routinely index files into (and there’s really no logical reason I did it, other than it was when I was new with the company). All my other indexing is for support purposes. I like portable, self-contained databases.

I suggest reading these Forums about indexing and importing before committing to it as the appraoch to take.

I made the same leap in April, and I’m glad I did it, although DT could be a bit intimidating at first.

I started new projects in DT and did not import existing Evernote databases for months. As a journalist my projects are completed within hours or days, so within days all my new content was going into DT, with EN only getting fired up for reference.

I did a lot of googling for resources on getting started with DEVONThink. Macdrifter has some useful resources, as do the MPU and Nerds on Tap podcast and Screencasts Online.

Thank you so far for the advice.

I am still pushing through DTPO. I caved in and got the iOS apps even though I wasn’t sure if it would for my configuration, but I needed a way to test the system out, when I go out.

Also based on the advice from @BlueFrog, I am trying to approach DTPO without really thinking about Evernote, but more of just “what is my workflow and what do I need to get done”.

Started off with a “Testing” database until I was comfortable with it and now starting to import my Evernote notes.

My thoughts so far in regards to DTPO workflow.

  • Using a single database since much of my life overlaps and until I am comfortable enough where I need separate ones. I don’t recall if I saw a way for the AI to search properly and make connections across databases, so for now it’s a single database.
  • I have the Database stored in UserName/DevonThinkDB/ (instead of the ~Documents folder)
  • The Database syncs to Box (I was in debate of having it at Dropbox, iCloud, or my Synology but couldn’t find information if there were any differences that users felt in sync speed).

Current think I am trying to understand is Importing notes from Evernote.

  • Is it better to import? Or should I just make new notes by copying each one individually.
  • I noticed that when I import an Evernote notebook, it imports the notes which is great, but if a specific note has a PDF attached or an audio recording attached, it creates a separate folder/group out of it.

Example if I am transferring “!nbox” (yes that’s how I name, so it stays on top and brings to focus). There are 80 notes in there, 2 of the notes have PDFs or Recordings.

After importing my structure looks like in DTPO
Folder !nbox
Sub Folder within !nbox that has the name of the note and contains the note and PDF/recording.


  • Is this the behavior that happens when importing notes that have attachments?
  • What are “best practices” that you have experienced for this type of import/storage?

For what it is worth from a long time user of DTPO I have a number of databases some of which I use a lot and some that I frequent far less frequently. Whlst I keep the main ones I use a lot in a dedicated folder in Documents, the less used ones I have on an external disk which I plug in when needed, it works for me but I can see that it won’t suit everybody. Of course I back up both computer and external frequently.


As long as you’re not using macOS 10.12 and later’s Disk Management.
Just for safety’s sake, we advocate a folder in your Home directory, like ~/Databases.

Okay, thanks for the advice.

Yes, this is the correct behavior from the import mechanism we have with Evernote.

The attachments don’t actually exist in the note in Evernote. They are separate and viewable.

Even if you use the export function in Evernote (which is an alternative method), you will see the ENEX export to the Global Inbox produces a separated note and attachment.

Still pushing through my transition from Evernote to DTPO.

Trying to learn faster as I watch the death spiral of Evernote in my newsfeed.

Few questions still.

Setup 1 database for everything. (I figured this would be easier so that I can access all my information in one shot) Because parts of my life and projects overlap, I didn’t want to regret having multiple databases and then try to track what projects are where.

Database is open and selected. I haven’t picked any folders, I just start writing a note. I finish. I click a folder (Inbox) the note isn’t there. I have to “click-out” of any folders then I can view the note. What is this “clicked-out” location called?

Folder Structure
In EN, I had a folder called “!nbox” and I set it as the default for where all notes come in first and where I work from first. After that, I can move them around/tag them, etc.

In looking at DTPO…I am assuming that I no longer need to have that folder since there is something called Inbox that sits at the top of the database, it serves the same purpose, yes?

IFTTT and Pocket Support
In a previous setup of Evernote, there were certain blogs that I followed and I had setup a recipe that whenever a new blog post goes online relating to a certain section, it gets sent to a specific folder in Evernote for my reading time later. Is this possible to setup in DTPO ?

I did the same thing with the Pocket app as well, it would contain other blog posts that I wanted to keep for reference later, can I do that as well?

File Attachments
I am trying to understand this one, I keep running tests on it. But still not “getting it”. I do a lot of public speaking. Previously, in Evernote, I would write my talking points into a note. If there was a keynote file or my own audio recording, I would attach it inside the body of the note. After that I would delete the original (or archive to the synology) since a copy was in the note.

Please correct me if I am wrong. In DTPO, my options are importing or indexing. Importing the file creates a new note (there is no way to have it in the body?) Indexing the note, means keeping the file wherever it’s at and never moving it, so I don’t lose the linking.


Thank you for the help

Hello Fr. Fanous,

My story with DEVONthink and Evernote sounds like it is not too unlike yours. I started my transition to DEVONthink a few months ago too.

Some of your database structure questions may be best left for some of the users with more experience around here.

I think I can lend a bit of support with your file attachment question, though. In my experience, if I simply create a new note in DEVONthink and then drag a file from the finder window into the body of the DEVONthink note, a little icon appears for the file. This appears to be a new copy of the file (i.e. the original file still exists in Finder). You will then only be able to access and edit this version of the file from within DEVONthink. This is very similar to what I used to (and still do) in Evernote. I mainly use it with Excel/Numbers files, but I just tested it with a Keynote file as well and it seemed to work.

Good luck with your migration to DEVONthink. There are so many upsides to DEVONthink. Once you have it all set up it is definitely worth the effort. I hope this helps!