Newbie - How to delete files

Hi, Being new to DTPO, I am at the bottom of the learning curve, and have a lot to learn.

First problem I have is that of deleting files. I see options to delete files under the Applescripts sign in Toolbar, but nothing happens when I try it, even if I select all.
I have skimmed through the user manual, the demos and other Youtube tutorials, but no solution found.

My task at the moment is to get around problems in iTunes. My files have unique names that I use when I give shows. My problem is that I keep losing files, accumulate duplicates and also files become out of order.
My solution was to put every single song into DTPO, make groups for each of my shows, and have contents of INBOX appear according to the Smart Groups setup. This has worked so far, but I have many duplicates, which I am not able to delete.
I should mention my song folders are preceded with my own names, GGSHW01, GGSHW02, etc, and song names are GGSHW03_10xx, etc. (10 followed by name of song). This is so that I can keep everything in Alphabetical order.

Any advice would be most helpful.



There are several ways to delete one or more selected items from a DEVONthink database. Here are two:

  1. The Toolbar has a red circle with slash icon (the Delete) button. Click on it to send the selected item to the database Trash.

  2. Control-click (right click) on a selected item and choose the option, Move to Trash.

Note that items can be retrieved from the database Trash if inadvertently deleted. The contents of all database Trashes can be flushed to the System Trash by clicking on the DEVONthink application name in the menubar, then choosing Empty Trash.

Edit > Delete or the “delete” icon on the toolbar (View > Customize Toolbar)

Thanks Bill,
Got that!
Now, can you please tell me how to select all the duplicates in a group and then delete them en masse?
If this is possible, can I do the same to a parent group that selects and deletes all the duplicates in the child groups.


Before you set out to delete all duplicates, consider that DEVONthink marks as duplicates files that are highly similar, but may or may not be identical copies.

For example, If you select a PDF+Text document and choose Data > Convert, to plain text the result will be a new plain text file that holds the text content of the PDF document. Those PDF and text documents will be marked as duplicates.

Would you trust a “mass extinction” procedure to eliminate duplicates to judge which of that pair would be most useful to you? (I don’t.)

All good points, Bill, but my alternative will be to comb through all the files and pick and choose. There is a few hundred or as much as 1000 of these duplicates.
I can see now how I must have been unknowingly deleting some of my iTunes files. When this happens I have to hunt to find the missing files, which is time consuming.

What I had in mind was to make a list in DTPO of all my show songs, so that if I have some missing in iTunes I can check what they are supposed to be in DTPO.
As you may know, when you try to delete songs in iTunes with OPT/DEL, it asks if you want to delete from Library. I say No and sometimes the file stays there. I have been using Smart Folders in iTunes, then tried just using Folders, but still losing songs.
If I have a solid list in DTPO, at least I will know what songs are missing and replace them.


Here’s a way to create a smart group that will list duplicates. The smart group can cover all open databases, or you can create it for any specific database, depending on the settings in the full Search window.

  1. Choose Tools > Search. Make sure there’s no criterion in the query window.

  2. Click on the Advanced button and enter these criteria:
    All of the following are true:
    Kind is Any Document
    Instance is Duplicate

  3. Press Return to carry out the search.

  4. Click on the “+” button to the right of the Search window’s query field to create a new smart group. Name and save the smart group.

  5. Click on any item in the results list, then press Command-A to select all, followed by Command-C to copy the list to the clipboard.

  6. In TextEdit or in DEVONthink, create a new plain text document. Paste the clipboard contents into this document. The result will be a list of document names. It’s important that the new document be plain text, not rich text!

You can, if you wish, modify step 2) to restrict the search to audio file duplicates. To do that:
Hold down the Option key while clicking on the + button to the right of the Kind criterion above, in order to add a second instance of this predicate, and the result should be two added lines:
All of the following are true:
Kind is Audio

Bill, it is news to me that DEVONthink will even identify an audio file as a duplicate, as a document is considered a duplicate based on content (not document name) and there is no way for DEVONthink to evaluate the ‘content’ of an audio file? As a test, I just used the Duplicate command to make a copy of an .m4a file and it still does not appear as a duplicate in the database. What am I missing here?

Your are correct. I’m a bit surprised that duplicate audio files are not marked as duplicates, as other filetypes such as QuickTime or image (JPEG, etc.) files are marked as duplicates when a copy is made.

Hi Bill,
I followed your instructions on dealing with multiple duplicates. I got as far as making a text file (I used TextEdit), but I was not able to put the files there with Cmd-V. I will try it again. Being new to DevonThink, I am still having difficulty sorting it all out and finding commands that you refer to.

Thanks for your help. I am persevering.


That’s right, DEVONthink can’t recognize duplicate audio files (except external audio files indexed twice) so far.

I followed instructions again and this time it worked. All the duplicates were in graphic view, so opened a plain text new file in Text Edit, then tried CTL-V again to copy in the list. What do I do next? Are these exclusively duplicates or do they include the original as well?