Newbie Questions


I am new to Devonthink via the Macblast Tweet and have several questions on how best to use this program. I am a humanities professor, with lots of pdf handouts for teaching and documents for research. I have virtually no need for statistics or numbers of any kind but might need to bring in an excel sheet or two of grades.

  1. Should I delete my ‘original files’ once I have imported them into Devonthink? Are the files actually inside the program or are they in their original location with links from Devonthink back to the files original location?

  2. If I edit a file from its original location, will it sync the changes to file in Devonthink? Or do I need to re-import the file to Devonthink? Related question, will these files sync changes via dropbox?

  3. If I import a pdf from say google books, can I translate it into a searchable and mark-up ready text via Devonthink?

  4. I can see tags in the info. panel but I don’t seem to be able to add new tags. What am I doing wrong?

  5. I have seen mentions of tabs. Are they available in the personal edition 2.0? Or must I upgrade to the professional edition? I have tried repeatedly to activate them via data>open in tabs command to no avail.

  6. I am building a sizeable database in Bookends. Should I consider importing my booknotes into DevonThink?

  7. I already have several information programs-- journler–for personal items, family stuff, receipts, haiku, etc., Notetaker [for course prep] and Notebook [for research]. [I tend to use a program for the one thing that I think it is best at doing.] I envision using this program mostly as a very advanced search engine and to help locate similar items. Am I selling it short? It seems like if I added DevonNote that it could replace Notetaker, for example. Am I right? Are there other uses I am missing here?

Any suggestions or help will be appreciated!!

If you import your files, they become part of the database, but you can always export them again. They retain their original file structure. So yes, delete your originals. If on the other hand, you INDEX your files, then they do NOT become part of the database.

You only need to sync if you are indexing your files from their original location.

Yes, any imported PDF is searchable. This is what makes DEVONthink such a great searchable database.

Open two or more documents and you’ll see tabs (at least on the Pro version).

I’m not sure how your workflow goes. I’m anal about my info, and finding what I’m looking for, and have DEVONthink Office Pro to serve all my needs. I currently have four databases, organized by information and use type, and since I can have them open at one time, I can easily search all those database simultaneously. For this reason, DEVONthink is becoming my single repository of information.

I still use Receipt Wallet for my tax receipts, even though DEVONthink could handle that, for I like the manner in which Receipt Wallet does those. While I use Notebook, I’m moving that usage to DEVONthink for the reason stated above, being a single repository for ALL my information, being easily searchable. I haven’t tried indexing to Notebook, but that could be an interesting possibility. I’ve found DT Pro Office to be the answer to my paperless office quest, and the single repository for all my info. I’m accessing data that I couldn’t find in the past–stuff I knew I had, but couldn’t remember which folder it was in. Spotlight can’t search for content of a file like DT can. :slight_smile:

Poke around more and I’m sure you’ll like what you see.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Your post was incredibly helpful. The learning curve for DT seems higher than the other programs that I have used, but I like the notion of having affinity connections at my finger tips.

I am having a hard time getting the ocr to work. Perhaps it is a matter of having Pro versus personal. I may well need to invest in DTPro.

I am debating the merits of indexing versus importing after your post, am wondering if I could index my material in notebook and notetaker. I am thinking that I should import all my old teaching files but indexing the specific prep done in notetaker. I am assuming its possible to index some things while importing others.

Thanks again!

I looked at the personal version for a short while, and quickly determined I needed pro office. I use the OCR engine that comes with pro when scanning directly into the database. If I’m already in Acrobat Professional, I’ll do my OCR there.

I did try indexing Notebook after your query, but couldn’t view the data from within DT. Since I have a very specific use for Notebook, I’ll continue to use it as a stand alone app.

I too have evaluated importing vs indexing, and either works fine depending on your scenario. Since I can always export my files from DT if necessary, I’m importing 90% of my data, only leaving very short term files that I know will be eliminated soon out of the DT database.

I am starting to think about upgrading as well. But am wondering just how useful it will be. I might purchase pdfpen to edit locked pdfs and import or index them into devothink. Any reason that I should purchase Devonthinkpro or office instead?

I deleted all the stuff that I imported and went back indexed everything. If I open the items using devonthink, say after a search, the changes made to the doc. are in the doc. without any worry of having different versions. I started to worry that I could end up with multiple version and a real headache.

I think that I might be ok with this because I can open the doc in the proprietary program. I am trying to imagine a downside for this.

Thanks for all of your help. It has really made me conscious about my workflow–which I am trying to pare down to as few steps as possible!

I’ve never used the pdfpen, so I can’t comment on that, other than it’s another peripheral with drivers and software, and so another opportunity for unintended problems.

I found a great value in office pro in that I can also archive emails according to project which is of value to me. The pro version features just added up for my need and to simplify my workflow. Your mileage may vary.:slight_smile:

Actually PDFpen is a software product and as such isn’t a peripheral and doesn’t have drivers.

Aside from that, I don’t get the connection between a peripheral and how peripherals provide opportunities for “unintended problems.” Does that statement apply to the Fujitsu Scansnap scanner? So far it hasn’t presented any unintended problems - it’s just worked well. Of course YMMV!

Broad sweeping statements like this don’t help others make informed purchases.

Ahhh…my bad for not being clearer and confusion in my meaning. :frowning:
I wrongly confused the pdfpen product from smileonmymac (who by the way has great products) to the peripheral pen that makes scans.

My overall point is this: in a busy office, trying to keep things simple in GTD fashion, I find that less is more. The fewer peripherals and softwares (read: unnecessary) the better. Over the years I’ve had too many vendors promise the moon before the sale, only to fall short in practical application through daily use. Too many apps and/or peripherals have had unintended problems. So when I find something that works – and efficiently at that – I utilize that application, driver and peripheral to its full capacity.

The ScanSnap scanner from Fujitsu has been one of those reliable joys that met and exceeded my expectations. It just works, and very well at that. So too with DEVONthink Pro Office. As a result, from my perspective and ideology of less is more, I prefer to optimize the capacity of DTP, with ScanSnap (and also Acrobat Pro by the way).

Sorry if I painted with too broad a brush that brought confusion to anyone. :slight_smile:

Thank you both for your helpfulness. No confusion.

I am still mulling over whether to upgrade to Pro Office Version or simply staying with the personal version. I have access to pdfPen through work, and don’t think that I need anything other than the ocr capabilities of the more advanced version.

Thanks again.