Newbie Tag Questions

I have some probably kind of dumb questions about tagging, which I am going to make a copy of a database and try out, to see if I can answer my own questions without destroying anything.

#1: I have noticed the groups under the Tags directory keep growing and growing, when I take a look in there it contains a lot of “tags” which I never assigned to anything and are just the names of groups that I originally moved the file from, into its’ new home.

Can I just delete the groups in the Tags directory that I don’t want? Will this do what I think and want it to do, which is delete the tag, or will it do something not so great and go ahead and delete all the files in that group?

I’m asking because I don’t really understand what’s happening. Tags are groups and the files are just replicants. Ok I’m with that so far, but when I look into the files that live under any of the groups in Tags, they just look like files. Single instances of files at that, with no replicant icon on them.

Can I delete this junk that I don’t want and keeps accumulating? Is there some way to turn automatic tagging off, so I can have a database which only contains the personal tags I want to assign, instead of DevonThink constantly adding tags, which are really just the names of groups that the files used to live in, which have no purpose at all and I don’t want in there?

#2: Is there some plan to at least add the tags icon to all the groups that live under Tags? Right now they just look like groups, when I look at them from under the Tags folder it makes sense and I remember they’re tags, but when one of them shows up in find, or related items or whatever, then suddenly I’m looking at a file, which lives inside a group, that I never made, don’t remember at all and I’m sitting there scratching my head wondering, what is all this and why is it in my database? It always seems to take me half a cup of coffee to figure out, oh ok, that’s not really a group, well yes it is a group, but it’s a tag group devonthink made all by itself and it’s filled with replicants, I think, but can’t really tell because they have no replicant symbol. I have, mostly this feeling of everything becoming less stable and starting to break down from excellent organization to more of a mess, because I’m losing track of what all these groups are.

#3: Is there some preference to just make Devonthink stop adding its own automatic tags, openmeta imported tags and to not tag anything which I do not specifically tell it to tag? What it’s doing right now is more or less driving me crazy, as opposed to helping me and I’d like for it to stop. I see that setting in the RSS feeds, is there some global setting I’m missing?

Can I just select all, click the info panel at the top level of my database, and make Devonthink stop tagging all the directories that live under the Exclude from tagging one?

What I am really looking for is: some way to make Devonthink STOP making its own tags all over my databases, I do not want to turn off tagging, I only want to use my own tags, when and where I assign them. I do not want Devonthink to tangle everything up.

Right now it looks like there is no way to turn off tagging unless I go through everything clicking every single group. Then all the tagging is off and I can no longer use my own personal tags right?

#4: How do I tag or untag multiple files???

Any advice or help is appreciated.


My only use for tags is as an alternative to the group structure, not a reflection of it. Tags that are really just another way of seeing/manipulating groups are useless to me.


As you already know, you can check exclude from tagging in the info panel for any group. Doing this for a top level group, however, will not delete the tagging on subgroups. You can expand the top level folder and use keyboard commands and mouse to select all the subfolders or select subfolders, then click the info button and select exclude from tagging.

One possibility - do you have more than a few RSS feeds in your database? DT automatically creates tags in the Tags group based on metadata that feed authors add. The number of tags can grow rapidly. To stop it, select the feeds and use the Info panel to Exclude from Tagging.

Tags are groups. It’s DTech’s approach to tagging. Discussed extensively in numerous threads in the Forum.

Read the forum. There are sample scripts to do this in the Scripting section. PB8 does not have an in-built feature for multiple, but it has been requested by many and DTech normally pays attention when lots of users want the same feature and it’s doable.

I do not have any RSS feeds in my db, at least I sure haven’t added any! but still have hundreds of these “junk” tags. They seem to be generated from items titles, for instance an article with "600,000… in the title generates a tag for that number. Only that article is in the tag group, not other things containing the number 600,000. It is a concordance-style tagging system I guess.

No, it’s not a “concordance-style tagging system”. Tags are groups, and unless you’ve turned tagging off for a particular group, the Tags group will include a subgroup (a tag) for each of your regular groups and a replicant for each document within the original group.

Nevertheless, that doesn’t explain why your report seems to indicate that your database has tags with document names in addition to group names. If it’s not intrusive, could you open the Tags group in 3-pane view and make a small screenshot of a portion of the Tags group and the document list to the right of that? If you post that screenshot here maybe we can see what’s going on.


Here’s a screenshot on flickr, I looked at the forum FAQ but wasn’t sure how to upload an image as part of the post.

Far as I know I have not changed any prefs for tagging. Apologies for assuming what I was seeing was ordinary behavior of DTPro. AFter all these yars of reliable use I should have had more faith!

Thank you for posting the screen shot. While I now see what the result is, I’m afraid I’ve come up to the edge of my knowledge with this one. How portions of a document name become tags is beyond my ken – sorry. I’ll suspect that DTech will be interested in seeing this database when they return from vacation.

I guarantee that you see those group tags because you have groups with those names in your database — perhaps as downloads of Web sites.

In the Tags view, click on such a tag to display its contents. Now select a content document and press Command-R to Reveal it. What’s the name of its enclosing group?

Good call, Bill! Not groups with those names, but bookmarks in Safari originating in a newsfeed I didn’t know I had. 1500 of them and growing, so I will be getting rid of that in Safari.

However, since they are bookmarks and not groups, how did the tags come about? Each of these items revealed with Command-R is a bookmark in a single group, NEWS.

In my db the tag count is now 3580, and I have maybe 200 groups (folders and sub-folders).

I was so wrong, DT Pro does NOT have a concordance-style tagging system, which would really be no tagging system at all. I was casting about for an explanation of the large and odd accumulation of tags I had, and Bill De Ville put me on the track that it was an RSS newsfeed I did not know I had.

I deleted the newsfeed and no new tags have appeared.