Newbie: Using DEVONthink as an Archive and Database?

Hi. I want to get started on DEVONthink.

I have been using Evernote for 10 years as a sort of personal archive that I would throw anything at that I might need later: receipts, pay checks you name it.

I would also migrate documents from the Finder to my Evernote archive when I couldn’t foresee my self needing it actively in the near future, such as a project that was finished or the like.

This was one of my use case for Evernote.

The other was that of a database. I’m a student and I would store hundreds and hundreds of scientific articles and papers in Evernote - most of them were not OCR’ed, but often roughly scanned articles from paper or books that had been put online to download. Evernote would do an alright job at OCR’ring these documents, which were often in Danish.

The point of that “database” was when I needed to look up something for my studies that I knew I could find information about in my database. Evernote would then search everything when I entered a keyword and come up with results, even in the OCR’ered research articles which is what I needed.

Now, I’m curious about using DEVONThink instead. I know that the Pro version will OCR’documents and let me search inside of documents which is what I need.

In Evernote I would have a nested folder thing going on in my archive and my database. So my questions are these:

  1. Will the above scenario work with DEVONthink?

  2. Can I use a nested folder system in which the top two folders are:
    Home improvement
    Pay checks

     Research Database: 
          Alien studies 101
          Alien studies 102

The point of all this is like having a second Finder in a way. But one that will OCR automatically, search inside of documents and one that won’t clutter my actual Finder on my Mac

That was a long entry. Hopefully someone read it and can tell me if DEVONthink will do this


The simple and short answer is “yes” but you should be thinking “DEVONthink-speak” not Evernote-speak.

perhaps first step is to have a read of the “Take Control of DEVON” ebook available with compliments of DEVONtechnologies on their web site. Also while there get a copy of the outstanding “DEVONthink Handbook” and get initially a little bit familiar with what is there.

And in DEVONthink what you call folders are Groups, but with their Smart Groups, tagging, and searching complex group hierarchy is really not useful, but of course you can do.


As @rmschne noted, the documentation is a good place to start, ideally in the aptly named Getting Started chapter. This includes a section called Building Your Database too, but I suggest you start at DEVONthink Simplified and read from there.


Yes it will, and more: you will be amazed. I started from exactly the same point as you did really. I would re-iterate what others say here; start using the search, smart folders and AI capacities from the start. It is where DEVONthink 3 outpaces anything else and by some.


Thanks for the responses. With regards to DevonThinkPro and all that it can do especially with regards to OCR performance, I’m curious to learn of your experience with DevonThink Pro on something like a MacBook Air (latest edition, 2020 I think) M1 processor, 8 GB ram and 256 harddrive - low end Macbook Air

What will the performance be of Devonthink Pro on this machine - assuming I will put some 1500-2000 documents in there which have to be OCR’ed individually. I’m curious if my Mac can run that level of intensity first off and in the long run as well when I’m performing searches in DevonThinkPro


I don’t know about OCR, but you don’t need to worry about search. I am using a MacBook Pro that is over five years old, and just for the hell of it I have just run a search of three open databases. The result of the search is shown in the image herewith:

Just one of these databases is about 5.5 GB in size and contains nearly 19 million words.

Screenshot 2022-04-25 at 12.56.48

I think your M1 should cope …