Please help a noob: How do you tell when a wikilink exists?

I’m new to DT and have already logged a lot of hours trying to get the lay of the land. Lots to love so far. One thing I have made frustratingly little progress on how you can visually tell if any given file is wikilinked to other files. I have tried using the aliases field in the info window, I am not able to see any indication that any sort of link has been formed to the file indicated.

Actually just a link to any documentation on how to use wikilinks (alias field) would be great. I haven’t been able to find much.

Thanks in advance for any help

So far I have not found a visual marker to tell that a file has been linked to. Then, a wiki-link is not a normal link: When you write the filename in any text file, it can be transformed automatically to a wikilink. So, if you have one (not two!) textfile called “journal”, the word “journal” in any text will be transformed into a link.

While there is a marker if you have replicants or dublicates of a file, even in the information panel there is no information about how often a file is linked. This would be a useful feature, no doubt, since it would help finding relationships. but you can still use the “see also” function on a particular word to see the connections.

If you want more control over your links, there is a fast way to create links by hand:

When you drag any file into a rtf-text while pressing COMMAND+OPTION, devon creates a link to the file in your text. You can even edit the link text afterwards. I use it for creating an index of my favorite files for different topics (the index file is always open).

This method also works with several files, and with files in the finder. You can link to a folder for quick access, for example. However, when the file is moved or deleted in the finder, your link will not work.

For some reason this is easier if you have the file open individually (opened with a double click), as you have more control over the cursor position and there is less danger of changing the view of the file. Just don’t forget to save the text file often (cmd-s) - only in two- and three pane view, changes are saved automatically.

You also have some control about the placement of the link and its formatting. Try the following:

  • in an rtf-document, place the cursor where you want the link to appear
  • (optional) change to a different window, where you can browse your files
  • select the file(s) you want to link to (select multiple files with Cmd pressed). Then, press the left mouse button and hold it.
  • focus your rtf text document (either by hovering over it, or with an Apple Exposé corner), keep the mouse button pressed
  • now press COMMAND-OPTION and then release the mouse button
    ( a link appears)
  • if you enter a space now, you can continue the text with your original formatting, otherwise, all of your following text will be formatted like a link (you can revert that by activating the ruler (shift-cmd-R) and using the “style” option).
  • edit the link text, if you need to

Sounds complicated, but it isn’t.

This method of creating alias files even works with the result of the see also panel, although the view “jumps” to the file you selected afterwards; but you can always go back by clicking on the top see also entry. This is useful if you are into wikis and want to put some links into your text quickly. You can even create several links at once.

If you have to link to one file often, you can also create that link once, then copy and paste it into several documents.

I found that internal (sometimes commented) links enhance the value of the information stored in your database. Plus, it helps navigation for remote access, from your iPhone or iPod touch.

Wow Maak,

Very helpful! This was worth waiting for.

I have pulled off most of the ones you described. Very satisfying.

A couple other quick questions while I have your big brain around:

Is there a way to highlight a word that is already in the text of an RTF and then turn it into a link to say a PDF or a Group?

Are there ways are there to link one group or file to another group or file without altering the contents (without adding a link that would change the way the doc was printed)?

I’ve got the creating a link and then following your way through the maze of contextual file hierarchies. I’m wondering if there is a way to do it by simply indicating files (maybe by dragging and dropping for instance).

Thank you. I’m grateful for the help. :smiley:

You can select a passage, highlight it (format menu or a shortcut - I changed mine to cmd-h) and then you simply right-click and choose “link to” in order to link to anything in your database. A menu appears so that you can choose the file or folder. Or you try drag/drop as alias from a different window.

Sorry, I do not know how to do that in Devon. Besides, it does not work in wikipedia as well, does it? Maybe the applescript savvy people can help, or the version 2.0 will fix that. I heard it will come next month or year… :mrgreen:

In case you know which file to link to and do not fear the maze, you can do it with the contextual menu option, via a simple right click: Link to… (navigate the maze of folders) and choose a file. It will create a link.

But what I wanted to suggest in my reply above was that you can create a link by dragging and dropping. It is easier to navigate your files if you do it from another window of your database. You can have several “views” of your database open at the same time, just open a new window with file–new window (otion-cmd-n). Then you can use one window for browsing and deciding which file to link, and the other window for your main document, that will contain the links. Then you drag that file, change windows via exposé, press cmd-option, and release the mouse button to create a link.

Good luck!

Excellent Maak. I’ve got a better handle on how to do what I most wanted this program for, making connections among ideas and making it so I can find them quickly.

I’ve started a group of DTP tips with your posts starting it off. I’m sure I’ll be checking in on that one frequently.

Thanks again. See you round the forum.


I am glad that you liked it. But what kind of group is that? Maybe it is a good idea to have a place where tricks and workflows for DevonThink can be found, since workflow information is a bit scattered in the forums. On the other hand, it seems that everyone seems to have his own workflow…

What you have in mind sounds like a “missing manual”-Project: I hope you post a link to the project here?

Another thing that might be useful if you like wikis is to create an “Index” file. I found it convenient to have an alphabetically ordered list of topics with links to my favorite documnts in the database. I have that index window always open (and with the smallest window size possible), so that I can always create a link quickly whenever I put something in the database that is exceptionally interesting.

You can always find your material with the search or “see also” function, but I often I have a lot of similar material in the database, and from a simple search it is hard to determine which file works best. The Index file is a kind of “door” to the favorites. It is like a for Devon Think, just a central place to link your research.

The idea is adapted from the sociologist Niklas Luhmann, who used numbered index cards as his database (cf. Luhmann: Kommunikation mit Zettelkästen). He actually kept two list, one for topics and one for authors names. I tried that in the beginning but I found it impractical: This is a 2008, after all, and any authors name can be found with the search function in seconds. So I keep the Index file as short as possible.

With WikiLinks enabled, you can also easily link back to that list by just writing the document name (Index or whatever) at the end of your favorites.

This is quite helpful when you access your data from the outside, a different computer or your iphone, as you can navigate at least your favorite documents.

Because this list keeps growing, it will become harder to navigate. I keep it alphabetically and insert #A, #B , etc… before entries. That way it is easy to jump to another part of the list with the search function (cmd-f).

All of the above is actually just an usage scenario, and not even too sophisticated. You might find another combination useful once you get used to the interface.

Maak has some well-thought-out workflows and great tips.

Here’s a little trick to “link to” from a document that can’t be modified, such as PDF or WebArchive, or from a text document without changing printed content. Just type the name of the document to be “linked to” in the Comment field. Yes, that’s plain text, so a hyperlink won’t work. But select that document name, then press Command-/ (the Lookup Service).

A Search window will be opened with the desired document’s name already inserted. For a quick search, set it as a Name search and press Return. There’s the document in the search results.

A similar trick works in Sheets & Records. Because Records use plain text, a hyperlink can’t be established within a record. But the Name of a document can be selected, then choose Command-/ to quickly pop it up in a Search result list.

Another little trick for a single word. Option-click on it. A list of the documents that contain that term will pop out in a drawer.

Wow, I can definitely use that as well: Thank you, Bill!

I get the feeling that with all these workarounds, tweaks and workflows, it would be convenient for first-time users if at least some of these “advanced” tips could be assembled: Either in a wiki, or an extended help document. The learning curve is still long and steep, even with the help of the forums.

Maak, I try to pop up with tricks and workarounds fairly often.

But workflows are a different matter. It’s almost like: you have a typewriter and two reams of blank paper. Here’s the workflow to write a novel, or a biography, or an overview of recent advances in proteomics. :slight_smile:

I’m continually amazed by the different ways people use their databases, and continue to learn from them.

My workflows are in some ways different than yours. I don’t use Wiki links. But I do use static hyperlinks a lot. I don’t use paper index cards to help lay out and organize a writing project, but I use hyperlinked rich text notes in a way that’s very similar to your index cards. Like you, I’ll often shuffle their order and modify them in progress.

I don’t spend much time on database organization in general. Some people meticulously organize all database content. I do spend more time on organization for a specific project group, such as a writing project, that I set up within a database. But when I’m finished with that project, I’m likely to spin it off into its own database, leaving only the finished work and some notes.

I almost never do tagging, and then it’s likely to be restricted to a specific project in progress, and is cleared from the database when I finish that project.

I never use highlighting in my original database reference documents. But when I’m working on a project I’ll duplicate important references into my project group and feel free to highlight, mark up (Label colors, States), add notes and Comments and otherwise mutilate them to my heart’s content. But I clear those altered documents out of my database when the project is finished.

I make a lot of use of See Also and See Selected Text when I’m fishing for ideas and/or references. By the time I’ve gotten tens of thousands of references in a topical collection, those work well for me. See Also is guaranteed to break a writer’s block every time, usually by breaking the limitations of my preconceptions about the topic.

My habits work for me. That doesn’t mean they are better than other workflows, or would be acceptable to everyone else. Different strokes for different folks. :slight_smile:

Thanks, Bill, for your response and also for the helpful workflow ideas in your post. Of course, different people and different projects need different workflows. I prefer to focus on writing myself, but it took me a long time to get used to the way DevonThink works. This piece of software encouraged me to organize my material electronically. Since I had never tried that before, I tried to develop habits - or “workflows” - that would assist me not only in finding the stuff in the database, but also to generate new ideas. Since I did my research with “paper tools” before, it took some time to weed out some routines, which are superfluous in the digital world (like the Luhmann-style numbers for internal wiki-links I used at first). It has worked so far, but I am still looking for ways and tools which can assist the process of thinking and writing.

As most typewriter-owners woud agree, every novelist works differently, but their workflows usually have more in common than, say, the workflow of a biography-writer or an economist. Experimenting with new techniques might even help to generate new ideas, or get past writers block, or just assemble your research.

I hope my workflow suggestions in the forum did not sound “preachy” - after all, you are the evangelist, right? :slight_smile: I do not think there is one perfect workflow - it would be disastrous to focus only on this part of the work - but the vast possibilities of this software still make me wonder how to use it to my advantage. Every option in itself is perfectly easy to understand - ruler, wiki-link, search also - but as the saying goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so I am always glad to hear about new and innovative ways to explore patterns in my data, instead of just having the data in a kind of repository.

The vast menu options of DT remind me of Photoshop or Final Cut: There are usually many ways to achieve a certain effect, but it takes practise to find the shortest route.While the users of these applications have books, videos and courses for their application, we have the help file, the forums, and, hey, we have you! :smiley:

I am really curious about the way you use hyperlinked rich text notes: If these links you use are not wiki-links, do they refer to external sources like websites or to other documents in your database?

And how do you shuffle their order? I know that in the view otions, you can set the sorting order to “unsorted” and drag your documents the way you like, but this is reverted all the time I switch back to “ordered”. Now that I experiment with it, I see that the Program seems to remember the way I sorted it - the custom order is still there after unsorting. Is there a way to keep certain folders “unsorted” and others sorted?

The last question is about the exporting of the part of the project. If you use the “export” feature, do the links still work in the new database or are they broken? Thanks for sharing!

Hey Guys,

I’m working on a big presentation for tomorrow so I have to be brief. For now:

Bill, thanks much for the link tip. Just what I was after. I also appreciate your comments on set up philosophy.

Maak when I said setting up a group, I just meant a group in my DTP database. Just a collection of tips that I find valuable. I know from experience with the mac in general that I discover tips, but those that don’t get used from the outset fade from memory. The wiki idea is a good one though. This program is definitely one (for me) where a community of others who know something about it is absolutely in order. Thanks for your continued help. I want to read over what you wrote about organizing more carefully when I have more time.

Thanks to both of you. Wish there was a thumbs up smiley for here.

PS Is it relatively straightforward how to set it up so you can surf your database with the iphone, or is it fairly involved (relative terms of course :wink:)?

Also, Bill where would I find “See selected text”? I’m not seeing it in the documentation.

Sadly, relatively complicated. There is a detailed description in the help file, but it depends on your router if it is an easy process. With my current router, it wasn’t, but this will change in the next months. Unfortunately, you can only search your database, not alter its contents or “surf” it. but you can click on links and such.

See also appears when you right-click / ctrl-click on a selected passage. A killer feature!

Wow that is a good one.

A different issue: When I drag and drop something from the finder onto the hierarchical group area it ends up in a default “folder” that so far I’ve only been able to access by clicking at the very bottom of the group hierarchy area where there are no folders. When I drop something onto the dock icon, files go to this same “folder” My question is, is there any other way to access that file.

Sometimes I have enough folders and subfolders expanded that I can’t click below the folders, as the area isn’t available until I contract those folders back up. I know I can get to it that way or via opening a second window, but I’m wondering if there is a more elegant way of getting to that default folder spot.

Also I wonder if there is a book out there on DT. I gather your comment about the missing manual though probably hints that there isn’t yet. O’Reilly should get going on that one.

What do you use your databases for Maak?

Check preferences. You can designate the default folder. Or, drag and drop on a different folder.

There should be a scroll bar so that you can acess them - at least, in two pane view. “Elegant” is not so popular here, but there are plans to work on that. There must be a workaround, somewhere…

not that I know of. But DT is very easy to grasp without a book - it only took me two years :smiley: . The problem is usually not the functions of the app as figuring out how to profit from it best, while your computer hardware and projects are changing.

I am currently writing a phd thesis in the humanities. Most of my material and my notes are in DT now, usually pdfs, web clippings and rtf documents. I spend a lot of time in front of DT, so I tend to be a bit critical of this app, but “see also” and other functions help me a lot. Especially with scanned text, since text recognition tends to err. At the moment, I am finishing an article, switching between DT, Freemind, Scrivener and Bookends and a few breaks of semi-structured procrastination on the forums.

“Thumbs up” for the presentation!

What is your thesis on?

I think I’m prepped out for the night. I’m as ready as I’ll be at this point.

I just got Scrivener which I’m digging and having fun with. Bookends, I’d like to get eventually, but it is hard to justify for now as I don’t do much formal writing.

I’m going to have to take a look at freemind. The PhD in my field of counseling psych is not helpful for my career path. If it were this software would go a long way toward helping me crank out a dissertation. I find this stuff hard to put down. Following the connections in materials I’m interested in is pretty riveting stuff.

Ah. Right you are. In preferences. That will be a lot easier to find them in my designated inbox instead of floating at the “top group” level, which translates for me so far as hard to get to.

Thanks for the well wishes on the presentation.

Must have been a trick mentioned by Bill DeVille: You may name your inbox so that it appears on top of the list. (Mine is “.Inbox”).

Did you try to use the floating Groups panel? You can find it in the Menue Bar –> Tools.


So you want to return the focus to the top level of a view, but a subgroup or document is currently selected and you can’t click below the content list to clear the focus.

Solution: Command-click on the selected item.