Prevent search term sharing between MacOS apps

This is more of a MacOS function than DEVONthink, but since DT uses this function I’ll ask here.

Does anyone know how to prevent apps from sharing search terms?

For example, in DEVONthink I search for a term like “version”
When I go to a web browser (Chrome/Brave or Safari for example), “version” is now the active search.

I rarely search for something across multiple apps and don’t want this functionality.

It also at times will remove the active search term in DEVONthink which can be frustrating when I’ve got some docs set up and go off web browsing and come back to find my search changed.

Does anyone know how to turn this off, either at an OS level or at least at the DEVONthink level?

What is happening here:

  • I enter something into DT’s search field
  • I press return
  • DT selects the search term (why would it do that?)
  • DT displays the search results
  • I open Firefox (or whatever program reacts on Cmd-F) and type Cmd-F
  • DT’s search term (the selection!) is entered in Firefox’ (or Safari’s …) search field.

Now for something completely different:

  • Clear Safari’s search field
  • Cmd-F on FF, type something in the search field at the bottom
  • Check out Safari’s search field – at least a part of the text typed into FF’s search field appears there

Or even:

  • Open Mail
  • Search for something
  • check out Safari’s or Firefox search field – the term appears there

So I guess the behavior is not limited to DT. It seems to be a weird connection between a particular kind of search field (as BBEdit, for example, doesn’t show the behavior) in different apps.

Perhaps some kind of UX enhancement in Sonoma (14.1.1 here)?

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Thanks for testing.

Yes it is definitely not just DEVONthink and has been going on for several MacOS releases since I first noticed it happening.

It is probably happening at a MacOS API/component level where using some search box widget automatically gets that sharing built-in. This I don’t think DT can do anything to change it.

That would explain why BBEdit does not do it as the search on BBEdit is probably using a custom dialog/widget vs a MacOS level system widget (I just tested it as well on BBEdit and confirm it doesn’t get the shared search term)

I was just curious if anyone ever figured a way to turn it off at an OS level.

But interestingly does not appear in Alfred’s clipboard history.


From what I can tell it is not a clipboard thing as I never do Edit->Copy (Cmd-C etc)

I can just type text in a search box and execute that search by hitting enter, and then that search term propagates to other apps in near real time.

I agree, it’s not related to the Copy action, but happens independently.

And between browsers, I see that happening even without hitting enter. It smells like a typical “Apple knows what’s good for you” thing.

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Ha. People are bothered by this since at least 2018:

and even 10 years ago:

In this thread, you’ll find kind of a solution at the end.

I suggest closing this thread as it’s not a DT issue. @bluefrog?

Ah, good research thanks.

On how this relates to DEVONthink, going by the advice in that link, I should be able to turn this off like :

defaults write com.devontechnologies.think3 FindDialog_UsesFindScrap -bool NO

but that does not seem to stop this functionality from happening.

It’s possible that’s not the correct “program name”, or maybe it just isn’t supported.

In that case I would ask for an enhancement request to be able to toggle/disable that OS functionality in some way.

As a side note, can we take a moment to consider the well meaning developer who called this “Find Scrap” but can also be read as “Finds Crap”.

No Please read that post again. This works only for BBEdit. DT has no property FindDialog_USesFindScrap. No program besides BBEdit does. The only possible solution (that I know of) is mentioned just before and involves clearing the pasteboard with a command line tool.

Which you should direct at Apple. No one else can fix that in a reasonable way. And I’m certain that they won’t because it’s considered a feature.

As noted, this is not something we implemented in our applications so there’s nothing to disable.

It’s also the first complaint I can recall hearing about it.

…which is quite easy to automate with a short Keyboard Maestro macro for those who use that app.


It’s just a special clipboard, see NSPasteboard class and its findPasteboard method, since the first betas of Mac OS X 10.0. Not sure how much of BBEdit’s Carbon legacy is still left but this would explain the difference.

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Thanks for the clarification. Though I must say that the idea of having a findPasteboard that works like this one does, a bit irritating (otho, I never noticed the behavior before).

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I came here today looking for how to disable this too.

Would it be possible to include an option not to use the Shared Find clipboard? Another app that I use that offers such an option is Easy CSV Editor, via the dropdown to the left of the Find input field.

I know some people might find this macOS system feature helpful, but I almost never want to do the same Find/Search across different apps. Almost always, I’m just annoyed that I have to delete the irrelevant text in the app’s find input field, because I’m often using different apps to search/find different things at the same time. :slight_smile: The worst is when I accidentally clear a search term in one app by starting another unrelated search in a second app.

I think this is one of those things that silently annoys people but they don’t think to complain about or maybe in some cases, once they notice it, then it becomes that much more annoying.

Given that it appears possible for other apps have a way to turn this off then I would at least like to put in the feature request for DEVONthink to consider doing this as well.

I personally never use this and find it disruptive to my workflow – in all apps not just DEVONthink, but since I do a lot of searches in DT, it is usually where I notice it the most.

The next release will add a hidden preference to disable this.

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Awesome thank you!

Sounds great. Thanks, @cgrunenberg!

Thanks for adding the hidden preference for DontSetFindPboard in 3.9.5. It works great!


Thank you for adding this!

Although I must be quite dense because I can never seem to get hidden prefs working for me.

I installed 3.9.5, then quit DEVONthink and from terminal ran :

defaults write com.devontechnologies.think3 DontSetFindPboard -bool TRUE

verified it got set :

defaults read com.devontechnologies.think3 DontSetFindPboard

then load DEVONthink, search window pane open
go to a browser and search a word (for example “Powerball”)
got to DEVONthink
and “Powerball” is in my search query

Did I miss a step?