Question to user about database organization

I’ve been using DTPO for some time but up until late last year it was used only for a single project.

Now that version 2 is in beta and many new features are being introduced, I’ve begun organizing other things using DTPO. For instance, it has replaced Together as my app for casual storage of odds and ends.

What I’m curious about is how other users set things up. In my mind there are two extremes: Creating a single database with dozens of groups for organizing everything from major projects, research, writing, home & business receipts, hobby stuff, the whole ball of wax.

At the other extreme one would create a lot of narrowly-focused databases, say one for each project, others for specific areas of research, home stuff, personal banking, and maybe a few for various loose chippings.

I’m sure that most of us have organized DTPO somewhere in between. So how do you organize your life with DTPO? Screen grabs of your “groups” pane and/or the groups and globals pane (see my screen shot) would provide me with visual clues on how to set my own thing.



I’ve been using DT since May 2003. I have only one database which I use it to store:

  • Records
    ---- indexed journal files I keep in an application I wrote
    ---- indexed investment records
    ---- serial numbers and online ids
  • To Do items
  • Utility scripts and smart folders for cleaning up data
  • Subjects
    ---- computing, genealogy, history, language, politics,
    ---- quotes, science…

Picture 4.jpg

With only one database I don’t really need the universal Inbox or Sorter. Most of my saved information comes from online research. For sending information to my database’s Inbox, I rely on the Services menu’s plain- and rich-text features, CMD-( and CMD-) for short.

Smart Groups is my favorite feature. When I process the Inbox, I move some saved information directly to groups via the magic hat. Other information gets labeled and marked (‘show state’ – I wish there were a toolbar icon for that!) before moving. It doesn’t matter where a todo item gets stored; the label/show-state operation puts an item into a logical todo category. Later I can use one of my smart groups to gather the labeled items into a todo list by category (correspondence, programming, library research, online research, etc.)

I have an AppleScript application for writing quick notes to myself. I keep the application open in the Space where I do most of my work. When I think of something I need to do, I type in the item and subject and send it to DT as a checkbox item (i.e., marked ‘show state’). I can also save a note to DT as plain- or rich text.

@ tvillemw: thanks for posting your thoughts as well as the screen shot. I like what you’ve done with smart groups (something I find a bit daunting for some reason) and I would be interested in see your note-taking a/s. I don’t quite understand the “checkbox item” thing, though.


re. Checkbox Item – same as a todo item (pull Data>Mark>Show State). Sorry for the confusion.

re. Smart Groups. To see the magic of the DEVONthink crew, you can look at their Smart Groups for All Images, All Replicants, etc. by selecting Edit… from the contextual menu.

Here’s my Smart Group for the Update GEDCOM todo list (I renamed the color labels in Preferences for this purpose):