Request: open with DTP/externally default by file type

Please add the ability to specify the default program (DT or (which) external program) to use to open a file, on a file type basis.

In Feb last year, there was a post to the DT blog about opening files externally (

The (salty) comments on that post seem to indicate there is at least an interest in the ability to specify, on a file type basis, whether to open a file with DT or with an external program. The response from DT was that “…the current behavior is in response to the majority of User demands. Also, we do not see adding more preferences to an overloaded set of preferences as a good option for our Users.”

Now, I get that, and if this was MS Word then I’d completely agree, but some of the purported strengths of DT are it’s customizability and scriptability. This indicates that people like me, who like to automate away as many tasks as possible, are among the DT target audience, and we would all love the ability to go down a list of all file extensions that have been encountered in a database and pick the default action for those file types.

And an obvious solution to avoiding the “overloading” of preferences is to have an “advanced” section for stuff like this, right?



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The request is noted but there’s already the option to use Command-Shift-O to open a file in the external application. You can also add a Toolbar button for this. And if you wanted to get fancy about it, you could script something, though again, that would require a menu selection, toolbar button, or a hotkey to activate.

I know you’ve said this setting won’t be added, but I’d like to add my voice to the chorus of users requesting it. I know we can use the toolbar button or the keyboard shortcut to open a document externally and sure, it only takes an extra half-second, but that’s not the point. The point is, the intuitive behavior, common to all applications, is to double-click on a file open it. This requires the least amount of thought, the least amount of moving your fingers around on the keyboard and the least amount of moving your mouse cursor around. It’s instantaneous, it’s simple and it’s consistent with what a user would expect.

The fact DT opens documents within itself, is often not convenient. DT is first and foremost a database to store and organize files, not a file editor. Yes, you can edit files directly within DT, but many users prefer to use external editors and it’s annoying to have to take an extra step each time we want to open a file externally. In my specific use case, I store all my notes as Markdown documents. Since DT has no built-in MD editor, double-clicking just gets you a MD preview window. Then you have to click another button to switch to plain text editing mode. It would be much faster and simpler if it would automatically open your Markdown editor of choice when you double-click on a MD or text file.

To respond to your assertion that the Preferences screen is already too crowded, I can’t imagine that adding one more checkbox would bother anyone and this is a checkbox that many users have asked for. But if you think this is too much, could you at least make it a Hidden Preference?

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You can set Preferences > Media > Markdown to Edit documents or Preview documents, as the default view.

We are considering some things for a future release. Thanks for your patience and understanding.


I’m well-aware that you can edit MD documents within DT. However, it’s a simple plain-text editor, which is not a comfortable editing environment. This also completely misses the point of my post, which was to request a setting for opening documents externally on double-click. My point about MD was just an example. And even if DT provided a decent MD editor, I’d probably still prefer to use my external editor.

The point is, you should leave it up to the user to decide which action to take in response to double-clicking on a document. If you refuse to make it a Preference setting, please at least make it a Hidden Preference.

Long time no see Pete, pls keep posting more scripts, most of the ones you post has helped me a lot.

I’d like to voice my support for this, too. I’ve been using BBEdit since 1995, and the last job I’m hiring DEVONthink for is to replace BBEdit. So it’s a bit frustrating to see DEVONthink Pro 3 decide that all of my .md files should open externally in iThoughtsX — which I love, but it’s for .opml files MAYBE (that’s another debate between it and OmniOutliner Pro). I don’t see where to switch the external editor for any given suffix, though, and I don’t understand why DEVONthink seems to be making this decision for me.

Hopefully I just need more caffeine and the setting is in here SOMEwhere. :slight_smile:

It appears to me that DT3 defaults to the same default that is set in the Finder for that extension. At least, that is the behavior I’m seeing. Are you not?

You probably know how to set default application in the Finder. In case not (or if someone else doesn’t know): Select a .md file in the Finder. Hit Command-I or File > Get Info. Select the application you want to be the default for the markdown file-type from the “Open with:” dropdown menu. Then click the “Change all …” button immediately below. Now all .md files will default to opening externally with that app.

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That’s correct, DEVONthink just uses the system-wide settings which can be configured in the Finder.

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I had that same brain-wave last night at 2 am when I couldn’t sleep! Just tried it, and once I restarted DEVONthink it worked like a charm! Now all my externally opened .md files go to BBEdit — as god and Rich Siegel intended. :wink: