Searching Database for an *

I like to place an * (i.e., asterisk, SHIFT 8) in the body of text as a reminder to myself.

When I am writing and know that I have more work to do in a section, I type an * Then, before I finish the project, I search on * and clean up the text, etc.

I placed such a mark in a RTF document in my database (DevonThink Pro 1.0b2), but when I search the database for an * it cannot find the *

I can successfully search one document at a time, but I cannot search the entire database.

Any suggestions are welcome to help me know what to do to find my reminder marks scattered in a database. Thanks!!


I jut checked that and got the same result. That should not be!



DEVONthink/DEVONthink Pro use the asterisk for wildcard searches. Example: remediat* will find remediates, remediated, remediation.

So you will have to choose a different marker for your reminders.

Is there a way to search on highlighting? eg, everything that I have highlighted in some color.


No, you can’t search for highlighting.

You can apply a State (check, either checked or unchecked) or Labels to a whole document, but not to document text. You can search for those.

As a temporary marker, an uncommon search string such as “zdt” will be found instantly after you have saved a document.

Thank you for your quick help Bill.


Hrrg, sure, that’s it! :blush:

By the way, I use “ßß” instead of “*” since decades… It is always nice to see that others come to similar conclusions…


Hey Maria,

Help me out. OK, you use BB (beta, beta) to tag your documents for a reminder and then search on the betas before you complete your final edit, right? Am I understanding??

Stupid question: what’s the keyboard shortcut for a beta?


Absolutely not stupid. Sorry, I was making fun. “ß” is the German “sz” and very easy to access on a German keyboard – or if you use the German layout on another keyboard like I do with my Japanese one… :unamused:

So, I use ßß because there is no case in my mothertongue where you have the letter twice. What do you think about using ##, )), __, && or something like that?


Hi, Maria:

He will have to test strings, as some may not work. I suspect that the DT Glossary filters out some symbols. Example: “^^^” doesn’t work, but “$$$” does for searches. However, I found multiple hits on some Web pages that used multiple “$” either as a crude graphics line or in tables.

The string “zdt” is unique in my database.

So just choose some marker string that isn’t found elsewhere, test it, and then use it for marking purposes.

The marker can be put in the Comments field of the Info panel, if you don’t want to ‘mess up’ your document. That will also work for PDF and image files that you can’t directly type into.

Interesting you mention that Maria. I have always used ## as my tag for this purpose and DT won’t find them. $$ works, as I also tested out. I was planning on using that tag, but Bill mentioned the hits on Web pages. So I’ll have to find something else. Tricky, since I’ve been using ‘##’ for years!

Generally I use this for marking specific text within a document that needs further revision, or material I need to look at further, etc., so putting it in the comments field won’t work. But if it’s a whole document I need to go back to, then the Comments field idea would work great.

Many thanks to those who brought this up! I’ve been using ## until reading this post and discovering it was useless! So I’m going to have to check my individual documents (the ones I can remember) and change the tags (once I figure out a tag that DT will recognize).


Alexandria, I’d be curious what you come up with for your marker of choice. I’ve test several concepts, but have yet to find something that I feel good about.


Hi Steve,

It’s tricky, because I need a tag I can type very quickly, since I use it often in the midst of writing. Most things on the keyboard, including those characters accessible via option keys and the like, are there for a reason–i.e., they are used often in certain circumstances. I often have multiple language resources, such as things in German, Attic Greek, French, whatever, so I can’t use any of those kinds of characters.

So, I chose something I don’t think I’ll ever see twice and that closely matches my already existing habits. Instead of using shift+3 I think I’ll try option+3, which is ‘££.’ It could backfire, since it’s so close, and I may keep hitting the shift instead of the option key. But I need something pretty automatic that I can use without thinking and with very little effort. And if I do an exact match search, I won’t find things with just one ‘£’ which could definitely happen!

I hope this works! And I hope this helps.


PS Hey if anyone can think of a reason to not use this tag, I’d appreciate a heads up before I get going with it. Many thanks.

PSS I would be really grateful if the developers could find a way to integrate a more efficient system of tagging into DT Pro. Both for text and for files. Pretty please… :smiley:

Hi Alexandria,

Thank you for your thoughtful post. It is not a throw away issue! I’ll mess around with some keys; your ££ seems like a good one to consider. Thanks again–


It’s definitely worth checking the “Special Characters…” menu (under the Edit menu). It gives you access to most Unicode characters available on your Mac. I’m sure you can find one that will be truly unique to your data. You can even add it to your Favourites for a quick lookup.

For those of us with less strong ties to money, the double beta (opt-s) might be fine, as someone suggested in an earlier post.



Would it not be possible for DT to treat a double asterisk as a ‘command’ to treat it as a character for search purposes. Thus data* would find all text starting with ‘data’ while data** would find only the text ‘data*’. This would work with multiple uses so for instance you could have data*** which would search for all text starting with ‘data*’ and data**ba* would find all text starting with ‘data*ba’ etc, etc. This is a common approach in many systems to this problem.

Yes, thank you. I use Special Characters quite extensively for many purposes and have many favorites. I also use a program called iClip to house special characters that I use quite often. However, neither method is a quick enough option for this particular purpose. When I’m writing, it needs to be a quick key stroke or two to not be an interruption. I’ve considered a program that lets me assign macros to a character, but then I’m back to using a key or two, so nothing saved there.

No, I agree, Steve, it’s not a throw away issue. It happens quite often that we need to get some thoughts out there and move on, and then go back and clean it up later!


Everyone is struggling to find personal kludges in the form of odd special characters. But isn’t the proper solution for the software to allow searches for whatever characters (including *) the user wants to search for? Normally there would be a way to “escape” characters that have special meanings in search strings. That would be useful.


I know where you are coming from.

But think about it this way. If you are using special characters that are allowed by the DT/DT Pro Glossary, wouldn’t you like AI features such as See Also to work on them? That’s added value, in my opinion. :slight_smile:

It will let you check marked items in several ways. Words, for example.