Space management on local machine


I’m not sure if this has been discussed before, if it has been discussed before please feel free to point me to the thread.

The current setup I have for Devonthink is that on my local laptop I have database created which is synced to other machines using iCloud.

On other machine database also resides on machine. Anytime any changes happen at any end other end gets the updated document.

On mobile it just update the list and only download when specifically tapped.

Some questions I have:

  1. Sooner or later, I will run out of space on my laptop or machine and then the only option I would have is free up the space on the local machine. Does everyone is in the same bucket? or you guys are doing something specific/different to mitigate space issue i.e. have database in external hard drive etc?

  2. Is there any option in Devonthink Pro desktop where it does not download document by default but just the list of documents and as mobile download files on demand?

  3. On mobile you can have on demand downloading but once it is download I did not see any option to free up the space and go back to original state. Is there anyway to do this?

Something like OneDrive?

A different sync location (e.g. Dropbox) might actually save local space.


I don’t think I understand how it is different for Dropbox? Dropbox/iCloud they are just vehicle for syncing isn’t it?

At least in case of OneDrive until any software touches the files on OnDrive all it downloads is the file list but as soon as different 3rd party software touches those files which I’m assuming when they touch those files they ask for file attributes which are not present in low weight version of file so OneDrive ends up downloading files which defeats the purpose of on demand file syncing.

For it to be truly useful I think Devonthink needs to implement it’s own on demand solution but not use cloud provider on demand. Just my thoughts on this.

iCloud requires local mirros, Dropbox doesn’t. Therefore at least temporarily iCloud might require much more local space than Dropbox etc.

Local mirror means iCloud does not have on demand syncing? If yes then please read my above comment.

Can you confirm Dropbox + Devonthink works perfectly for On demand syncing? Also, when you free up space how DT behaves?

DEVONthink on the Mac does not support on demand synchronizing.

Can you please elaborate on this? I think Im missing something here.

Contrary to Dropbox it’s not possible to directly communicate with iCloud’s servers, the sync store requires (at least temporarily) local files/folders for up/downloading by iCloud. Therefore iCloud might temporarily require more disk space than Dropbox but neither of them supports on demand downloading on the Mac.


Guys, I think you are misunderstanding each other.

I think @coolgoose85 is referring to the local database, and he is asking if it can handle indexed items located in by-demand clouds, and I know the answer to that is no. You cannot have indexed items that are not physically present in your disk. However, you can have network shares and removable devices indexed: they are updated on next connection, and even for network shared, DT is able to automatically mount them.

And @cgrunenberg is referring to the temporal iCloud sync database. @coolgoose85, to sync a database with iCloud, the way iCloud works, program puts the files to be synchronized in a special folder and then, macOS, when he wants and at the speed he wants, moves that into the cloud. In this scenario, you could need until double of space of your database: your real database and the extra copy that macOS will sync. But other sync ways, say WebDAV or Dropbox direct Api connection, does not waste disk space, as DT sends directly the records to the destination.

As summary: no, you can’t have “cloud only” indexed files. My own scenario involves one iMac with 2 TB disk, that contains all my DB and indexed items, and two MacBook Pro with 512GB disks. In those devices, I have some databases whose indexed items come from a USB-C 2TB SSD disk, not synchronized, and others have indexed items from Dropbox (set as local only). Drawbacks of apple gold like price of SSD disks.

I believe @coolgoose85 is simply asking if the same “on-demand” sync option found in Devonthink To-Go is available on the Mac desktop version, which I don’t believe it is. Actually I came here looking for any word on this or to see if there were plans to implement something similar. I’m hoping there is or will be.

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Welcome @spaceboy

No this is not an option in DEVONthink on the Mac and there are no current plans for it. Mobile is a different platform and its hardware and software limitations/requirements make the option more necessary than a Mac.

I know lots of people who have Mac laptops with less storage space than my iPad. I’m not sure your assumption that Macs have abundant storage space is accurate, as well as your conclusion that the hardware limitations of mobile makes the option to download on demand “more necessary than a Mac.”

I for one wish Devonthink Pro 3 had the option for synced Macs to download on demand. I have a Mac laptop that I cannot use Devonthink on because it requires all files to be downloaded, which would exceed the storage limitations. DropBox and iCloud both allow me to use download on demand on my Mac and my iPad; apparently they don’t feel it’s only “more necessary” to allow this function on Mobile devices.


I built a workaround for indexed databases: Mac on demand sync Workaround (Tested)

Not the same thing, but close.