Spotlight Comments


I’m about to sort through materials in a large folder in the Finder and put them into a DEVONthink Pro database. These materials relate to an academic project. Keeping comments on each item is important and I am planning on using the Spotlight Comments field for this in the Info window for DEVONthink Pro.

I have a fear about the Spotlight Comments, which is, I wonder how safe they are?

I have always thought that the Spotlight Comments field in the Get Info window for files in the Finder to be rather insecure. Many years ago, with the classic OS I had kept notes in what was then the Comments field and I lost them, I’ve forgotten how that happened, but it has left me fearful of using them.

I know that when I back up Finder items using ChronoSync I have have to tell it to preserve Spotlight Comments if I have checked “Ignore Invisibles”, so I guess that the comments are not kept in the file itself, maybe in “.ds_store” perhaps.

Reading the Help with DEVONthink Pro I get the impression that maybe DEVONthink Pro stores the Spotlight Comments in its own field in the database, and so I wonder if that makes them more secure? I wonder if I use ChronoSync to backup a drive with a DEVONthink Pro database on it, but I forget to ask it to preserve Spotlight Comments, does that mean that these comments in the DEVONthink Pro database will still be preserved?

Obviously I could use the Annotations in DEVONthink Pro rather than the Spotlight Comments field, but I think the Spotlight Comments field is neater for my purposes.

Thank you :slight_smile:

DEVONthink does not store Spotlight Comments in a separate location in the database. Spotlight Comments are controlled by the file system and DEVONthink merely displays them and lets you edit them.

Best way to know for sure is to try it for yourself – use CS to copy a DEVONthink database and see what happens.

No way to know, but anything stored and managed by the file system is subject to Apple’s design whims. This is one reason to seriously consider storing your annotation in annotation files. I prefer plain text for that because it is the least likely to be affected by changes to anyone’s proprietary software. Also, just practically, isn’t the teeny Spotlight comment field somewhat constricting?

Okay I will put my annotations in Annotation files :slight_smile:

When an Annotation file is created a URL is put in the URL field of the document which starts:


This replaces any URL which was in that field.

I have many web archives and for these I wish to keep the URL which occupied that field. I think the only sure way to do that is to put that URL in the Annotation file I guess.

When deleting Annotation files the “x-devonthink-item://” URL remains, which is a bit untidy imho however it is something I can live with :slight_smile:.

Further to my last post, it seems that when I create an annotation for a web archive it puts the URL that was in the URL field into the Spotlight Comments field, in fact at the end of anything that is in the Spotlight Comments field on a new line preceded by the text "Original URL: ".

This is when using the Annotations template which comes with DEVONthink Pro.

This template creates an RTF file for the Annotations which is effectively now a standard way of formatting text, so I think I’ll keep annotations in that. Even if RTF became abandoned the text can be retrieved from the RTF file with a bit of jiggery pokery (technical term).