Spreadsheet v Sheet confusion/frustration

I’ve been struggling with this the past couple of days, and I can’t for the life of me figure out how to proceed. I have a need for simple, lightweight spreadsheets that can be both viewed and edited directly from within DEVONthink that can also do basic spreadsheet functions (e.g., summing to a particular cell), automatically numbered rows, etc.). Ideally, though likely impossible, I’d like to be able to add my existing Numbers files to DEVONthink such that they can be both viewed and edited without having to open the file externally. Alternatively, sheets would appear to be the answer, except they are functionally not spreadsheets in spite of their name—hence my confusion and frustration over the past couple of days. I understand now that sheets are in fact just tables of plain text that can’t really do anything. I understand now that scripts are required to perform basic calculations, except scripts are not accessible in DEVONthink To Go, nor do they populate the calculation into a cell. [Bug] Also, there’s a problem with the Row Sum & Mean Value script in that it leaves out n-2 columns and does not sum all the cells across the row. At first, I thought perhaps this was by design to leave the last column out if it held a manually calculated sum, but then I saw Check sums in last column (which is also leaving out columns). Column Sum & Mean Value is working as expected. Incidentally, is there a way to force DEVONthink to remember the width of your columns? It resets on my every time I click away and back again.

Exporting sheets to spreadsheets and back again is not really feasible—may as well just open the spreadsheets from the start, even though that’s what I was trying to avoid. It’s the least work of the given options. [Bug?] So, now I add my Numbers files to DEVONthink and there’s a lot of white space in the preview window, even though everything (DEVONthink, MacBook, Numbers) is set to dark mode. This is quite distracting and hard on my eyes. Meanwhile, there is no white space at all in the preview window for these files in DEVONthink To Go. I was convinced I was missing a background colour setting somewhere, but I cannot find it (every available setting in preferences is already dark).

[Feature request] Native spreadsheet capabilities. Users have been asking for this as far back as 2006 from what I saw digging through support topics on the subject. Originally, I bought DEVONthink for uni research projects, but I’m now wanting to expand its use to personal matters as well. Often when I can’t work a thing out in my head, I make a spreadsheet to organise my thoughts, so I end up with a lot of little spreadsheets. In fact, I put almost everything in my life into spreadsheets, but managing scores of files has become tiresome (I still love spreadsheets though). I’ll admit that DEVONthink wasn’t my first choice for this use case, mainly because it never occurred to me. I started out with Notion (yes, I understand Notion and DEVONthink are vastly different programs), and the little bite-sized spreadsheets with (usually) just enough functionality were a dream come true—I could finally organise other things relevant to the data I was trying to manage…except then I discovered Notion isn’t E2EE…and any files you add are uploaded to their servers…and there’s no offline mode…and, well, a slew of problems really. Then I tried Obsidian, but trying to manage my data in markdown was untenable, as was the of organising relevant files together. That’s when it struck me that DEVONthink must surely be the answer and why didn’t I think of it sooner—surely DEVONthink can do this…my disappointment has been immeasurable. I desperately hope DEVONthink will consider adding this functionality in the future. I’ll buy it all over again for this feature alone.

I do not speak for DEVONtechnologies, of course.

Your request for spreadsheet functions in DT parallels similar requests for word processor/editor functions, image manipulation functions etc. What would become of a document management system that implemented all these things? A behemoth. And only because users can’t be bothered to open a document in an app was made to work with this kind of document?

The job of tools is to do some things well and to make other things possible, not to do all things well. Use Numbers (it’s free, btw) if you need a spreadsheet. The app works on macOS and i*OS.

That there’s no scripting on i*OS has nothing to do with DTTG. The OS does not allow for scripting (at least not for Applescript). You should send your complaints about that to Apple.


I did not pour through your entire (and long) post but this jumped out at me. You do not need to export. DEVONthink never worked that way. Use the “open with” or if you have default macOS apps set up double click on the file name.

I concur whole heartedly with what @chrillek said.

Yes, I know. As mentioned, I already use Numbers, and Excel as well. They are often more than I need.

I mentioned the lack of scripting in DEVONthink To Go to lend support to the request for native spreadsheet capabilities. I truly don’t understand what purpose the sheets serve.

I am merely adding my voice to the others that would like to see this functionality in the program. I’m really not sure what your purpose was in replying other than to be condescending and judgemental.

Clearly I cannot communicate well, too much and no one will bother reading, too little and there’s not enough information. Please allow me to clarify, this was meant to preempt any suggestions of using sheets for their extremely limited native functionality and exporting to a spreadsheet when more functionality is required and then exporting back to sheets again. This is something I saw suggested in the past to other people in the forum when a bit more spreadsheet power was needed in their sheets.

My intention was to demonstrate that I have thoroughly delved into the matter on my own before resorting to posting for help.

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Not the way to use DEVONthink and Excel, Numbers, or whatever real spreadsheet you prefer.

If you keep thinking that and doing that, of course you will rant.

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Neither do I. But there are apparently people using them for some purpose.

Otoh I’m fully aware that they were never announced to be a spreadsheet replacement. That’s why I don’t see the point in using them as such. Incorporating every function perceived by someone as missing into a program can’t be the solution. Certainly not if the function is already available elsewhere and easily usable from within DT.

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Well, they’re for tabular data which doesn’t need calculations. E.g. contacts or recipes. See also the included templates.


From the Documents > Sheets section of the built-in Help and manual

Also, tabular data is HUGE in the world. I’d estimate it’s likely the most prevelant data source in our daily lives.

PS: Since you were wondering how anyone would use a sheet, here’s an example of a random .tsv (tab-delimited) file that’s functionally a sheet in DEVONthink…

That’s 51MB+ of data and over 200,000 rows of data. Additionally, there are 10 columns, so this is 2,020,036 cells of data in this file!
And there are far, far larger datasets in .tsv/.csv format out there.


Has there been any investigation on whether a public API for plugin support would be feasible and be able to provide functionality so that 3rd party apps could consider supporting DevonThink directly. (i.e. the basics were launch into the app editor of some sort and save back into DevonThink and having some way of rendering the preview in whatever window DevonThink shows? More of a curiousity question, I have not really thought that deeply about such a thing myself.

Development would have to comment on the public API but DEVONthink already great automation capabilities including a deep and robust AppleScript dictionary that can be used by other scriptable apps.

I have no problem with using Devonthink to store/organize my Numbers spreadsheets.
A native basic view is supported, and the document is easily opened in Numbers for detail view or edit


Rant? Who is ranting? It seems you didn’t even fully read my (short) reply. I saw that method suggested to other people in the past in this forum. Again, I mentioned it only because I wanted to save people the bother of suggesting it to me. It’s fine if you don’t want to read what I’ve written, but how is it helpful to comment if you don’t?

Thank you, yes, I had already found and read that.

The built-in scripts for basic calculations would seem to acknowledge users’ need for simple spreadsheet capabilities, except they are inaccessible on mobile—also the row calculation script is broken. It is only reading n-2 columns.

I’m happy that your workflow fits neatly into DEVONthink as is. I wish mine could. Often I’m working across many spreadsheets at a time, needing to view certain ones while editing others. Being able to edit directly from within DEVONthink would be a massive help to me. Also, there is a bug with the native viewer on desktop—there is a lot of white space surrounding the dark of the spreadsheet, and it’s very hard on my eyes.

I’m a relatively new user who started with DEVONthink 3, so I haven’t followed the announcements. It’s understandable, I think, that a person new to this software would be confused by the terminology and expect a sheet to be a spreadsheet of sorts.

That’s kind of my point, though, the functionality isn’t easily usable from within DEVONthink (the bug in the row calculation script doesn’t help matters either). I also feel like the inclusion of built-in calculation scripts acknowledges users’ need for such functionality from directly within DEVONthink.

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The built-in scripts were simple, one-off, scripts for limited use - almost proof-of-concept, more than anything else.

While I see what you’re saying, such activities are best suited for the bespoke tools that are made specifically for them, i.e., Excel and Numbers.

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See @BLUEFROG’s response.

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One of the things I’m continually surprised by is how I keep finding new workflows with Devonthink.

Try this - save your spreadsheets in Devonthink. You can save directly to the global inbox from any application. Move spreadsheets to whatever group in Devonthink you want.

I keep the open externally function on my DT toolbar. Devonthink becomes a control panel for a project or a creative work.

When you select a spreadsheet and click the open externally button, is it really that different from switching Devonthink to spreadsheet mode?


For this kind of data, do you really need spreadsheet functions like arithmetic? I only ask because I’ve often seen people using spreadsheets as simple stores of tabular data – like DT Sheets, in fact.

The rest of your original post suggests that you do indeed need formulas in your spreadsheets. I too have sometimes wished for simple spreadsheet functions in DT.

This is a bit like previous discussions on text editing. I don’t expect DT to be a fully-fledged Markdown editor, but I’m delighted with the Markdown functions the team have added recently.

For complex work I’m happy to view a Numbers file in DT and open it externally for editing, but I’d also appreciate some simple arithmetic functions in Sheets. Please Santa?

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