Starting document name with underscore, question mark in file name

For years I observed strict file naming rules on my Mac in order to be prepared for exchange with colleagues on other OSs and anyway, to be on the safe side.

One of this rules is to put certain files like TOCs and HOWTOs at the beginning of a folder with the help of underscores at the beginning of the name. Now I am trying to get a bit more freedom, and added a question mark ( :face_with_hand_over_mouth:) at the end of a file name.

I use file names for wiki links with brackets and I enjoy the incoming links section as well.

Now I realised that the file name in the finder differs: The underscore at the beginning is gone, and the question mark is replaced with a minus sign.

I could forget about the question mark, but starting underscores are essential and as far as I see not a weird personal style but quite common.

(1) First question: Is a question mark not allowed – like slashes and colons?

As for the links panel and the recognition of wikilinks when writing a note: Devonthink gives suggestions as soon as I write the opening double brackets in a text, and these suggestions include the underscores. But the link is not mentioned in the Links panel. – The link is mentioned though in the Incoming Links section with underscores (and question mark b.t.w.).

The behaviour when clicking on a bracketed wiki link (the only option for wiki links in my setting) is somehow inconsistent. When I write something [[_gothere]] and the _gothere Markdown file is in another group, DTP3 creates a new file without underscore in the same group and ignores the existing file, but not always. When I delete the underscore in the file name and the wiki link, DTP links to the group above the linked file, which has the same name. I did not expect that but somehow seem to remember that this is one of the newer features, and I will embrace that. However, in that case, I have to create different names for the files inside the group, and there, an underscore comes in handy.

(2) Next Questions:

  1. From the forum posts I infer that underscores at the beginning of a file name are OK, what can I do to make them work?

  2. Do wiki links not appear in the pane for outgoing links? Incoming links work fine.

Thanks for listening.

Question marks are shell meta characters (like asterisk, square brackets etc). They’re not explicitly forbidden on file names by the OS but not a very good idea, either.

See also DT > Preferences > General More compatible naming of files. That is described like this in the the user guide (also available through the in-app Help):


Thanks Stephen, I had this checked, and as chrillek advised me – thanks! – I would prefer to leave the question mark in this case as well and stick with the compatible versions.

But still: the double underscore at the beginning of a file name should work as far as I checked the forum and documentation. So if this would basically work and keep file names in the Finder and document names in Devonthink consistent, that would be great.

There is no comment on the underscores starting a file name. It seems to me that this should work. Any comments from someone who knows better?

Development would have to comment on the preservation of the prefixing underscores.