Subfolder-structure and renaming of files


I’m a bit confused by some of the features of DevonThink. Why does it not - like iTunes - create subfolders to the files-directory (or does it and I’ve just don’t found the trigger)?
And another problem: Why does it not rename the whole file when I change the name in DevonThink. This would be much better to see through the structure in the Finder and copy something.

Maybe I’m just too Newbie to solve this problems or the program doesn’t feature this. Anyone knowing some answers?


I think you have some preconceptions about the relationships between DT Pro and the Finder, rather than actual problems. :slight_smile:

DT Pro is not intended to be a replacement for the Finder, nor is it intended that changes made to the database’s organizational structure are mirrored in the Finder, or changes to files (including file name) be mirrored in the Finder.

Those things can be done, in the sense that you can use a script to rename files in the Finder to the database document names, or that you can export the contents of your database to the Finder with the exported material organized as in the database.

I think that’s a strength, not a weakness. I don’t feel the need to reorganize the Finder every time I make changes in the database, especially as I can make organizational decisions in the database that are not allowable in the Finder. For example, I can use replicants in the database and there’s not a precise Finder equivalent for some of the powerful things I do with replicants. I can have multiple documents with the same name (with or without the same content) in a group in the database, and I sometimes have uses for that flexibility.

Here’s my own attitude to the Finder, vis a vis my database: Once I’ve captured material that was originally stored in the Finder, I don’t care much about the Finder. :slight_smile:

That’s because I see the purposes of capturing material into my database as enabling me [1] to view and search the content of a variety of file types (that’s why I fell in love with the original version of DEVONthink back in 2002) and more importantly, [2] to use its artificial intelligence features to help me research and analyze the information content of my documents.

It’s that “purpose [2]” that guides me in the design and use of my databases. DT Pro’s ability to “see” contextual relationships among the documents in a database becomes more efficient with increasing contextually related content in the database. To put it another way, DT Pro is more likely to successfully suggest related documents when the “See Also” button is pressed, if there are related documents in the database. I recognize that fact in building my databases.

None of DT Pro’s “competitors” attempts to handle “purpose [2]” although many do address “purpose [1]”. So DT Pro becomes a much better research assistant for me than Mori, or SOHO Office, or NoteBook, etc.

I still find it amazing that DT Pro’s artificial intelligence features can run on consumer Macintosh computers. There are a number of “enterprise” software packages, most requiring “big computer” resources, that also do textual analysis in various ways.

So DT Pro doesn’t just index the text of documents. Spotlight does that. There have been lots of indexing programs around for years.

The artificial intelligence features do require an additional overhead requiring additional computer resources. I recognize that fact in building my databases.

So I deliberately construct my databases to have topically related content, so as to maximize the degree of contextual relationships of interest to me in the content while keeping the database sizes within levels that match the available resources of my computers.

Advantages of that approach:

  • Search speeds orders of magnitude faster, and much more useful, than Spotlight searches;

  • Fast and genuinely useful assistance by DT Pro’s artificial intelligence capabilities.

How I started my databases:

Back in 2002 I bought DEVONthink as the first program I had found that really worked to bring together my existing collection of text, PDF, HTML and Word files of significant interest to me.

My professional interests center around environmental science and technology, environmental policy and related laws and regulations, and international environmental science exchanges (especially support for graduate training). That covers a broad variety of disciplines.

Using the original version of DEVONthink I was limited to one database, and I had a 500 MHz TiBook with 1 GB RAM. I’ve been constantly adding to my original material, mostly via Web browsing and captures and, later, via DEVONagent searches. As the database grew, it stressed the resources of my TiBook but still allowed me to do things that couldn’t be done otherwise.

For the past several years my main database has hovered around 20 million total words in content. It had hit about 25 million words on the TiBook when I first started using prerelease versions of DT Pro and was able to start spinning off other databases containing materials topically unrelated to my main interests. I did that to reduce the load on the TiBook.

Now I’ve got a PowerMac G5 dual core 2.3 GHz with 5 GB RAM and a MacBook Pro 2.0 GHz with 2 GB RAM. My main database is about 22 million total words at the moment and still growing. As it’s my default database, I periodically “spin off” newly added material that’s more appropriate to one of my other databases.

Most search speeds are phenomenal, often running less than 50 milliseconds. “See Also” suggestions pop up instantly. And my main database remains a very comprehensive reference collection for my main interests and will continue to grow as new material is added. It’s a wonderful interactive research tool.

I’ve got other databases, some almost as large, that are equally fast and useful for their purposes. One, for example, was a volunteer project to help analyze the impacts of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on the health care infrastructure in Louisiana. That was quickly built from DEVONagent search results (more than 10,000 results). Obviously, that database is completely self-contained, with no corresponding files in the Finder.

Note that I’ve chosen to Import (copy) material to my databases, so that I can easily move them to my MacBook Pro for use outside my office.

What if I had viewed DT Pro as a Finder replacement, and simply dumped the contents of my hard drive into DT Pro? If I had started that way, I think I would have been very disappointed with the results. I’ve got two 500 GB drives in my PowerMac, and many hundreds of GB in files. So I would have gotten a huge database containing lots of unrelated material, and I suspect I would be dissatisfied with its performance, even on my current computers. (Oops! It’s wouldn’t fit at all on the MacBook Pro.)

Question to myself: I’ve got very large collections of photos in iPhoto and a huge collection of music and videos in iTunes. Why would I want to dump those collections into DT Pro? On the other hand, I’ve got some photos and a video of a contaminated lake near Alexandria, Egypt that do fit into my main database on environmental topics, so I did link them in my main database. Topical interests – that’s my guideline.

Hi again,

thanks a lot for your long answer. That’s very kind. Maybe you can tell me, where I can find Scripts that support those or at least one of the features I’ve mentioned. You’ve said something about that.



DT Pro Scripts > Path & URL > Rename Files & Folders

DT Pro Scripts > Export > Daily Backup

Maybe I’m just too dumb, but I don’t find these items. I also didn’t receive my license-number yet - maybe these options just work with a licensed version? I don’t know.



Sorry, it appears that you are using DEVONthink Personal.

Scripts are available only with DEVONthink Pro.

That’s a pity that none of the really helpful features are avaiable in DT Personal (I mean Scripts and Automator-Integration). I hope that the Personal Version will also work fine in future - and that it does not just behave like a slight better finder-spotlight-replacement for pdfs. Indeed the non-support of subfolders is a step backward. I’m actually a bit disappointed by now that I can’t do much more just because I haven’t got 70€ to buy the Pro-Version.

JenEthan :unamused:

If you look at the real strengths of DEVONthink, the description is not at all that it is “a slightly better finder-spotlight-replacement for PDFs”.

I would say that it is a much better finder-spotlight-replacement.

But then I would say that’s still not why I use DEVONthink or DT Pro.

What do you want to do with the information in your files? Note: that’s a very different question than “What do you want to do with your files?” Send me a private message on the bulletin board (click on my name), if you wish.

Show off :wink:


Bill, this is as compelling an argument I’ve heard for the import versus index debate. In a nutshell, then, the portability is the main reason why you’re importing rather than indexing?

For myself, I keep my PDFs outside the database. I use Bookends to keep track of bibliographic references and to format citations in my “real” writing. I attach files in Bookends, and then index that folder (~/Documents/Bookends/attachments) in DEVONthink. This allows me to find an article by reference via Bookends, and still have the amazing AI of DEVONthink work on the information within the files. Yes, I could find the file in DEVONthink, but I started this way, and have too much momentum to change.

Still, I don’t want DEVONthink messing with the filenames or location in the Finder: I’ve got other programs using them. DEVONthink can do it’s magic and allow Bookends (for example) to do its work, too.


Yes, it’s a pleasure to have a couple of hot computers. :slight_smile:

Moving my databases back and forth between the PowerMac and MacBook Pro really is easy. It’s just a matter of copying from one computer to the other. It takes place in the background while I’m doing something else and is finished in a few minutes. The files transferred are usually Backup Archive compressed files, as I do that to make certain of a recent backup that’s gone through the verification check. The only files not truly contained are MS Word files, which are a bit aggravating to handle, so I’ve got as few of those as possible.

Yes, portability is the main reason I prefer the Import mode. But in any case, most of the content of my databases never existed in the Finder as files to be captured into the databases. That’s true of the many thousands of clippings I’ve made from Web pages over the years, the thousands of notes I’ve written inside databases over the years and the thousands of HTML pages I’ve transferred from DEVONagent search results. So even if I had some concern about Finder/database content relationships, that would be relevant only for a minority of the database contents. Gee; that would now be true even if I has started using Index instead of Import.

But I don’t “put down” Indexed databases. There are advantages to those, too. Lower memory requirements, and foolproof editing and saving of Word documents. I prefer to Index collections of Word documents, for example. Portability isn’t bad if the database and Word files are stored in a folder in the Documents folder. as the Paths are not broken if one moves the database and folder holding Word files to the Documents directory on a different computer.

Okay, I purchased DevonThink Pro and some of the feature are very cool. But there is still one question: how can I organise the “files”-folder with the same folder-structure shown in the program?


By the way: how can I set a database as default to be opened at startup and rename a database?

File: Database Properties: check the box “use as Default Database” and enter the database name in the box under “Name”

From that point on, the default DB will open when you launch DTPro.

I don’t quite understand the first question: you mean “with the same folder-structure” in the tutorial?

Don’t worry about it. You can’t and don’t need to do that.

Just organize your groups and files in the database. The better that’s done, the better the AI “Classify” feature will work as the database grows.

Note that although your database organization is independent of the Finder (and that’s a Good Thing), if you were to select all the database contents and export them to the Finder, the organization set up in the database will be used in the Finder for the exported files and folders.