Sync DTP across multiple Macs in a team


i’ve spend a while(!) searching the forums and also reading the tutorials, but I’m confused - some of the tutorials and ‘Tuesday tips’ seem to be from a long time ago and I’m unclear which, if any, are still relevant to the most recent version of DTP.

it seems that you can sync using a sync store via Dropbox (i know not to upload the database to Dropbox, fingers burnt on that one!) - but then it seems that to do this across a team, they all need access to the same Dropbox? One tip said you can create a different Dropbox just for the sync store, but my colleagues are all IT-phobic, so the thought of them using dual dropboxes seems a nightmare…

Is there any way I can sync two or three databases via the cloud in a simple way so we can all access, read, and update (i.e. add files to) the database, even at the same time via some form of cloud server? We each have Dropbox, iCloud drive and One drive.


Joe Lafferty

The Server feature of DEVONthink Pro Office can work for this - access, read, update multiple databases by multiple parties on multiple platforms (OS X, Windows, tablets) from a browser window. There are a few tutorials about the Server (aka “web sharing”), and you can check the DEVONthink Pro Office manual, or simply download DEVONthink Pro Office and trial the feature yourself. (I’m not sure from your posting what version of DEVONthink you own.)

Personally, I think many people use the database sync feature when the Server is more than adequate for collaboration.

DEVONthink is built on a decentralized data model, so simultaneous access if not supported (and no, there are no plans to change this).

Just to be clear… you should not store a syncStore in a Dropbox folder as it will be in jeopardy just like your database. The proper process with Dropbox is to Sync to it via the plugin.

There’s nothing to be phobic about. They are not setting up dual accounts for use with the Dropbox application (ie. there’s no account switching or anything). Anyone of you could set up the common account with common credentials. They would only have to add the common Dropbox location to Preferences > Sync in DEVONthink.

As korm pointed out, Web Sharing is a viable option and is often used in business or education settings. Do note that it is easily used on a LAN but Internet access can be had if port-forwarding is correctly set up. (Port-forwarding is environment and equipment specific so we do not offer instruction on this. Check with your router manufacturer for info.)

Just to be precise: port forwarding is needed only on the network where the instance DEVONthink Pro Office is running the Server and the databases are located – not on your collaborators’ network(s).

Thanks for all the responses.

for the record, I’ve been using DTP for 7+ years (now v2.8.6), it was the main reason I moved to mac back then. It’s fantastic, just looking to see how we can collaborate more effectively with an international small team who share research papers, ebooks and core models/tools across the team.

thanks for link to tutorials korm, i did read them but was confused. one said that you needed a separate dropbox to share the sync-store (not the database, I understand that). And this had a link back to what looked like a much earlier article … h-friends/
databases we share are more than 2GB so would need another pro dropbox account. no problem, but another $99!
I understand from what you say Bluefrog that this is not difficult as the useres just need the username/password of the shared account, which is only used for the sync store and nothing else.

I did read the manual, maybe I’m being dense, but on page 29 it states that “Synchronizing keeps multiple copies of a database updated so that all contain the most recent set of documents.”
and that it is possible to use a sync store on Dropbox (think that’s what the tutorial article above refers to).

is what you are saying Bluefrog that while the databases can all sync and as the manual says “all (databases) contain the most recent set of documents”, in fact, this is only the case if users don’t work concurrently on the same database - perhaps adding new pdfs or editing word documents?

I have set up one database (about 3GB), to test it, using the preferences sync, adding dropbox sync store and linked it to the Dropbox app in my own account.
Is this the ‘plug-in’ you refer to Bluefrog?
I’m onlyl sharing between my iMac and macbook retina just now. it seems to work fine. I set up my Retina to sync via the same dtopbox sync server - the retina has synced via the sync store to same dropbox account. it took a while but all the files transferred across the the Retina.

If other users cannot update without creating conflcit or database corruption, it may be we should use the web sharing option. I have read up on this now and it looks pretty powerful. So, my plan is to create a new database-which only I update, then set up web sharing to my colleages who can access and search to their hearts content.

I guess the only value in using the sync store for our databases is that the whole team will have the full funcionality of DTP to search the databases. BUT we will need to instill the discipoine of not simultaniously editing!



PS, i called dropbox to see if dropbox for business allows us to share a core ‘apps’ folder and this would have obviated the need for a separate dropbox for DTP sync store, but it seems this is not possible.

No. Each machine has its own copy of the database so you are never editing the same database.

Also, the database is not stored in Dropbox (or any Sync Location) as you see it in the Finder. It is raw Sync Data used to reproduce a record or database on another machine running DEVONthink.

My suggestion in collaborative scenarios, is to have a Master Syncing database and each individual have a separate working database (or more). Changes to the Master should be curated, or at least approved (by an Admin or by group permission), as changes to the Synced database are propagated to all Syncing machines. Imagine one of the collaborators decided to delete a bunch of files he thought were extraneous, then restrucure the database. This would affect ALL the Syncing machines.

NOTE: In the Dropbox application’s Preferences > Account > Selective Sync, you must turn off the /Apps/DEVONthink folder from Syncing. DEVONthink does not use the Dropbox application for Syncing.

that’s really helpful. much clearer for me.
think I’m getting there…
one more question, I’m a bit confused, you say:

so how does DTP sync?
this is how I have it currently set up (see img below).
not sure what you mean by selective sync?
is what I have here wrong.

You are in the DEVONthink sync preferences. You need to go to to the Dropbox app, which should be an icon in your menu bar, and select the gear icon, then Preferences… When the preferences opens, select the Account tab, and click on ‘Selective Sync: Change Settings…’ and uncheck the DEVONthink folder inside the Apps folder.

ah! got that, thanks Greg!
actually already had done that in line with tutorial/manual - but hadn’t made the link, if you pardon the pun!

one more question, in the Dropbox/Apps folder there are two Devon Think folders:

  1. DEVONthink, and;
  2. DEVONthink.dtSyncStore
    I presume I deselect both of these.

This one should not be in there as a syncStore should not be in a Dropbox folder (for the same reasons a DEVONthink database should not be). I would remove this file and deselect the other.

Thanks Jim,
best regards,

No problem. Cheers! :^)