Synchronizing on two Macs


this is so basic that I do not understand why I cannot find any thread about it – I assume that I look for the wrong words…

I want to use my database on my iMac and MacBook Pro and want to keep them in sync. With the other files I use Chronosync, which works fine, but with a large DTPO database, I have to copy the whole db which takes too long. I tried to synchronize only the changed parts, but this destroys the database (unable to write).

How can I easily create a mirror? – I work with a portable HD inbetween.


If your database is on a portable HD (yes?), then both machines should be able to use it - taking care to not open the same database on both machines at the same time. So, is there really a need to have copies on the two machines?


this would of course be a solution. But I do not wish to connect the HD to my computer during my work on the MacBook Pro. This is because of the situation in field research etc. I want it on my internal hard disk…

Thanks anyway,

There are a few ways to do it.

Easiest way is to wait for a bit. They’re working on a sync solution for DEVONthink that will address this. The current announcement says it should be out in a beta form in late August.

If you can’t wait, you can do some syncing on your own. The important thing to remember is that as you mentioned, you want to mirror from the copy you just changed to the other when switching machines. You never want to work on both and try to sync them together. Both computers must have the database closed when you do this.

I use Mac OS X Server’s Portable Home Directories syncing to keep my databases synced between machines. It goes into packages and only copies the individual files that have changed. (Which always includes the database files.)

Before that, I used Unison to do the sync. It uses the rsync protocol to reduce the amount of stuff that’s copied over the networks. It does not understand packages, so you have to make sure that all the files in a database are copied in ONE DIRECTION ONLY, not in both directions.

Occasionally, I use rsync from the command-line to copy things over. You could set up scripts you can click from the desktop or elsewhere that do a “Copy iMac to MBP” and “Copy MBP to iMac”. Since it’s only going in one direction any time you run it, it will safely copy the files. (Let me know if you want to go this route, I can write the command lines.)

Or, in this case, I guess you’d have two setups: one “Copy TO hard drive” and “Copy FROM hard drive”.

Some folks have had success with Chronosync, but it appears you need to be very careful in how you use it. Even then, you might have problems, but your mileage may vary.


Thank you very much for your explicit comments. I am now sure about what to do. Your link to the Chronosync thread was helpful, I did not search for “Chronosync”, so maybe this is why I did not find anything relevant.

I will give the package sync another try, I do not know what went wrong earlier. It is good to have TimeMachine running anyway.


Great! Let us know how you do. People have had success doing lots of different things so if you run into a problem, odds are someone (usually korm) can help you out.

Maria, I save my databases in Dropbox so I can work in all my computers without having to rely in Chronosync. Your limitation will be the size limit allowed in your Dropbox account, but other than that was the easiest and more reliable solution for me. And even better, Dropbox is free!

Hi, Maria. But please do a search on the forum for Dropbox, and note potential problems and precautions.

A new Sync procedure to synchronize DEVONthink on multiple computers will be released later this year.

Does anyone have a script hanging around that will do this:
Save the current database (in ProOffice)
Close Devonthink

I could also use a slightly more elaborate script that first asked if it was OK to close Devonthink.

Why do want these. I semi-automate something incredibly simple. I have ChronoSync which will happily backup a database, but the database needs to be closed. ChronoSync can be triggered either by time-of-day or by a disk mounting. Moreover, ChronoSync, when triggered, will run a script first. So, …

(I know these are boringly simple scripts, but I haven’t seen anyone post anything similar.)

Because there is no “save” concept in DTPO, all you need is:

tell application id "com.devon-technologies.thinkpro2"
end tell

“A new Sync procedure to synchronize DEVONthink on multiple computers will be released later this year.”

So… how’s that coming along then?

This used to be a problem with sharing iTunes before the recent release of iCloud… fortunately the community was big enough that someone figured out how to close one instance of the iTunes when another one was opened. Here is the detailed article. Make the necessary changes for DTPro … th-dropbox

Hope this helps

I’m also waiting with anticipation the possibility of synching here. It would be a real game changer for my workflow. Any news?

Any news on this?

Sync is in internal testing. DEVONtechnologies doesn’t promise specific release dates.

Can I use the DT go iPhone App to sync between two different Databases on two different Macs?


Not looking for a ‘promise’ of a specific release date, but is the sync feature still on track for release ‘later this year’? If not, what’s the best time window you can give us?

I’m also hoping for an update on non-hacked sync. I’ve been using Dropbox with decent success, but lately I’ve started getting this error each time I start up DTPO on any of my Macs:

(And yes, I am quitting DTPO before starting it on another one.)

I’ve been looking for an answer to this but so far, no joy. Frustrating.

I don’t sync databases to Dropbox myself, but from what I have seen posted here-quitting DEVONthink alone is not enough. The people having the most success also close out the databases on Dropbox before quitting DEVONthink. A search here for ‘dropbox’ ‘sync’ will turn up a lot of useful info.