Syncing 3 Macs


I have 3 Macs which I use alternatively, and I want to keep my databases in sync.
They are all on the same network, but not always running.

So I am wondering what the best method would be:

  1. sync through Dropbox
    I would like to avoid any cloud if possible. But this method would be independent of any other Mac running.
  2. sync via Bonjour with one Mac being the master
    I would be dependent on the master Mac being always on. But maybe less risky in regards to inconsistencies than 3?
  3. sync all Macs with all Macs
    That would be the most convenient solution, but It would require two sync relations on each Mac - not sure whether this could result in inconsistencies?

I could not find any recent discussion of such a setup - so what would be your advice?


All three of your options work, and a fourth if you add “keep the master database on a USB or SSD drive and transport the drive from one computer to another” – there are several researchers who do that. This is the zero conflict alternative.

But, If I were doing this, I would do option (1) – preferably on a WebDAV I control.

I do NOT suggest option 3. This will easily lead to Bonjour stalling.

Korm’s suggestion of a portable database is workable, but not Syncing.

However, (unless I misunderstood his suggestion), since you are talking about all Mac-to-Mac Syncing, the fifth option (and one I would strongly advocate), is using a Local Sync Store on the portable drive or a less-portable external drive. It’s VERY fast, generally reliable, and doesn’t have a dependency of other machines being On.

Would adding a network drive to the local network make sense?

Could you elaborate what you’re thinking?


I have trouble in synchronising databases. :frowning:
To be short, I tried to synchronise a newly created empty database on my mac with my “working database” already on my mac. I was able to start the synchronisation but no items appeared in the newly created database after synchronisation. However, and surprisingly, even if not items appeared in this newly created database, the size of the file did increase, indicating that something has been added to the database file…but that did not appear in DTpro desktop.

Could you help me to resolve this issue ?

Best regards,


You can’t Sync two different databases together. You can import the “working database” from one machine (or Sync location) but you cannot Sync the contents of database A with database B, even if the names are the same.

Local sync store sounds in this circumstance (all devices are on alocal network) the way to go. - Two questions about it:

  • Can the sync store be on a NAS which gets auto-mounted when the machine powers on?
  • And is it ok if all Macs mount the NAS at the same time?

Yes, though I personally don’t advocate auto-mounting network resources on login. If the network or device is down / slow responding, it stalls the Mac. An alias on the desktop or dock is my recommendation.

I don’t see why not.

Hello Bluefrog,

Thanks for your responses. I come back to you since I’m still not able to synchronise the bibliography between our NAS and my working Mac.

I’m in charge of setting up the system in my lab but unfortunately it is a complete fail and I need your help.

I performed several things:

  • First, using Devonthink, I successfully exported the NAS database in a “home” database in my computer. I therefore added new items in my home database and lauched a synchronisation between my “home database” and the “NAS database” (using my home database as the source, and the NAS database as the destination). The synchronisation worked well but no new items appeared in the NAS database.

  • I therefore performed the reverse action adding items on the NAS database and trying to synchronise it with my “home database”. Again I was able to start the synchronisation but no items were added in my “home database”.

  • I also tried to save my home database in a Sync Store created on the NAS. I successfully created a “database.dtCloud” file using the Sync tool. I successfully synchronised my home database on my mac with the database.dtCloud on the NAS. But once it was done, I therefore tried to use the database.dtcloud Sync Store as a source database to synchronise a database on another mac…but I cannot find the way to select the database.dtCloud Sync Store as a source file in the Sync tool. It simply does not appear in the right pannel of the sync tool.

  • Finally I decided to copy/past my home database file on the NAS using the Mac Finder. This was done successfully. I therefore removed some items from this newly “home-NAS copy” database and launched a synchronisation with my Home database as a source. The synchronisation could not launch and Devonthink software open a windows where it was written that their was a conflict woth the UUID of the two databases (that are the same…of course).

So, something is going in the wrong way but I’ve no ideas how to resolve the issue. I really need your help.

Best regards,

Yann Percherancier

What do you mean by this?

It feels like you’re going in several directions at once. Please start a Support Ticket.

I opened a ticket.

In fact I’m completely lost. to answer your last question, I tried to install on my computer a database previously installed on the NAS . I used the export option in Devonthink. I therefore created an empty database on my Mac and imported the files previously created with the export function from the NAS database. Once created, I tried to add or delete items from the Mac database and tried to synchronise it with the other one the NAS…and even if the synchronisation run well, there was no new items appearing in the destination database after the procedure completed.

I think that I should start from zero and follow your advise step by step. Let say that I have one database on my Mac (database 1) and that I want to share it and synchronise it with Mac N°2 and Mac N°3 through a NAS. All Mac are connected to the NAS using a SAMBA protocol (smb) with the Bonjour service, but Mac N° 1,2 and 3 are not directly connected with each others.

Thanks for your help.

This is being handled in Support now. Thanks.