Tags adding more than entered

I’m starting to use the power of Tags and have a question.

I select a document that is a scanned receipt as PDF from my ScanSnap, click on the Info button, enter “Receipts” and tab.

When I go back to it, it has “Receipts” “Personal” “Financial” “Medical” under the tags.

Is this because of a group I’ve setup and forgotten about? Or some ‘smart tagging’ setting? I only want “Receipts” for these items.

Are the additional tags gray, rather than blue like the tag you assigned? If so, then those are group tags.

They are all grey, including the one I added. The file is in the Inbox of the Database, so where does it get the grouping tags from? Is it something I’ve setup while messing around with it and forgotten?

v 2.1.1

It does look like you have tagging enabled for all those groups, and I suspect the group hierarchy is exactly as the tags display in the picture you posted. As soon as the Receipts tag was assigned via auto-suggest, the document inherited all the parent group tags. Clearly this structure doesn’t work if the document doesn’t belong in the Personal>Financial>Medical groups.

I’m not going to suggest that there is a right or wrong way to organize group hierarchies and tags, but in my own experience I have found that if I am going to use a traditional nested folder structure of 3 or more layers, then I’m not going to use a lot of tags. Likewise, if I am going to set up a tag-intensive database, then I am going to set up a fairly flat folder structure and minimize, or turn off entirely, group tags. If you want to be able to tag documents that are not part of the Medical group with a Receipts tag, then at a minimum you will need to turn off tagging for the Receipts group. This is done via the info pane for the group.


Thanks for that feedback. I think I mis-understood how tags work in DTPO.

I do see that there is a folder path like this in my database:


I just wanted a given PDF file to be tagged with “Receipts” so I could pull up only my receipts in a search, regardless of which folder they are in.

For example I have a PDF that is Lowes_110603_Kobalt which is a receipt for my ‘lifetime’ warranty on my Kobalt tools. I’ve got that PDF stored in (folder) FileCabinet>L>Lowes_110603_Kobalt, which now has the tags: Personal

I just wanted to tag it as a receipt. But what you are suggesting is that DTPO is auto assigning a tag based on actual folders that are already setup in DTPO? And if I add “Receipts”, it will also add Financial and Medical to the Tags window?

DEVONthink can display two types of tags, gray tags, which relate to the groups in your organizational structure and blue tags, which you create yourself in the Tags group or in the Tags Bar.

If you wish to restrict the display of tags to those you create yourself and OpenMeta tags imported in documents, open the Database Properties panels of each of your databases and choose the option to exclude groups from tagging.

Thank you. That’s what I was hoping to do with Tags, add my own, and have them grouped in one place no matter where they resided in the DB.

There are some advantages to having tagging enabled for some of your groups. Take Medical for example-if you store all of your medical records in this group and it is a tag group, adding the ‘Medical’ tag to a document in the database Inbox will automatically replicate that document to the Medical Group. At that point, you can delete the replicant in the Inbox-no need to do any filing/moving of the document.

In the future, if you want to find all the medical receipts you can do a search, or switch to the Tags view and Command-click on ‘Medical’ and ‘Receipts’ and you’ll be show all the documents in the Medical group that have the Receipts tag. Taking the example one step further, let’s say that your medical receipts are also tagged with ‘tax’ and some of your tools are tagged with ‘receipts’ and ‘tax’. At the end of the tax period, you can again switch to the tag view, Command-click on the tax tag and the receipts tag and you’ll see all of your tax related receipts. Assuming that the documents in this view span multiple years, sort the view by date, select all the documents for the desired tax period, and replicate them to a new group to assist with your tax prep.


The more I’ve studied how tagging enabled is actually working, I think I prefer it to what I had wanted to do.

Specifically, scan from ScanSnap to Inbox, add Tag to PDF and it puts in the corresponding group, then delete the replicant out of the Inbox. This greatly increases my workflow.

Thanks for the advice/examples.

Ran into an issue.

I have

How do I get it to jump to a specific “2011” folder. It seems to go to the first one in the list, in this case, Taxes, even though it may be Auto I want it in.

As you are using a hierarchical tag structure, you have three different tags with the same name.

But the Tags Bar and the Tags View show tags as ‘flat’ when you choose a tag. That can confuse both the user and DEVONthink, when you are using hierarchical tags.

You can reduce potentials for confusion by using Tools > Groups & Tags to assign tags in a hierarchical tag scheme. (Of course, it also works if your tagging system isn’t hierarchical.)

The Groups & Tags panel can be very useful, and it also allows dragging multiple selected items to the desired group or tag. Note that there’s a keyboard shortcut to toggle its display. And once displayed, it can also be used to add new content, e.g., by dragging a clipping of selected text from another application, or a folder or file from the Finder.

Your 2011 tag is no different than the earlier discussion on a Receipts tag-there really should not be multiple tags with the same name. While you can use the method that Bill suggests to assign one of multiple tags with the same name, you still have a challenge of multiple tags with the same name when setting up searches and smart groups. The only reason I see to use tags is to make searching and organizing easier without having to think about a group structure, and multiple tags with the same name work against you to accomplish that.

That will teach me from posting when it’s too late. :smiley: You are right, I just overlooked that. I’ll re-work my folder structure in a way that prevents that oversight again. Still learning.


A couple other suggestions for your tag/group structure. If you reverse your structure and go from the most general at the top rank, down to the most specific, then you’ll have fewer, or no, duplicate tags. A consideration with using year as a category is that your documents already have more than one year attributes - the creation date, the date added, and the modification date that are available for searching.

So, if this was my structure I’d use:

Taxes > Personal
Medical > Personal
Auto > Personal

I wouldn’t use Year. And I wouldn’t actually use Personal unless I also needed similar categories, such as Corporate, or Client. In other words, without parallel categories, Personal is assumed and might not add new information to your structure.

I guess I’m kind of curious. Why not setup a “2011” tag and then set up:


And then setup smart folders for:

Taxes & 2011
Medical & 2011
Auto & 2011

I guess I kind of figure that’s how DT was ideally designed to do it.

Tom S.