Taking notes Inside or outside DT?

I wonder if is better to take notes inside DT/DTTG or to take notes elsewhere (Ulysses…?) and let DT doing the indexing only.
Any experience?


Great question!

I’m a fan of external editors instead of restricting to the DT editors
Editing only; I avoid the external filing services

These are editors like Notability, Pages, Numbers,…
The files are stored in Devonthink in native format

I add markdown files to DT, then edit in BBEdit. I don’t care for any of DT’s editing capabilities.

I write Markdown - both short and long-form - in DEVONthink every single day.
I also use other formats as needed and use an external editor in very rare cases or just for support.

And you should read the Help > Documentation > In & Out > Importing & Indexing section before committing to indexing in DEVONthink.

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I’ve slowly started using more and more of DT Markdown writing. Other than aesthetics, there are little reasons to use external editors. You can get used to DT as easily as any other editor currently in the market. And it saves you time to debug when importing/indexing in your database lives in DT. I am also getting out of indexing, it’s just adding vulnerability to my database and should be used as an exception rather than a rule imo…

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IMHO, indexing is a great option when needed. However, I think there’s often a false assumption that indexing is the ideal solution in more circumstances than may be accurate.


I will follow your suggestion, but… I was mainly wondering what were the best note taking practices followed in the DT community

No need to follow my lead. It works for me and there are plenty of others who do the same. You’re going to get all kinds of opinions on the subject. However, I suggest you do what feel comfortable for you, not what anyone else does. There is no universal “better” way to take notes (as evidenced by the fact that a new note-taking application appears at least once a month).

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ok, but my curiosity remains… :innocent:

I’m not a Markdown fan, but i thought DT had this covered with their Markdown editor
Can you expand on the deficiencies

I do a third thing: I write in a third party app to not have DEVONthink running all the time but then not let it index but import the notes. On the Mac I might use DT directly but on mobile devices I find a lightweight, instantly ready to write note taking app with an extra customizable keyboard row way more comfortable than DTTG.

I don’t think there is a right or wrong here, you just go the way you prefer. It is just important that the third party apps don’t lock their notes in a database but an open file system to have DT either index or import them.

With help from people here I made a shortcut that lives on my iOS home screen. Well, two shortcuts actually.
One makes a journal entry with some pre-populated text and headers in markdown format, in a specific database for my journal entries, then opens that new note. One press to start the shortcut, one press to go into edit mode in the new note and then I am typing.
The other shortcut makes a basic markdown note in the global inbox for whatever gold or poo shaped nugget is coming out of my brain at that time.
I’ve resisted figuring out the markdown thing but now that I am learning it, it really is simple and gets out of the way.

Would you mind to share those two shortcuts?

Sure. Not sure how these links will work.

Journal entry

Basic note


fwiw On IOS, we can use: Hey Siri, Create a note in Devonthink


The DT editor is passable, but BBEdit is outstanding. I’ve written several custom scripts for manipulating text inside BBEdit that I use all the time. For example: jb… Inner-Document Markdown Reference Links

It comes down to using the best tool for the job. DT is a fantastic, and secure, document management app, but it has so many features it can be a bit of a toaster-fridge.


Why not simply do all your editing of text files that are in DEVONthink with BBEdit and forget about using the DEVONthink built-in? DEVONthink built on the premise that one can use tools they want to use.

Hi everyone. This is a great question about where to take notes. I suppose there is an answer for each user, but the nice thing about DT is that it doesn’t matter–you can use whatever you want.

The same thing goes for indexing. I’ve been waffling between importing and indexing for many years (over a decade now?), but if you were to look at the amount of time I spend using either workflow, I think it would be clear that I end up using indexing most of the time. There are trade-offs, of course, but the nice thing about DT is that it doesn’t matter–you can use whatever you want.

In the end, I think this laissez-faire approach to the features is one of the most appealing aspects of the app. Of course, the features are also nice, but DT’s long track record of conservative development means we can depend on the developers not to scupper any workflows you end up using. In answer to the original poster, I’d say you can not only use whatever you want but also be confident that you won’t be penalized for your decision.


I think you should tell us what are the notes for and a glimpse of your workflow in order for us to give advice.

For example. If you use mobile DTTG you should know it’s not on 100% on par with DT on the Mac. If you use wiki links, they are not supported in DTTG yet. There’s no WYSIWYG as well, though you might get overt this by using the share sheet.

Other example. If you need speed to jot down a note, maybe it would be faster to do it in an external editor like Drafts.

I tend to think DT is not a note taking application though it can be used as one. Specially on workflows related to research and study, because it’s integrated in the database.

There is a book on taking notes within DT by Kourosh Dini: Taking Smart Notes with DEVONthink

There’s also some YouTube videos, I would suggest this one from that books author: https://youtu.be/pTPzc_UUJiY

Hope it helps!