Thinking about buying Devonthink

Hey guys. I’m thinking about buying Devonthink to replace my current system I’m using in Apple’s Notes app. Notes can do quite a bit of stuff, but Devonthink looks like it could take me to the next level of organization. I’d like to hear from Devonthink users why they think I should make the switch (or not). Looking forward to hearing your opinions! Thanks!

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All I can say is try it (FOC trial) - you will be converted :slight_smile: They are completely different products (in a positive way!) There is so much support in this forum and the automation is amazing.


I switched from Evernote & never looked back. DEVONthink has excellent customer support!


Devonthink does a lot of things for me. One database is a records filing system, others are for writing projects. Although I’m not a Luhmann scholar, I think Devonthink would make a great warehouse for a Zettelkasten system.

The sync functions work well, and you can put anything into Devonthink.

I’m particularly fond of tagging in DT. Very powerful, pretty much like an alternate folder hierarchy.

Replication (one or more aliases to a file) are a way of handling ambiguity where a tree structure isn’t really needed.

Smart groups are cool. You can search for things and if you realize you’ll need to run that search again in the future, you can save it as a smart group.

I’m pretty sold on DT, but my mileage varies.


You should give it a try with the free trial
I’m an Evernote convert and am satisfied with Devonthink
btw I would not be satisfied with Apple Notes; it lacks the features I need to properly manage my data


Thanks for the great answers everyone. And thanks for not making fun of me because I’ve been using Notes. It really has been helpful because you can attach documents to the notes but I think it’s time to move forward, especially since I’m going to be doing some stuff for school. I appreciate everyone’s time!

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Yeah, I’ve really been bending Notes to my will and I think it’s about ready to break! LOL. Actually it’s been a good little information manager but I could be doing all this so much more efficiently than I am now, which is why I looked at DT. I’m pretty sure I’m going to get it.

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If there’s a caveat with DevonThink it’s that it GROWS on you. That’s neither a good nor a bad thing. That’s just a thing.
I myself have been found investigating using DT for all sorts of things that I would never thought to put into Evernote.
That includes, for me:

  • learning markdown (this a big one. Not a must-do but my engagement in DT has risen in parallel with my familiarity with markdown)
  • Creating a database to track financial documents and then basic receipt tracking.
  • Learning and then writing primitive AppleScript to do some repetitive tasks. This forum is a big help with this and it’s also a bit of a unicorn in terms of forums, very little rancour or trolling, lots of community support.
  • learning Fountain markup to do scriptwriting and generate properly formatted scripts for TV and Film projects. (I use Atom to edit and generate the script PDFs but everything lives in DT)

To sum up, you can use it to replace your notes system with very little effort and it will do it well. Then it will show you a room with a thousand doors and you can choose which ones to open. You want to track web bookmarks and collect research? How about using it to store and categorize all the scanned records of your great-great-uncle’s nearly finished retelling of the Epic Of Gilgamesh in his local dialect? You want to use OCR to capture as much of his typed manuscript as possible?
This forum is a fascinating place where you’ll find people using DT for a tonne of things you’d never even knew existed. That’s reassuring in many ways because it means if you need it to do something you haven’t thought of yet, it will likely be able to do it or at least facilitate getting there.

If there’s one thing to watch out for it’s that sometimes everything looks like a nail in need of a hammer in the form of DevonThink. @BLUEFROG and the other company representatives will be happy to tell you when you’re expecting too much of it.
I don’t think you’ll regret getting it.


I am just a person who loves DT3 and DTTG. Not a scholar, retired but still learning each day, here are some of the uses for DT3 for me:

  1. recipe database
  2. web page database
  3. bills database, including paid and due (and this has already saved my bacon more than once)
  4. writing database in cahoots with Scrivener

I highly suggest you take a testdrive and really put DT3 to the test. I think you will find it is the best out there, with excellent support. (and I remember the days of a database program called ASKSAM)

AND WELCOME chrisbarrett77–glad to have you aboard!


I very much identify with the post by @SlickSlack—specifically the first three bullet points in that post (I don’t do scriptwriting!).

Just over two years ago when I first started using DEVONThink I used it simply as a respository for documents that would otherwise have been in folders dotted around my hard disk (just the sort of financial records and receipts @SlickSlack mentioned). There was a certain peace of mind that came from that initial use: everything in its place and a place for everything.

But, as @SlickSlack says, there is so much more. I now have eight databases—including a specific AppleScript database where I store code snippets, having recently embarked on a similar learning curve to @SlickSlack. The recent major improvements to markdown in the app resulted, first, in exploration of an export/import workflow for Day One journal entries (effectively backing them up in DT) and now use of markdown for automatically generated tables of contents and notes linking to other documents (including, to my delight, to specific pages of pdf files).

DEVONThink is a hugely versatile app and everyone seems to use it in a different way and for differing purposes. Do go ahead and try it: you really won’t regret it!

One last point: there is always kind and considerate support on this forum—including from the developers—so never be concerned about asking what may seem to you to be a basic question: I suspect we have all done that in our time!



Apple Notes has come a long way and is actually a pretty good tool.

DevonThink is much more, but to truly experience how much more, you’ll need to try it out for a bit.

There are a lot of potential ways to use it, which can seem overwhelming at first, but you can start by replicating your current flow, adding a little to that, etc.

There are usually use cases that you didn’t think of earlier on, simply because you didn’t know they were possible.

Have fun, good luck, and ask questions!


Thanks for the welcome!

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Hi and welcome to the forum and - hopefully - to the ever growing family of DEVONthink (DT) users. A little while back a user here asked what the advantage is to using DT; whilst that thread might contain some responses which are not relevant to you, you’ll certainly get an overview of some of the advantages to using DT there.

Whenever you consider moving your data into a new system, it’s worth considering how you you would get it back out again if you ever needed to. DT stores your files unchanged in their original format; they are actually accessible from Finder from within the database files (useful if all else failed; and for anybody passing: no changes should be made to the database structure from within Finder!). It also includes a simple export function which will export your files to Finder using a folder structure equivalent to your database structure. That’s important - imagine using an app for 10 years, the developer goes bust, mad or megalomanic, and you can’t get your data out.

DEVONthink ticks more boxes than you can probably imagine; it is a stunningly powerful tool supported intensely by the developers and the amazingly helpful people on this forum (@SlickSlack called it a unicorn - I agree, this place is unique).

You will need some time to get used to using DT; whilst powerful it is also flexible - numerous paths can be taken to achieve the same goal. You will probably need to play to see what suits you best. Again, I can do no better than quote @SlickSlack, who said DT grows on you - I started with simple data storage and ended up with complex automation. Great fun!

Please allow me to point out that DEVONthink does not automatically back up your data (it does keep some internal backups of the database structure). Whilst it does offer various options for syncing data, they are explicitly advertised as not being a backup. The more you use DEVONthink (or any other type of database), the more loss of data would hurt. If you haven’t already, I recommend you take the opportunity to see whether your backup strategy is suited to the importance of your data. There are a number of threads on the topic here in the forum; here’s one of them.

And finally, it’s worth taking a look at the different editions of DEVONthink; this page provides an overview of what the Pro and Server editions offer on top of the functions offered by the Standard edition. All licences include 2 seats, so the app can be installed on two Macs. I personally feel DEVONthink only comes into its own when you have the Pro edition; OCR, e-mail archiving, concordance and custom metadata are invaluable to me.


@Blanc’s response is terrific. Adding to that, be sure to scan/read the outstanding DEVONthink Handbook and “Taking Control of DEVONthink” e-book (compliments of DEVON Technologis) here DEVONtechnologies | Handbooks and Extras


I really cannot imagine Christian or Eric, working with aluminium paper on top of their heads, and laughing like mads:

–MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. All data is mine!!! I’m the owner of all dataaaaa!!!

:grin: :rofl: :innocent: :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

Said the funny, the only reason I continue using macOS is DT, and possibly Safari. I have 3 Mac and at least I have one DT window open in its own desktop, if not more.

I read into DT and DTTG, scrap from Safari into DT/DTTG, search into… Except Mail and Messages with my wife, all my work and use is inside DT. Even I watch YouTube stuff if it is shown in my RSS inside DT.

I use it for typical stuff like invoice/shopping storage, journaling, storing of all my notes, even those handwritten in real world paper notebooks (yes, I’m that old), and have about 15 databases with about 500 GB of reference documentation, mostly personally scanned and OCRed PDFs but as well got from other places.

Search (and find) is a delight, moving as well (via Ctrl - Cmd - G)…


I know, I was kind of wondering as I wrote how that might turn out :crazy_face: The team are great - if they do go mad, I hope they at least invite me to join them 🥸


And, of course, should Devonthink’s developers go 'round the bend, Devonthink doesn’t entomb your data in some kind of inaccessible database. All your files are still just your files in the package, easily explored in Finder.

This is a requirement for tools I rely on. Either exports to accessible form, or direct access to my data. DT passes that requirement both ways. If an unfortunately resolved time paradox causes Devonthink to have never existed in this slice of the multiverse as of tomorrow - whatever that is - I can still access my stuff.

Regarding DT’s flexibility, you can grow into it. Start out just using it like it was a Finder for a sandbox. Explore features as you need.


Right, I won’t be sleeping tonight :flushed: I’m not giving up DEVONthink without a fight :roll_eyes:

[Edit: will tonight even be tonight under those circumstances? Do I have to go to work tomorrow? What is tomorrow? Have I just gone round the bend, and can my data be extracted?]


et al:

Welcome aboard and remember there are no stupid questions except unasked ones (or if someone is trolling) :slight_smile:

As evidenced by the stories shared here - and supporting what we’ve been saying for years, including in the Help: DEVONthink can be used in very simple ways (noting the recipe database) to very complex ones (running businesses, doing doctoral work, use in litigation, etc.). Much of the experience is what YOU bring to it.


What was your system in Apple Notes/what do you want your new system to do?

I’m still pretty new to DT. I read the Take Control Book others have mentioned and it helped a lot. When I had question, this forum has been very helpful. The answer already existed or someone answered quickly.

The three things I was trying figure out in the beginning were:
1. How many databases?
I was trying to figure out what the advantages and disadvantages were to having everything in one or multiple databases.
What I got out of these posts is that having everything together allows you to search for related items but will slow down for very large databases.
If you need to split later, be wary of replicants.
Database Size
Splitting a Database

2. Index or import?
There are little quirks for indexing vs importing. I personally like to index. I like everything to be in a folder structure outside of DT. I use many of these files with other applications.
Tags and finder comments are important to me, which is another reason I liked indexing.
Tags for indexed vs import

3. What type of web clipping?
I love the web clipper. I’ve used Evernote, Apple Notes, and OneNote before, and I really like DT. If I just want to remember something, I use the bookmark. The only clipping that allows you to highlight is the PDF versions. This is why I PDF most of what I am saving. My workflow is clip it with DT to a Dropbox folder, read and highlight on my iPad using PDF Expert, export highlights, save highlights in Obsidian.

DT is very powerful. I spent a bit just creating a test database and testing out my workflow. Sometimes DT does things I don’t expect (in good and bad ways). It was useful to figure that out before dumping a bunch of resources and notes in.

Good luck!