Tips for splitting a database

If you are just starting out and wish to separate content into two or more major categories that are largely unrelated to each other, that can be done by creating top-level groups in a database and filing your documents into subgroups within them.

As your database grows, that will make it easy to split it into multiple databases, each corresponding to the content of one of those top-level groups.

Examples of procedures to split a database into two or more separate databases:

  1. Create a new, empty database and give it an appropriate name. In the original database, select the content that’s to be moved to the new database and then Control-click (right click) on the selection. Choose the contextual menu option, ‘Move To’ and select the new database as the destination. (The ‘Move To’ command will transfer the selected content to the other database and remove it from the first, in public beta 7 and later.) If you wish to change the name of the original database, read about how to do that in 2), below and start with 2a).

  2. Another way to ‘split’ databases is to make one or more copies of it in the Finder, deleting from each the content that isn’t desired in that database.
    2a) First, Quit the DT Pro/Office application. That’s important, as making a Finder copy of an open database may result in an incomplete or damaged copy!
    2b) Still in the Finder, and with the DEVONthink application still Quit, rename the copied database if the name is to change. Never rename an open database, as DEVONthink would lose track of it.
    2c) Launch DT Pro/Office and open, one at a time, each of the database copies. Select and delete from each the content that isn’t desired in it.
    2d) If the copy was renamed in the Finder, the new database name will not be displayed in view windows until it is changed in File > Database Properties.
    2e) If all of the resulting split databases have a different name than did the original, clear DEVONthink’s memory of the original database by selecting File > Open Recent and choose the option to clear the menu.

One thing I’m still trying to figure out is how best to file stuff to take advantage of the auto-sorting and “see also” functionality. Can you share parts of your heirarchy, or have you posted this sort of info elsewhere on the forum? Thanks for the tip.

2a) First, Quit the DT Pro/Office application. That’s important, as making a Finder copy of an open database may result in an incomplete or damaged copy!
2b) Right-click or Control-click on the database in the Finder, and choose the Duplicate command from the contextual menu.
2c) Still in the Finder, and with the DEVONthink application still Quit, rename the copied database if the name is to change. Never rename an open database, as DEVONthink would lose track of it.

What is the advantage of splitting into multiple databases rather than one database?

You could try a search for split* database* and look for results related to that, e.g. here.

I split my PhD database into 6 data bases when I was using DTPO v1.x. However, now that v2. is here, I’m inclined to want to put them all back into one database as I’m finding which of the 6 to open a bit taxing on my brain. I know the search function is there, but I’m still having trouble using it to find phrases; at least I can’t make it work as well as it was in v1. with the single data base.
Also, I think I’d like one data base to help me re-reorganise my files.

The 6 databases are about 13gb.

I’d appreciate advice about how to proceed, or why I should not proceed, and/or how to improve my searching for phrases within the data bases. (Even spotlight is not delivering what I need. I’m sure it’s operator error, but I’m flummixed.)
Many thanks

As there’s no more “Phrase” option, you have to enclose the phrase in quotes.

Regarding your excellent tip on splitting a database, does it apply now to version 2.0.3, or was it written at the time 2.0.3 was released?

That post was written prior to version 2.0.3, but still applies for DT Pro/Pro Office databases.

Thanks again Bill

I’m less than a week into buying/learning/using DT OfficePro. The best intro was the accompanying video to the ebook “Taking Control & Getting Started…”

The example in the video led me to create a seperate database for each subject. I know this is “one-way” to do things but, I’m now thinking the best way to do this is to create one huge database with many Groups & Tags. This way, I can search across databases and it will help the software (the AI) to better understand what I’m trying to accomplish overall thus, helping with search and categorization.

Having said that, now that I’ve created these multiple databases (which, BTW has been helpful) I now want to see if I can bring the old created databases into a new database I want to create?

So, will this “split” function described herein work for this “fix” I’m contemplating?

Choosing whether to manage a collection of documents in one or in multiple databases is up to the user.

A single database will work so long as the computer has enough free RAM to run it at full speed.

That’s not an option for me, as my collection of documents, if included in a single database, would have terrible performance and would risk memory errors and database damage.

It’s true that the See Also AI assistant doesn’t span multiple databases. I consider that an advantage rather than a disadvantage. For example, two of my databases that I use for research contain content that would be mixed in See Also suggestions, if incorporated into a single database. By splitting that content, the usefulness of See Also is greatly improved.

I always use the full Search windowv(Tools > Search, which allows searching across all open databases.

I check the option for Spotlight indexing in my databases (File > Database Properties).That allows me to search across all databases, whether open or closed. For a Spotlight search, choose the option to view all results. Items contained in a database are identified by the blue shell icon.

If you have common files to the two databases, to keep everything in “sync” do you create a third common file database and link up while using or would an alias file work?
Say you have a home business, but use the same bank for transactions.
Third database or copy.
Best Regards?

Bill I understand the control click to move files to the new database…but you commented that the database needs to be closed to make complete copies? :question: :question:
Or did i miss a few steps.

Also how does one handle common files to both new database?
thank you

  1. I recommend that a database be closed before making a copy of it in the Finder.

  2. As I design each database to meet a particular need or interest, it would be unlikely to have any document occur in more than one database. If that were to happen, I would delete it from the least appropriate database.

It’s not necessary to duplicate documents in different databases. Using the full Search window (Tools > Search), one can search across a set of open databases. And if the option to provide an index of a database to Spotlight is checked, one can do a Spotlight search that will find results across all databases, whether open or closed. Tip: choose the Spotlight option to display all results. Items that were found in a DEVONthink database will have the blue shell icon. Select such a result and press Space to see a Quick Look view of it, or double-click to view it within the database.

Bill – or anyone else who has done this recently – just figured I would check to see if the above is still the appropriate method (with the last post herein dating back to 2012)?

Will be slicing and dicing my main DB that I have lovingly constructed over the past 2 years this week – and want to get it done right.

Many thanks!

Yep, this still stands as good advice.

Many thanks!

If you have two groups “A” and “B”, with replicants of the document “Meaning of LIfe” in both, and you plan to put “A” in one database and “B” in another – then make a duplicate (⌘D) of the document in one of those groups before splitting. Otherwise you’ll lose the replicant in one of these groups when the other is moved.

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Wow. Thanks korm- wouldn’t have though of that, and I have plenty of replicants. Thanks!