The sticking point is, for instance, wanting access the occasional document I need on my iPhone or iPad, without having to store the all the documents there always.
I do understand the benefit of decentralization, and find the model that Apple Photos uses to be a decent trade-off. One of my Macs has a lot of storage and keeps a copy of all the full resolution images, and then a copy is also stored in iCloud. Then the rest of devices just pull down the full version of photos as needed.
Otherwise every time I buy an iPhone or iPad, it’s an extra $200 - $400 per device for extra storage to hold all the documents.
And in my case, the documents are typically PDF scans of paper documents. I don’t need all those PDFs on every device at all times.
As @Bluefrog mentions, “shallow sync” is what you are looking for. Alternatively or in addition to shallow sync, you can create a couple or more databases on the Mac. Stuff that you might want while out and about can be in one (or more) of the databases and only sync that/those. In your case, keep the PDF scans in a database that is not sync’ed (or shallow sync’ed).
I recommend you use the demo version for a while, and for sure get the “Take Control of DEVONthink” and the “DEVONthink Manual” at DEVONtechnologies | Handbooks and Extras. Read the former and at least scan the latter so you know what’s there for future need.
My use case is, I’m sitting on my couch using my MacBook Air (with 256 GB storage, not everyone can afford terabyte MBAs either. ). An email comes in asking about something and I need to look up in a document.
So, then I have to go find the portable external hard drive, plug it in, retrieve the document from there.
Or else always have an external hard drive hanging off of the MacBook Air, or at least remember to bring it with me everywhere I take the MBA, both of which kind of defeat the purpose of having a light, small laptop in the first place.
Essentially my MBA is a mobile device.
So, my three choices with DEVONThink would be:
Cart around a separate external hard drive with the MacBook Air.
(which makes the MacBook Air much less convenient as a small, light device)
Not have access to the documents at all from the MacBook Air.
(which is worse than the situation I currently have with Evernote)
Trade-in this MacBook Air and buy one that costs at least $400 more for storage
(which has the same storage cost issues as iPhone and iPad)
Of those three choices, the only one that would be practical for me would be #2 and not have access to the documents from the MacBook Air. (Because knowing myself, even if I did have an external drive, I’d forget to bring it with me a certain percentage of the time and I wouldn’t have access to the documents on the MBA anyway)
It is definitely disappointing because it seems DEVONThink and DEVONThink To Go would otherwise give me what I am looking for, and overall be a better solution.
From my understanding now, everything is there except that I can’t have a Mac use shallow sync even though I am essentially using that Mac as a mobile device with limited storage and a desire for easy portability (pick up and go without carrying around an extra external drive).
It’s especially disappointing knowing the ability to shallow sync exists - it’s just not supported for Macs.
Is there any chance shallow sync would ever be added for Macs to support use cases like this?
Except when I’m sitting on my couch with the MacBook Air in my lap, my wallet isn’t dangling off the side of the MBA and I don’t need to be careful when moving around that I am going to accidentally disconnect it from the MBA and potentially corrupt the contents.
Or if the MBA is sitting closed on the desk or coffee table and I am going somewhere, with the external drive I need to open the MBA, login, eject the external drive, close the MBA before putting the MBA and the external drive in my bag.
Everybody has different levels of what they find inconvenient, different use cases, etc. For me an external drive makes the MBA itself significantly less convenient as a portable - especially for content where any individual item is accessed very infrequently, but being able to search for and access any item with a minimal amount of friction or fuss is important.
But the use case of treating a Mac as a mobile device in terms of syncing isn’t supported and there aren’t plans for it to be.
So, I’ll think through the tradeoffs in terms of the product’s capabilities as well as my own preferences and use case and figure out what I’ll do.
Whether I end up using DEVONThink or not, I greatly appreciate your time and patience in helping me understand what is and isn’t possible and in helping me make an informed choice.