Understanding database structure of original files?

I’m migrating to DEVONthink 3 Pro from Evernote Premium as I want a more conventional hierarchy folder structure for my mainly .pdf files and I also want better security / ability to export and migrate out if the need arrises.

I’ve seen the database location and used the “open package” command so I found the folder that contains the original files. I appreciate that the true, named, .pdf files are located there… but I do have a question. The folder structure created by DEVONthink is odd, folders named with a single letter such as “a” “b” “c” each containing a .pdf file and a few folders named “1” “2” “3” each also only containing a file or two. This is with an initial import of 20-30. .pdf files to play around with. I was hoping the folder structure might be similar to the groups structure I had been creating in the app (ie. bank/account-type/statements) and I’m wondering if in the future I wanted to export out the entirety of my files if the result would have a semblance to group structure or if it would just be a mass pile of files put into a folder somewhere as finding files in seemingly random folders with a letter or number seems confusing.

Sorry for the basic question, so far I am very enjoying the structure within the app.

You can always use menu File > Export > Files and Folders

From help:

Files and Folders: Exports the selected documents in their native format. Groups are exported as Finder folders, preserving the group structure you have built in DEVONthink. DEVONthink tags are applied as Finder tags to the exported files. Internal metadata for the items is preserved in invisible .DEVONtech_storage files, used for reimporting into DEVONthink. If you will not be reimporting the exported files, you can safely delete .DEVONtech_storage files.


Frankly, the package folder structure used by DEVONthink is, far as I know, unpublished and is in the control of the DEVONthink app. It’s not intended to be understandable by mere mortals.

That being said, if you dig down far enough, you’ll find your original files there and they are not tampered with or converted into any sort of secret-to-DEVONthink format. That should be re-assuring, compared to other apps on the market.

My best recommendation is to simply not spend a lot of time digging into the package structure and instead dig into how DEVONthink will work for you as a user. Be sure to get a copy of and read the DEVONthink Manual and “Take Control of DEVONthink Pro”, both available at DEVON Technology’s web site. And keep always in mind that DEVONthink is not Evernote.


Welcome @boldblue737

As hinted at by @rmschne, you should not mess about in the internals of a DEVONthink database.

Read the Help > Documentation > Troubleshooting > Repairing a defective database, especially the first two subsections, and take heed.

Thanks everyone, the key here is like you said… 1) the files are visible in native format so that is refreshing and 2) if i want to use it there is an export system that will output those files in a neat organized folder structure based around the group structure found in DEVONthink… those are both assuredly different that Evernote! Just purchased Pro, installed my two seats, and also paid for a permanent license for DTTG. The plan is to have the family iMac and my M1 MBA have the seats and to then put DTTG on my iPad/iPhone and my wife’s iPad/iPhone (I understand DTTG supports family sharing). I know this rules out using iCloud for sync so if I’m understanding everything correctly that leaves me with Dropbox (use a single, likely paid account, that is shared between our mobile devices) or WebDAV (I do have a synology, never installed or used WebDAV however) or Bonjour if I want a local only solution (never done this either.) I don’t really need DT docs to sync when we are mobile on the road but it will be critical that both for my wife and I that our mobile devices do at least gather the latest DT files when home.

Thanks everyone!


Start with Bonjour - it’s easy enough, has been rock solid for me, and is certainly the quickest solution. If you really do find you need on-the-road sync, you can add one later (you didn’t mention CloudMe, which I’ve found to be reliable; just seen they appear to have changed their tiers and pricing, however).

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Sounds like you are on a good path.

I recommend you start your sync setup with Bonjour since you are all local. It’s the simplest to setup and even better, is fast. Does indeed require the one machine that “accepts” to be running DEVONthink and have the databases open, and only one device can be synced at time … but you’ll not notice.


You’re welcome and as @Blanc and @rmschne have encouraged, I’ll triple the motion and suggest Bonjour as well. It’s a great option for fast, generally very reliable, and the most private syncing option.