We need Unsorted capabilities on DTTG, and here's why

I love DEVONthink more than any other tool on my Mac, as I literally live in it.
I organize my whole life in it.

Unfortunately, after purchasing DTTG I am quite disappointed to find out that all the organization of my folders in the different databases cannot have the same sorting as on my computer.

I strongly believe that this is a MUST, for a tool that is supposed to be before anything else, an organizational tool.

The most basic aspect of an organization is Custom Order or Sorting because each individual/user has and should have his/her own way to visually order things. In DEVONthink that is allowed through the “Unsorted” option.

The simple fact that I cannot have the same file order on DTTG as on the environment in which I work all day (DEVONthink), makes DTTG almost useless to me, or very frustrating to say the least.

Is it really too much to ask for an organizing tool, in our case DTTG, to have the ability to Sync the View Options from DEVONthink, so that the concept of taking DEVONthink on the Go is respected in its most basic aspect: user custom sorting?

I really hope this feature will be considered in the near future, otherwise, my experience with DTTG will just be so frustrating.

Anyone else on my side about this?



I’ve solved this ‘low tech’ by numbering groups.

For example:

  1. Subject A
    1.1 Subject A1
    1.2 Subject A2
  2. Subject B
    2.1 Subject B1
    2.1.1 Subject B11
    2.1.2 Subject B12

And then simply order those by name. Even my databases have number by the way. They’re always sorted from lowest number to highest number.

Hey, Solar-Glare.

I consider that to be more of a “workaround”.
Such a workaround has a rigid structure and it lacks flexibility as if you need to move a folder up or down, you need to rename all the others accordingly.

The thing is that Manual "Arranging and “Re-arranging” (moving folders and files as you like) should be a basic feature in a tool that is meant to organize information. It’s 2021. We shouldn’t rely on naming folders and files with numbers and sub-numbers to put them in the visual order that makes sense for us.

Hence why I called it a ‘low tech’ :smiley:

The rigid structure to me personally is also a safeguard from moving groups by accident, So even if a group order would be unsorted and changed, it’s relatively easy for me to sort by name and have the groups ordered as designed.

I’m not downplaying your request by the way, I just wanted to mention a method that could help you sort groups whlie the DT staff considers your request.

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Why not?
There is no ”one size fits all” approach to sorting and organizing data. For some people this approach is familiar and makes sense to them. And this hasn’t changed since ”its 2021”. The Zettelkasten method some people enjoy is not a ”modern” idea and shouldn’t be dismissed merely because it’s roots aren’t in 2021.

Your request is noted but bear in mind there are many different approaches to these things.

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I agree with @gian. He makes perfect sense. Please add my +1 to his request.

I agree. Make @gian’s suggestion an option that could be invoked by users who want their DT setup replicated in DTTG. Those who prefer the original format would not flip the switch.


I believe that giving the user the ability to have a “Custom Order” is a basic feature to provide when you are dealing with the concept of “organizing” information.

DEVONthink on desktop gives you that ability (Unsorted).
DTTG should reflect that, in my opinion.
Synchronization of Files & Folders should come with the ability to maintain/reflect the user’s way of organizing their visual structure and order for folders and files.

Also, the weird thing is that in DTTG, when you hit Edit, you are given the possibility to “manually change the order” of “Smart Groups”. That option is just not given on any other level, like inside a given Database. Implementing it for Database content would already be a good option (the feature is already there in the App!). That means that you could manually “re-create” the same visual order as on DEVONthink.

But the “ideal” solution would of course be the sync of that so that if you move stuff around in one place, the change reflects on the other place as well. Right?


I agree that for some people sorting folders and files by assigning numbers makes perfect sense for them. It makes perfect sense to me as well, on certain occasions. But on others, and for the most, I would like to be able to manually move stuff up or down (folders or files), as I like, as it makes sense to me at that moment (yeah, weird people change their mind quite often).

I think that DEVONthink on Desktop gives you exactly that, and for a reason. And thanks a lot for the fact that it does.

It doesn’t make sense that we cannot choose to order files and folders in DEVONthink To Go, keeping the same "Unsorted’ (Custom Order) that we created in DEVONthink.

Again, this makes DTTG totally useless for me.
I use DT to organize hundreds of files and folders, and I cannot find that visual order in DTTG, so I am completely lost when I open DTTG, and therefore I cannot use it.

If there is the possibility to choose a “Custom/Manual Order” by selcting “Unsorted” from the sorting menu in DT, why can’t we have that in DTTG?


DEVONthink to GO

The ability to choose a personal order/sorting for files and folders should not be a bonus, it should be “a must to have” capability in an app that is intended to organize files and folders.

Spotify does follow that logic. You create your custom order on the Desktop App, and you can select the same option on the Mobile App.

That’s how things should work, logically.

I can’t believe that a “Custom Order” option is not implemented yet in DTTG.
You should simply be able to choose “Unsorted” in DTTG, and get the same order that you created in DT.

Who agrees with this?

Just a quick note: currently custom sort orders are device-specific and not part of our sync. So even between Macs the order is not yet synchronized.

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Ok, I see. Not very practical, though, user-wise.

I take the example of other apps, such as Spotify. Imagine that on every device (Web, Mac, iPhone, iPad) the custom order is not synchronized. That would result in a very poor user experience.

I really insist on the fact that “Custom Order” / “Custom Sorting”, should be a must-to-have in any app that aims to organize items (files, folders). And if you have different instances of that app (Web, Mac, iPhone, iPad) it goes by logic that what you do on one instance should reflect on all the others, including the order. So, it should ideally synchronize the “Custom Order” as well.

Note: this has been the behavior, even in DEVONthink, for many many years and there has been very little commentary or requests on the issue. The likely reason is people use a manual sort far less often than a built in sort, e.g., Date Created, etc.

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You don’t share your Spotify database with other users.

In DT3 you would not want to change the sort order on your computer and then have that change in sort order automatically reflected on a different computer being used by a different user at the same time.


JFTR: I disagree. For me, a “custom sort” order is completely unnecessary in (for example) DEVONthink, Apple’s Photos, Adobe Bridge, Finder, Mail programs… I understand that you like that. But it does not mean that they’re a “must-have”.

Ok, I got that I will never see this feature implemented and that this is a lost battle that I’m in, as according to you I am the exception here, apparently. No problem.

I don’t know how and what for, all other users actually use DT, but I’ve been using it for years as my tool of choice to organize my whole digital life, all aspects of my work, my projects, and everything that needs to be organized.

It’s like an extension of myself, and I’m not exaggerating, stating this, believe me.

I use it to organize all my bookmarks, hundreds of them, classified into folders by areas and sub-areas. I use it to organize all my passwords, my studies, my work, ideas, projects, writings, notes, to-do lists, and so on.

For this, I use mostly Text Files and Folders.
With all that data, the structure gets very articulated, and I “move” “order” and “name” folders and text files in a way that makes sense to me (the user), so that when I’m into the database, it’s like being in my own brain.

[BLUEFROG], you may think I am the exception here, and I may actually be, but at the same time, I may also be the most ideal (or iconic) DT user.

When I show people how everything is organized in my life, using DT, they look at it, and say “Wow!” And they want to know the name of the app.

See, if DT wouldn’t provide me with a “Custom Order” capability (called Unsorted in the app), I would have never used it in the first place, because with the kind of articulation I develop “living” in the app, it makes sense to move files and folders up and down and around, placing them where I want them to be. One folder under another, some at the bottom, some at the top.

Sorting things by Creation Date or in Alphabetical Order just doesn’t make any sense, unless you are “searching” for something that you don’t know where it is, actually.

When I purchased DTTG I thought that I could really have all my organized life that I get with DT, always with me, on my mobile. But that’s not the case. I can get the files and folders, but not my “organization”. Yeah, life would be too good if you could simply get what you expect.

Anyway, assuming that it’s not worth taking this issue into consideration, as I am the exception here and all other users who don’t claim this feature is the rule, I still would like to ask what is the level of difficulty and what effort would represent to:

  1. Add “Unsorted” view capability into DTTG?
  2. Synchronize it with DT, based on the “User”?

I’m just guessing here (since I don’t work for DEVONtechnologies) but I suppose that the non-server DT editions have no concept nor idea of “user”.

As a side note: I’m impressed that you use DT for all your digital assets (though you do not mention photos nor audio/video files?). And if you’re happy with it, just go for it. Personally, I’d for example not store my passwords in it – simply because there are tools out there that not only store them but also fill them in whenever I need them (same for credit card data etc). And work with 2FA techniques, that are deployed more and more. I doubt that DT can do that (yet?)

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When I described how I nearly organize all my life with DT, I thought to mention “except for photos and videos”, then didn’t. But for the rest, yeah, it’s almost all in there. In DT.

I know there are apps for everything, like Passwords and To-Do Lists, and I’ve spent so much of my time going from one to the other, only to realize that all you really need is some simple text files, folders to structure and organize things, and a way to browse quickly and smoothly through those files without having to open and close them, by simply selecting them. And DT allows you just that.

It’s amazing how your life can change when you “write” things down, and have easy access to them. I could write a book about how to change your life using Text Files and Folders, really.

Technology should provide a basic amount of flexibility so that the user can actually “use” the tools to make his/her life easier, according to their specific needs.

I really see tools such as DT as some possible extensions of our brain. In a way they are.

But there is nothing more powerful than Text Files, and Folders to organize and “Order” them, believe me. :wink:

Yeah, Notes, Passwords, and To-Do Lists, in the end, are just text, right?

For Passwords, I don’t mind having them as text files, copying and pasting them. But yeah, some apps are very good for this.

If I could take you guys on a guided tour into my DT, you would see how it’s actually a whole universe and would without a doubt understand why “Custom Order” is a must-have for me. :wink:

If only I could take it to my mobile…
(Probably by 2064.)

I have to disagree on this. You are talking about subjective things here so I will amend your comment as…

For me sorting things by Creation Date or in Alphabetical Order just doesn’t make any sense, unless I am “searching” for something that I don’t know where it is, actually.

I sort by Date Added constantly. Not because I don’t know where things are but because it makes sense to me in the context of how I use DEVONthink.

In fact, I usually sort by Kind in DEVONthink To Go, again as that suits how I use it.

  1. Add “Unsorted” view capability into DTTG?
  2. Synchronize it with DT, based on the “User”?

The first is possible but there are certainly technical hurdles to this, non-trivial hurdles. Sorting handfuls of documents may be doable; sorting thousands of documents… much less easily accomplished.

The second is under consideration but again, there is no simple answer to it. Yours isn’t the only scenario. People use DEVONthink in a variety of ways. Accommodating all the possibilities is impossible so choices have to be made regarding support for the broadest approaches.

Technology should provide a basic amount of flexibility

DEVONthink is one of the most flexible applications and has been for a very long time.

Technology should provide a basic amount of flexibility so that the user can actually “use” the tools to make his/her life easier, according to their specific needs.

There are always going to be some limitations to functionality. And often needs are really wants and very specific to an individual. We can’t develop for individuals; we have to consider the benefits to the broader audience, technical feasibility of the feature, internal trajectory and priorities, and also the time available for the development.

Lastly, to help address some of these invidual idiosyncracies, DEVONthink also has support for automation on a scale unusual for an app made by a small privately held company.


I understand that you cannot cover “individual needs”.

No need to argue about personal preferences and personal ways to use something, because that is an endless loop, right. Preferences are preferences.

As I said, to me, Custom Order is essential, and I choose to use DEVONthink because “it does indeed allow that”, using the “Unsorted” view option and it retains the order you choose in your database.

So, you implemented and provided that feature within the app, and some people like myself find that useful. All I’m saying here is I’m surprised not to see that feature in the mobile version, DTTG, and I wonder…

Is that because it’s a lot of work (even if possible), because it’s technically very difficult to achieve, or just because you didn’t think it’s important to bother with and didn’t even consider it?

As I said…

The first is possible but there are certainly technical hurdles to this, non-trivial hurdles. Sorting handfuls of documents may be doable; sorting thousands of documents… much less easily accomplished.

So of course it has been discussed. But also, this isn’t even implemented DEVONthink-to-DEVONthink at this time. That would be the first step. However, even cracking that nut wouldn’t mean implementation in DEVONthink-to-DEVONthink To Go would be a simple port of some code. We aren’t just moving files in folders. Updates to transactional data and indices and recordkeeping has to be factored in in both situations.