What is a binder?

I’m probably overlooking something obvious, but I can’t find a definition for what a binder is. Searching for “binder” both here and in the manual never actually says what a binder is or what I could use one for.

I can scan multipage documents directly to a multipage PDF in a DT group, happily adding tags, and generally enjoying the way the importer saves steps in getting a paper document scanned.

But I can’t tell the difference between scanning a document to a binder versus scanning to a single file. Either way, when I hit the “save” button everything seems to go into the group I selected, with the name I selected.

So what are binders for? Are they temporary buckets for keeping scans until ready to save them into the main DT groups?

On a related topic, The OCR checkbox comes up checked after every page scan, however, I think it is only an operative thing when you hit the “save” button - that’s when the OCR happens, if selected. Is that a correct statement?

Thanks in advance!

I did another search for “binder” here and answered my own question.

“Binder” is the term used for a multipage PDF document. I can’t recreate scanning multipage documents to a file without putting them in a binder first, so I’m not sure what was going on with that.

If a document is going to be more than one page, scan it into a binder. Anything you scan in the importer will need to be saved. If the path specified at scan-time was “importer”, the file will be saved to the global inbox.

The importer streamlines getting a scan into DT. Before, I would scan pages into a file. drag the file into sorter, go into DT, add the right tags, and then move the file from the database’s local inbox to the right destination.

Navigating to the right destination folder in the sorter would work, but then I had to find the file in DT to tag it correctly.

In the importer, it’s a breeze. Choose a name for the scanned document, choose a destination, add the tags, and click save after all pages are scanned.

Note binders are mentioned in Help > Documentation > In & Out > Capturing Paper (Image Capture) and Windows > Sidebar: Image Capture.

Thanks, Bluefrog - I had questions after reading those help topics because the closest thing to describing a binder is " Create empty binders here to which you add your scanned pages. Alternatively, use the Create new Binder button at the bottom of the sidebar."

I hope nobody takes these comments as criticism. Devonthink is an amazing utility. It is my financial file cabinet, my note-taker as I learn a new language or read non-fiction - it’s a swiss army knife. I even use DT as a replacement for Scrivener. Why use different tools for jobs when I can remain in an environment that feels like home?

Here were some breakthroughs regarding the import facility that seem obvious in hindsight:

  • A binder is a multipage scan in progress. You add to it by naming it as the destination for scanning. You can’t drag and drop files into it.
  • If you choose multiple regions on a page by clicking “use custom size” it will scan each region as a separate page in one pass of the scanner. Nice.
  • In a binder, you can reorder the pages with drag and drop.
  • On the bottom of the binder pane, once you have a binder open, there is a menu that lets you reverse the order of pages, shuffle pages that are ordered as all front sides followed by all back sides, or sort and merge documents. “Documents” here means “binders” - use this to grab the contents of a second binder and move them in.
  • You can edit a page in a binder, which will let you rotate it. If you double click on a page you’ve opened up for editing, you get to do more things like edit the contrast. The “done” button appears to work the same as “save”.
  • When you save an individual page in a binder (right click and “save”) or right click on a binder icon (looks like a book) and hit save, the binder disappears. This isn’t a problem, because it gets saved into the the destination you originally chose.

When a binder is saved, it becomes a multipage pdf file and disappears from the importer. If you had the OCR option checked at the time it was saved, it gets a text component that is the OCR’d document.

I hope these comments help someone else who saves scans in DT but hasn’t been using the importer. It will save time and increase the accuracy of your filing, because you can set tags, filename, and destination group at the time you scan the document.

Using the import function is easy, but in my opinion it’s underdocumented. For instance, the excellent Taking Control of Devonthink book (free!) is a great work, but the word “binder” is not in its 250 pages.


I love contributions like yours; they are what this forum and its participants are all about. It’s living DEVONthink, learning and sharing. I am honestly grateful to you and all those who form this little community in this fashion.


A binder is a multipage scan in progress.

  • Actually, a binder can be used for any kind of scan, single or multipage.

  • You can set up binders in advance then scan to Imports and sort into appropriate binders later. You can also scan to specific binders, as you wish.

  • You can drag and drop between Imports and binders, or between binders.

  • You can select pages in Imports or a binder and move them to other binders or create a new binder from the contextual menu.

When you save an individual page in a binder (right click and “save”) or right click on a binder icon (looks like a book) and hit save, the binder disappears.

@aedwards: Is this a bug? Should it only process the selected page?

By pressing Save, what you doing to saying that I have completed scanning pages into this Binder and now create a PDF document and add it to the chosen database folder. Once this is done the Binder is removed.

I stand corrected, but there are limitations, too.

You can put a single page in a binder, but since formats like jpeg don’t support multiple pages, the scans are always saved as pdf if you are saving to a binder.

That’s no big deal, of course.

Not sure if it is a bug: I often use the binder function while scanning and in case I want to have multipage PDF. When I save the binder I see normally in the status bar (left lower corner) what is going on. If there are a lot of single pages in the binder the status bar often doesn’t appear and it looks like nothing is happening at all which is very confusing. Then when the binder disappears (sometimes after seconds) I know everything went well.

Can you post a screencast of what you’re describing?