What's the behavior of sync supposed to be w/ local indexed folders on one machine only?

I think I set the iCloud sync up correctly, but looks like maybe not… on my laptop, on which I was building my database first, has mainly linked folders: desktop, documents, and my obsidian folder on dropbox. I installed DT on my desktop, turned on the iCloud sync, and right clicked on my database to import it as I saw in the help… but, my linked folders on the desktop seem to be showing me some combination of files from both computers. I do not want to index the documents and desktop folders of the desktop computer, just want to have access to what I’m indexing from my laptop + dropbox. Is this the normal behavior or did I do something wrong? Why does it seem inconsistent?—I’m not sure that the files are actually all combined, only partially. The number of files on both are not equal. Not sure what’s going on.



Me neither. Could you describe precisely and step by step (not in one paragraph, please) your settings and your goals? Screenshots would be helpful too.

My understanding is:

Indexed files are only available in DT if they are present on the device. So if you index files A, B and C on your laptop, but on your desktop only have file C at the same location, i.e., with the same path, then only file C will be available within DT on the desktop. Assuming you have Dropbox on both your laptop and desktop, you will presumably be seeing the indexed Dropbox files in DT on both devices.

If, on your laptop, you indexed a path /mystuff/ and on your desktop you also have an identical path, then DT on the desktop will index that path.

I don’t actually know what you mean by this. Do you simply mean you turned on sync for the database (which was previously only present on your laptop)?

Hi @Blanc … thanks… So that’s a bummer as i need to index my laptop and was hoping to share that information (even if it’s just the metadata)… so there’s a desktop and documents folder on both machines, but the root is different as the computer names are different… not sure how that works…

so what do I do? I need to index my documents and desktop as those are files I’m currently working on, but I would like to access on the desktop. E.g. If I download an image to my laptop, file it in my documents folder which is indexed by DT, add metadata, etc, can I not use the file or metadata on the desktop unless that file is in DropBox? What’s the general workflow for people w/ 2 computers?

Is it best to have 1 database per computer and then maybe another shared dropbox one? Have no clue what’s the best way to set this up. None of the options seems ideal. How are others doing it?

as for right clicking: when I went to the desktop, the shared database was not automatically syncing, and from a forum post I read to control click and import or whatever the term was, dont remember…

Why are you choosing to index these files (at all) rather than import them into your database? Files which are in the database are obviously available on any device currently synced. I have only indexed online drives for just that reason - because the files are available on both devices, the index also works on both devices. Everything else I have imported into my database.

I would suggest those are your two possible workflows:

  • put files in the database rather than keeping/organising them in Finder (which to my mind is the way to go; i save everything to my inbox, and a large percentage of that is then automatically managed using rules, and the rest can be managed with minimal manual intervention and the AI offered by DT).
  • put any files which you can’t keep in the database (because, maybe, you are actively sharing & manipulating them with another piece of software) on an online drive available on both your devices.

hi there… well the main reason was because of dropbox drive space, and I also generally like to work locally, but maybe that’s not so important (when is it/isn’t it?)… I have unlimited google drive space, but not sure that I can use that, can i? I guess I still dont get the workflow… sorry, a bit of a newbie…

Not sure why this is relevant. You don’t need online space for sync (syncing locally via Bonjour, for example). Perhaps if you explain your workflow we can all tear it to bits for you with lots of suggestions on how to do things better :crazy_face: No, but seriously, the default behaviour is to keep files in DT; my feeling is that if you are going to index, you should have a specific reason for doing so (as always: others may disagree, and are invited to chip in here).

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What do you mean by this?
Are you trying to index the entire home directory or drive?
If so, that is not a wise idea.

hi all, and sorry for the confusion, but alas, that’s 'cause I’m confused…
I thought to index my main hard drive folders so that when I’m searching for something, I’ll be able to leverage the power of DT’s search… I thought if I dump my whole hard drive contents into DT as opposed to indexing that would make me have a huge database and in any case, i didn’t see a downside until I tried to involve the desktop and sync… I guess now I’m trying to understand how indexing can or can’t benefit me… what do you guys do, and suggest?

Don’t worry, that’s what happens when you start out with a complex machine - you’ll get to know it better along the way.

I think it’s safe to say that DEVONtech don’t recommend what you’ve done; there are a couple of blog entries (Building the perfect database, Don’t Use DEVONthink as a Junk Drawer) which might point to their feelings.

If you are looking to search your whole drive, you might want to take a look at two other DEVONtech products: EasyFind and DEVONsphere.

You certainly don’t want to “dump you whole hard drive” into DEVONthink. The usual thing to do would be to set up databases for individual aspects of your life, say “personal”, “academic”, and add groups to those databases, say “Insurance”, “Insurance/Car”, “Insurance/Yacht”, “COVID-19”, “COVID-19/Vaccinations”, “COVID-19/Politics” and so on.

(to be continued)

thanks for pointing me to the articles and other apps, I’ll read them now, but just wanted to clarify that I was exaggerating a bit as to dumping my whole hard drive, but I do have those folders exactly how you describe on my system, but they are really full and didn’t want to drop them all in if indexing was an option, but maybe those articles will help me figure out what actually goes into DT because I’m really liking having the indexed files there to search and move around, tag, annotate, etc.

Note: even with DEVONsphere, you should limit the Locations to known locations with valuable data. There are thousands of files people have no need of finding.

Have you read the Help > Documentation > In & Out > Importing & Indexing section? If not, do so and pay special attention to the Indexing and the filesystem subsection.

If you are indexing files in a cloud-synced location, like Dropbox, you must have the Dropbox location on a second Mac in the same relative location. (Typically this is ~/Dropbox.)

If you are indexing files in a non-cloud-synced location, e.g., your Desktop, the files will be synced to the same relative location on the second Mac. So if you index folder A on the desktop of Mac 1, you would get a folder A on the desktop of Mac 2.

Thanks… so just to understand… if I am indexing documents and desktop on my laptop, and then sync w/ my desktop computer, It’ll create a new folder on the desktop computer for every folder on my laptop that doesn’t exist there? And if the folder does exist, what does it do? merge the two folders? or am I way off on both?

Yes, it will create the folder if it doesn’t exist and it will merge any indexed items into an existing folder. Note: DEVONthink may not detect existing files on the receiving machine. If needed, you can use File > Update Indexed Items to pull those in.

Hmm. this wasn’t what I was hoping for as I dont want duplicate copies of files… I just wanted to be able to access the laptop metadata on my desktop computer… and vice versa… e.g. If I’m working on a doc on my laptop, could be there’s a related doc on my desktop… these computers have different files and for those that are shared, they are in google drive which isn’t supported… Like today I was working on a file and it turns out there was a related document on the other computer… would be great to see that, but maybe this isn’t how this software works…

What do you suggest? I’m still not getting how most people deal w/ a 2 computer setup.

By keeping the files in the database rather than indexing them :wink:


ok, then how to I reverse engineer what I did? How big can this database be?
On the desktop in the prefs sync window, the main database has be spinning for hours… dont know if it’s doing something or stuck…

We advocate a decentralized data model where each device ahs a copy of the data and syncs to a commonly accessible location. Even if you’re importing data, if you sync, you will still end up with databases on each device. This is by design.

What is reported in DEVONthink’s Window > Log?

log is empty…