Which products for a research degree

I am going to undertake a research degree and have been pointed towards the devonthink products.

My newbie questions are - which products do I need, how do I back up all the informantion that I have saved in devonthink (should my mac break do I lose the user license)

Can I use devonthink on more than one machine or do i need separate licenses.

Can anyone recommend a good flatbed scanner to use in conjunction with it?

Many thanks

anyone ? :smiley:

Here’s a quick response:

DEVONthink Pro or DEVONthink Pro Office in conjunction with DEVONagent are indispensable. You didn’t say what type of research you’d be doing, but if you’ll be writing a lot, Bookends and a word processor are essential (I use Mellel).

I’d review this site http://homepage.mac.com/kvmagruder/hsci/resources/academicApps.html for information on complementary programs.There are other good sites with information. Google “devonthink” + “academic research” for more.

You could use carbon copy cloner (free) or SuperDuper (not free) to back up your entire hard drive. (I do this every night.) My understanding is that you can use DEVONthink on two machines with the same license as long as both machines aren’t using it at the same time.

I’m sure others will chime in with additional details.


Under Download Now! on the product description page:

You can download SuperDuper! v2.6.2 right now and back up and clone your drives for free— forever!

You can buy it to unlock extra features. A worthwhile purchase, IMO. Support is excellent, which might be helpful for macgrl.

Many thanks for the replies guys. Very useful and very much appreciated.

Does anyone have any suggestions for a good flatbed scanner that works well with devonthink.

My other question is to with backing up devonthink and documents that I have stored within it. Do I just clone drive with superduper and then just put it back should drive fail? Does this effect user licenses?

Can I get DEVONthink Pro Office and DEVONagent with an academic discount and how many computers can I put them on? I will have 2 macs.


You can backup your database from within the application: Tools>Backup and Optimize. There are also some backup options in the Preferences. I’d download the manual and poke around in it, if you haven’t done so already. A drive failure wouldn’t affect your license.

I’ve also copied my databases in the Finder and moved them from computer to computer with a portable firewire drive. Just make sure you’ve closed your database before you copy it.

You can request an education discount from the Online Store and you’ll be able to use DT on your two Macs.

I’m not an expert on scanners, but have used a Canon LiDe 200. It’s fairly inexpensive, but quite slow, especially compared to the Fujitsu ScanSnap, which I’ve just started to use. (But that’s not a flatbed.)

Thanks for the reply I was also thinking of getting an irispen executive for scanning small parts of books. Has anyone used one with dt?

Are you currently doing any general system backups (e.g. with Time Machine)?

I’ve used the IrisPen Express 4.8 with DTP without any trouble. The current version is IrisPen Express 6, but I don’t have that. I’ve had trouble finding out the details of the ReadIris products: I don’t know if version 6 introduced new hardware and I’ve never found an upgrade path (or a discount for established users) from version 4 to the current version. I’m loathe to buy the product again (especially for $129.00).

Yes, I use time machine with time capsule :smiley:

I know what you mean, there should be an upgrade really.

Thanks for the reply. I have heard good things about the irispen 6 :smiley:

For tasks that does not require extreme precision, I scan documents with a… cell phone. I have it always with me, so if needed, I can take photos of the most relevant pages for my research while at the biblioteque. Usually, unless the book is reluctant to stay open and forces me to take bad photos, the result with DT’s scanning feature is adequate.


Thanks, Paolo. Anyone else using a camera as a tool to capture content into a DTPO database (with OCR of the images)?

I’ve always considered a flatbed scanner to be extremely clumsy and tedious for copying bound books. A camera capable of enough depth of field to handle the curvature and varying distances from the lens as pages are flipped and copied can be much quicker as a means to capture page images.

Many years ago, back in the 1960s, I needed to get hold of a rare book on the writings of Georg Stahl, a phlogistic chemist of long ago. There was one copy in the U.S. in the Library of Congress. Photo copying was not allowed for rare books at that time, as the book was too fragile to be pressed flat on a copy machine. Interlibrary loan wasn’t allowed. So I took my Minox camera with its folding copy stand to the Library of Congress and got very readable images of the entire book. (Minox B&W cartridges could take 50 images.) I used a microfiche reader to view the images, and that worked well back then.

I’ve experimented with digital cameras as a means of capturing book images that can be OCRed into a DTPO database, with generally good results. My Canon DSLR can take very high quality images, but it’s big and bulky and so is a tripod copy stand. A few months ago I got a little Panasonic Lumix LX3 which, althogh much smaller and lighter, takes images of book pages that OCR very well – but still haven’t found a small and light copy stand for it. (Any suggestions on small, light (folding) copy stands? That old Minox copy stand was a marvel of compactness, and an adaption could easily hold a modern digital camera. I would buy one in a heartbeat.)

My iPhone 3G is small and light, and although it can take readable images of book and journal pages, I wasn’t satisfied with OCR accuracy from the images (compounded by the lack of a good copy stand, although I’ve seen directions on the Web for making copy stands out of cardboard or clothes hangers).

The camera of the iPhone 4 can probably take images that would OCR pretty well, if taken from a copy stand (handheld images are too shaky for reliable OCR conversion). Wouldn’t it be nice if someone were to provide a compact and light copy stand for the iPhone 4 that could make it a good tool for capturing documents into digital images? I suspect there would be a market for such a device.

Okay, then you’ve got backups generally covered. I use SuperDuper! for more thorough backups than with TM that can also be used to quickly recover complete volumes, if necessary. I’ve also been using TM for its ability to retain multiple versions, for recovering something no longer in SD! backups.

There’s been lots of discussion about DT-specific backups, e.g. recently:

Script to automate backup for each DB, regular intervals?

After seeing silvermoonbeam’s earlier $129 price comment I was curious to see what Amazon charged ($109) and noticed (but didn’t read) some positive feedback from Mac users.

Hi Bill,

yes, I’m also using a digital camera (5 Megapixel) to quickly capture relevant book pages and in general the OCR results with DTPO are very satisfying.
However, the lighting often is a problem: especially with new books with glossy pages, the flash creates a very bright spot with low contrast.
I don’t have a photo stand, so normally I put the book on the floor and take the photos sitting on a chair.

Kind regards


Take a piece of tissue paper (or tracing paper if you can get some) and tape it over the flash. It will act as a diffuser so that the flash is less directional. You may have to experiment with thicknesses or multiple layers of paper to get the best results. It is an old trick used by professional photographers, who often find that undiffused flash is too harsh. It will make your portraits look better, too.

Best wishes,

Martin BB.

I usually turn the flash off, and take the photo under a decent light source. A library is usually a well-lit place.


Panasonic LX3 here, too (its successor, the LX5, has been announced just two days or so ago but it is not out yet).
The good thing about it is that it has a very good lens with a large aperture (2.0). In conjunction with its built-in image stabilizer I very rarely have problems taking pictures that are sharp enough to be OCRed. I suspect, one could easily build a lightweight stand ensuring better horizontality but so far I haven’t felt the urge strongly enough.

Highly recommended and this is the first digital compact I actually like using (SLR user).


PS: The merits of a diffuser aside, I would not want to use a flash in a library for fear of annoying other people.

Funny, I was just about to recommend the LX3 as well. Such a fantastic point and shoot, and I have just started using it for OCR work. (Also usually an SLR user - Sony A700 - but this little guy is key to avoid dragging the big camera around). My iphone tends to be a bit finicky.

A more compact camera which is also very very good is the Canon Powershot S90. As for some kind of stand I would take a look at the Gorilla Pod product line http://joby.com/gorillapod.