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How to Focus Your Searches

February 14, 2023 — Jim Neumann
Picture showing the search fields in DEVONthink and DEVONthink To Go.

When you are searching, there is a context for the search terms. For example, you may be searching for something in a document’s name. Or you may remember something someone wrote in a letter to you. Using search prefixes in DEVONthink and DEVONthink To Go allows you to focus your searches by narrowing down to the context you’re searching on.

If you’re not using search prefixes, the search terms are broadly applied, searching all the available contexts. While this can be useful if you’re not sure where the terms will occur, in many cases this leads to excess matches. To narrow down the search a bit, you can use, for example, the following prefixes:

  • name: Use this when you are looking for terms in a document’s name.
  • text: or content: Use this when you are looking for words in the body of a document.
  • tags: If you’re a frequent tagger, use this to search only your tags.
  • kind: Looking for a PDF, not a rich text file? Use this prefix.

Combine these prefixes for even narrower searches, e.g., name:2023 tags:taxes. In DEVONthink, click the Advanced button after doing a search and you can add even more criteria. Each criterion is actually another search prefix.

You’ll find a list of all these prefixes in DEVONthink’s Help > DEVONthink 3 Help > Documentation > Appendix > Search Prefixes and DEVONthink To Go’s ? > Help > Appendix > Search Operators, as well, of course, the downloadable documentation for both applications.

So while it may seem easier to just type in some words to search for, use search prefixes and start finding your documents much more efficiently.