Questions and Answers
Can I use Alfred, Launchbar, Hazel, etc. with DEVONthink?
It really depends on what you’re hoping to do. DEVONthink has powerful automation capabilities allowing it to interact with many other applications on your Mac, especially AppleScript-aware ones. Hazel and Keyboard Maestro are two such applications that many of our customers have integrated with DEVONthink. A web search or a search of our community will often turn up some great ideas!
Can I use DEVONthink for Mac also on iOS?
Unfortunately no. macOS and iOS are two operating systems for very different device categories. Where the Mac, e.g., has windows, a menu bar, and much more options for integrating apps, iOS is focused on simplicity and full-screen apps. Mac applications cannot run on iOS as they are built for very different hardware and a more complex user interface.
Can I use my scanner with DEVONthink?
DEVONthink Pro and Server can use any scanner that works with Apple’s Image Capture application (TWAIN is not supported). There is additional support for integrating with Ricoh ScanSnap scanners through their ScanSnap Manager and ScanSnap Home software.
Regarding text recognition: DEVONthink Pro and Server has the ABBYY Finereader OCR engine included for converting scans to searchable PDFs directly in DEVONthink. However, lower editions still support importing files that have had OCR applied by third-party applications.
Can we put databases on a file server for our team?
No, this is not possible, we’re afraid. DEVONthink does not allow more than one person to access a database at a time.
DEVONthink follows a decentralized data model where each machine has a local copy of the database but syncs to a commonly accessible location. Collaboration via syncing may require special attention, like a shared account on a cloud service, ie. using the same credentials on each machine. Feel free to contact our support team for further information.
With DEVONthink Server, there is also a built-in web server that allows you to broadcast a database on your network. Users can access shared databases through a web browser, even on Windows machines. While it’s not as functional as DEVONthink itself, it can prove useful in an office setting. For more specific information, please refer to the built-in help or manual.
Did I download the wrong edition of DEVONthink?
There is no separate download for each edition of DEVONthink, it’s just one application to download and install. It will be named DEVONthink 3 in the Finder.
Only when you have purchased a license for any edition of DEVONthink and applied a seat to the machine, it activates the chosen feature set. You can verify the edition you’re running with one of these options:
- Read the Registered to line in the splash screen, accessible via DEVONthink 3 > About DEVONthink 3.
- Click the Welcome link at the bottom of the Help > Support Assistant.
- Check the menus. For example, if you see a blue star on Data > OCR, that is a feature of the Pro or Server editions, so you’re running the Standard edition.
Does DEVONthink copy my files and can I delete the originals?
By default, DEVONthink imports files which does copy them into the database. This creates a self-contained database that can easily be backed up or transported as a single unit. Whether to delete the originals is up to you, but many people choose not to keep the external copies.
Alternatively, you can index external files and folders which just adds references for them to your databases. In this case you must not move or delete the files outside of DEVONthink or you’ll break the references.
Do I have to worry about "corrupting" my databases?
DEVONthink databases aren’t specifically susceptible to “corruption”, but as with any files on your computer, problems can occur. We suggest following regular maintenance routines on your machine as well as your databases to ensure they’re healthy.
For your databases, a Tools > Verify & Repair on a regular schedule, perhaps every other week under heavy use, can keep your mind at ease. If you run into trouble, consult the manual or contact our support team.
Do I have to worry about getting "locked in"?
DEVONthink imports and stores files in their native formats. There is no conversion to any proprietary formats, nor do we have any. For instance, a PDF imported into DEVONthink remains a PDF.
Also, while files are stored in a proprietary folder structure internally, we provide many options for getting the files out. This includes simple drag-and-drop out of DEVONthink and the File > Export > Files and Folders command. It is also possible to access the internals of a database to access all these files in an emergency setting, but please contact our support team for assistance with this.
Do I need to make more than one database?
Designing a database is largely a preferential thing. A database can be very small or very large, depending on its use. However, smaller, more focused databases may generally perform better, sync faster, and be more data-safe in the event of a catastrophe (avoiding the “all your eggs in one basket” problem). They also give you the opportunity to close unused databases when you’re not using them.
How big can my DEVONthink database be?
The suggested size of a DEVONthink database is measured in words, more than in bytes. You can see this in File > Database Properties for each database. DEVONthink indexes the text of files and stores that in an index for each database. When you open a database, its index is loaded into memory for faster operations. The more unique words in the indices, the more memory is required.
Generally speaking, a modern machine with 8 GB RAM can easily hold one million unique words and 100,000 items in the database.
How can we use DEVONthink together in our team?
To work with DEVONthink in a team, you have two options, which both have their own advantages and disadvantages:
Install DEVONthink on each of your team’s Macs and synchronize your databases between all of them, either directly via Bonjour or via a storage location like a WebDAV server or a shared Dropbox account. Advantage: You can use the full functionality of DEVONthink at all workplaces. Disadvantages: You need a license with seats for all Macs running DEVONthink. In addition, a copy of the database is kept on every Mac taking part in the sync circle and occupies storage space. All participants have full access to all databases shared with them.
You run DEVONthink Server on one Mac which holds the databases. All other workplaces access your databases via a web interface provided by the server Mac. Advantages: User and permission management lets you control who has access to which databases. The number of workplaces accessing the server is not limited, and you can also use Windows or Linux PCs to connect to the server via web browser. You don’t need to buy additional seats to accommodate more users. Disadvantage: The web interface offers only a part of DEVONthink’s feature set.
DEVONthink Server is the same application as DEVONthink but with an additional server component. Its license comes with two seats so you can install it on up to two Macs and use it just like any of the other editions (you don’t have to use the server component on a Mac not being used as a server).
How do I completely uninstall an app?
To completely remove one of our Mac apps, please refer to the built-in help, Read Me section.
How do I scan with my ScanSnap scanner?
Unfortunately, ScanSnap scanners don’t work with Apple’s Image Capture and can’t be controlled by DEVONthink. Instead, create a scanning profile in the ScanSnap Home software with the Send to option set to direct its output to DEVONthink.
- Open ScanSnap Home and navigate to Preferences > Application.
- Press Add or remove, and add DEVONthink.
- Select ScanSnap Home > Scan Settings, then Profile > Add new profile.
- Select the ScanSnap Home profile and…
- change the name of the profile, e.g., to DEVONthink Scans,
- change the Type to Mac (Scan to file),
- change Send to to DEVONthink,
- and adjust any other settings, as desired.
- Press Add to create a new profile.
This will send new scans to DEVONthink. While all editions of DEVONthink receive the scans, remember that only the Pro and Server editions have OCR capabilities. Alternatively set ScanSnap Home to perform OCR.
How do I switch from application X to DEVONthink?
This depends on the specific application as not all applications share their data easily. Applications with drag-and-drop and extensive export options provide more potential for moving data between the apps. DEVONthink includes a few built in options in its File > Import menu. For specific applications, please check our community or contact our support.
Where are my DEVONthink databases?
DEVONthink stores the databases where you created them. We advocate using a folder in your home directory, like
~/Databases, and never put them in a cloud-synced folder. You can find your databases by searching with Spotlight for:
The global inbox is stored in:
~/Library/Application Support/DEVONthink Pro 3/Inbox.dtBase2
Where does DEVONthink backup my databases?
DEVONthink has no built in file backup capabilities. A proper backup strategy is up to the individual to implement and maintain. Due to the simplicity of Apple’s Time Machine, we suggest using it with local external drives. For an online backup, you can use a cloud backup service that uses a snapshot-style backup, ie. not “continuous backups”. Arq is one such service.
Where do I find system requirements?
You can find the system requirements for all our Mac apps either on the app’s product page or the Download page.
Where is DEVONsphere Express?
When you launch DEVONsphere Express it shows up as a little leaf icon in the right-hand part of the menu bar. Click it to show its panel. DEVONsphere Express stays out of your way and does not open a window automatically when it starts up.
Where is the Mail plugin on macOS Sonoma or later?
With macOS Sonoma, Apple discontinued Mail plugins and replaced them with a new extensions architecture. Unfortunately, the new extensions are more limited in functionality and no longer allow us to access your email in the way we need to make email archiving work. They also no longer lets us insert our own commands into Mail. A future version of DEVONthink might offer more sophisticated email archiving options that don’t rely on a Mail plugin.
Which is the right edition of DEVONthink for me?
While we can’t specifically answer this question for you, maybe the following summary gives you some ideas:
- Standard: A very capable tool for everyday personal use. Multiple databases, database and in-document searching, even automation is included.
- Pro: Stepping up from the Standard edition, the Pro edition has features more commonly needed in business and academia. Custom metadata, full text concordance, scanning with OCR, and email importing are some of the high-powered functions you’ll find.
- Server: With all the power of the Pro edition, Server has a built-in webserver made for sharing databases on a network with users on other platforms or Mac users not running DEVONthink. This edition is geared toward multi-user business and group collaboration situations.
You can find a list what differentiates Pro and Server from the Standard edition on the product page.
Why can't I import email from Outlook?
The New Outlook is Microsoft Outlook’s new interface. It’s the same application with a different appearance. Unfortunately, Microsoft also removed the support for AppleScript, an inter-application communication technology that DEVONthink and other apps need to talk to Outlook.
To enable email archiving from Outlook again, switch off the new appearance via Outlook > New Outlook. You’re presented with a prompt asking why you’re changing away from the new look. Please feel free to let Microsoft know by choosing AppleScript from the list of reasons.
According to Microsoft’s roadmap, AppleScript support is planned to return to Outlook.
Why can't I import from Evernote?
With the release of version 10, Evernote broke support for inter-application communication. In order to use DEVONthink’s menu command File > Import > Notes from Evernote, you’ll need to download and use the legacy version of their application. You can find more information here: Install an older version of Evernote.
Why do the links for hidden preferences not work?
Why is DEVONthink reporting my database is already open?
This warning is normal and usually issued in these circumstances, the first being the most common cause:
- After DEVONthink has terminated abnormally, e.g., by crash or force quit.
- When trying to access a database already opened by another person. This includes a database open in another logged in account on the Mac. DEVONthink is not made for multi-user simultaneous access.
- If you were trying to open multiple copies of the same database. This is usually caused by copying and renaming a
.dtBase2file in the Finder, and should not be done.
Press Continue . DEVONthink will do a checkup to ensure the database is healthy and report if there are problems.
Why is Mail saying DEVONthink's plugin is incompatible?
Note: With macOS Sonoma, Apple discontinued support for Mail plugins altogether. But, you can still drag email to DEVONthink, use DEVONthink’s Import sidebar, or export all email als MBOX file and import it.
When Apple upgrades their operating system, it sometimes causes an incorrect report that DEVONthink’s Apple Mail plugin is incompatible. This often happens when upgrading to major releases, e.g., from macOS Big Sur to Monterey.
The first thing to try is simply reinstalling the plugin via DEVONthink 3 > Install Add-Ons.
If that doesn’t work, try this to have a fresh installation of the plugin…
- Quit Mail.
- Quit DEVONthink 3.
- If you haven’t already, enable Full Disk Access and all automation requests for DEVONthink 3 in System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Privacy.
- In the Finder, hold the Option key and choose Go > Library.
- Go into the
Mail/Bundlesfolder and delete our
- Relaunch DEVONthink 3 and install the Mail plugin from DEVONthink 3 > Install Add-Ons.
- Relaunch Mail and enable the plugin via Preferences > General > Manage Plug-ins.
Note: The name of our
.mailbundle file is correct as-is, even if it may appear incorrect for the current operating system.
Why should I give your applications Full Disk Access?
For best performance and operation, DEVONthink, DEVONagent Pro, DEVONsphere Express, and EasyFind should be given Full Disk Access in System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Privacy. While this may sound more ominous than it is, our applications have been safely working this way for many years.
As of this writing, the areas protected by Full Disk Access are: Mail, Messages, Safari, Home, and Time Machine. Giving the applications full disk access allows for interactions like being able to properly install the Apple Mail plugin in DEVONthink Pro and Server, searching available disks in EasyFind, or importing Safari bookmarks into DEVONagent Pro.