Retrieval tips for DEVONthink?

“Casual” user of DevonThink here, with tons of random stuff…

So most recently added notes and keyword search both work fine, but wondering if there’s something I’m missing in terms of retrieval? DT is so heavily built for filing, but too much so for my general life use (general life = 30+ groups and so so many sub-groups…sigh…real life/first world necessities these days).

Are there any good tips for retrieval or scanning of content such as using tags a certain way or something that other DT power users utilize? I think I’m trying to recall and associate things I’ve captured but haven’t yet acted on/integrated/prioritized for next steps.

Curious what others do for “browsing” or associating when specific terms are not involved.

Theres a DevonTHINK Discourse forum which you might find of use, some very informative users there.

I use a structured approach to file naming, tags for items that don’t suit that, and a fairly extensive, if shallow, structure to my groups. I like things grouped appropriately but not hidden away.

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I’ve been using DevonThink for a few years. In the beginning I was pretty organized when doing bookmarks, screenshots and notes. I probably have 2 dozen folders in my root and some folders have subfolders. Looks great but time consuming as I was also adding tags.

One day I was cleaning up browser tabs and dumped them all in the inbox and I’ve continued to do that since. I still tag (and make notes when applicable) and so far I’ve been able to find things when I search.

I just avoid looking at the inbox because I don’t like it messy (but don’t feel like sorting everything back into folders).

The only exception to this is when I am scanning, I am much more organized with those. But since it OCRs I probably don’t have to be, it’s just pretty easy to take a stack and point it to a particular folder.

Honestly when I am looking for something, even a scan, I rarely go to the folder but will search instead.


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If you are looking to maximize your use of DevonThink 3, the following might help.

Way more than you’ll ever use but it will get you using the program in a sophisticated way.

Take control books are never a waste of time.

On my own system I have a folder for every year and subfolders for organization. I adopted a file naming regimen (eg., YYYY-MM-DD brief descriptionn.ext)

Then I tag to make it easier to classify.

But I’ll admit that when I want to find something it’s a quick trip to the search bar.


I think the thing with DevonTHINK is to give it time, sticking to an approach that works reaps benefits over time. I would think of it as a long-term/archive resource, a repository of research, a gathering of project files, whatever your use case. Keep adding material, group and organise/tag as you go. Every now and then review and redo as needed. It becomes a tremendous resource.

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