How to Use Duplicates and Replicants
There are several reasons to make a copy of a document. To share it, simply for safety, or because the document could actually belong in multiple locations in your databases. DEVONthink and DEVONthink To Go support two types of copies: duplicates and replicants. Here’s what they are and how to make them.
A duplicate is a copy of an item, group, or document. This copy can be edited independently of the original, e.g., you can add its own tags, give it a different label, or edit the content of a duplicated document without affecting the original. However, editing the content this will also remove its status as a duplicate because it’s now no longer an exact copy.
Duplicates can be made for a variety of reasons but a common one is versioning. Create a duplicate and edit the duplicate document, preserving the state of the original.
There are several ways to create a duplicate in DEVONthink:
- Open the contextual menu for your item, then use the command Duplicate To.
- Hold the Option key (⌥) while you drag and drop your item.
- Select your item, then select Data > Duplicate or press ⌘D.
- Select your item, use Date > Move to and then hold Option (⌥) while using the popover.
In DEVONthink To Go, long-press an item and choose Duplicate, then navigate to the desired location and tap Duplicate.
A replicant is not a copy of an item, it’s rather a clone. This is an important distinction. It cannot be edited independently of the original. Actually, there is no original when dealing with replicants, because all replicants are just instances of one item. This means all edits to any replicant will affect all the other instances.
Replicants are often used when you want to file something in multiple locations. For example, you may have a genealogy database where you’ve filed a document about your father. Using replicants, you could file a document in a group about him, but also replicate it to groups for locations he lived in or groups for years of important dates. Any change you make to the replicant in any of the groups would affect all the others so you don’t have to individually change them all.
To create a replicant in DEVONthink:
- Open the contextual menu for your item, then use the command Replicate To.
- Hold ⌥⌘ while you drag and drop your item.
- Select your item, use Date > Move to and then hold ⌥⌘ while using the popover.
In DEVONthink To Go, long-press an item, choose Replicate, then navigate to the desired location and tap Replicate.
One important note: you can only make replicants in the same database. And you cannot replicate an item in the same location, e.g., you cannot create multiple replicants of an item in the same group.
Some more notes
Duplicates and replicants show a property icon in the item list — split square for duplicates, split dashed square for replicants. If you prefer a bit more obvious visual cue in DEVONthink, enable Settings > General > Appearance > Mark duplicates and replicants in color. Replicants will be shown in red italic text, duplicates in blue emboldened text.
To get an overview of the duplicates and replicants of an item, select it and open Tools > Inspectors > Info: Generic. There you will find the panel Instances, which lists how many duplicates and replicants exist for this item and where they are located. You’ll find similar details in the Info popover for an object in DEVONthink To Go.