Questions and Answers
Where do I find DEVONthink for Mac?
With DEVONthink 3 we have retired DEVONthink Personal. We may or may not bring DEVONthink for Mac back to the App Store in the future. We will let you know via our blog.
Why is an app not available in my country?
For varying reasons we do not offer our software in certain countries. If you are living in a country where our software is not available in the App Store you might be able to buy it with e.g. an EU or US credit card.
Do I need DEVONthink on the Mac too?
DEVONthink To Go can be used as a standalone application and we have many people using it on its own. However, due to iOS and mobile devices’ limitations, it doesn’t have all the same features and capabilities as DEVONthink on a Mac. It’s a functional application on its own, but it’s even more powerful when used together with our desktop application.
Why can't I sync via USB?
For a long time the USB port in iOS devices wasn’t available to third-party apps. We believe that synchronizing via the local network provides a fast and reliable method even for larger data sets.
How do I activate or deactivate a seat?
Activating a seat means to enter the license code into your copy of the application and register the device with our backend system. To activate a seat:
- Log into your customer account.
- Click the appropriate product in the Your Licenses section to display your licensing information.
- Press the Activate button at the top of the page. Note: In Safari, you may have to allow opening our application.
To deactivate a seat:
- Log into your customer account.
- Click the appropriate product in the Your Licenses section to display your licensing information.
- In the Devices section, press the Edit button.
- Press the encircled minus ⊖ button next to the device from which you want to remove the seat.
This removes the device from your license so you can use the license for registering the software on another computer.
Why am I missing features I purchased?
The trial version of DEVONthink features all the functions of our top-of-the-line edition, DEVONthink Server. This allows you to try out many powerful options, shown in the menus with a blue star, like the built-in OCR, email archiving, custom metadata, and more.
When you purchase a license for DEVONthink, you will only have the features available to your specific license. If you want to continue using any of the features marked with the star, you need to purchase at least the Pro edition. When you do, you will also get the other functions except for the web sharing, unless you purchase the Server edition.
Click here for an overview about what functionality is available in which edition of DEVONthink.
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.
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.
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 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?
In macOS Monterey, changes made by Apple have broken the links in our Help. Here’s a workaround for how you may still use the hidden preferences…
- Open DEVONthink’s Help > DEVONthink 3 Help and navigate to Documentation > Appendix > Hidden Preferences.
- Control- or right-click the On or Off link for the desired preference, and choose Copy Link.
- Open your browser, e.g., Safari, and paste the link into the address bar.
- Press Return and click OK for opening the link in DEVONthink.
Why is Mail saying DEVONthink's plugin is incompatible?
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.
Can't I use sync for backups?
While sync can be used to restore a database in an emergency, sync should not be your only backup. The sync data is chunked, DEVONthink-specific raw data about the databases and is only useful to DEVONthink or DEVONthink To Go. A proper backup should be application-agnostic.
Can I use multiple Dropbox accounts?
No, we’re afraid. The official Dropbox API only pairs with one account at a time.
Can I use OneDrive, Google Drive, …?
Not yet. If you would like to use DEVONthink or DEVONthink To Go with a service that is not yet supported, feel free to let us know. We might add support for it in the future.
Do I have to sync whole databases?
DEVONthink for Mac always uploads complete databases. You can exclude indexed items, though.
DEVONthink To Go always syncs the metadata for whole databases but you can select for the location, the database, or individual groups if you want to sync their content files too. If you sync only the metadata you can download the actual content later on demand.
How do I switch sync methods?
There is no direct switching between sync methods, e.g., between iCloud and Dropbox sync locations. The sync data isn’t shared between locations.
In DEVONthink: Control-click the sync location in DEVONthink’s Preferences > Sync and choose Clean Location. This will remove the sync data in that location. Enable the new sync location, adjusting the options for the location as desired, then sync a database. Enable other databases as needed.
In DEVONthink To Go: Tap the Edit link in DEVONthink To Go’s Settings > Sync: Locations. Add the new sync method, adjusting the options, and saving it.
If you are using a shallow sync, i.e., Download Files: On demand, and you are not syncing to a new location already synced by your Mac, you must leave the old sync location active. Tap the new location and sync a database. DEVONthink To Go will pull the contents from the old location to upload to the new sync location. If you are syncing to a new location to which you’ve already synced your Mac, the contents of the files should be in the sync location already.
If you are using a full sync, i.e., Download Files: Always, the content of the files in fully synced databases is already local to DEVONthink To Go, so tap the new location and sync a database. Repeat as needed.
After you have synced successfully, you can left-swipe the old sync location, and choose Clean to remove the sync data from the old location.
How safe is my data during a sync?
If you set an encryption key for a sync store all data is AES 256 bit encrypted before leaving the device and is stored in encrypted form on the server. It can only be retrieved using the correct key. The same is true for direct connections where all data is encrypted using the key set in the Bonjour options.
In addition, the username and password you set for newly created databases is used as soon as you sync the database to another device. The database cannot be retrieved from a sync store or via direct connection without entering the right credentials.
I have lost my encryption key. Can you recover it?
Unfortunately no. The encryption key is never shared with us. If we could recover your encryption key anyone else could do this too. We’re using strong encryption to ensure that your privacy (at the time of this writing) can’t be cracked without substantial computing power, if at all. Are you sure that you don’t have noted it down on some piece of paper somewhere?
What is CloudKit and should I switch to it?
iCloud comprises several components. One of them is the file service with iCloud Drive being its user-facing part. Another component is CloudKit, a database service that works behind the curtain and can only be used by applications directly.
DEVONthink’s old iCloud sync was based on the file service which did not let it live up to the maximum possible performance. Contrary to that, the CloudKit sync uses the backend database’s capabilities for a fast, single-pass sync.