DEVONthink for Mac

Tool for organizing, describing, searching, and linking text and multimedia documents

General Workflow

General DEVONthink (DT) Workflow

The following summary is a general workflow that would help you start with DT in organizing and managing documents for your research or personal use. 

Step 1: The creation of a database. Creating a separate database for each project is recommended as it can compartmentalize projects by database.

Step 2: Importing documents used in research into that DT database.

  • Import the files directly via the "Files and Folders…" option in Import under the File menu.
  • "Indexing Files and Folders…" under the File menu is for external files in Finder to be indexed and linked internally, not being imported into and stored in DT databases.  It is only recommended for large file sets. 
  • At this point, check that all PDFs or digitized documents have had OCR-applied (searchable PDF), if applicable. If not, go through the steps to convert them to searchable PDFs (Right-click on the document or multiple documents -> OCR-> to searchable PDF).

Step 3: Review what metadata are stored for documents in the Document Properties section (Tools -> Properties) and edit them, if needed.  When documents are imported into DT, certain metadata fields are automatically filled, depending on document types. You may need to fill in the basic metadata fields manually or add custom metadata that would help search.

  • Enabling predefined custom metadata fields, such as DOI, ISBN/ISSN, Genre, etc. 
  • You can add your own custom metadata fields that help identify your resources, such as publisher, and publication year, etc.
  • Fill out each document with relevant default and custom metadata.

Step 4: Start adding tags; tags are helpful for types of data you want immediately searchable and sortable.

Step 5: Then begin the note-taking or annotating process.  Note that highlighting text and adding notes to PDF documents can be exported to be used in PDF viewers or editors.