DEVONthink for Mac

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

Metadata in DT

Metadata in DT

One of the best ways to organize information in DT is to use metadata fields to describe the items in the database. Depending on the document types, general metadata fields are already defined and added to the database when documents are imported.

You can also define custom metadata fields that can be searchable along with the contents. If you navigate the Inspector panes on the right side of a main window,  the Info pane displays additional information about a selected document or group. If you don’t see the right sidebar, make sure you click the sidebar icon Right sidebar icons on the top right, or choose Tools menu -> Inspectors -> Show.

  1. Click the “” on the right sidebar to see the Info pane.
  2. Generic Metadata is the first tab of Metadata containing general information about what a document is.
  •  Name -  file name on hard drive
  •  Aliases -  searchable non-file name
  •  URL -  Internet location of file
  •  Path - hard drive path
  •  Dates (Added, Created, Modified) 
  •  Size - data size of the file as well as the dimensions of images
  •  Kind - file extension such as .docx, .jpeg, .pdf, etc 
  •  Geolocation - geographic information
  •  Marks - flags that you can mark files with
  •  Tags - user defined terms that are searchable via the search bar

3. Properties is another type of metadata that has information in regard to file properties.

  •  Author – writer/creator of a document
  •  Title - name of a document
  •  Comment – written remark,  can be ignored
  •  Subject -  topic of the content
  •  Keywords  - either automatically generated or user assigned to help with categorizing the content.
  •  Copyright - copyright holder if any
  •  Editor - editor name

Creating Custom Metadata

Custom metadata fields are useful for defining data in more concrete, descriptive manners. Specified in  the DEVONthink 3 menu -> Preference -> Data, you can select predefined custom metadata and/or create your own metadata fields.  Predefined custom metadata fields include: Date, Company, Author, Abstract, Status, Serial Number, ISSN/ISBN, Digital Object Identifier (DOI), PubMed ID, PMC ID, Barcode, Format, Category, Subcategory, Genre, Country, Language, etc.  Additional metadata fields could be publisher, source, or publication year of the documents. Custom Metadata is global and you can have an unlimited amount of custom metadata.

As an example, we will create custom metadata that allows us to define various features of documents.

  • To create custom metadata: At the top menu, select DEVONthink 3 -> Preferences and then click on the Data tab.


    • To add your own custom metadata, click on the plus sign (+) in the bottom left, which will create a new metadata called New as a single text metadata type as a default. Rename the Identifier and select the Type.

Custom Metadata

    • Set custom metadata to single-line or multi-line depending on length. (single line = 20 characters, multi-line for longer).  Repeat adding your own custom metadata,  if needed.
    • Adding your own custom metadata

    • Custom metadata is searchable by default.

  • Fill in useful and relevant information! It is not required to fill all custom metadata fields.