DEVONthink for Mac

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

Searching in DT

Searching in DT helps find terms, content, metadata, tags, and other identifiable information on a per-database or even per-folder basis.  This is a basic guide to searching in DT.

Global Search

The search bar is located at the upper right side (just below the top menu bar) of the screen.  

  • DT searches terms in titles, tags, metadata, and document content.


There are search options available when you click a magnifying glass icon in the search box as shown below, which includes where to search in, all databases or particular database,  etc. 

Search Options

  • You can sort the search results by: Name (alphabetically by file name or title), Modified (last modified), Kind (document type, tags and groups first), Size (document size).


In-Document Search

  • Select a searchable document (.PDF, .doc(x), .odt, .xlsx, note type, and more).
  • Choose the Tools menu -> Inspectors to show/hide the right sidebar, or click on the sidebar icon Right sidebar icons on the top right of the screen.
  • On the 2nd row of the right sidebar, click the 7th icon (Search icon) and enter a search term(s) in the search bar.

Document Search

  • Along with a list of the search term's occurrence, the term on the document is highlighted on the Preview screen.

Advanced Search

Once you type in a word, the search pane shows any matched items. It is another item list supporting the different views and sort methods. Additionally, the View/Edit pane can display selected results.

Search Prefixes

Search Prefix


Search Scope

The scope is the "where" you're searching. The "Search in" options are All databases, Inboxes, the name of the current database, and the name of the current group.  If you are searching in a particular location and want to ignore possible matches in the subgroups, enable the Exclude Subgroups checkbox, as needed.

Adding Search Scope & Prefix


Search Operators

We can add Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT, XOR, etc.), parentheses, and wildcards matching one (?), multiple (*), or one character out of a range of characters ([a-d]), to extend DT searching capabilities to narrow down your search.

  • ?: Matches exactly one character.
  • *: Matches none, one, or multiple characters.
  • [a-b]: Matches one character of the range a through b.
  • [abc...] or [a|b|c|...]: Matches one character out of the given list of characters.
  • [^...]: Matches one character that is not contained in the given list or range

Searching by terms in DT is case-insensitive, ignoring cases in the search query. 

Special characters are treated as white space or ignored, such as "word1-word2" or "word1_word2" can be treated as "word1 word2" or "word1word2".