DEVONagent and DEVONsphere - what's the point?

Continuing the discussion from I'm a reluctant Windows user now:

Thanks for mentioning those. I did see DEVONagent but didn’t see much use for it (partly because the website is rather bad at explaining what it actually does). Maybe I can learn it by RTFM, but do I want an app that can’t even convey what problem it solves?

I hadn’t seen DEVONsphere but looking at the webpage, I had the same problem as with the DEVONagent page. It says “DEVONsphere is a menubar utility for searching your Mac and finding data related to the frontmost document.” Aha.

Now I have downloaded and installed both and still can’t see the point. Agent (lite) seems to give me a shortcut to search various search engines in the menu bar. Really? And Sphere doesn’t seem to do anything. I’ve configured it and told it to build its index, so I’ll check what happens in a while. But it’s a really weird UX, tbh.

DevonAgent Pro has, as far as I remember, a (30day??) trial period, so you can try this, instead of the lite version.
The same applies, as far as I remember, towards DevonSphere.

DEVONagent Pro will search multiple search engines at once and will aggregate the results, and it supports search operators not found or not easily used elsewhere (like e.g. proximity of words). It can also keep an eye on your favourite websites and let you know if results come up that match your query, plus it can be automated. It can be quite useful for academic research.


This is what DEVONsphere does. It gives you DEVONthink’s AI for finding related files, without using DEVONthink. (And for $10.)

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I’ve had a license for DEVONagent Pro for years and I still can’t figure out what it’s good for.


I’ve got Alfred, HoudahSpot, and GoToFile when I want more local search voodoo than the Finder has. I’m trying to whittle down to just one alternate search app. And now I notice that Finder seems to have gotten better at search when I wasn’t looking. :slightly_smiling_face:

DEVONsphere’s functions are indeed duplicated by HoudaSpot, Foxtrot Pro, and others - though not surprisingly DEVONsphere is better integrated with Devonthink.

DEVONagent is the more unique app. If your work or hobbies are such that you want to regularly perform comprehensive searches on a specific niche topic, nothing else matches it.

Thanks for sharing that. So when/how exactly does it do that? Whenever I click the DEVONsphere icon in the menu bar, it takes content/title/metadata of the currently active window and does what with it?

And under what conditions will it yield any result? When I click the icon right now, while I write this post in the browser, it gives me this:

(Side remark: strangely, on my screen, the green radar icon on the right of the search bar doesn’t look like a radar at all, more like a pause button. For some reason, that doesn’t show in the screenshot.)

LOL, but at some point you seem to have had an idea, otherwise you wouldn’t have bought the license, no?

Alfred is indispensable for me, and whatever third party search tool I evaluate will eventually have to answer the question: do you integrate with Alfred? - The problem (?) with Alfred’s own search is that it relies on spotlight, so in terms of pure search, it doesn’t provide so much added value. When spotlight doesn’t index my samba shares, Alfred won’t find them.

I’ve had HoudahSpot installed for over a year, but ended up never using it. It has many options and allows for sophisticated searches, but while that is an advantage in some cases, most of the time it is noot what I want. It also seems to be rather slow.

I learned about GoToFile today from you and immediately installed it. It looks quite promising (although the UI is a bit idiosyncratic and could use an update).

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HoudahSpot is an invaluable tool for me. I don’t necessarily use it often, Alfred is my day-to-day go-to search tool. But when Alfred/spotlight can’t find what I’m looking for, HoudahSpot’s much more powerful and extensive list of search options does the job.

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interesting, just wondering whether GotoFile or Finda is more effective in search local files, I presume they also search NAS volumes?

All will be revealed:

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I got DevonAgent once and tried to use it for a while. Eventually I managed to make it give me search results, but didn’t understand what advantage that gave me over a simple Google search. I came to the conclusion that it is something for very specific use cases, when you make scientific queries in specific databases or whatever. It’s fine that there is a tool for this and it’s my fault to buy something I don’t need – but I found it a bit frustrating that marketing and documentation didn’t even manage to explain to me what this really is and how I might wanna use it.

It’s also helpful for any search (scientific or not) that you do regularly.

Suppose your hobby or job requires you to keep up with Exotic Widgets for some reason.

You can set DevonAgent to search daily for Exotic Widgets and upload the results into your designated Devonthink Group for that purpose.

Then you never need to do the search manually again - just go to that Devonthink group and you can always see the cumulative results of these searches.

Sort of like a personalized and infinitely customizable RSS feed.


That hasn’t been my experience.

I often just type in one word/term in the search field and almost invariably get what I am looking for. Much more useful than Spotlight or Launchbar. Sometimes I have to refine the search to a particular type (e.g. email or pdf) or folder.

I haven’t found it slow. I just hit return and results appear instantaneously. There is also a setting that starts populating search results with each letter you type with the results updating as you type.

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Thank you! I had no idea this existed!

In Preferences > General, it is the Start searches automatically checkbox

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