DevonThink 3 - a new leaf or an aberration?

This is one of the fastest upgrades I’ve ever purchased. Yes, the UI refresh is welcome, but I made the purchase of DTPO 2 because it was the most powerful tool for research and organization of my professional work. DTP 3 builds on that power in significant ways (smart rules FTW!).

The support has always been prompt, and helpful. The authors, while decidedly opinionated, left their various rationales all around the forum.

I had a sync oddity with info on NAS, etc. one of the devs (Christian) helped me on the forum and we worked things out, I think.
I hope this is an indication of their new support philosophy.

From time to time I keep myself considering Devonthink. I’m both a law professor and lawyer and wonder if Devonthink could be of any help to assist me with the task of managing my ever growing collection of PDFs, webpages, notes and word documents.

Like @MitchWagner so accurately described, I’ve gone so far as to scream in horror at Devonthink 2 a few times and moved away before even realizing what the app is capable of. But now I’m once more considering jumping in. Would you guys recommend any special resource for getting started?

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I very much agree - my experience too has been great with DevonThink’s customer support. That isn’t to say that all my questions were provided an answer i liked, but they were answered and most of the time swiftly.

At one time i strongly leaned on Christian (Devon’s CTO) to support Discourse forums (such as these) directly with DevonAgent (a companion tool to DT for even more magic). Since the company considered it out of scope for their product (entirely theirs to decide) he furnished me with sample source code so i could attempt this myself, I think that is pretty dang good customer service!

Yes sometimes their answers are a little short and stripped from all fluffiness, but if they can help, they do.


I would suggest starting small. When beginning your next small project, do it in DEVONthink and play with some of the features. Explore a little more whenever you work with it. DEVONthink 3 is free while in beta so it’s a great opportunity.

A good starting place is to use it as a “Finder replacement”. I keep a lot of Shortcuts “resources”—say, text used as templates for new notes—in DEVONthink. The Universal Unique Identifier links for those files mean that I can always trust that the item will be accurately opened when I run a shortcut no matter what device. This also helped me when I recently studied for a big exam. I used digital flash cards (Anki), pointing to the exact page of relevant PDFs for each flash card. The concept I was looking for was always a click away.

Another option: If you’re doing a lit review, Custom Metadata, annotations, and Table of Contents files might really help you out.

The Manual and Help guides (in the menubar) are really thorough. Most questions have probably already been asked on the forums, too.

Frankly, the worst thing about the product for me is that it always feels like I’m not using the most of it… constant experimentation is necessary!


The forthcoming “Taking Control of . . .” book for DEVONthink is going to be free for all customers once released. That and the in-app help are the only learning tools I know of right now. I’ve learned the most the past few weeks by just spending time in their forum, although I was already fairly adept with version 2.


I wonder where your problem lies? I found their support supurb and unusually attentive and high quality!


What !! Cough splutter…I politely disagree with you.

I have used DT for 9 years after purchase and have had excellent customer service all the way through.

I bought Ulysses and shortly after they went subscription. I now don’t use Ulysses.

You can’t compare the two programs. DEVONthink is amazingly complex and functional whilst Ulysses is a text editor. I would suggest that Devontech care about their customers.

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Look, it’s quite possible for different people to have different experiences with CS with the same company - with the same CS rep - on the same day!
Not only can you have different problems, but you can also be in different moods.
Problem A is a routine matter which the rep solves while chatting amiably to you, thus making you in a better mood, leaving you with an extremely good feeling.
Problem B is something that seems like it should be a routine matter, but which is considered such an edge case by the developers, that there’s nothing the CS rep can do to help you. No matter how amicable the rep is, he’s just not going to be able to leave you with that same good feeling. In fact, you may become angry that this company seemingly doesn’t want to help you with your simple problem, even though it would take several developers several days to do, and possibly isn’t even possible due to architectural reasons.

CS is hard, and someone else having a different experience than you do not invalidate your experiences or feelings.

Edit: I moved from using English as my working language to my native Norwegian literally three months ago, and now I literally can’t even. I had to use Grammarly to even make sense here…


Yes, I agree. I haven’t done CS since a former life when I worked in the call center for Lotus 1-2-3…I learned to really appreciate the callers from the southern US who were much more patient and polite in their demeanour than the folks from the northeast. But our supervisor was very clear that no matter how difficult the person on the line was acting, we were the public face of the company and we had to hear them out and work with them.

This was before I’d heard the acronym RTFM but that attitude would have been totally unacceptable.

I realize that forums are rather different than phone support, in large part because you get not just people with specific problems to solve, but a broader range of general comments about a product. But still, starting with the premise that your customers deserve respect and assistance seems a good idea.

Anyway the threads I’ve seen lurking in the DT forums in the beta make it look like their attitude has taken a turn for the better. Hopefully it’s a long-term trend.


So the UID can point to a specific page on a PDF? Wow! That’s awesome! Will they work as well on iPad version of DT?

I currently do this on marginnote, but would gladly move away from its many syncing bugs.

One other comment since someone above brought up Ulysses- I’ve had only positive experiences with the their support team.

They’ve also managed to maintain feature parity on the Mac and iOS for the last few years. That would be a tall order for a more complex app like DT but it does feel like DTTG has been left to languish.

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Yep, exactly.

The link x-devonthink-item:///85B47643-CE54-4857-825A-465A733056BC?page=4 will open a specific PDF in a specific database on page 3 or 4 (I forget if it starts counting at 1) in DEVONthink To Go on iOS or DEVONthink on macOS.

You can do quite a lot with DEVONthink URL schemes, too, though that’s a rabbit hole that can take a while to investigate.

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The developer is quite proud of the documentation for this new version. He’s mentioned it several times in discussion threads, and I checked it out. It’s really pretty good, so that’s a good place to start.

But the app does so many things that it is crying out for a series of screencasts by someone like @MacSparky. The trouble with DEVONthink is that any such screencast would have to be 100 hours long. I’ve used it for several years, and I still haven’t figured out just how I could be maximizing it. That’s not entirely the developer’s fault, except in the sense that the developer created an application that’s so complex.

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Just for the record, I’ve had a completely different experience with DevonThink customer service. I ran into an issue with email archiving on New Year’s Eve day a couple of years ago, sent off a message to the support team, and got an answer ON NEW YEAR’S DAY.

Also for the record, I never had a problem with the UI. After lord knows how many decades wrestling with lousy bespoke enterprise software, DevonThink’s UI was practically *chef’s kiss*.


I understand it’s the ultimate software for Macsparky the lawyer. He should invite JoeKissell in one of his shows.

I guess it may depend on the service technician, but I’ve had an exceptional experience with their customer service. On one request, they had a plugin sent to me with a fix to a problem with my scanner after only 2 hours. They have also tried to reproduce any errors I’ve encountered and eventually solved all the problems I’ve emailed them about.

I have been using DVTPO for many years and have always found their customer service to be prompt and courteous. Their solutions to my few issues have been spot-on.
Overall, the program itself and my support experience with it has always been exceptional.


It would just be nice to get to the point where comments like this are unnecessary:

the reading experience of the clutter-free web archive leaves much to be desired. If that were the sole criteria used to evaluate the app as a read-it-later option, DEVONthink wouldn’t even make it on the list.

They don’t change things often just for change sake. I get the impression it has been worked on for a long time. I think all the other significant improvements are evidence of this.