DEVONthink or KeepIt?

I’ve recently switched from KeepIt to DEVONthink and DEVONthink To Go (thanks to MPU coverage). I’m not sure I’m going to stick with it though. I’d previously had a DT license so it wasn’t a huge buy in, which is probably a good thing because I’m wavering.

The main problem I had with KeepIt was it seemed to be incessantly doing… something… with iCloud. I’d add one document and it would be “fetching 100 documents, saving 100 documents, fetching 100 documents.” Or at least, so it seemed. I also find the UI a little simple, in need of a little flair (how an app looks and flows is important to me as well as how it functions).

DT has solid syncing with iCloud. It has LOTS more controls, but the interface is also… slightly dated looking. I also find the whole database thing a little overbearing. I get tags and inboxes and smart thingies whether I want them or not. And lately, I’ve been having problems with databases apparently closing and then not showing up in Recent Databases. Also (probably related) if my Mac reboots with DT running (which is often thanks to 1.Catalina freezes far too often, and 2.Any time I send a web page to DT on the Mac, the app launches, so I just leave it running) then the database is “not closed properly” every time I go to open it, which is annoying.

DTTG is also less functional than I had hoped. The key feature it is missing for me is the ability to scan directly into the app on my iPhone. That’s how a big chunk of my documents got into KeepIt. Plus KeepIt has OCR built in without breaking the bank.

My use cases are these:

  1. Important documents
  2. Receipts (the primary use case for scan-to-app)
  3. Reference material (usually web archives)
  4. Research material (generally copy-pasted text from various sources, some images, links and web archives)
  5. “Created” content (very little, original text I create)

Some of these I need to be on hand on my phone, like receipts and important documents, while the rest are generally most important at my desktop Mac or occasionally on my iPad Pro (at home).

Both apps can deal with all of this and I’m not concerned about the economics of either choice. My gut feel at this time is that DT is very powerful and flexible, but has not (yet?) been properly modernised and as such it can be hard to hide or ignore the bits you don’t care about, plus DTTG is in need of some serious updating. KeepIt is a little simple on the UI front and seems to have those iCloud dances, but it does let you use just what you need.

I’ve not had need for DT support recently, but have found KeepIt support responsive and effective in the past.

Can anyone persuade me not to do what my current plan is and move back to KeepIt?

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Tried both and sticking with DEVONthink which has to be my top 3 Mac applications. DEVONthink To Go is one those apps that I paid for but don’t use. As you said, it REALLY need upgrading. Forum has so many complains and issues but DTTG still gets treated like a second class citizen compared to Mac edition. When was the last time it had a major upgrade? Periodically still have the urge to move to Keep It because how great its iPad version is. Most of my research work is done on Mac so it’s an easy choice to stick to DEVONthink but still have periodic urges to go Keep It because of 1990-style DTTG :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

Go KeepIt if you use both Mac & iPad all the time. DEVONthink if mainly on Mac. My 2 cents.


Thanks for your thoughts. Very succinct and useful.

I’ve repeatedly tried and wanted to use Keep It for its feature parity but I kept encountering so many small annoyances and bugs I gave up every time. It’s one of those apps you want to love but it doesn’t let you. I went with DT even though the iOS app is really subpar. But everything works as advertised.

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Both apps use a database, the biggest difference is KeepIt only has the one. If you like the simplicity of that, you could just create folders in the DEVONthink Global Inbox and forget about using additional databases that you create.

As to the interface, DEVONthink 3 was released last year, which makes it an infant in DEVONthink development time. As a user of DEVONthink for over 18 years now, I find the look of DEVONthink 3 to be quite updated compared to what came before! In other words, if you are thinking of sticking with DEVONthink because an interface refresh is imminent, don’t.


I’m probably not allowed to say more than this: Devonthink To Go 3.0 is in beta with some major updates. There was a 2.8 beta with minor improvements for ios 13/14 but I guess they decided to skip it and ship 3.0 directly.


Thank you for letting us know!
I got that feeling from lurking on the DT forums. Can’t wait :grinning:

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Aye, DTTG 3.0 isn’t necessarily mind-blowing, but includes many needed updates.

DT3’s upcoming releases are also very exciting.

But I’m not sure these releases will assuage the OP’s concerns. It sounds like you like the capital-D Design of KeepIt more (i.e., not just the aesthetics, but core Model-View-Controller design decisions), plus you get a lot of value from the availability of scanning/OCR on iOS. If your main issue with KeepIt is the syncing stuff, I would work to investigate that with KeepIt staff and try to stick it out.


I am a hardcore DT3 user - as in 8-12 hours a day as the primary app with which to manage my consulting practice. I tried and rejected many alternatives before DT3.

With that preface, can you elaborate a bit more on your use case? If you are primarily storing household receipts, vacation plans, household inventory for insurance, bank statements then either app does the job but DT3 is overkill.

If your “research” is for an academic course or professional project or a novel you are writing, then the added capability of DT3 far overshadows any user interface advantage of KeepIt.

If you let us know a bit more about what you plan to do with the information that may help to offer you advice.


I kept doing the dance of Keep It vs DEVONthink. I kept trying to make them both into what I wanted until I realized what @rkaplan is saying. Both of these tools were overkill for what I needed. All I was doing was using them both to scan receipts, and keep track of emails for vacation plans, or a few pertinent details about my house, or car, etc…

Turns out I really didn’t need either app. I was trying to shoehorn them into something that they weren’t.

I just use the Files app now. I can store all these file types in folders (with tags if necessary). I can favorite folders for quick access. I can scan directly in the Files app. I can also store PDFs of my emails, and quickly search and view them for later reference. There’s no built-in OCR, but you can scan through something like Readdle’s Scanner Pro if you need OCR.

Anyway, I don’t think you need to feel guilty about not using DEVONthink. It’s a powerful app, but it’s really made for hardcore research needs, and not just a place to store household paperwork. :blush:


Wow! I know @ismh and @MacSparky always say this is such a great community, but waking up to all these replies was wonderful. There are many places I can go for a “hot take” on why I’m wrong or right, but all of this is really, really insightful. And helpful.

Yes, I get that KeepIt uses a database, but that fact is not continuously in my face. You are right that using a single database is a simple way around my problem with that.

You are correct on the “household” stuff. As for the research, it’s neither academic nor authorial (hey that’s a word!) It is research of personal and family history. They will probably contribute to some kind of book as the final output, but the primary goal is capture.

That’s an interesting approach. I don’t think it’s for me, though. The first problem I would have is the highly generic nature of Files. It wouldn’t just be my stored documents, though I guess a Shortcut would be possible on iOS to open just the right spot. But the biggest problem is with tags, in their universal nature. I wish I could corral tags to specific areas of the filesystem. If I set up a tag for “Receipts” to use in such a structure, then it mingles with a tag for “Logos” used in web design and “Jingles” used for podcasting.

I’m not feeling guilty about this one. Just conflicted. :thinking:

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Yea I hear ya. It’s tough for sure. I can’t ever find “just the right tool”. There’s always something missing or it doesn’t work how I feel like it should and it can be frustrating to me. That’s ultimately why I gave up on them. There were enough paper cuts with every solution that I just decided to cut the cord on all of them. Throwing the baby out with the bath water though isn’t the best approach all the time. :joy:

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Let me tell you about digital photo management… err, no let’s not go down THAT rabbit hole.

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did they fix TextExpander in the Note field? not working currently.

Or you can continue to use both for specific workflows. As others have indicated, I think DT is overkill for receipts and KeepIt probably has an easier entry of these receipts.

I personally attached all these financial receipts either to Quicken for Personal or Quickbooks for business receipts then everything is all together.

I’m the same way with project/task managers. I was pretty settled on Todoist, and super pumped about Boards, but I have gone back to Bullet Journaling, because even though Todoist and Evernote are great with each other, and I used both pretty well, it wasn’t their paper cuts that were hurting me, it was my brain trying to automate everything.

In the Bullet Journal episode of Focused, they discuss the idea of doing stuff that seems slower up front saving time in the end, and that’s where I’m at right now.

Finding the system that works the best, despite being able to afford something better, is a peaceful place to be.


I’m just trying out moving the other way! I have been a DT user for over 10 year I think, and it is great, but… I have always found the design makes to hard to operate in the app. I view going into it as a chore. As a result, I have been looking for years for an alternative, but nothing has ever worked for me - DT has such amazing functionality.

However, Keep It is looking a very practical solution. The only major thing it can’t do is the sorcery DT has for filing documents. It’ll be painful not to have that, but it is SO much more useable.

I’ll keep you posted…


Not guilty buy Why nottake advantage of the great searching of DT for even the most mundane of filing tasks? Being ablw to quickly and easily get to something that you filed away decades ago is a great feeling and DT makes that easier.

However, I only use DTTG as a reader, I rarely if ever add to my DT databases from the mobile apps. And yes, I’m in the multiple database camp. I currently have 6 main operational databases in DEVONTHink and 1 that I’m playing with as my sandbox to try things out.

That’s what wasn’t working for me though. I never could get to a place in DEVONthink where it felt “easy” to use. It always feels like I’m swimming upstream. :man_shrugging:t2:

I am glad it works well for you though. :blush:

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This. Even after 10 years of use.