DevonThink Server Initial Setup Questions

I posted this at the DevonThink Discourse, but have gotten little traction so far. Cross-posting here in case someone has experience with this.

Hi everyone -

I read the First Time thread, searched and read threads related to “server,” and read the manual and the Take Control (previously said “Field Guide,” but that was wrong). I think I know what to do but I really want to get this right the first time, so I’m hoping to hear from someone who has a similar setup and can fill me in on tips and gotchas.


  • I want to use DT on my MacBook Pro and DTTG on my iPads.
  • I want to share a couple of my DBs with a co-worker who helps me with projects
  • I have a Mac Mini that is connected 24/7 functioning as a Plex Server.


  • Install DT Server on the Mac Mini
  • Install DT Pro on the MacBook Pro
  • Set up the DBs to use a Sync service between the two computers
  • Allow my co-worker to access the necessary DBs over the internet by connecting to the server on the Mac mini


  • Have I got that right?
  • Any one else using this setup?
  • Any recommendations on sync service? Is one any better than another in this kind of setup? (Looks like I’d be choosing between Dropbox and iCloud.)
  • Will the Mac Mini be an issue? Should I instead put this at MacMini Colo or similar?

Thank you!

I´m not familiar with the Server-Version, but there is a pretty good handbook on the DT page, maybe you can find an answer there (Headline: Web Sharing p.73)?

That’s what the guys at DT said too. I’ve read everything there is to read, and becoming a little concerned that DT might lean too heavily on the support docs (not your fault, but the experience of my first week with the tool).

I’m trying to connect with someone who has actually done this. So far the answer is “no one,” which makes me wonder why I spent the money on the server version.

Are you familiar with the free ebook Take Control of DEVONthink 3 – Take Control Books which has 5 pages on the Server version, including this :slightly_smiling_face:

I want to emphasize, though, that this is not a full-blown database server, and it’s not suitable for running a public website. Compared to standalone servers, DEVONthink lacks many standard logging, perfor- mance, and customization features. So it’s good at what it does—but just bear in mind that what it does is limited.

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So, if you read the Handbook (“sharing a database” and “using the web interface” are on p.74), this should answer the First question

As far as I understand the handbook, Yes.

No one that I know.

There had been some issues now and then with different sync solutions. I’m using “iCloud (CloudKit)” and it works pretty fine for me so far.
There are a lot of different threads at the Devonthink-Forum about the different problems people run into, but you have to have a look for your specific setup you want to use, to see if it is one of the better solutions, or not.

Why are you afraid this could become a problem?
It always depends on what else is running on a machine, the network capacity and the database sizes, but on the first look I would say it might be OK, to put that on a Mini.

Devonthink has a overwhelming amount of different functions, and I bet, that almost nobody will be using all of them, or has knowledge about all of them. That makes it from time to time difficult to get a quick answer for a specific problem, but as far as I observed this now for a couple of years, the Team at Devonthink is doing a good job, in providing support, so far.

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Yes. That’s what I meant above when I said “Field Guide.” I misspoke, it was the Take Control included book I read. I also read the section that you quote. I’m not looking to run a public website. I’m trying to have a database accessible by two people who are not in the same building.

That’s very encouraging, thank you.

I’ll get it figured out. I think I’m just a little surprised that more people aren’t trying to share their DT information with someone else who isn’t in the same building as them. Makes me second-guess using this for my purposes which - while far from a public web server - still include a bit of collaboration. Everything I read (manual, Take Control) makes it all seem very possible.

Maybe, the people using the Server-Version, and those attending the forum, are just not the same people?! :thinking:


You have it right. (I use DEVONthink Server this way.)

However – the devil is in the details as far as getting it right. The DEVONthink “User Handbook” (the manual) starting on page 75 (“Accessing your data over the Internet”) has step-by-step configuration advice. I suggest attempting to configure your kit the way the manual advises, and test the configuration from the internet before exposing it to your co-worker(s). If you run into issues, open a Support ticket with specific questions about what steps are failing – the forum is a lousy place to get detailed support, IMO.



Incredibly helpful, thank you!


I use DT3 extensively this way and have done so for years

Yes it works- but the key question is whether you have sufficient networking experience to set up a secure incoming URL/connection to your DT3 server. DevonTech cannot provide specific help in that regard because it is dependent on your network design.

Depending on your level of networking experience - and assuming your databases are confidential and would be an issue if breached publicly - you might need to find someone locally with experience in network/server configuration and related security.


Thankfully, I do.

I’ve now got the server set up on the Mac Mini and accessible internally and externally.
I’ve got sync set up through WebDEV.
I’ve made some test notes in the inbox and everything is sync’ing correctly.

The one thing that has me temporarily stumped (and reading is confusing me more!) is how to create new databases with local copies on both my machines, sync’ing through Webdev.

If I create a new DB on the Mac Mini - it shows up in the web interface.
I copied that DB to a USB drive (or network share) and imported into DT on my MacBook Pro, thinking this is what the instructions tell me to do the first time so that they will sync moving forward - and that doesn’t seem to work. Back to the user guide…

Why are you not just sync those database to your MBP, but using a USB driven in between?

I read that for the first time you open a database that’s going to be sync’d between two computers, you can’t just create one with the same name but you have to open the exact same database. I’m trying to figure out how I tell MacBook Pro that the database exists to be sync’d after I’ve created it on the Mac mini.

Your next step is to create a WebDav sync store on your NAS (or a sync store on your cloud service if you prefer).

Then when you go to the Preferences/Sync page in DT3 and add the sync store for a new computer, you will be given to option to create a local database for any of the database(s) in the sync store.

It is described in the DEVONthink Manual p.60 and on.
If you use iCloud, I would recommend to use the “iCloud (iCloudKit)” Sync, instead of WebDAV.
Just create on on the Mini, and synchronize. Then use the same data to create one on the MBP, it will take probably a few minutes until the databases already synced from the Mini will show up, and you just need to click them, to get them on the MBP.

Just to close out this thread: I’m done with DT.

I have no interest in doing business with this company or dealing with the “support” on their forums. I’m glad others have a good experience with it but being treated like a moron isn’t the user experience I’m looking for.

You could’ve written to support directly–they’re quick to respond during business hours. I posted some screenshots in your thread that might provide some visual context for that help article.


If you want to use a rather complex app like DT, you have to agree to read at least some parts of the manual, sorry for that.
Your comments at the DT-Forum made it clear, that you did not do that, as you complain about the use of some terms.
I have told you were to look, to find a really simple step-by-step instruction, how to set-up the sync, depending on the Locations (iCloud, WebDAV, Dropbox, or whatever) you want to use.
It is not the fault of the community, or the company, if you don’t want to read, and follow these instructions.
It is not fair, to blame them, for that.

It is OK, if you don’t want to use an app, that is rather complex, and you don’t want to read the instructions, manuals and different Handbooks Fieldguides and what ever is available.

But than state it like it is, and be fair!


The screenshots were super helpful and were exactly what I was looking for. I really do appreciate your efforts. They were genuinely helpful. To get out of DT what I saw as the full potential, I knew I was going to need help along the way. If (what appears to be) a primary source of help for DT users on the forums is someone who either won’t read or won’t believe my posts, it really just doesn’t seem like a good fit for me.

I had read the manual. My questions were either 1) seeking reassurance from users who have a similar setup or 2) due to genuine confusion from terms used inconsistently within the help docs. Every reply from one particular person was criticism that I hadn’t read or wasn’t willing to put in the work myself while telling me the answers were obvious and clear. On the DT forum, I gave an example of a specific paragraph of instructions that I found confusing. His response is still that I refuse to read.

I tried to approach it with humility and self-deprecating humor - I get that noobs are frustrating to seasoned users of the software. What I got in return were genuine insults. Anyway, time to move on. Thanks again for the effort!