DEVONthink: stuck at the bottom of the hill

The voice in my head keeps telling me to move from Evernote to DTP. I am stuck at the tinkering and time-sucking phase. Advice to get up the hill or to call it quits is appreciated.


What do you use Evernote for? Why would you want to move from it? What problems are currently not being solved to your satisfaction?

I’m a DevonThink user, so might be able to persuade you if you answer some of the above questions! :grin:


DEVONthink is one of those apps that can be as hard or easy as you want it to be. I’d suggest starting out with just using it in its simplest form by setting up groups (folders) in a couple different databases (work/personal). Then just file away documents into those folders in each database, just like you would in the Finder. As you use it more, you’ll gradually expand your use of the feature set, pretty naturally. Figuring out search would probably come next, and you could decide if you want to move more toward tagging instead of groups, then get into linking documents, etc.


I recently made the transition. Keeping it simple is best. One database per area of interest, one group per project.

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Agree with others. The key is to start simple. Try to OCR everything you put in. It will give you the same search you had with Evernote.

One decade’s worth of everything bucket. I think I have the same problem you have when you need to move from a home and you look at your basement. I archive work notes, home reference materials from manuals to automobile records. I have some financial records (mostly receipts used for tax purposes, not my actual tax and bank information). Recipes for cooking…you name it.

Reasons to move:

  • I have fully invested in DTP software as well DT ToGo and I don’t need to pay the subscription.
  • Privacy
  • The A.I. intrigues me…

Friction Points:

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I actually converted over from the Files app and Evernote about a week and a half ago. I slowly transferred my actual files from the Files app to its separate database in DTTG. Then I setup a database for actual notes, then transferred those over and went through them at the same time. Now I’m going to make a database that will mimic the likes of Instapaper (we’ll see how that goes). Also my goal right now is searching for a long form writing app. I use Drafts for short, quick notes. Hope that helps! :grin:

Here is a fundamental issue with Evernote - it sucks at file management. The everything must live in a note concept breaks down for more complex requirements. DEVONhink on the other hand lets you combine notes with all kind of files. It lets you get unique links for each item in the database, and use it to link to other apps. I have been using DEVONthink as my store EVERYTHING DIGITAL bucket. It is great at capturing all kind of stuff. Just take a look at DEVONthink 2 Go’s 3-D touch options. Also, you are not limited to using the default editor provided by Evernote. You can use any text editor that supports File Providers on iOS.


Don’t listen to the voices in your head!!! It never turns out well. :rofl: I had the same problem a few weeks ago, a lot of the influence and voices for me was hearing/reading everyone’s great experience to DTP. I am a longtime Evernote user, it’s my digital filing cabinet. My thoughts begin in Drafts and then will venture to where it needs, but ultimately ending in Evernote for archival.

In the words of some good advice I received recently, if the workflow system is working for you and you get stuff done with it easily, no reason to change. If you are experiencing hiccups, then evaluate the workflow.

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I too would like to move away from Evernote and have experimented with DevonThink Pro but ultimately put off licensing because of web clipping. The last time I evaluated moving to DTP was a year ago. At that time, I felt that Evernote was more flexible in capturing a whole web page or portions thereof from Safari and Chrome. While web clipping is my most heavily used Evernote feature, I also use Evernote’s ability to OCR text in camera images. I believe there is a way to OCR images in DTP by converting to pdf’s.

While I didn’t pull the trigger on DTP I have done some Evernote cord cutting. I migrated manually input text items, some single page pdf’s, screenshots, and camera images without text to Apple’s Notes. I’ve been fairly happy with Notes but suspect it is more for low volume (less than 1,000)

Currently the only thing I’m still using Evernote for is for web clipping. I am very interested in hearing whether DTP’s web clipper is now on par with Evernote’s. Or if DTP has improved updated theirs in the past year.

DevonThink is better Evernote than Evernote.

With the exception of business-card scanning.

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Support for folders - which DevonThing calls groups - is fantastic, after years of klugey workarounds involving tags.

And I’ll add that you have options for the format of your notes.

I tried Devonthink for MacOS and iOS to replace Evernote, but though it seems very powerful, it isn’t a pretty app, the multiple windows seem antiquated (yes, I know you can change that), the Evernote imported notes didn’t display with a font I liked, and changing it proved confusing. I just didn’t like the app.

I tried Bear, and absolutely love it. For me, with mostly text based notes, it’s the perfect Evernote replacement. One of my Evernote beefs was pasting text into notes came in with formatting from the source. This wasn’t a huge issue on MacOS, but on iOS it was a hassle. Bear doesn’t have this issue, as any text you paste in comes in plain (and you can format it of course). Bear is really worth a look as an Evernote option. Didn’t hurt that it was cheaper than Devonthink too.

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I’m in the same boat as OP. I’m on the DT trial period and have DTTG with the in-app purchases.

I like Evernote because I can attach an annotated PDF to my notes of that PDF. What I don’t like is that I can’t search the actual PDF.

In DT, I can do a search that includes PDF but the result don’t always come back pairing the PDF with my relevant notes of the PDF.

Additionally, I find annotating documents already in DT more cumbersome because 1) DTTG is not as intuitive as something like PDFExpert, 2) I have to save the PDF as new file instead of just saving the annotations on the existing file.

So what I end up doing is saving a PDF i want to annotate later into a “read later” folder and after I get to read and annotate, I send it to DT. Meanwhilw, the PDF is not part of my DT search.

Perhaps I need more time with DT to get a better workflow.

On iOS you can simply use a PDF editor that supports in place editing. Its similar to opening a PDF using Open With menu on the Mac, except here you open the app you want to use first and then navigate to the PDF in DT2G.

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If you have mostly text, agreed. DT is way overkill. For documents, DT is awesome.


One area where I still use Evernote is the accessibility over all OS platforms/ Web.


One of the reasons I like DevonThink is that it appears to be DESIGNED to let you use whatever app you want to edit the documents it stores. So if you want to use an external PDF editor with DevonThink – go right ahead. That’s the way it’s meant to work. With Evernote, external apps seemed to be a bolt-on and scary.

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DevonThink is a document-management app that can be used for note-taking. Bear is a note-taking app that can be used for document management.

As a document-management app DevonThink is extraordinarily powerful. But it’s a professional grade application – hard to use unless you devote the time to learning it. And it probably doesn’t make sense for most people to devote that kind of time to it. It’s for professional researchers only. That includes journalists like me. And IT people nowadays are professional researchers, particularly those involved in any kind of tech support.

And OMG the user interface for DevonThink Pro Office is ugly ugly ugly and confusing af. I’m hoping to see a new version soon.