Digital Cabinet Workflow

hey MPU !

I am curious to hear what has as their everyone’s digital cabinet storage/workflow.
I am re-evaluating the concept of a “digital cabinet”. I went from a Dropbox filesystem (few years) to Evernote (6 years) to DEVONthink (2-3 years). With quarantine, I reviewed what this concept of a digital cabinet meant to me. In my Evernote years, it was meant to be a catch-all for every scrap of the internet or personal life from receipts, manuals, reference articles, etc. I then transitioned to DEVONthink and kept the same concept still.

Here I am now doing a re-evaluation of my system asking myself, do I really need a digital cabinet anymore? My current thoughts are leading more towards going back to a folder/file system on my Synology for archiving of things like receipts, manuals.

Whereas now I am looking at DEVONthink as the place just for researching, compiling ideas, gathering topics of interest, etc.

So to help keep the thread organized…

  1. Your Workflow/App of choice
  2. Has quarantine affected how you view the workflow and/or its importance
  3. Reflective replies if I am going just stir-crazy trying to be busy :rofl:

I’ve cleaned up my archive since retirement and have gone back to using Evernote for the things I need to keep online. And EagleFiler for my email archive and everything I need to keep but don’t want stored in the cloud.

I’ve been using EagleFiler for select files and pdfs, but I’m reconsidering it in favor of a cross-platform Mac/iOS app like Notebooks or Keep It. (I originally used Devonthink for almost a decade before switching to EagleFiler in 2016.)

A lot files currently in EagleFiler could realistically be moved to something like Apple Notes. But for the last week or so I’ve actually copied over most of my Apple Notes files to SnipNotes for Mac/iOS ($7.98 total for both apps, which sync via iCloud) which is like a superset to Apple Notes. I’m enjoying it very much, the developer is extremely responsive and I’ll be hammering at it for a few weeks to decide if I want to use it as my Apple Notes replacement. It has a nice iOS widget, you can save new notes from clipboard data, you can see how many notes are in each folder, you can create calendar events within it, and track flight numbers, it has saved searches, and a Watch app, and Markdown support, an URL scheme, and the Mac version has a menubar app for 1-click creation of new notes. (It also has features I chose to turn off, like auto generating maps inside notes that contain addresses.) For a one-time charge under $8 - kind of insane.

If you don’t want to burn it all down again (not that that’s always a bad thing), you could use two separate databases for these areas of your life. You could also put the files on your Synology and index them using DT (assuming SMB mounts work with DT, etc.).

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I now playing with iPhone version and can’t figure out how to create nested folders. Maybe you know how? :slight_smile:

I think that one of the key things with any such system is being able to set a retention date. She I save an article about Catalina, I’m not going to need it in 18 months, and I won’t need a receipt for an iPhone in 5 years (for example) so my idea filing cabinet would offer me regular reports of items past retention so I can either automatically or manually delete them.


I am tired of burning things down and starting over. More energy and resources get wasted, because it takes weeks to adjust and re-learn a flow again. I like the idea of separate databases. Ideally, I would like the option of utilizing my Synology with DT, because then I could index other things (music, movies, etc). But my pet peeve right now that I can’t figure out (not sure if it’s a setting I missed or not). My Synology and Macbook Pro are both wired to Unifi Gigabit System. Yet, the connection disconnects frequently and I have to force quit Finder several times to re-connect back to Synology again, not to mention it keeps getting sluggish. If I could speed it up, I would rather have DT index Synology.

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Coming back to DEVONthink after having used Cryptomator on a Dropbox folder.

I’ve decided to go all-in in DT because I like having everything in one place. The huge advantage for me is E2EE for admin documents, and not having to fuss with several systems, but learning the most of a powerful one, which I prefer as an approach.

I use Devonthink and just dump everything in there and dont think about it too much.
If I need anything I use search. It always works, and I can find some obscure document for years ago when I need it.

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If they are wired, maybe you could put a switch between, and they could talk directly to each other?


I have a switch (Unifi) already in between.

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Digital File Cabinet App is DEVONThink
Implementation is 6 separate databases each with a specific function and different sync behavior.
Short form Active digital info-Oogie_Notebook sync to all devices my working notepad and clipboard for active projects
Short form Archive digital info-Reference_files_DT_Only sync to laptop and desktop only archived folders that used to be in my notebookWorking LambTracker Farm App Misc-Android Development sync to all devices
Email Archive-Mail_Archive_Curated not synced to anywhere else, only on main desktop system
All 4 of those databases contain all the info in them as notes and I do not use any indexing in these specific databases.
Clean LambTracker SQLite Queries-LambTracker_Queries sync to all devices
Index of the Git folder where the clean query text files live.
Long form Reference filing system-File_Cabinet_Index sync to laptop and desktop only
This DT Database is an index of the folder File_Cabinet which is my top level folder with sub folders for every reference item, major project either in someday/maybe or active and so on. I long sicne gave up separating project from reference as I would forget where I put stuff. The file cabinet folder has sub folders that contain the actual documents. I try to have only the top level folder File_Cabinet and a single layer under that but there are a few folders that have sub folders Tax_Returns_and_Papers for example has a sub folder for each year that contains all the scanned tax returns and all the supporting documents.

My sync solution is a Synology WebDAV implementation. It’s also how I sync Omnifocus.

Yes, it has become much more important that I keep up with filing new inputs, deleting no longer relevant ones and keeping index and helper documents up to date. I am working under the assumption that of the 3 people in the immediate household 1 or more of us will get sick with COVID-19 and that it’s likely that 1 or more will die before this is all over several years from now. So I want to be sure that the people left behind can handle and find necessary items easily.

As a result of that I have stepped up my cleaning out the backlog projects including cleaning and filing paper documents and filing and renaming as necessary digital documents. Some physical documents are being scanned and integrated into the digital filing cabinet before being shredded while others may get filed in newly re-labeled folders that make more sense.

Documentation is of primary importance in this pandemic because no one has the brain bandwidth to be thinking hard about where to find stuff or what has to be done. We’re all too busy with important things like family, food and legacy projects.

I think it’s healthy to use the pandemic as a time to re-evaluate the importance and access needed for all your stuff. Whether it’s physical paper or possessions and stuff or digital information it’s wise to know that you have what you need, will be useful or that you find supports you in some way. It’s my more updated version of William Morris’s quote “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

I am a very heavy Evernote user and it has been my primary dumping ground, file cabinet, archive, life manager, GTD system, etc. I’m a believer in using the tool that best fits your workflow and the way your brain works.

Everything that comes in to EN gets a year tag applied. At the beginning of each new year I go through a vicious purge effort then move the remainder into archive.

Sometimes cleaning up and clearing out can offer a fresh perspective before burning down the house.

This. Very nice. One of my challenges as a designer (and in my own person) is encouraging people to see the value and pleasure in things they own having a home – as contra-distinct from the pleasure of accumulating and the dopamine hit that we all feel to various degrees in buying thing.

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I would like to use Evernote but…

  • It is not end to end encrypted.This is a complete no no for me.
  • It seems weirdly complicated to get files out of it.

For me, text goes into iA Writer, code goes into a git repository, and everything else goes into a folder structure (currently in Dropbox, though I’m looking at alternatives).

I’ve been undoing 10 years of mess across various clouds. Everything is collecting nice and neat on iCloud Drive. I’m considering putting it all in Devonthink. Or I might just keep it iCloud Drive. I’ve failed the multiple-cloud organization test and I’d like to keep things fairly clean from here on out.

At this point I’m trying to find the right balance between simplicity and power across all of my apps.

I’m stuck across various clouds due to different team projects and organizations that I exchange with regularly. So far, the most used is Google Drive, which to me is the most annoying and cumbersome to use.

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