Document Management Apps

I’m after some kind of App which I could use to store all of our documents, I’m talking about PDF’s, Photos, Bank Statements and the like. Currently I use a cloud solution (self hosted) but I have been looking at other Apps such as Devonthink. The problem is i’m not really sure which app/solution would be best for a home user. I would like something that can work x-platform on iOS and MacOS.

PS - Currently I use a mix of iCloud (iBooks), Cloud Storage and Notes. It’s a bit of a mess.

Apple’s Finder. :wink: Eventually used together with a tool to sync your folders to a remote (cloud) storage solution.


As hokey as it might appear, I concur with using Finder. Makes use of the existing system file hierarchy, isn’t proprietary so you can always access the data, and is extremely portable between systems (use iCloud to go between macOS and iOS).

To find things, spend some time learning about the search capabilities. Spotlight is only a start, the search in Finder will let you have multiple match conditions. For instance, all Pages documents created in January 2018 that contain the word “fish”

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I agree 100%. DT is a pre-Spotlight product that’s managed to survive but I think you’re far better off using the file system, and coming up with a consistent schema for naming files and folders. There are tools like HoudahSpot that augment it, but it builds on native technologies rather than replacing them.

Agreed. iCloud Drive folder right in your Finder window. Tagging is worth looking into, especially for things that would belong in multiple folders.

I’m a heavy DEVONThink user but I still use the Finder for my document storage. I’ve developed a consistent naming scheme and keep a very flat file structure that is well defined. Here is my current set-up

I have a folder in my documents folder called DWA_Data That is my main filing cabinet system. The reason is there are lots of apps that put things into folders in Documents (GitLab, Calibre, Kindle etc.) and I wanted my files to be clearly separate.

Then within that folder I have a bunch of folders:
Active_Projects - contains folders for my active projects and some commonly used files
_LambTracker_DB_Design - development for LambTracker
_LambTracker_Field_Testing - data and testing cases for LambTracker
1_Personal_Update_Files - files I update regularly like my books list and our financial documents
2_Farm_Update_Files -files I update regularly like sheep population by month and grazing maps
Nut_Sedge_Erradication folder to corral stuff on trying to rid our farm of a major weed.
Sheep-FLIR_Research​ folder on uses of FLIR cameras for determining optimal insemination times

File_Cabinet which then contains a single or at most 2 levels of folders that is my reference and someday maybe project support file system
and so on. It sorts automatically into into A-Z ​

2018_Oogie_Pictures has folders for each day’s digital photos. This is temporary, they are moved into permanent locations when cataloged in Lightroom.

DEVONThink_Databases - separate so they can be synced easily

2 folder structures for organizations where I am an officer corralled in one place for ease of transfer to a new person eventually.
ABWMSA_File_Cabinet - sheep association files
TDRC_File_Cabinet - Ditch company files

Some backlog folders I am slowly weeding out and cleaning up

Filenames do not use spaces for ease of transport to a new operating system. In fact I have a whole defined way to name files that I use for everything now both electronic and phystical files.

My desktop has 1 folder on it that function as and inbox - General_Scanning.

I also consider the Downloads folder to be an inbox.

I do use Dropbox for one set of documents that I am sharing with other people that we are jointly working on and that lives at the top level under my user space because of how Dropbox sets things up.

I use standard file formats that are open source or ubiquitous for my system as much as possible. (ODT, ODS, PNG, TIFF, CSV, SQLITE, JPEG, PDF, ZIP, DMG etc.)

One change, now that we have high speed interent I am considering cleaning out a lot of the software folders. I used tokeep the installers for the current and previous versions on my machine because it can take hours to download them again if I need them. Now that we have 2 high speed redundant paths to teh Internet (one fiber optic and one wireless) I am considering deleting all those installers.


Burn them to a CD/DVD or off load to a USB stick. Keep the license keys in a README.txt file on the storage media.


Keep It is another application to take a look at. It’s definitely not as deep as DEVONThink, but, as someone who’s starting to learn DEVONthink, there are times I wish I’d gone with something a little simpler.

For most folks, I think going with the Finder is a good idea. But it also depends on what you need. Saved searches? Tagging functionality? Access via iOS? Knowing what you need will definitely narrow down the best options for you. The Finder definitely has less a learning curve than DEVONThink (though I am enjoying OCRing hundreds of research articles I’ve collected.

Another advantage of the Finder is that you can use Hazel with it…e.g. to run OCRKit on PDFs added to a particular folder…no need for DT for that.

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@dfay Finder’s huge drawback, compared to a dedicated Information Manager (whatever that means), is that you are limited by what your file structure “is”.

For lack of a better term, using an Info/Doc Manager can introduce a sandbox, not necessarily (or easily) available in Finder/dealing ‘directly’ with the actual files.
This sandbox can allow one to play and manipulate one’s data, that is simply not possible, or advisable, using the source/canonical data.

To be clear, that might be quite sufficient/more than enough for many people – but if OP is looking at ‘getting to grips with’/manipulating/slicing&dicing one’s information/data, to see what floats to the surface, well then Finder and Houdah et al, are not going to cut it.
They will always help one to ‘find’ your own data. But they’re not going to have you look at your data differently…