Does anybody have a DEVONthink-based (mostly) plain text workflow?

Trying to consolidate apps, and it seems like DEVONthink should let me do a lot of plain text manipulation, keep files in a “pure” form on disk (so no lock-in), but still give me the flexibility to save HTML, images, etc.

Does anybody else out there do this? Are there any pitfalls / other “helper” apps / automations that make this process easier?


What is the “process” or “manipulations” that you want to automate?

I recommend checking out the DEVONthink forum:

At this point I’m mostly more curious as to whether anybody else uses DT at a primary tool for this sort of thing, and looking for cool ideas to inspire me. :slight_smile: Y’know, one of those “you don’t know what’s possible until somebody shows you” sort of things.

The thing you need to keep in mind is that DEVONthink is a “container” more than an editor. It can hold pretty much any kind of file, and it has basic tools to manipulate some type of documents, e.g. Text, PDF, Markup, etc. Still use your great tools for writing, editing, etc. if you don’t like what DEVONthink provides. They rely on Apple infrastructure anyway.

BUT, you can continue to use your tool of choice for editing/working on the file types you mention and then store in DEVONThink. Don’t think for a moment that DEVONthink is the universal file content management tool.

I use DEVONthink daily and often to help me collect and manage the scores and hundreds of files I capture from web articles. I also use it for archiving files, emails, etc. but that doesn’t get much attention until I go into those files.

If you haven’t done so already, I would suggest listening to the two MPU episodes with Gabe Weatherhead as guest. I recall one or both of those having a pretty strong influence on my decision to give DT a try.

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Right. Although for a lot of the things I need to note and work with, DT’s built-in editor is fine. I.e. if I’m just dropping in / searching for a basic note, it seems to work as well for me as (for example) NVAlt. And since I do Markdown for a number of things, the built in editor / preview eliminates some significant friction.

I wouldn’t write a book in it, but for a lot of my incidental notes it’s more than sufficient to work with them right within the app. :slight_smile:

I’ll look for those. Thanks!

I use DT mostly as a container too (and maybe a mean to search for something), but does not use any of it’s editing tool. Since I index things rather than storing in the database I access them from the file system (with Launchbar) or, if I need to access them from inside DT I use the “open in the default app” item, and use my preferred editor.

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Agree and emphasized basic – I’ve used DEVONthink for a long time and can probably count on one finger the number of times over the years that I did any kind of serious document editing with the built-in editors. (I close my eyes when I look at markdown documents created in DEVONthink – pretty ugly and requires a lot of customization.)

On the other hand, it is as easy (if not easier) to open a document from DEVONthink into almost any editor application you have on your machine.

There are limitations of course. If you want to create a Word document in Word, for example, you’d need to go through a few hoops to get that into DEVONthink. Once the document is in DEVONthink it’s easy from that point forward to open from DEVONthink back to Word.

This is where “templates” in DEVONthink come in very handy. A “template” can be a blank Word document – so what I do is have a template for .docx, create a new blank document in DEVONthink, then open in Word and start editing from there.

This topic has been discussed ad naseum over on the DEVONthink forum, so there’s no end of opinion on how best to use external editors.


Yeah. Gabe went all in on DEVONthink. Notes and everything. Wish he didn’t disappear from the internet.

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I am I have all my permanent notes in DEVONthink 3 now. It is easy enough to set basic editors to open them from there as well. I don’t use their native stuff to work up text but for initial note taking and keeping notes it is perfect. You can call them up and so on easily enough.

I have found that DEVONthink 3 give me a keyboard controlled note taker from desktop as long as DEVONthink 3 is open, which I need it to be all the time anyway. I can call up a ready to write on note with control plus q. I think you can set your own hot key. I just then control save and it goes straight into DEVONthink 3. I use other notetakers and write a lot in Ulysses. I write all the time. The notes are easily edited and so on from DEVONthink 3 I have found. I tend to stick to Markdown and plain text.

Exactly my views. You can open anything from DEVONthink 3. The documents are there as they would be in the native filing system as far as I know. I don’t put things in there much until they are finished as regards editing and writing. I treat it as a store I might say. It is just habit though. I could easily keep documents of all kinds there and just call them up in their default programs if I wanted to I think. It is a workflow thing for me. I like to keep things I am currently working on in Ulysses, Drafts a bit or as docs on Desktop.

Good point – except for cases such as external folders watched by Ulysses, there’s not much useful integration between DEVONthink (any version) and apps that have their own internal storage that is not readily viewable in the file system.

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Do you index or store in the DevonThink database? Sounds like you store.

both. it simply does not matter to me because if i save outside DEVONthink it is in a Dropbox synced folder that is available on demand from my iMac and MacBook.

To keep things simple i suggest you keep inside DEVONthink. if needed on other machines rely on its sync.


Yeah I agree and my own system doesn’t try to integrate. A lot of notes go straight into DEVONthink 3 via their sorter note taker. I love it in this version. I have several different ways I keep playing with of working text up. Including LaTeX, which I use less and less to be honest. If you try to use them all from within DEVONthink 3 I found I got into a real muddle. It wasn’t that you couldn’t do it as such if I remember. I just stopped trying though some time ago.

But actual composition and messing with text, eamail, longer form things I keep outside DEVONthink 3 until they are complete, then store them in an appropriate form there. Even archive some intermediate docs if I need to there. I don’t do that much I have found. I did integrate Ulysses sheets into DEVONthink 3 but I failed to see any point really in doing it and it confused me really.

Yes exactly what I have come round to doing.

I especially wonder if anyone uses AI suggestion skills of DT for writing. In especially scientific writing community some people say they use a lot.

I am trying to figure out if it will be would be helpful or not?

One of the classic, and very early descriptions of using DEVONthink to support writing, including. AI features such as “See Also”, was a a two-part essay of Steven Berlin Johnson’s. He was using DEVONthink v1 – and a lot has happened to the product since then. But, in essence, he found it very useful to support his writing == something he has been successful at.

See part 1 here and part 2 here.