I’m starting a tech experiment today: How much am I actually using DevonThink? Is it actually adding anything to my productivity, or is it just another layer of complication on top of the Finder?
DevonThink is an extremely powerful document management system for the Mac. It’s very popular among academics and other professional researchers – such as lawyers and authors – for its powerful search capabilities, with its ability to automatically surface related content.
I went all-in on DevonThink almost a year ago, after using it on-again-off-again for about 18 months before that.
After all this time, I haven’t found that search all that useful. And I can’t think of anything else in DT that makes it worth the extra layer.
A particular problem with DevonThink is that I find myself needing Microsoft Word a lot, and DT has only limited Word support. You can keep Word documents in DT, and view them, but you can only edit them in Word itself. Same for PowerPoint, which I also sometimes need.
I’m just going to stop – or minimize – adding new projects to DevonThink and see if there’s anything I miss. I’ll continue using it as an archive for work-related documents. If I find that there’s something I miss in using DevonThink as my daily driver, well, it’s easy to go back.
That’s a great thing about DT: It’s easy to get information in, and easy to get it out again.
As an alternative to DevonThink, I’m going to give Obsidian a workout, in conjunction with the plain old Mac Finder.
Obsidian is a new tool for building personal wikis – like Wikipedia, but for your own use, filled with content you create and find yourself. Obsidian is hot stuff among the digerati, along with the similar Roam Research
Roam Research bills itself as “A note-taking tool for networked thought,” which is a pretty good description of Obsidian’s mission too. To be honest, Roam looks in some ways more appealing than Obsidian, but Roam is cloud-only, which makes it a non-starter for me.