PDF's - Finder or Evernote/Notes

I would store them in Finder or consider using DEVONthink. You can still use Preview, or DEVONthink, or one of many other choices for annotating them.

Evernote is not a great file-storage container, IMO.

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I used to put PDFs in DevonThink, now I just have them in folders (and subfolders) on my hard drive.

If you’re an admin whatever choice you make should be sufficiently future-proofed so that if you quit or get promoted your replacement can easily continue your set procedures without any immediate need to rip it up and start over.

If Evernote is working well now and there’s no clear near- or medium-term cocerns about the safety and usability of your invoices I’d just keep things as they are and keep an eye on possible changes to the company into the next year. Getting your data out of Evernote isn’t too much of an issue, and there are plenty of options (eg DTP, OneNote, Google Drive) if you need to migrate.

+1 for DEVONthink Pro Office (DTPO). DTPO’s search features are second to none, making it very easy to find documents of interest.

I use DTPO to store PDFs from a variety of sources:

  • I download financial documents in PDF format
  • I scan hardcopy documents into PDF format (then run an OCR on them)
  • And I use the “Clip to DEVONthink” browser plugin to save web pages in PDF format.

DTPO lets you build a folder hierarchy (called Groups) and also use tags on your documents. I tend to do a bit of both, but mostly I use folders (Groups).

One thing I find incredibly useful is DTPO’s “See Also & Classify” feature, which uses machine learning to “understand” your document organization. My workflow includes importing a batch of PDFs into a temporary DTPO folder. Then, using See Also & Classify, DTPO will suggest where it things each document should be stored. For me, this is a huge time-saver!

One last thing, you can get the best of both worlds by using DTPO to index (but not import) folders on your file system. This way, if you decide for some reason to abandon DTPO, you still have your documents stored in folders. I believe you could use DTPO to populate and maintain documents in the folder structure using See Also & Classify, as discussed above. It would be doing so using indexed folders, rather than using documents stored directly in its database.

If you decide to give DTPO a try, you might find many other uses for this very capable tool.

Good luck!


I made the decision recently to stop using Devonthink (syncing issues and slowness).
By saving PDFs (and other file formats) in Documents and enabling iCloud syncing you get the ability to access the files on your Mac and IOS devices.
Spotlight searches work fine and the use of Tags makes search/sorting even easier.
Throw in some Hazel rules and you can automate the renaming, filing and backing up of your documents as well.

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I had a few complaints about the user interface of DTP, and the app - powerful as it is - did more than I needed. So after using DTP, and DT before it, and DevonNote before it, I migrated to EagleFiler. I could access all my files in EagleFiler on iOS devices if I put the files in the cloud, but there are a few too many potential ‘gotchas’ I don’t want to have to remember to avoid. For example, renaming from outside the Mac can cause EagleFiler to lose track of the files(!), and there are other limitations too.

So far I’ve been fine with maintaining most of my pdfs on my Mac (and it doesn’t cost more $$ in iCloud storage fees), but it would be nice to be able to access anything, anywhere.

Woteva, how long ago did you stop using DEVONthink? Over the course of the last 6-12 months, the iOS version (DEVONthink To Go) has greatly improved, especially with syncing to the desktop database.


I am Pro Evernote in that case. Evernote has presence in every OS. And I believe the latest letter from CEO means they are aware if their problems and doing their best to get better.
I don’t believe Evernote is worse than any other product. This will be very unfair. I tried many times to use different products but ended up getting back to Evernote.

Your current workflow seems perfect and should hold and deliver your needs. I would recommend looking for alternatives only when the current system can’t deliver to your needs, otherwise you are going to invest time and money and end up with a product with similar issues.


I made the decision recently.
The latest iOS version of Devonthink 2 Go is a great improvement but I find that for large databases I often get slow syncing with the Mac version.
I have used the beta of Devonthink 3 which unfortunately did not improve the issues I was seeing, plus the expectation of interface improvements was dashed.
All round I am trying to minimise the apps I use and to simplify my work processes so for file storage I am all in on iCloud (with automatic backups to my Synology and an Alternate cloud storage provider)
Where there is functionality built into standard macOS/iOS applications I will try and use them where possible. For notes I use the Notes app mainly with Agenda in the right circumstances because of its integration with Calendar.
I even gave up on Things 3 to use Reminders as my base task manager supplemented with the 2 way integration with GoodTask 3 and Mindnode, the combination which gives me versatility that neither Things or Omnifocus can provide.

I was an early Evernote user but it was not a great store for files/PDFs. For a long time I tried DevonThink Pro Office but it was just more than I needed and to be honest I found the interface too ‘tiring’.
I’m now using KeepIt on MacOS and iOS for storing PDFs, screenshots etc and for me it’s the Goldilocks option - just right!

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Thanks guys!

I don’t think I am ready for DevonThink. Also don’t want to shell out $$ over Evernote or Notes :wink:

But using Evernote or Notes, would so many PDF’s cripple the app? Would’t syncing come to a crawl eventually? Or that usually isn’t an issue to be concerned about? I have about 300 notes with PDF’s in them in Evernote. But once I go all in I will probably be adding anywhere from 80-100 PDF’s every two months or so.

I’m fairly new to Keep It, but it does indeed seem like a great place to store PDF’s and other files. They are actually unmodified original files sitting on your disk in a folder structure you set up yourself. Keep It is really only adding metadata and providing a user interface.


I have that many PDFs and probably more in Evernote – though I don’t use it for PDFs any more. Evernote notes are discrete, so the performance issue will probably come up only when you sync all of them to a new device – and even then with your volume it’s not likely to be a problem.

I recently switched from DEVONthink to Finder for a few reasons. The main is that I began to hate the interface, especially when viewing PDFs and browsing my files (I know external viewers are possible but this slowed down my workflow a lot). I hope in the future they completely redesign and modernise DTPO, but right now it feels like a relic from the late 90s.

I still use DTPO for scanning and OCR but not file storage.

I was pleasantly surprised about how well spotlight search worked and how the tags work well across devices. I keep around 5,000 research PDFs and it handles this well. I also find that syncing is much faster and 100% reliable so I’m no longer having to wait for syncs to occur every time I want to access my files.

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If you are only storing PDFs you might want to consider a cloud storage option like Box or Google Drive which can be cross platform. I’ve started moving my PDFs from Evernote to Drive and have enjoyed accessing my documents from any web browser. I would use iCloud drive but the cross platform doesn’t work for me.

I used Evernote and OneNote and am now in the process of filing (and partly renaming) all pdf documents in a Dropbox folder with Hazel. Since the Dropbox folders are synced to my Mac and iOS devices I can do simple word search in these documents with Spotlight. For reading and annotating I use PDF Expert. Will take a look at Keep it, as it is being suggested here by some.

I assume it syncs via iCloud? Can you also set it to sync via Dropbox?

Keep It sync is iCloud-only. You can turn export all your iCloud data to a local store and turn off iCloud sync. Perhaps it’s possible to put that local store on Dropbox and access it from other Macs – I haven’t experimented with that.

If you are looking for an approach for syncing and working with your PDF and other documents stored only in Dropbox, consider Alfons Schmid’s Notebooks – available across macOS, iOS and Windows.


I want to go back from DTPO to simply using Finder/Files. But the only thing I really use from DT is the webclipper. I know I can export a webpage as PDF in Safari, but are there any extensions or other solutions that give you more options to create and save a PDF (like DevontThinks Clipper)? I’d like to stay with Safari, but I would also use Chrome if there is a good solution there.

What additional options do you want?

Depending on the answer you can use AppleScript to control the print dialog - see Keynote Javascript to export to 4 slides to pdf? for how I’ve done it in Keynote.

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DT offers features like paginated, cleaned up etc.