Significant changes to apps and final 2021 workflow

Since the last of December I have been overhauling, rather than tweaking, my workflow. As noted in this original post, my goal each year is to go through this exercise at the end of the year and once finished, to maintain my workflow and related applications and services for the remainder of the year to avoid the inefficient habit of constant fiddling with “processes and programs” rather than actually producing—being productive.

I am six weeks behind schedule but I have completed this work and am now committed to my new workflow.

I made these significant changes from the past year.

  1. I have moved from Apple mail to Spark on all devices. Why? Because although Spark has its frustrations, on balance, I’ve decided Spark’s power features outweigh its frustrations.
  2. I have moved from Ulysses to Scrivener. Why? Because I save the cost of one subscription, which I more than make up for below :-), and because Scrivener can do everything Ulysses can do and much more. I made the mistake of abandoning Scrivener well over a year ago. I will not make that mistake again.
  3. Notwithstanding my prior protestations, I have decided to use Fantastical and pay what I believe is a high price. Why? Because my original subscription still had several months on it and I accidentally paid for a second year so now I’m good through 2022. Don’t even ask how I did that! :slight_smile: More importantly, I have decided that I can make good use of Fantastical’s power features and I much prefer the GUI.
  4. I have moved from Apple Notes to Craft. Why? Because over the last several years I have run into periodic syncing problems with Apple Notes that have taken a lot of time to resolve, because I like the deep cross linking available in Craft and because unlike AN, I can export my entire note structure in multiple formats, something I cannot do in AN. I also like the Page and Card feature. Craft also has the ability to create handwritten notes using the Apple Pencil.
  5. I have decided to import rather than index my material in DEVONthink. Why? Because it saves several steps, I am able to use the sorter on my desktop, and I have faster access to several DT features. And, though it may be my imagination, syncing seems faster.
  6. I have decided to stop using markdown. Why? Because I realized that when using markdown I’m adding a lot of unnecessary keystrokes and visual overhead to everything I write. Those extra strokes add up and given the programs I’m using, aren’t necessary for 99% of my writing. Additionally, I can future proof anything I do using the export, compile, or conversion features of Craft, Scrivener, and DT.
  7. Moving from PDF Expert to DEVONthink for annotating PDFs. Because DTTG v2 was so bad, I’d never considered using it to annotate PDFs until I read this post. After reading it I gave it a try using DTTG 3. It works great! Why? Because now I can house all PDFs in DT and never move them again and I can annotate as needed using both my iPad (my preferred PDF reading platform) and MBP. And because DT has excellent OCR, I can manage everything related to PDFs with one program.
  8. From Apple Contacts to CardHop. Why? Because 1) it has a menu icon for quick access and 2) because I can manage groups on my iPad, something that one cannot do with Apple Contacts.

So, those are the changes to my workflow for this coming year—and I hope long afterward. I for one am getting tired of succumbing to the siren call of the new. Obviously, that is not to say that one should not investigate and change as needed—as evidenced above—but I want to minimize that temptation and maximize getting the work done with less time devoted to managing apps and hardware.

IPad home-screen.


DEVONthink Sorter doesn’t care if the file is imported or indexed. DEVONthink desktop features don’t care either. I index everything that needs to be accessed by apps other than DEVONthink, otherwise keep files stored internally – have do so for ~15 years, and never had a functional issue with indexing one way or the other. Not saying “import everything is wrong” – but since indexing gives more flexibility to integrate data across DEVONthink and other apps, it should always be a consideration.


@quorm thanks for the input. Unless I’m missing something–and I may well be—moving a file into sorter from say the desktop created a file in DT but not in Finder–thus I end up with indexed AND “native” files in DT unless I move the desktop file to where I want it in finder so that it is properly indexed (meaning in the right location) in DT. I’d rather have everything either indexed or native in DT–not a mixture.

I’m not sure how “indexing gives more flexibility to integrate data”. I can easily use links in DT across all of my programs. Again, I may well be missing something.

Sorry, I don’t follow your sequence. There’s obviously something else in play. If it’s a problem you need solved, maybe raise this issue in the DEVONthink forum where it can be better answered. I am unable to replicate this issue.

Just my preference. Not a requirement.

Such as… ?

Two file types I use most often are markdown and Microsoft Word, and I find it convenient to keep those internally in DEVONthink.

Excellent post.

As you may recall, I went deep into Craft for a couple of weeks, and then bailed out of it. And now I miss it again, because it’s just a great freeform writing environment.

However I have not found an easy way to integrate it with the rest of my workflow.

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Documents accessed by DEVONthink, Obsidian, TheBrain, for one example. Documents shared with apps in the Windows VM on the machine.

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I apologize for not being clearer. Essentially, when I save a document say on my iCloud desktop folder (which I do routinely) for later processing, if I’m indexing my personal folder and sub-folders in DT, in order for that desktop file to be indexed in DT I first need to move it into the appropriate Finder folder and from there DT will index it. That is an extra step compared to saving the file directly into DT. This is one of the advantages of importing versus indexing folders with DT IF one does not want a combination of indexed and “native” DT files–which I don’t.

Scenario 1: Save file to desktop → move file to personal folder/sub-folder → file indexed by DT

Scenario 2: Save file via sorter or clipper into DT → DT runs rule/script and files

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Echoing this. Craft looks cool to me, but I can’t figure out how to integrate into my workflow I abandoned it.

  • Drafts for ideas
  • Ulysses for longer writing
  • DevonThink for storage (even this I am trying to clean out)

After watching @MacSparky Paperless guide, I organized all my statements, receipts, finance, auto, etc in the same manner he had (a few tweaks here and there). I don’t know how to integrate that folder/file hierarchy with DevonThink. It almost seems better to keep out of DTPO. The folder is a lot easier to find on the family network versus logging into my computer and opening up DTPO.

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This would largely depend on what one needs in notes. I take a lot of notes for a lot of purposes. I create “running” notes for certain types of meetings and projects. This is a bit difficult to explain but to make things easier to find and to keep things as consolidated as possible, I have “a” note that contains multiple notes with the most current one on top. I also have reference information and contact information on that same note. Below is an example. One of the great advantages of Craft for me is that ability to create this sub-pages/cards. The result is that all related notes and dashboards are accessible in a single note.

hmmm…now I am a bit curious. Can’t you do this in Ulysses? If you make a group and put all the notes in that group? Then you can make sub-groups in there?

When you mentioned point 7 about DevonThink, I wasn’t sure for the usage of it. Is it strictly PDF only for your workflow or do you take notes in there as well.

I think maybe when Craft gets used more and I can see more examples of people’s layout and workflows that might be better for me (or worse). I had tried Notion for a bit, but found it too tedious.

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Folders are extremely similar to Groups or Tags in Devonthink.

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hmmm…now I am a bit curious. Can’t you do this in Ulysses? If you make a group and put all the notes in that group? Then you can make sub-groups in there?

The Pages/Cards in Craft are different than folders in Ulysses and other apps. The Pages/Cards are sub-documents within a document. This is what, for my workflow, make them so usable. I don’t need to navigate to different folders, I can simply access the Page/Card for what I need.

When you mentioned point 7 about DevonThink, I wasn’t sure for the usage of it. Is it strictly PDF only for your workflow or do you take notes in there as well.

I do not take notes in DT. I don’t like DT’s editor. I store every conceivable type of file in DT and then use document links if/as needed in Craft to quickly access a DT document. I am however experimenting with using DT to annotate all PDFs rather than PDF Expert.

Craft is less tedious than Notion (I tried it) but it does take a week of consistent use to get the most out of it. Craft also has robust keyboard short cut and the / activation feature is fantastic.

I’m not trying to “sell” anyone one using Craft but I think sometimes some prematurely give up on it. To me, Craft is a nice blend of Apple Notes, Drafts, and Notion with few of the downsides of those apps.

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Thanks for sharing your decision process and the apps you chose - would be interested in hearing updates periodically on how your new workflow works out.

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Certainly. :+1:

Hi… I’m intrigued by the approach of embedding meeting notes within a single document with sub-pages for each meeting, I have also adopted Craft recently (and am enjoying it thus far) but have been using a folder per topic and individual documents for each meeting.

What do you see as the advantages of the embedded pages vs traditional folder and document structure? I am probably missing a key benefit and don’t want to start down the wrong path if so…

Thanks in advance

For me it is nice to see such a quick overview in a very easy way. I’ll share two examples from my life:

  1. Current Sermon Series during the season of Lent
  2. 2nd Semester Class Outline.

Both of these are very easy to see quickly what is in what order, and the trail it took to get there. In a lot of ways it’s very linear (my approach seems to be).

Thanks for the response. It may be the way I have configured my settings but this works much better in the browser than it does in the - for example - the iPad app.

In a browser, the sub page ‘slides’ alongside the primary document and retains that context. In the iPad (in my case anyway), the sub page takes over the entire window and hence the context is lost and it behaves much like a separate document within a traditional folder hierarchy. Am I doing something wrong here or is this the same behaviour that others see?

This sounds right to me. I don’t like the browser view personally. Yes, it helps see context, but I only use the cards and sub documents for single-depth things anyway, so context is never an issue.

What I like, personally, about using folders for some things and then sub-documents for others is that it helps prevent the folder structure from getting out of control. I have come to appreciate how some apps limit users to a very shallow folder structure. It is limiting, but in an odd way the simplicity can be freeing too.

For my lesson planning I use folders for year groups and units.
I use 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, and 3.1.1, 3.1.2 etc naming conventions for separate documents to separate out topics and lessons.
And I use sub-documents within a lesson plan to provide details on activities etc.

It’s a system that has developed organically over a few weeks, and may change. It works for my brain.

Yes, that makes total sense to me. I am trying to challenge my own in-grained comfort zone of Folders but am not finding any real benefit personally in sub-pages. I’ll revisit my hierarchy and see if I have the levels wrong … it’s almost certainly the case! Then I’ll investigate sub-pages vs cards to further confuse myself :wink: