What's the best way of migrating my DT database on to a new computer?

Morning all,

I’m in the process of switching jobs and, as such, will need to return my current laptop and pick up a new one from my new employers. With that in mind, what’s the best way of transferring my DevonThink database on to the new machine?

Thanks very much for your help!

You should just be able to copy the database file itself via regular means. A verification on the target computer would not hurt, but other than that, it should be straightforward.


Thanks very much for the response @anon85228692. Can you just let me know what you mean by a verification on the target computer?

Open it up and poke around to make sure it works :slight_smile:


Gotcha - thanks both!

There’s also a menu command “verify and repair”. It will tell you about possible errors.


There’s a caveat when moving a database to a different machine: the handling of indexed files. First, the indexed files need to be present also on the new machine. Second, the indexed files need to reside on the machine with the same relative path as they had on the old machine.

For example, if you have a folder here on the old machine:

~/Documents/My Project/Project X Documents/

but on the new machine the folder is here:

~/Documents/Work/Project X Documents/

then when you open the database on the new machine it will report the files in Project X Documents are “missing”. That can be fixed, of course, but it’s just extra work that can be avoided.

If you have indexed files, and you must reorganize your document hierarchy on the new machine, then one approach is to move all indexed folders files into the database before you copy the database over to a new machine.


I need to take this warning very seriously. Lately my workflow is moving heavily to a mix of indexed and native-to-DevonThink files. And the indexed files are spread all over the database, in multiple groups.

This is a workflow that suits me well, but I fear it may be a terrible idea.

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Indexing is not a terrible idea. But it does add a layer of complexity. So, think before you do, and make notes for yourself explaining how you set up the structure. And never change the indexed folder hierarchy in the file system directly with Finder without doing a walk-through to make sure you won’t break something.

I had a gotcha the other day. Formerly, Dropbox supported symlinks. Sometime, I don’t know when, it stopped the support. I discovered this when my library of several thousand AppleScripts that I have written “disappeared” (went “missing”) from the database where they were indexed. I have lots of backups, but panicked a bit. Luckily the files were still in Dropbox, just no longer synchronized to the folder on the desktop that was symlinked to the hierarchy in Application Support that I was indexing. When DEVONthink cannot find an indexed file or folder, the error message is totally unhelpful. This was a case where I had set up what turned out to be a badly designed indexed structure over 10 years ago and had to scratch my head to think about what it was I had done and how to unwind it.

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