Yet another DevonThink topic

Do any of you do anything with email archiving and searching in DT? I like the idea of importing Google Takeout (or just doing a big IMAP sync) and being able to call up data associated both by thread title and by DT’s connections it makes itself.

I left a role at a university using Exchange, and dumped the email inbox I had on the Exchange server into an Archive database.

My mistake was putting it in the same Archive as all of the other files I archive. Search is quite messy unless I specify “not that group”. I have to move it at some point.

I also sometimes fail to remember it’s in DT. No other mail is in DT, so sometimes I’ll search my email app (Spark) and will be confused about missing results until I realize I have to switch apps to search for messages received/sent in that time period.

Interesting. I can’t find that it has any ability to do ongoing email import unless I script it. So unless it’s a final step like in your situation, I’d just be creating a new job for myself to keep up with it.


How are you automating highlight export? I’ve tried to figure out a way to do this with pocket, but am not sure if the support highlight access via the API.

Ifttt creates one text file per instapaper highlight in a Dropbox folder that DEVONthink indexes. Pocket doesn’t have that as a trigger in IFTTT…

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You use indexing, rather than working inside DEVONThink, for documents you’re likely to modify for works in progress, and store archives - documents you’re no longer using daily - inside DevonThink databases?


Particularly because other apps can easily look at the folder structure on Finder/in iCloud Drive, but it’s not so easy to open files in DEVONthink from other apps.

That said, I imported everything on a whim this evening out of curiosity. I’ll report back if I find it’s better.

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Would you be willing to share how you achieved this and your read it later workflow? I’m not too interested in rss in devonthink, but having a way to turn DT into a kind of Instapaper with PDFs I can highlight (and then summarize those highlights into markdown files) would be super valuable. Are all your read it later items coming from rss or also from random links you find?

For sure. It’s one of the things I’ve been meaning to write up in detail.


Have you tried capturing links as PDF using the clutter-free setting on Mac? That usually does it for me, and then I have a few little automations to support the process. A Smart Rule changes RSS News items to PDF by default (though you don’t need it). Just for the record, the stylesheet DEVONthink uses to style RSS items can be modified at Preferences→RSS.

On iOS, I have modified Viticci’s import shortcut into my own version, PDF to DT. Share a link to it and it sends it to (in my case) either your Resources inbox, an “Organizer” group (which sorts items automatically based on Smart Rules), or a Review group (which is my “Read it later” folder). You’ll note that the Shortcut has some built-in HTML/CSS <head> to make things a little prettier.

If you have trouble with that shortcut I’m happy to help fiddle with it. (I haven’t readied it for sharing, so you’re getting the uncut version.)

If your file is already in DEVONthink, Convert→PDF works, usually with Clutter-free.

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Update: full-on Importing was utterly foolish. iOS apps need a good Files citizen serving up items in order to cooperate—DTTG is not that. (Hopefully that will change.) It now takes dozens of taps to open up my markdown notes in iA Writer whereas Files locations loaded into iA Writer automatically.

Worth noting though: the downside to the Indexing route is that some round-tripping is required to sync things up if you make a change in a Files file on iOS. DTTG won’t recognize the change.

Therefore I use DTTG almost exclusively for PDFs, to show/share files when on the go, and to drive those resource files for certain Shortcuts.

@ryanjamurphy This has all been very interesting and useful. As you might guess from my questions, I am staying with DevonThink a bit longer. I will try your read-later workflow — though I’m ok with Pocket.

Why not use the DT clipper to save docs in DT?

I wonder whether there is some way to point Drafts and DevonThink at each other? Probably not an elegant way.

Parenthetically, I have always been confused by the difference between areas and projects in GTD. When I say “always,” I mean since I was first introduced to GTD in 2007 or so.

But now after speed-reading the PARA document, which I was introduced to in this thread, I get it.

Projects have goals and completion states. Areas don’t.

That much is what I’d been hearing for 10+ years but it still seemed confusing. My work for nearly my whole career is: I write articles. An individual article doesn’t really seem like a project. It’s an … article. I often turn each one around in a couple of hours.

But Tiago’s PARA document helped me to understand by using good examples.

“Home maintenance” is an area. “Replace the backyard fence” is a project.

Areas are never done; they just keep going until they stop. You keep having home maintenance until your kids are grown, you retire to Florida and move into a condo where it’s someone else’s responsibility.

An article doesn’t seem like a project to me because I’ve done so many of them that each one seems like a single action. I mean yeah each article is actually a dozen or more actions — preparing for and doing individual interviews, identifying and reviewing source documents, writing the headline, the lead, the rest of the article, finding a photo, entering it into the publishing software — but it all comes naturally to me. So my to-do list doesn’t have each of those steps; it just says “write XYZ article.”

Thanks for sharing this. That iOS shortcut looks impressive. However, There are a few missing blocks from that initial if…then statement. Looks like they are some shortcut subroutines?

I often do on macOS. On iOS there’s no PDF option from the DTTG share sheet.

Re: PARA and projects, you’re right. No need to set up extra folders/projects in any scenario if you don’t need it to get the work done. What PARA helped me is to realize that I wasn’t creating projects for a lot of “small“ things. In OmniFocus, for instance, most of my projects were big things, and I rarely got to the finish line. By adopting a PARA-like structure I now only have 5-10 projects I’m looking at each week, and they get completed within 2-3 weeks typically, leading me to create more.

But then, I never have been a good GTDer. These ideas are helping me fix that.

@derekvan Sorry, you’re right! Each of those Run Shortcut action points to the same Shortcut: Shortcuts
It’s where the styling happens.

Like I said, I need to clean those up for sharing. :sweat_smile:


thanks for sharing this. Nice CSS work on the PDF. That’s always been a hurdle for me, formatting the safari article into something that looks good on a PDF. The default shortcuts “create PDF” always made the font too small.

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completely off topic :blush:

Is there any resource to learn css that you would suggest?

I‘d love to love DT (:raising_hand_man:t2:Stockholm Syndrome) and have used it for years. However, the large amount of time I work on my ipad in conjunction with the horrific iOS version makes it impossible for me to use it at the moment. So many features are missing in comparison to the Mac version and also in terms of modern iPad features (multi-window, open-in-place, …) there’s a lot to be desired…

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I found CodeAcademy useful once upon a time, and so did some students.

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thanks, I’ll check it out

oh, bummer. I just noticed the PDFs produced by this shortcut don’t have clickable hyperlinks. I think I ran into this problem before when I was trying to send web pages as PDF to DevonThink. It’s quite a series of tradeoffs:

webarchive: clickable hyperlinks. Highlighting not possible on iOS, can’t summarize highlights on Mac
PDF no clickable hyperlinks, can highlight
Instapaper hyperlinks and highlighting, but requires multi-step process to get highlights into DT and costs annual fee

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