What is DEVONthink and why is everyone using it?


I would just like to point out that I did go to the website and read posts on how individuals utilize the program. What I got from it is that people use it for check-lists, storing someday projects, etc. I am very curious because I am wondering whether that is something I need to use as well.

For checklists, why not just use a project? And same for someday projects, why not just put them on hold and plan your week from an available perspective? Wouldn’t that be easier to just store everything in one program (omnifocus)? I track my goals in notion but checklists and someday projects are just easier in Omnifocus I think? Is this like notion?

Very confused. Can somebody please explain why they use the program?

Devonthink is my archive, everything bucket, financial admin etc etc
It holds all my documents.

I generally use it together with Omnifocus

DT has the document, Omnifocus the link


DevonThink is not a dedicated task management system like OmniFocus; although it can be used as such.

DT is more of a document management app. Like EagleFiler, which I far prefer :-)

DEVONthink is essentially a document management system. It maintains a database of your documents and other files and has very powerful searching and organisation features. Commonly, it’s used to store all the documents/files relating to projects or other work. Examples: lawyers use it to collect all the information for cases; academics collect and organise their research data; project managers (like me) use it to collect and organise the information related to the project.

So DT is not a task management system, like Omnifocus. It can be a powerful adjunct to Omnifocus (or other task management apps). For example, you can create an OF task directly from a DT item so you could:

  • Take notes at a meeting (in DT or any other note taking app or even hand-written)
  • Add the notes to DT (if hand-written via a scanner or your phone camera)
  • From the DT item create the OF task “Write up minutes of meeting”

And you’ll end up with the notes associated with the OF task ready for when you want to complete the action.

All that said, there are many ways to achieve similar results without DT, which is not cheap and requires time and effort to get the best from it. If the kind of thing I’ve outlined is something of value to you, I suggest downloading the trial and seeing what you can get from it.

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It’s also worth mentioning that you don’t have to collect documents to appreciate Devonthink. I don’t have a single externally created document stored in Devonthink, but I have found the application to be the best place to store all kinds of information, written by myself or quoted from others, with as much hierarchy as I need and the best searching possibilities I can think of. I also like that Devonthink uses standard file formats for the documents I create, so my information will never be locked in.

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Without, I hope, labouring the point, EagleFiler actually doesn’t change anything. Everything is even more exportable.

It actually stores everything you keep in it (from mail to graphics, web archives to almost all formats of Apple apps’ documents/files) in a conventional Apple FileSystem hierarchy.

It is around this that it wraps its organizational, searching and manipulating/tagging Library, which - equally transparently - allows you to work in whatever (e.g. hierarchical) structure you like :-)

That’s what I really liked about Eaglefiler, and I certainly tried to stay with the application for that reason, but to me Devonthink is so much more refined, and for ten years I have been hoping to see a vertical three-pane solution in Eaglefiler.

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Not wanting to take this thread at all OT, may I ask in what ways, please, Jan? You make me wonder whether I shouldn’t take a new look at DT :-)?

Ah, I was expecting that question from you! I will answer you privately to keep this discussion from being even more off-topic.

Great. Thanks!

Looking forward to reading your thoughts, @Jan_H

I have a PhD, thus I need to pile higher and deeper. DevonThink helps me do that. 1000’s of PDFs made searchable, syncs on iCloud, so I can read and annotate on my iPad. I also use it to archive projects and other data. As this is an Omni forum - I have lots of graffles in it too.

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I see DEVONthink as a powerful way of storing and organizing information (both archival and project support) and a great complement to OmniFocus. One thing that makes DEVONthink useful is that files, groups (folders), etc. can be linked to OmniFocus (and other apps) using a URL. Conveniently, this link works on both macOS and iOS/iPadOS.

@Kourosh, who has written excellent books on both OmniFocus and DEVONthink joined me on my Learn OmniFocus site to share some of the ways that he uses these two apps in tandem. You can check out the free recording here:


Same here. It’s my database containing all supporting info and documents by areas of life.

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Actually, I think this system would be useful for me. I deal with a lot of files and need to find them quickly. I store my databases in Notion but my files are on my computer nested into folders in Finder on my Mac. I will try it and see how it goes but everyone here answered all my questions! On top of that, thank you for going beyond answering my question and explaining how I could utilize the program.


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