Manage your information with the powerful tools in DEVONthink 3

Take Control of
DEVONthink 3

Joe Kissell
(4 customer reviews)

DEVONthink 3 offers a slew of features for defeating information overload, but mastering its power is easier with real-world advice from DEVONthink power user Joe Kissell. He helps you understand the best ways to put information into DEVONthink and how to organize it so you can find it later. He also covers syncing DEVONthink databases among your Apple devices and using DEVONthink To Go in iOS and iPadOS.

All Take Control books are delivered in two ebook formats—PDF and EPUB—and can be read on nearly any device.



Note: We update this book four times per year; the next update is expected in May or June 2023. (Read more about updates).)

With the information-management app DEVONthink 3, you no longer have to swim in a sea of web bookmarks, email receipts, RSS feeds, scanned memos, and downloaded bank statements. DEVONthink stores your digital documents and clippings, helps you scan and store paper documents, and serves as home base for organizing and viewing all your information. But mastering all that power can take effort, and this book—created in partnership with DEVONtechnologies—has the real-world advice you need to understand how DEVONthink can bring order to your information.

You’ll also learn how to extend your DEVONthink experience beyond your main Mac with detailed coverage of the many ways you can sync DEVONthink databases to other Macs and to iOS/iPadOS devices using the DEVONthink To Go app.

After covering essential DEVONthink vocabulary and concepts, including the completely reworked user interface of DEVONthink 3, Joe helps you start using DEVONthink effectively. You’ll learn how to:

  • Decide how many databases you need and set them up
  • Determine whether to input or index data
  • Configure where incoming data will go
  • Import data from many different apps
  • Import data from a scanner, including OCR options
  • Use grouping and tagging to organize data
  • Add and work with DEVONthink 3’s expanded metadata capabilities
  • Use simple (and sophisticated) techniques for searching
  • Create smart groups that automatically gather newly imported data
  • Use smart rules and AppleScript to automate countless activities within DEVONthink
  • Create documents in plain text, HTML, Markdown, and more
  • Edit documents in DEVONthink (or externally)
  • Find the best way to sync DEVONthink data with other devices
  • Work with reminders, smart templates, and other sophisticated tools
  • Convert documents between formats
  • Effectively use the DEVONthink To Go iOS/iPadOS app
  • Share DEVONthink documents with other people
  • Export documents from DEVONthink
  • Back up and maintain healthy databases

Questions answered in the book include:

  • What is DEVONthink good for, and what should be left to other apps?
  • What kinds of data can I import? (Short answer: Nearly everything!)
  • How can I display my data in a way that works well for me?
  • When I import documents from different sources, where do they end up, and why?
  • Is it better to sort imported documents right away, or leave them for later?
  • Should I group my data, tag it, or both?
  • What are duplicates and replicants, and how can I tell them apart?
  • Which types of data can be created or edited within DEVONthink?
  • How do I make my DEVONthink database accessible via the web using DEVONthink Server?
  • How do I move documents out of DEVONthink using the Share feature?
  • How do I use DEVONthink To Go on my iOS/iPadOS device?

Plus, we now plan to update this free book approximately four times per year for the foreseeable future to cover ongoing changes in DEVONthink and add new tips and advice!

Joe Kissell

About Joe Kissell

Take Control publisher Joe Kissell has written more than 60 books about technology, including many popular Take Control books. He formerly wrote for publications such as Macworld, Wirecutter, and TidBITS. He lives in Saskatoon with his wife, his two children, and his cat.

What’s New in Version 1.11

The eleventh quarterly update (nominally for Q3 2022, but actually released in Q4) covers DEVONthink for Mac up through version 3.8.7, and DEVONthink To Go for iOS/iPadOS up through version 3.6.2. This minor update changed the following:

  • Updated all references to the Preferences window to include the term Settings, as explained in “Settings and Preferences”
  • Replaced several screenshots to reflect minor changes to icons and layout
  • Added a note about the Update Items command in the sidebar “Updating Indexed Documents”
  • Mentioned support for the Canon IJ Scan Utility in “Scan Documents”
  • Mentioned support for importing .gdoc and .gsheet files in “Import Bookmarks from an HTML File”
  • In “Create a WikiLink,” updated descriptions of preferences
  • Mentioned dropping links to Apple Mail messages and Calendar events into Markdown documents in “Edit HTML and Markdown Documents”
  • In “Edit PDFs,” added the new Rotate 180 Degrees command
  • Made some small updates in “Use DEVONthink To Go” to reflect recent interface and settings changes
  • Read Me First
    • Updates and More
    • DEVONthink’s Documentation
    • What’s New in Version 1.11
    • What Was New in Version 1.10
  • Introduction
  • DEVONthink Quick Start
  • Understand DEVONthink Basics
    • What Exactly Is DEVONthink?
    • DEVONthink Editions
    • Words You Should Know
    • Importing vs. Indexing
    • Organizing Features
    • What DEVONthink Is Not Good For
  • Explore DEVONthink’s Interface
    • Support Assistant
    • Add-Ons
    • Main Window
    • Panels
    • Document Windows
    • Inboxes
    • Workspaces
  • Set Up DEVONthink Databases
    • Create a New Database
    • Configure Database Properties
  • Get Information into DEVONthink
    • What Can I Put in DEVONthink?
    • Decide Where Your Documents Will Go
    • Create Documents in DEVONthink
    • Use the Import or Index Command
    • Use Drag and Drop
    • Use the System-Wide Global Inbox
    • Use the Services Menu
    • Use the Sorter
    • Use the Share Extension
    • Add Web Content
    • Add Email Messages
    • Use the PDF Menu
    • Scan Documents
    • Import Previously Scanned Documents
    • Import from Bookends
    • Import Bookmarks from an HTML File
    • Use the Built-in Web Browser
    • Read RSS Feeds
    • Joe’s Recommendations for Getting Stuff into DEVONthink
  • Organize Your Information
    • Understand Groups and Tags
    • Create and Use Groups
    • Tag Documents
    • Work with Metadata
    • Work with Highlights
    • Work with Item Links and WikiLinks
    • Move Data Between Databases
    • Split and Merge Documents
  • Find Your Information
    • Use Filters
    • Perform a Simple Search
    • Refine a Search with Search Options
    • Use Search Prefixes
    • Do an Advanced Search
    • Use Smart Groups
    • Search Within a Document
    • Search Using the Concordance
  • Work with Your Information
    • Edit Documents in DEVONthink
    • Navigate PDFs
    • Edit PDFs
    • Annotate PDFs
    • Add Imprints
    • Convert Document Formats
    • Edit Documents in External Apps
  • Automate DEVONthink
    • Work with Smart Rules
    • Use Reminders
    • Use AppleScript with DEVONthink
    • Use Smart Templates
  • Sync DEVONthink Databases
    • Understand Sync Basics
    • Configure Syncing
    • Set Syncing Options
  • Use DEVONthink To Go
    • Get to Know DEVONthink To Go
    • Configure and Sync DEVONthink To Go
    • Find Your Way Around
    • Add Items to DEVONthink To Go
    • Manage Documents
    • Configure DEVONthink To Go Settings
  • Get Information Out of DEVONthink
    • Copy Data
    • Share Data
    • Export Data
  • Use DEVONthink’s Web Server
  • Dig Deeper
    • Maintain Your Databases
    • Link DEVONthink Documents to Other Apps
  • Appendix A: Keyboard Shortcuts
    • Keyboard-and-Mouse Combinations
    • Other Shortcuts
  • Learn More
  • About This Book
    • Ebook Extras
    • About the Author and Publisher
  • Also by Joe Kissell
  • Copyright and Fine Print

August 13, 2020—We plan to release updates to this book approximately once per quarter for the foreseeable future, to cover changes to DEVONthink and add more details.

4 reviews for Take Control of DEVONthink 3

  1. Magnus Laubenstein (verified owner)

    Great addition to the Manual. Love the app, really like the way Joe Kissell explains things. The app can do so much for you and it is really worth finding all out.

  2. Alfonso Campuzano (verified owner)

    If you generate a lot of documents, this is the right app, and this book explain all the functionality clearly and easy.

    Excellent work

  3. James Schmidt (verified owner)

    I’m afraid what is really needed right now is yet another update that will help those of us attempting to deal with the data losses associated with rollout of DevonThink to Go version 3.

  4. Joe Kissell

    Hi James,

    I have not experienced or heard of data loss problems when moving to DEVONthink To Go 3, but that sounds like the kind of problem you’ll need to contact DEVONtechnologies for help with. We don’t claim to offer solutions to every problem or workarounds to every bug—all we do here is explain how to use the apps. (And, if there’s a problem DEVONtechnologies can’t help you with, I’m sorry to say that there’s nothing we’ll be able to do that goes beyond that.)


  5. Alan Ralph (verified owner)

    I just finished reading this today, and highly recommend it! Joe does a great job of exploring and revealing all the hidden powers of both the Mac and iOS/iPadOS apps, and I now realise just how little of its potential I’ve been using.

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