Once you have made the commitment to using DEVONthink office as your “everything bucket,” the very first step is consider how best to organize your data. The fundamental starting point is that you can use multiple databases and use the application to simultaneously access any number at a time.
Of course one of the real benefits for using this tool is it’s built in Artificial Intelligence and its fast search capabilities. The developer has built in search functions that allow you to search the current open and visible database but also the ability to search all of your databases. As I transitioned my information and then tested this functionality it provided me with not only great results but also a filter to perhaps indicate where information was not correctly stored or categorized.
The application allows you to create as many databases as you want. I can see how one single database could work for some people.
This decision for me was based on a number of factors. The first was that I wanted to sync my databases (see my previous post) in the cloud so that I could access my data when I was away from my iMac and home network via my MacBook Pro and to a lesser extent my iPad Pro. My thought process here was the size of the current database and thinking ahead to how large the database could end up as I added information over time.
The next factor was based on categories of information. This was an easy decision as I already have distinct systems, workflows, storage and hardware for my Personal and Work life. Within these broad areas I then had various interests to further delineate my database structure. Interestingly a lot of this categorization came from how I used to organize information with Evernote so the “thinking” had already been done.
- Blog – a dedicated database to centralize the information and notes I generate for the two blogs I maintain. This is a synced to my iPad Pro and this post is being written using that device.
- Personal – all the information pertinent to me.
- System – as the family “tech guy” I keep a database dedicated to information I have on our home system, network information and hardware details. This is also synced to my iPad so I can easily troubleshoot “on location.
- Work_mobile – contains the information I need to access regularly in my professional life. This a synced database with my laptop.
- Work – my main database that contains my previous Architecture business files, drawings and images.
This structure is naturally bespoke to me but I hope it shows the versatility of DEVONthink office to meet your specific needs.
The application provides a similar approach to Finder with various folders called “Groups” where you can choose to further sub-categorize your data.
Each Database has it’s own “inbox” which the developer strongly encourages you to use as a temporary location before “filing” to your chose Group location. This “inbox” is in addition to the “global inbox” which can be confusing but you have the option to rename this location if you so wish. I have renamed the multiple inboxes as follows,
I have then utilized these various database specific inboxes as where I move data to when I am categorizing new information or filing incorrectly stored information. My process is then to regularly review each database Inbox to categorize or group as required.
Moving information between databases is simple and quick, with “right-click” accessing a “Move to” drop down menu that in turn provides you all the Group sections in your open databases for you to select. The file then moves instantly and behind the UI, the file is moved to the new nested folder in the database library.
Adding tags to files is a common approach to many systems and provides a way to carry out smart searching. This takes discipline and I have often made a start to file tagging and then given up when other priorities took over. DEVONthink’s AI “learns” from the way you organize your information and ultimately promises not only smart search capabilities but also the ability to “auto file” your data to the correct Group location.
I am therefore tagging all files that arrive in the database inboxes before I then move them to dedicated Groups. I will blog about how effective that works for me when I have tested this functionality.
Please post a comment or ask a question below on this application and I will share more of my experience as I “grow” with DEVONthink Pro Office. Similarly if there are specific areas you would like me to cover then again please comment below.