Better than Devonthink?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by anthrovisual, May 27, 2008.

  1. anthrovisual macrumors regular

    May 27, 2008
    I have been looking for the best application for organizing loads of files (including but not limited to textual, visual, audio, pdf, pages, scrivener files, anything). I want the app to help me organize all the bits of information and files and make it usable.

    Basically, it seems like Devonthink is the best app for this (although I am also considering Together, Eaglefiler, Tinderbox, and Notebook).

    What would you recommend personally?

    Is Devonthink the most powerful and usable or is there a better option?
  2. anthrovisual thread starter macrumors regular

    May 27, 2008

    I understand there is also SOHO Notes, which I have not compared.
  3. blodwyn macrumors 65816

    Jul 28, 2004
    Portland, Oregon
    Without knowing a bit more about what you mean by 'organizing' and 'make it usable', my suggestion would be to explore using Spotlight Comments as a tagging system.

    I've been using Spotlight Tags, with Houdahspot as a search tool, for quite a while, and find it suits me perfectly. I've used EagleFiler, but found it slow with large file counts. I've used Leap, but didn't like it. I've used DevonThink, but don't like centralized proprietary databases - particularly when they get big and consume the Time Machine disk with increasingly large backed up versions.

    So I always return to Spotlight comments, which gives me the freedom to place my files in any location that Spotlight indexes, maintains the files in their original format, gives me all the search options that Spotlight supports, and is supported by most tagging apps (Houdahspot, Tagbot, EagleFiler, Leap, FileSpot). It also allows me to sync files between multiple Mac's and have all the tags move with them automatically. With a whole bunch of saved search templates sitting in my Houdahspot menu bar icon, I'm never more than a couple of clicks from most files I'm looking for.
  4. madmaxmedia macrumors 68030

    Dec 17, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    You really need to try the different apps out first, they all have their own approaches and it's hard to say 1 is objectively better than the rest. They all have their own pro's and con's.

    Using Finder + Spotlight comments is a pretty good idea too. If you do that for files, then you might just need a light notetaking app (I use SlipBox which is free and pretty nifty), or just use plain text files.
  5. chatoyer macrumors regular

    Dec 11, 2006
    Te Wai Pounamu, New Zealand
    I'll put in a vote for Devonthink, but agree with the others that it's a personal choice and one that requires trials. I use DTPO (DT Pro Office) to organise pdfs, doc files and all kinds of others, including photos. I use it to write in (I'm an academic) and use to organise notes. I use it house text clippings from the web as well. The search functions are quite good - everything it a search away, and I can't tell you how many times this has come in handy. Alone, it has increased my productivity ten-fold, especially when writing or preparing lectures. It's pretty much open all of the time on my Macbook C2D. My database is just over 42 million words and is over 2GB in size. Apparently the next version of DT will allow for multiple databases to be open, which will be nice as well.

    Good luck - will be interested to know what you end up going with -
  6. anthrovisual thread starter macrumors regular

    May 27, 2008
    Productivity boost would be in mind

    I understand the virtues of spotlight and having a tagging method. But I'm not into tagging very much right now. One thing I like about DT is that it pretty much does the tagging for you in a sense. Because it indexes textual content and the "see also" function basically links files based on similarity. This would seem pretty handy and I imagine would boost my productivity, which is the purpose of whatever method I am looking for. I find that organizing files into folders in Finder and tagging with Spotlight only has so many limited gains for the effort that goes into it.

    Therefore, I am looking for ways to get more out of my time. The idea is to spend less time organizing and more time analyzing and utilizing. I am a researcher myself, using pdf articles, snippets from web sites, writing papers on many subjects concerning culture and visual communication. I find there to be more information on my topics than I can really handle with a folder structure and spotlight comments. DT seems to do this and more (making connections between content) but my question is, is there something out there better than what DT can do. Perhaps the same and then some. The other apps I mention don't seem to offer as many functions as DT, but let me know if I am wrong.
  7. kellyl macrumors newbie

    May 28, 2008
    DEVONthink Pro is the way to go...

    I was a SOHO Notes user; not anymore. SOHO notes is a resource HOG and will slow down your system.

    One reason that DEVONthink is great is that you don't need to put everything into their proprietary database. You can simply have DEVONthink index your folders and get all of the same benefits that you would receive if the documents were stored in a DEVONthink database. Another reason is the great AppleScript support.

    DEVONthink Pro is a fast and elegant application that runs light on system resources; it isn't a resource hog.
  8. anthrovisual thread starter macrumors regular

    May 27, 2008
    Glad to hear but what about searching packages?

    I have SOHO Notes on my list too, tried it before, but didn't stick with it and went to Notebook for a research project last fall.

    I put it back on the list to give it fair consideration but have this feeling in my gut that I really don't want to like it. It is kind of strange, sort of when a really good friend asks you to watch a movie you really don't want to see, but you do anyways and eat the ten bucks at the theater, all the while having that feeling in your gut.

    Any other thoughts? Does anyone have an application they think is best for storing mass amounts of files of any type.

    That is one problem I have with DT, I can put say a Notebook, Pages document, even an excel, keynote, or Scrivener file into DT, but DT cannot search the contents of such files. I would have to convert each into an RTF for this to happen, correct?

    Yet, if I put these into Journler, Journler's lexicon picks up the words in each without a sweat. This may make life a little easier in some scenarios and I can't see why you can't do the same in DT. Am I missing something?
  9. kellyl macrumors newbie

    May 28, 2008
    No... you aren't missing anything

    I think you are right. I just did a quick test in DT and was unable to get search results from text I know exists in an indexed .pages file. Hmmm....
  10. anthrovisual thread starter macrumors regular

    May 27, 2008
    The good news

    I posted about that in the Devonthink Forum and one of the uppers said that it is not a part of DT but will be. So DT 2.0 should fix that set back. I guess for the moment I am waiting for 2.0 to come out with my fingers crossed that it will resolve all the issues that is keeping me hesitant about considering it the best.

    The only other option that seems to be improving well is Together I would say. They keep updating it and adding better features and my trial keeps resetting.

    As for Eaglefiler, I might take it off the list. It's really nice but I think either DT or Together offer more at this point.

    Anyone want to convince me to change my mind?
  11. madmaxmedia macrumors 68030

    Dec 17, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
  12. krye macrumors 68000


    Aug 21, 2007
    So basically, iTunes for music and video. iPhoto for pictures, and "AppX" for everything else. Makes sense. I'm looking for that too, but can't find anything.

    Why is this so hard? I'm kind of torn though, I don't want to have to launch an application every time I want to look at a pdf or a word doc. Quicklook kind of becomes useless at that point. And i like using Quicklook while in the Finder.
  13. anthrovisual thread starter macrumors regular

    May 27, 2008
    I agree

    As for the sites suggested, the one I haven't read yet and the other has quite a library. This may take some time. I wish I found this site some time ago.

    I hoped there was an AppX with all the answers (there is actually an appx of sorts but it's not the same thing I think).

    I wanted to just use the Finder as well, and to most degrees it can be done, especially with improvements of 10.5 it seems. But as my files grow, I yearn for something a little more.

    I use Path Finder nowadays and like its customization and tabs and everything.

    Yet, I still ponder if there is something better, something more to make my work more productive. Yet, all this searching and reviewing kind of hurts production as well. Is there a light at the end of this tunnel or am I just wasting my time?

    I started looking at Tinderbox as well, it seems to be something but really complex.
  14. danieljomphe macrumors newbie

    Jun 1, 2008
    I suggest you don't loose time reading my comparative review, as it doesn't address your need of a global file repository. It's geared towards the need of collecting web pages and web snippets.

    I've seen really convincing, quality answers in this thread. It's great to find such clarity. I believe you also did an excellent job trying to find something that would work for your needs.

    Based on your wish to get DT's benefits of automated search features or an equivalent magical feature that would enhance your productivity, I suggest you try using DT for all data types that are searchable in it now, and for those that aren't, another third-party app, like journler. You should soon get to see if anyone of both apps would fit your bill. This solution just might be the beginning of the light at the end of this tunnel you refer to. If ever you find that light, please come back here and update us on your finding.

    Regarding APTM, I don't know what site it is but I'm interested in the answer.
  15. madmaxmedia macrumors 68030

    Dec 17, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    Here's a link to the entire archive of articles at

    It covers all applications capable of outlining, but should have good info for the OP since most outliners can handle file attachments. There are some good in-depth articles on the capabilities of some of the apps mentioned in this thread- DT, Tinderbox, etc.

    And yeah, you can definitely spend too much time looking for ways to maximize your productivity! ;) There is no perfect app, unless you write one yourself, but then that will take up even more of your time!

    Through the years, I have used Circus Ponies Notebook, Mori, Tiddlywiki (self-contained HTML wiki pages), Journler, SlipBox, and now mainly just use the filesystem + TaskPaper (a task app.) And those are just the apps that I actually settled on, I have tried many more.

    OP- Have you actually used DT full-time? I am curious how you find its indexing system. It's something that seems very appealing to me too, but I wonder how much I would actually use it.
  16. rickdude macrumors newbie

    Feb 14, 2008
    DT - Yojimbo - Leap

    This is a question that's been exercising me for years. I've come to the conclusion that DevonThink is great for keeping files such as PDF, txt, rtf, and doc that consist predominantly of textual data and that are all on roughly the same subject or at least within the same subject domain. My preferred modus operandi is to open a DT database when I need it, i.e. when I'm doing research in a certain topic, perhaps working on writing a paper. I find it important to avoid a situation where I'm not sure whether something is in DT or, if so, which database it's in, because then you've got to look for the right database and then do a search therein.

    I also don't think DT is a very good tool for storing snippets of information of diverse kinds, a purpose for which I find Yojimbo better suited.

    And if it's a question of navigating all the files on my Mac, I'm beginning to find Leap way better than the Finder.

    I own a license to VoodooPad, which I think is a remarkable (and inexpensive) program and potentially could replace all three of the above, but there's a limit to how many programs one can use productively for similar purposes, so VoodooPad has been reduced to occasional use as a website development environment.

    After a host of disappointments with the SOHO people, I've resolved to steer clear of them indefinitely.
  17. chatoyer macrumors regular

    Dec 11, 2006
    Te Wai Pounamu, New Zealand
    That's interesting because that's exactly what I use DTPO for. To each his own, I guess! :)

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