Devonthink and Scrivener: tips?

I’m downloading the trial of Devonthink and am wondering if anybody who uses these programs in conjunction has any tips for me. I’m using Scrivener for my dissertation. Right now, I’m dumping everything there. My PDF collection continues to steadily grow, especially now that I have a scanner and am trying to go paperless. I gather that this might be a task better suited to Devonthink, but I like to use Scrivener to write and to organize my thoughts. What are the best ways to get them to place nice together? Anybody have any advice, or threads I can read, that offer suggestions on using Devonthink to maintain a research database, and writing with Scrivener?


As you might expect in such a situation, I simply don’t use Scrivener’s Research folder in the Binder, and use Devonthink instead. Devonthink has an “x-devonthink-item://” URL scheme, so you can “Copy Item Link” and paste this into Scrivener if you need to link to an item in your Devonthink database. I don’t do this much, since I usually go down the route of formally citing them via my citation manager (which I also integrate in the reverse direction with Devonthink, attaching “bookends://” links to cited Devonthink items, so I can click on Devonthink search results and get their citations).


Some parts of this thread on the DevonThink forum may be of use:


Sorry if you read this before I made this edit! I hadn’t read carefully enough before.

I think it would be great if the process of making a link to a DEVONthink document becomes more efficient, but, even now, I think Scrivener/DEVONthink (Pro Office, I suggest) it is a great pair for many of your writing and information management needs. It might not be what you want to use to create/edit spreadsheets, forms for database entry, and outlines - although each of those things can be done to some degree and with some level of scripting likely involved. DT seems to do a great job of recognizing file types - so you can use OmniOutliner, Word, Pages, Excel, Numbers, PowerPoint, Keynote, etc., and you will be able to see the contents via quicklook and open the files in the native application from within DT.

I just took an online course this term and used Scrivener as my notebook - putting all descriptions of basic course information, links to resources, information about assignments, and my work for the assignments, organized neatly in folders representing particular weeks of the course and sections of the material. I hadn’t yet figured out the way to make links back to DT documents (rather than copy the reference articles into Scrivener), which was a bit clumsy, but now that I know how to get that done, I would use DT to store all articles and pieces of information - extended notes, quotes, etc. - that I might want to access outside of that collection of course materials. Then, I would create links into Scrivener at the appropriate places (folders, files) so that I could quickly launch them. For example, at the beginning of a week I would download the appropriate articles from the course website and then link them into my Week x Assignment page of my Week x folder. Then, whenever I would go to my Scrivener course notebook, I could easily click on an article to launch it in a DT window. Although I think it is a good idea to try to minimize the amount of duplication of information, I wouldn’t hesitate to do some of that, but if I thought very highly of a quote that I was going to use in my writing in Scrivener, I wouldn’t want to get that buried in the text of my notebook or book; so, I would make a small text note (file) in DTPO and assign to it meta data that would allow it to be found easily in the future.

Let me backup just a little bit. When initially storing the articles in DTPO, and part of the reason that I recommend DTPO over DT is that, I used the excellent OCR function to download the articles as searchable PDF. Within DTPO, then, I’m able to read and annotate the article - in a very nice, clean, easy-to-use interface. Because the connection between Scrivener and DTPO is a link, I am always opening the most up-to-date version of the document with my annotations.

DTPO is a great piece of software, and the developers seem terrific - highly responsive to the vigorous user community, and driven to make their products better and better. I have the same sense about Scrivener. I can’t imagine a more useful pair of programs for creating, organizing, and storing coursework, and, I suspect, many other kinds of writing. I haven’t yet experimented with how I might do the long-term storage, but I might try to actually store a Scrivener notebook within a DTPO database - not sure yet.

Personally, I don’t mind needing to have a few specialty programs, but I’m like Jennifer who began the DT thread that is linked - I don’t want to own a big bunch of software and get caught up in maintaining the tools; I want really well designed tools that allow efficient use of information for creative purposes. I think Dan Pink is right (A Whole New Mind) - we need to make better and better use of our right-brain capabilities!

I hope that is of some help,



Actually anything that goes into the references pane of the inspector is only a link. Anything dragged into the binder is copied, but anything in the inspector is just a link to the original file.


Hi Keith, I guess my problem was that I wanted to link to a pdf in DEVONthink Pro Office and the drag-and-drop method wasn’t allowing me a path to open that document in the DTPO native editor; the ‘create external link’ method, though seems to do the trick! Now it would be great to be able to create such a link more efficiently. Thanks very much for your message! Keith

What was the manual link you entered? I’m interested in how it was different to just dragging it in - does DT have some special link syntax for this?

If you copy a Devonthink Link using “Edit/Copy Item Link” you can paste the resulting link in any cocoa text field and it retains the Item Name: the link inside it looks something like x-devonthink-item://37697028-74A9-4F9D-8F95-6404B69F9BD1. Unfortunately if you paste in a non-cocoa field (In Tinderbox, say, or this forum) only the indecipherable link - without the name - is pasted.
Hope that helps

That’s it - and while the result is excellent, the process is still a little clunky. Any chance of a preference setting that could change the drag and drop behavior? Thanks!

Not really, since Scrivener can only read the URL that has been put onto the dragging pasteboard.