Zow! I feel like ‘junk drawer’ wars have just been won.

My problem with DEVONthink was that the interface was weird and clunky, and cluttered. No tags; just lots of folders, and buttons, and weird views. Plus a lot of editor interface that I didn’t want, and got in the way.

My problem with Yojimbo was: no smart folders. Smooth, simple interface, but no hierarchy AND no tags means organization is too weak.

My problem with Journler was the weird ‘iLife’-centric interface. A ‘media’ paradigm I never understood, but which kept intruding on me, and lots of buttons about blogging and recording and stuff. It was, in the end, too much about real journling, with dates and everything.

EagleFiler is a brand-new app by Michael Tsai, the guy who makes SpamSieve. It’s in the vein of the above apps: a place to store, long- or short-term, all your digital detritus and baubles: quotes, tutorials, articles, PDFs. Etc. It’s like he read my mind; he delivers only the cross-section of features I want, and absolutely nothing else.

There are absolutely no editing features at all in EagleFiler, which cuts down on the bloat. You edit things by double clicking on them, which shoots them to the default editor of their filetype. This is made simple because instead of a binary database format like DEVONthink, the files are all kept in an open directory on disk, and synced up with an sqlite database. It’s quite elegant, in practice, and means the whole program can be focused on organizing and viewing the information, rather than editing it.

You can create single-level collections, like Yojimbo (no hierarchy), but you can also assign tags. Real tags, too, not just text strings named ‘comments’. You cannot make Mail-style boolean smart groups. HOWEVER, here’s what really tickled me: for every tag you make, what is essentially an automatic smart group for that tag pops up in the side. Combined with the collections you can manually put stuff in, I’ve got 2-dimensional sorting.

Other features of note: Multiple library support (but also autosave). Smart capture—it’s by applescript, so if you’re at a webpage (or a news item in NetNewsWire, or whatever the hell other apps it has support for) and press the ‘capture’ hotkey, it smartly remembers what website you got it from! Sweet! And as a webarchive, too, of course.

Lots of other nice touches, like letting you define little logos out of unicode for tags, which it will display in-column. I’m really quite pleased. This does what I’ve been wishing every other one did, to a T.


Thanks cruxdestruct. What a crackerjack little application EagleFiler is. Just what I was looking for. Made my day.


Thanks for writing about EagleFiler! I just wanted to clarify that EagleFiler does support hierarchy, i.e. you can put folders inside one another (and this structure is reflected in the Finder).

Oh man, sorry about the misinfo. Even better, then.

That definitely looks worth investigating.

The two questions I have (and will be looking into when I play with this tool) are:

  1. does it update its indices when the underlying data changes? For instance, if more email is added to the mail archive

  2. does it support ODF? Word? If there is a file format it doesn’t support natively, is there a mechanism to add import filters?

Looks good, though.

Yes, if it finds that the modification date of a file is later than the last indexing date, it will update the index.

It does support Word. ODF support is planned. Eventually, I’d like to make it possible to add support for new file types, but for now I request that you let me know the ones that you want, and I’ll try to add them.

I know there is a mechanism to add support for other formats. Basically, given any applescript-able application that can pass the contents of the front window/pane, you can write a script to capture from that application. I dunno about Word or ODF (probably not on the latter), but it does have rich text support, of course, so even if it doesn’t, you could just import the text.

Dunno about mail archives. Good question. I know that it does for regularly editable files; like, if you double click on a file in EF, then make a change in the TextEdit window that results, and save it, the change will be automatically reflected in EF.

Nicely designed program, with good tagging feature; but one big disappointment is that it can’t clip and store selected text, only whole documents and web pages…pity.


Eiron, select some text and drag it to the EagleFiler dock icon.

EagleFiler is the subject of one of Ted Goranson’s characteristically thoughtful discussions.

I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet, but I like the fact that it uses the Finder rather than creating a separate database, as Devon does.

I too would like to be able to capture text selections with a keystroke, not a drag.

As for mail archives, the site says it’s intended to be used to archive your old email so you don’t have to slow down Mail with storage.

I’m still pretty happy with Devon and reluctant to part with $40 unless EF offers substantially greater functionality. Anyone who uses it, please keep us posted on how well it works for you, especially compared to existing alternatives like Devon, SOHO etc.

That’s my number one, defining mantra, brett. The one thing I have to keep reminding myself—because god knows that downloading every new app that comes across the Mac transom is more fun than actually working—if you’ve got a system that works for you, by god, STAY WITH IT.

I was finding DVT frustrating. It just seemed like, as time went on, there was a higher and higher crap-i-don’t-need-to-feature ratio. When I first got it, I was totally down with the ‘put everything you could possibly think of in here, and we’ll tell you what’s relevant! magic!’ angle, but now, a year and a half in, the usefulness of having the etext of Ulysses along with my Buddhism notes from freshman year of college is not particularly high. So i’ve set out looking again. There’s a subset of information that’s actually worth keeping—recipes, quotations, articles of repeat value—that’s small enough that the 800,000,000-words strategy of DVT is kind of overkill, and overly clumsy. So here’s what I like better about EF than DVT: Tags & their smart groups; more flexible than the folders+AI magic of DVT, for me. Reduced feature set; fewer buttons, no editing capabilities, and what views & buttons there are are better, more Mac-ish—thus, every piece of information in the window is relevant and useful.

I guess that’s it, when you get down to it. I have arrived, by using every damn app there is, at a list of features that are useful for me to find the information which I need, whether I know it or not. Every feature that is extra makes it harder or more clumsy to get there. EF seems, as of right now, to most effectively hit that target; what I need, not what I don’t. I’ll see if I still feel that way in a couple months, I guess.

Thank you for the response, Michael.

Timestamp is reasonable enough, particularly on a single system. Good stuff.

All good.

The file formats I care about for documents are: Word (mostly pretty old versions, though - Word 6, IIRC), OOo v1 formats, ODF, AppleWorks, text and RTF. There are some other files I have in more obscure formats (Acorn Archimedes apps, for instance) but those are mostly converted to text.

Anyway, I will go and grab the trial.

Thanks again.

There is a quite decent EagleFiler Review on the new ATPM 12.11. It is at macupdate.com.


There is also a link to Scrivener there.

Well, Bare Bones just released Yojimbo 1.3—with tagging, and tag-based smart collections.

Nothing’s ever simple. Back to the drawing board!