Need help with DEVONthink, scrivener interphase!

Looking to hire someone (I will come to you!) for a few days to tutor me in using both DEVONthink and Scrivener.

I am facing an enormous pile of documents, compiled by various people over almost 40 years, which I hope to turn into a non-fiction book. Most docs are handwritten, some are typed, some are multi-paged, some are no more than business card sized. I am manually entering the text, as OCR is out of the question (and I need to familiarize myself with them as much as possible anyway!).

If you think you can help me, or know someone who can, please respond here or Email:

If OCR is out of the question, I’d strongly suggest hiring an assistant for the data entry portion. It’s really not a good use of your time.

What’s the general nature of the material? Family history? Corporate history? Something else?


I would urge you not to make complete transcripts, but type a summary or precis of each document instead. Put down enough to give you a gist of the document, then note where it’s stored.

You’ll find this goes much faster, you have the main ideas in your head (and database), and can find the rest as needed. If you could make clear scans of the documents, that would be even better.

Kewms and Druid, thanks very much for your replies, and advice, but I’ve thought longer and harder than you both can imagine about this, and absolutely know that I must proceed in this way. I’m sure I will have many days and weeks of damning this decision, but I’m also quite sure that there’s no better way. Kewms, it’s all historical stuff (with a family connection).

So, my essential question remains: does anyone know of a person who is super experienced with these two programs, and who wouldn’t mind picking up a few days worth of work training me?

If you really need a full texts of all your manuscript material, give Dragon Dictate a try. Its speech recognition works very well if you do not have a lot of non-English words. Training it for words that are not in the dictionary is difficult.

Take control( also has an excellent book on Devon think.


I wish you luck in your search for a tutor, but in case you fail to find one, I offer my view that neither Scrivener nor DevonThink present particularly difficult learning challenges. They are designed to be useable without personal tuition. They may seem daunting; they aren’t.

Certain things will help: if you have previous experience of word processors, that experience will help with Scrivener, even though it is not a word processor. DevonThink is really just a big list. Both programmes have tools to help you to learn how to use them on your own. Scrivener’s are particularly good. I recommend Scrivener’s interactive tutorial (under the programme’s Help menu), a very well-spent hour or so, and its videos (on this site). I think DevonThink has something similar in what’s called the DevonAcademy.

Even if you do find some human help, you will really only embed the lessons in your brain by trying the programmes, experimenting and using them, maybe with a small pilot version of what you’re aiming to do. And to be honest that’s how most of us do it.


By the way, if you want someone whom you can actually physically visit, your geographical location is going to be important! Scrivener users are spread across the globe. Where are you (roughly)?

Hi Hugh,

I’m in New York City, but would travel pretty much anywhere for the right situation. I figured I’d give my preferred approach (the one one one tutorial) a few weeks to come together or not, then just “dive in,” as you suggest, and see if I’m up to it without the help.

Thanks for your feedback!



I live near you, but alas I can’t give up “a few weeks” for tutorials.
Both Scrivener and DevonThink Pro have excellent video tutorials.
I urge you to work with them for a while; you’ll learn plenty. … rials.html



Hey Druid,

Thanks for replying. I wasn’t clear: I wasn’t saying that I need “a few weeks” of tutoring, only that I was going to allow “a few weeks” to see if I could FIND a tutor and go that way. Sorry for not being clearer. I think I would only need 2 or 3 half-days, with perhaps some follow up questions occasionally by phone or Email. If that seems doable to you, by all means let me know. If not, I understand.