DevonThink: How to double your spare time while doing research on projects like a pro and have your current external data source

Do you like to be up-to-date with all your information, data and research without checking and searching again if something had been updated in the meantime? Do you want just to research once and be sure that your data used are current despite of the fact that time goes on or your research had been done months ago?

Save time and let DevonThink improve your workflow and research by automatically updating your researched data. I really like to have everything at one place and DTPO makes it possible. Your research can take some time or months and you do not want to do it all over again just because something changed in the meantime.

I will show you how to update your external data and research automatically.

For what can I use such a feature?

There are many usages cases for an automated feature which will update your data once they get changed. On the other hand, it makes it easy for your to search, sort and link these data within your own documents and databases.

Besides, imagine you have a big project going on and you will have to research all sorts of information for it. You want to be sure that your researched information is up-to-date once you are finalising your project.

Changes can happen to your data:

  • Website owners could take them off the Internet
  • New data are added to an existing article
  • Brand new data will be provided and so on.

Indeed, your research work is important and you will need it later to reference to your project and it can take ages before a research is done. Surely, you can add everything to DevonThinkOfficePro and file your researched data as PDF, web archive or text.


Long time ago as all research had to be done with books and encyclopedia there was no need to be aware of changing data. Presently, everything is changing so quickly and so will your researched data and references too. Sometimes, within. week or couple of days your data are outdated and no use any more.

Do you start from the beginning if you get aware of it?

The answer is simple: No, you do not need this!

The function for your research

DTPO gives you so many possibilities to deal with your information and data one of it is the Download-Manager:


You will find it under Window - Download-Manager easily.

Well it does not look promising but it is - this function I use a lot and not only for research but for everything I want to be up-to-date when and if needed. I use it for laws, regulations, accounting guides such as UK-GAAP, US-GAAP and of course German GAAP and International Accounting Standards (IAS). It is especially relevant to me because I am lazy :-) and really do like automated process because I can just forget about them and if I need information I am certain that there are the most present ones.

Settings of data

For the first use, I recommend to adjust some settings and preferences first. Later, you do not need to do it again or adjust only one setting (location for instance).


Use the gear symbol at the right lower corner to get to the settings:


The upper part you will find Add, Change, Try again and Delete. After that there is Activate, Deactivate and the List functions such as start, stop and clean up.

At the lower part you will find the actual settings and options which are vital for the first use. Otherwise it could happen that your data are somewhere but not where you expect them.


Depending on your needs the archiving option will determine in which format you want to save your data. If you have only a link to a website and you do not know where exactly the data are you can choose Sub folders (complete) which I really recommend.

Offline archiving is pretty much the same as web archives for your later references.

Sub folders (Images & Multimedia)

If you need just images or multimedia files such as videos then this option is for you. DevonThink will then only download images and multimedia files from the entire website.

Similar to the above, is the image gallery but you should make sure there is really an image gallery to download.

Be your own data leech! If you are not sure then take everything (sub content complete) and later you can decide what to keep and what to bin.

Where should I save my download?

The option "Download in..." is for the saving location - your database.

DevonThink will save all the downloaded content into your database under a folder "Downloads" directly under the inbox.

Moreover, I like to have the first download separated from my live data and therefore I got myself a "download database". Which:

  • is empty and brand new
  • is not be used for life data
  • it will not be synchronised at all
  • will be deleted / replaced with a new database after I have finished download and sorting of data.

The advantage is clear, if you want to download thousands of objects it makes sense to use a kind of temporary bucket. An other advantage is that no synchronisation is made from this database because every time new data get added to the database the sync feature would go on and that will delay the actual download or puts more pressure to your broadband.

Later you will sort your data and put just those into your live database which you really need. I do not think you would need CSS and all HTML, Java scripts etcetera included if you would need only some regulations, laws or other references.

With an empty database you can change and rearrange your data and concentrate to your research only. Once you know which references you like to use you just add them to your live database. Using this way you could just add PDFs only to your live database.

Do not worry, even after copying / moving your downloaded data the links are intact and your files get updated.


The last part are the options of data, temporary folder and connection settings. If you like just images or text only you can choose from the file menu which kind of document you like to retrieve i.e. PDF, Word or Excel files only.


Personally, I like to get all data like a data leech and later I will sort them using intelligent lists or the search function in DevonThink in order to get an overview of which data are available.

Next up is the reference to be followed:

That means which structure should DTPO follow in order to get all data. I use in sub folders.


Please choose here a temporary folder which can be deleted later. This is necessary because data get retrieved and saved by the maximum allowed connection the lower part of the screen.

Maximum connections:

Imagine a kraken with its arms and it will fetch all sort of information from different locations. Somilar is the maximum connection figure. In this case, there are eleven connections simultaneously possible to get all data downloaded.

Clean up your list means actually that all data which got downloaded and saved within DTPO gets deleted from the screen and temporary folder.

Let's carry one!

All settings and option have been applied and now we can got to the main part - the download of your data.

Click on the Plus-Symbol and a new window will appear:


  • Address
    Here you will enter the URL of the website you want to download.
    it is also possible to drag-and-drop or copy-and-past the URL directly into the Download-Manager.
  • Referrer:
    The referrer is optional and is the "way" sort of speak from which a user came from. An example is that you are looking at Google for my website and click then on, so the referrer is Google then.
    Just check the option for automatically and DTPO will do it for you.
  • User and Password
    In the case you like to download content on a restricted site you would need the credentials to access it. An example would be your campus website where you need to login in order to get to your study books or references.

My example

As an example I will use the website in order to show you how the process will work.

Why this?

Well, that is easy to explain. I will use WPML for my blog as a language plug-in and I need all sorts of information - especially manuals - before I can implement it. My current software is free of charge but for that it got some nasty issue which I cannot accept any longer for my readers and I. For example it causes this error 500 on my website and this should change very quickly using WPML.

I need some user manuals and references which will get me started with the plug-in:


Once your URL is entered just press the start button and the download will begin. At the very bottom you will find some information about how many objects needs to be downloaded and how many are already in DTPO. The 11 "active" refers to the number of connection which you have entered earlier.


Additionally, you can see what DTPO is doing within the screen of the Download-Manager - if an object (file or directory) gets loaded or is in the waiting queue and will be processed once one of the eleven connections is available.

Your waiting time really depends on the size of a website and if you have chosen only images or multimedia items under the option menu.

7-1.png 8-1.png

However, if there are thousands of objects and you think your computer and DTPO will work over night, you can easily pause the download when every you like. Next time DTPO starts you will be able to resume your downloads. DTPO will not download from the beginning but resumes from the last position before pausing the process.

"Muck out" your downloads on time

You have now everything from the downloaded website in DTPO and loads of stuff you will either need or want to see altogether.

Lets have a peek in the folder "Downloads" of DevonThink:


The numbers close to the folders are the total number of objects included. Now you got several possibilities to continue:

  1. Do you want PDFs only?
    Then search in DTPO for PDFs and you will get all files within the database which you can move to your live database.
  2. Do you want just a special phrase or word included?
    No problem with DTPO just look for your phrase using the search facilities. After that you can just move the files to your live database
  3. You do not really know?
    Just got through the structure and find your data and information needed.
    I will use this to determine the location of my beloved user manual :-)

The cool thing you will encounter is that if you were looking for regulations or any other data related data the structure is already there :-) and you can move with ease these folders to your live database.

The first folder:


Oh dear! I can see "WP" which means that there are files for Wordpress which I do not need, so I can delete it or leave it alone. There are over 800 objects which I really do not want to touch at all.

The second folder:

"Gravatar" I know this website which provides logos and user names for any comment field in the Internet. So, I am not interested in this and leave it where it is.

The third folder:

Ah Yes! At the first glance you can see there are loads of objects within this folder. All the year folders reference to post or articles within the year. There will be also a subfolder for months:


Well for May this year they did five new posts and the first contains information about compatibility with other plug-ins for May 2017.


Under "documentation" found it now - "my" manuals and how it will work nicely sorted in subfolders according to the usage. Super!



Somehow, I have overseen the "DE" folder:


Now, I got my documentation even in German - what a surprise! :-)

Next surprise for me :-)

Under showcases there are several blogs and webpages which are using the software. Very nice sorted according name and country. That's cool, is not it?

As a result, such data can be used to contact users of the software and ask them questions or get just in contact with them and built relationships.


Such surprises and much more you can encounter with the Download-Manager and therefore my workflow is like this:

  • Download
  • Search and find the information and data needed
  • All needed data gets moved into my live database
  • Quickly screen all folders of the downloads - for surprises
  • Close database once finished and replace it with empty database for next use.

Consequently, all data moved to the live database will be updated automatically as soon as something chances. If you have moved folders and structure all new updates will be there once published by the website owner. Now, you are always up-to-date and do not need to worry about that our data could be outdated at some point in time.

Why do I delete the "Download"-Database?

Well, all needed information are living now in my live database, hence there is no reason to keep information which I do not need or use. The reason of replacing this database is simple, so I do not have to delete all the stuff and get my bin full for nothing. At the end of the day it will be an empty database as it was at the beginning and can be used again for the next download project.


Stephan Hansen-Oest, solicitor and specialised in IT law did a very nice video at Vimeo which will show you this function in action. (German language only - but still you can follow easily :-) )

Stephan has it his own website called Datenschutz-Guru (data protection guru) and gives hints and tips in regards to data protection.

Boring? Not at all! There is a series of checks for consent (agreements) „Einwilligungs-Checks" and do you know his article about given consent to a collection album of Nutella. „Einwilligungs-Check: Nutella

No, then you should have a look on his website because Stephan brings the subject of data protection to a new and exciting level. (For all non-German-speaker: You can use Google to get the translation of websites).

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Do you have suggestions, ideas? Do you like to have more videos for my tutorials then I look forward to your comments.

I hope, I could give you a little insight into automation of data with DevonThinkProOffice and how you can get the most up-to-date external data.

As always, if you have questions just use my contact form or send me an email.