Tuesday Tip: Editing options in DEVONthink

OpenExternallyIn DEVONthink, if a type of file can be edited in DEVONthink, it will open in a DEVONthink document window when the file is double-clicked. This makes it easy to isolate a document for editing while allowing you to keep your place in the other window. It also allows you to keep working directly in DEVONthink without having to jump back and forth between applications.

If a type of file can’t be edited in DEVONthink, double-clicking will open the file in the system default application. For example, you can display an Excel spreadsheet but can’t edit it. Double-clicking will open it in Excel. Make you changes, save the file, and when you return to DEVONthink, the changes should be displayed.

In the case when you have a document that can be edited in DEVONthink but would like to open it in the default application instead, you also have the option of pressing Shift-Command-O. Or you right-click the toolbar and add an Open Externally button. The name of this button will dynamically change, depending on the type of file selected.

(The question will arise: Can I change this behavior? The answer is: no. The behavior was changed some time ago in response to users’ desire to work within DEVONthink as much as possible.)

19 Responses to “Tuesday Tip: Editing options in DEVONthink”

  1. Leonardo says:

    the correct way to implement this would have been to let the user decide which type of document to edit with which application. This can be implemented in many ways, for instance as a set of preferences. Then users preferring to work inside Devon could do so, while users preferring to work with application X for documents of a type that could also be handled by Devon could equally work in their preferred way.

    Happily, it’s not too late to do things right.

    Kind regards,

  2. Jim Neumann says:

    As stated, the current behavior is in response to the majority of User demands. Also, we do not see adding more preferences to an overloaded set of preferences as a good option for our Users. Cheers!

  3. Patrick Linehan says:

    You left out the easy way to open in an external application: right click on the document and the pop-up menu gives a list of all external applications that can open the document.

  4. Jim Neumann says:

    Indeed, that is also an option if you are wanting to choose an app other than the system default. Thanks.

  5. Marc says:

    Was just looking into this and since I prefer my external PDF app, it would be a tremendous help to add this preference again in the future. Cheers!

  6. Jim Neumann says:

    As noted in the article, this was a majority decision and our prefs are already overflowing. Not likely to change any time soon.

  7. Chad Michael Eyer says:

    For what it’s worth, having documents automatically open DEVONthink in the manner is one of the few complaints I have about using DEVONthink. I too would prefer to open documents in the correct external application by default.

  8. GM says:

    I think having a single toggle option of “Edit in DevonThink” vs “Edit with the system default” wouldn’t “overload preferences” and empower uses to be able to operate the way they desire. Then the cmd-shift-o shortcut would simply do the opposite of whatever this setting is.

    I too prefer to use external applications. It’s great you responded to users’ requests however you didn’t listen to all the users that didn’t file a request for this to change…

  9. Jim Neumann says:

    “however you didn’t listen to all the users that didn’t file a request for this to change…” :: Actually, yes we did.

  10. Bart Buijs says:

    It is unclear to me why some DT Pro records cannot be edited, even though it appears af if they can.
    One of my uses of DT Pro is to selectively save e-mails. It is as simple as dragging from Apple mail to DT. But…….
    The attachments are included and many times I do not want that. (they are images that I put in my DAM).
    I find that no editing possibility offer a solution. Yes, I can open the copied message in DT using Apple Mail, but I cannot edit (eg. remove the bulky attachments.).
    Or can I?


  11. Jim Neumann says:

    This is not a Support Channel, but emails are not editable.

  12. Fabien A says:

    ” Can can I change this behavior? The answer is: no. ”

    Too bad : that’s precisely what preferences are made for…

    In my case, DEVONthink editing tools are of no use : the preview is enough, but I frequently need to use more powerful functions.
    On top of that, for right-handed people at least Shift-Cmd-O as a shortcut means I need to leave the mouse. Neither this or the right-click option is good for productivity.

  13. Jim Neumann says:

    Our preferences are overloaded as it is, so adding yet another preference is not a good idea.
    What more “powerful functions” in what kind of files?
    I am right-handed and the second it takes to hit “O” is not much of a productivity loss IMO.

  14. J. Anders says:

    “I am right-handed and the second it takes to hit “O” is not much of a productivity loss IMO.” :: LOL, that was superprofessional.

  15. Kurt Seiffert says:

    I too wish there was a preference, but only because you seem to have violated your editor rule with regards to markdown documents.

    If I double-click on a markdown file with the extension .md, then the it opens into a DevenThink editor window, but I can’t modify any of the markdown. (Which is good because it is rendering it rather than showing the text.)

    Is this a bug or an exception to the rule?

  16. Jim Neumann says:

    It’s not a bug (nor does it “violate our editor rule”). You are viewing the rendered Markdown. Choose View > Text Alternative (or press Option-Command-P) to go into Edit mode.

  17. Jon says:

    I’m slightly reluctant to post, given the responses, but anyway…

    I would absolutely love it if it was possible to set the default application that opened PDFs could be set to the system default (Acrobat, in my case). DT’s annotation functions are just not up to my requirements and it is a pain to either to have to click the ‘Open externally’ button, to right-click and ‘Open with’ or to remember a keyboard shortcut. I’ve already lost count of the number of times I have double-clicked the file only to have the DT editor open, have to close it, then have to remember one of the above ways of actually doing what I want. Please, please, please, just one more preference option!

  18. Jeff says:

    I have a PDF-file in Devonthink and when I double click it, it doesn´t open in the DEVONthink document window but in Preview instead.
    How can I open it in the DEVONthink document window?

  19. Jim Neumann says:

    @Jeff. In order to best serve you and have a record of this issue, please start a Support Ticket at http://helpdesk.devontechnologies.com, ZIP and attach the PDF. Thank you.