5.3 - The DEVONthink Inboxes

One issue of confusion for a lot of folks with DEVONthink is the idea of inboxes. The fundamental precept of DEVONthink inboxes is that there's one inbox per database. 

In this case, I've got two databases, one for Apple Research and one for Windows Research. I'm going to hit the little disclosure arrow next to Inboxes and you'll see underneath it, there are three. There is the global inbox, which I'm going to talk about in a minute. And there's the Apple Research inbox and the Windows Research inbox. And a lot of behaviors, by default, will put things into the global inbox. For instance, I'm going to grab this press release, and I'm going to pull it down to the Dock and put it on DEVONthink. And you can see it just went into the global inbox. But then I can sort it from there to the inbox specific to Apple, which is the Apple Research inbox. I'm just going to drag it over. And now I've moved it into the Apple Research inbox. 

And this whole idea of multiple inboxes can be confusing, but it really isn't that bad. You've got one global inbox to collect everything that's unsorted, and then you've got individual inboxes on a per database basis. And the advantage of that is that you can set up specific rules and groups and a bunch of smart automation based on things that land in certain inboxes and things that get in certain databases. And by having the inbox is separate, that gives you that option. 

Now I'm going to go to the Preferences for DEVONthink. So I'll go up to DEVONthink. And then Preferences.... I could also hit Command + ,(comma) for this. And I'm under the General tab. And you can see by default, it says, "Unify inboxes". Now if I unclick that and then I close it, you'll see that there is just a single inbox, and then below the inboxes for the databases are stored with them. I don't like that. I actually like the unified inbox. It makes it easier, and I think it's probably the preferred way to use the application, so I'm going to turn that on. 

Now earlier, I explained how when you copy an item into DEVONthink, quite often it will, by default, put it into that global inbox, but that's also a behavior, you can change in the Preferences. So I'm going to go to DEVONthink, into Preferences..., and then Import. And you can see here is where they set it. The global inbox is the default recipient for new data. But if you'd like, you could say, "Select group", and then it's going to give you a different behavior. So for instance, I'm going to take this "Today at Apple", drag it down to DEVONthink. And now instead of just putting it into the global inbox, it gives me options. I can put it into one of the specific inboxes for the databases. I can even put it into the groups for the individual databases. I'm going to put this one in the Apple Research. And then I can also apply tags and do searches and even change the name, if I wanted. I'm just gonna click OK. And now you'll see that down here in the Apple Research database, that got added. So if you want to do the sort when you import, just leave that turned on. 

Let me give you another example. I've got some files here for the Windows Research. So I'm going to take this one, I'm going to drag it down below to the DEVONthink icon. And you can see once again, I can put it into the Windows Research inbox or to the Windows Research library. I'll put this into the inbox and click OK. And now if I go to the Windows Research inbox, you can see there it is. I've got a website to go with it. I'm just going to drag it straight into that box. Now I'm going to go back to the Preferences and turn off that sorting. So under the Preferences..., Import, and we're gonna say, "Global inbox", because there are a couple more inboxes for DEVONthink you should be aware of. 

Now, I'm not done with DEVONthink inboxes yet because there's a few more you should be aware of. And the next one is in the Finder. So I'm going to select the Finder. And I'm going to go to the View menu and say, "Show Sidebar". And if you look at the sidebar, you can see that I have way too many folders saved, but at the very bottom is one called Inbox. Well that's the DEVONthink inbox. So we're gonna go back to the press releases and find my favorite trumpet player and drag him onto the inbox and Finder. And when I do this, watch what happens. There is he. He showed up in DEVONthink. So by moving files into the inbox on the sidebar in Finder, you can move them directly into the inbox in DEVONthink. And because I turned off that manual sorting, it automatically put him in the global inbox. 

There's one more place to do this. Let me open Pages. So here I am in Pages with a document here, a little speech from Samuel Clemens, Mark Twain. And I'm going to duplicate it. So I'll hit File, Duplicate. Then I'm going to save that. And it's going to give me options to save it with the same dialog box. I'm going to go ahead and hit this disclosure. That'll give me the full enchilada here and I scroll down. See, there it is, again, the Inbox. So if I saved the inbox from there, not in the Finder, but from the save dialog box, then I go ahead and close this, and that, you'll see, in my inbox, there it is. The Pages document showed up in my inbox in DEVONthink. 

So no matter where you're working on your Mac, you can always send documents and files straight into that global inbox via the inbox save item in both the save dialog box and the Finder. I know this can be confusing because you have multiple inboxes in the application, and multiple ways from outside the application to save to DEVONthink, but this really isn't that difficult. Just decide which boxes you're going to use based on which databases you have, and put your inbox items there. And when you're outside of DEVONthink and you're working in the Finder and you want to get something in DEVONthink, just drag it into the inbox. If you're working in any application, you want to save a file to DEVONthink, just save it to the inbox and everything will be there the next time you open DEVONthink.