4.1 - Creating a Database

Thus far in this course, we've spent a lot of time on the appetizers related to DEVONthink. We've talked about the plugins and the extras and getting set up with the user interface. 

In this chapter we're getting into the main course. And for DEVONthink, the main course is all about databases, because that's the fundamental unit of data for DEVONthink. With DEVONthink, you can open specific individual databases, where you store all your data. It's within those database containers that DEVONthink works all its AI magic, and basically does its job. 

There are several ways to set up those databases. Some people prefer to make one big database, where they keep everything: personal, work, you know, your kids' school projects. Whatever it is you do in relation to DEVONthink, you just dump it all in one database. I'm not really a fan of that. I wouldn't recommend it because some of the real advantages of DEVONthink is the way the artificial intelligence can work on your data. And when you mix everything in your life into one big pool, the artificial intelligence can get confused and really not be as helpful. 

Moreover, I just like the idea of having different containers for different areas of my life. I'm going to cover my DEVONthink workflows later in this course. But just to give you an idea, as a lawyer, my day job, I have three databases: I have one for my Sparks Law administrative stuff, I have one for client stuff, and one for research. I don't even put that one job into a single database. So that should give you an idea. But enough rambling about that. 

Let's make a database. So to do that, you go to the File menu, and then click New Database. And you're going to get this option to create a new database. And you can see the default location for databases will be in your user account with a folder called Databases. You can put these databases anywhere you want on your Mac, but I usually use the default location. I think that's a great place to put it. What I would not recommend is storing one of these databases on a cloud storage solution like iCloud or Dropbox. They're really not made to be put there. And if you want to synchronize your data, there's a whole separate mechanism for that in DEVONthink that would work way better than just dropping it into a cloud database. 

So I've got a Database folder. I'm going to create a new database, and we're going to call it Apple Research. There is an option as you create the database to add a spotlight index. And I always check that. You want to be able to search those documents using Spotlight. Why not? So you're done. You click the Create button. And that's all there is to creating a new database. 

And you can see it showed up over here on the left side. By default, it populates with some smart rules as soon as I create it. This will be true for any database you create. But I do now have a database. And if you look in the Inboxes, this is all stuff we're going to cover later, you can see there's also the Apple Research inbox. 

So let's take a look at the File menu one more time. And you can see there's another type of database you can create called an encrypted database. So here I've got a new encrypted database I'm about to create. This dialog looks a little different. It is offering to put it in the Databases folder, which is where I want it. I'm going to go ahead and give this one a name. We'll call it Shrink Ray Plans. And you need to add a password because it's an encrypted database, so I'll put a very simple password in that I would never use in a real database. And then you can set a size. And because this is a sparse disk image, you actually need to set the size of it, but you can't exceed it, so you got to be careful when you set these up to make sure there's enough room in it to store whatever data you want. By default, it's one gigabyte, but you can change that here. If I wanted to make it five gigabytes, I could do that very simply. But when you're done, you just click Save. And now it is creating an encrypted database. You can tell it's encrypted because it has this little key next to it. I'm going to right-click on this and then close the database. And then I'll go to open it again. You can see is prompting me for the password. I'll go ahead and type it in. And that's what you get with a encrypted database. 

Now I don't think most people need these. If you're going to sync your data, with DEVONthink there is a separate password system where you have a password encrypted synchronization. But if you do have extra secret details that you don't want to share, you can absolutely put it in an encrypted database. For this course, however, I'm going to be working in an unencrypted database. Regardless, that's all there is to creating unencrypted and encrypted databases in DEVONthink. 

So as you get started, set up the databases for the areas of your life you want to collect information in and apply that artificial intelligence. In addition to creating databases in the File menu, you can also create it in the + (plus) button here in the lower-left corner of the interface. Just click on that, and you can see you can create a new database or a new encrypted database. Creating new databases in DEVONthink is not particularly difficult, but it is the essential first step in building out your data.