Connecting Evernote And DEVONthink With AppleScript

Over the years, I’ve discovered one thing that almost all of my clients have had in common: They have too much paper in their lives and they desperately want to get rid of as much of it as possible!

People are searching for a workable “Digital File Cabinet” solution. Paper, emails, items clipped from websites — these days, they all need to be in the same place when you look for them (and preferably with the same feeling of solidity that you get from sticking something in a drawer).

Going paperless certainly isn’t without its own pitfalls, but few things are more professionally satisfying to me than seeing a palpable look of relief on people’s faces as we shrink their clutter down to the size of a disk drive.

Right now for Mac users, two of my favorite programs to help tame piles of paper are Evernote and DEVONthink Pro.

Evernote Vs. DEVONthink Pro

Evernote is a fantastic program (a platform, really) to collect and access your information from almost any type of device — and from anywhere that you can get an internet connection. Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, Windows Mobile, Blackberry — you name it, and Evernote probably has a client for it.1

The software and basic service are free, but the more advanced features require you to pay for a subscription. The free offering is quite good, but with its premium service restricting users to 1GB/month of uploading, it isn’t necessarily the best solution for people who have a mountain of paper to digitize.

In contrast, DEVONthink Pro excels at making sense of a really big pile of paper.   Not only can it scan in and index an amount of paper limited only by your hard drive space, but DEVONthink will allow you to organize your files in hierarchical folders (something Evernote has a slightly different approach to with “Stacks”). It also has a sophisticated relational database which helps to uncover connections between documents that you might not necessarily find yourself.  Add in a long history of developing great products for the Mac community and you’ve got yourself a deep, powerful program written to take full advantage of the Apple framework.

In some very specific cases, I’ve actually used both together with fantastic results. For these people (often Academics and Authors), I generally think of Evernote as short-term memory and DEVONthink Pro as long-term memory: They can scoop up bits of information wherever they are with Evernote and then bring them into DEVONthink Pro to take advantage of things like keyword extraction and automatic grouping.

Moving Between Evernote and DEVONthink Pro

Most apps these days allow you to import and export things easily, but keeping your metadata intact — the tags, the dates, etc. — is still often a challenge! People are often afraid to try a new note-taking/organizer program out of fear that, if they don’t like it, they’ll have to start all over and reproduce their work to organize their data when they move it into something else.

Evernote and DEVONthink don’t share their metadata automatically, but I’ve written two AppleScripts which allow you to move large numbers of items seamlessly between them — and which preserves as much of that valuable metadata as possible!

The AppleScripts

One script moves items from Evernote to DEVONthink, while the other moves items from DEVONthink to Evernote.

You should always begin cautiously at first to understand how each script works before moving large amounts of your files around. I use these scripts myself and feel very comfortable with using them, but I cannot accept any responsibility for any data misadventure you might suffer (e.g., Use at your own risk!).  I’d suggest starting with a file or two until you get the hang of things.

I hope these scripts make things easier for you and that they help you try and find the right note-taking program for you. Enjoy!

  1. There’s even an open source Linux Port! []

9 Responses to “Connecting Evernote And DEVONthink With AppleScript”

  1. Sander Datema July 31, 2009 at 10:00 am #

    Thank you for this handy script! On Twitter you asked me to post the errors I got here.
    When importing an RTF file of 0 bytes (which is silly, I know) I get this error from Evernote.

    Unfortunately I wasn’t able to reproduce the “exceeds monthly limit” error.

    • Justin July 31, 2009 at 10:11 am #

      Thanks for the bug report, Sander!

      If you (or if anyone) can reproduce either the “zero bytes error” or the “exceeds monthly limit” error, please let me know in the comments of the script’s page. Your detailed reports help me refine the script and make it better over time…. (hopefully!) ;)

  2. Narcissus September 15, 2011 at 5:55 pm #

    Justin, you are a GOD. Awesome to see that someone has a similar workflow (and idea w/ regard to the short/long-term usage of Evernote & DT).

    Thankfully, you also have the technical skills to do something about it, rather than me who just cried about it for a while then plodded along with a painfully manual system.

    Thanks again!

    • Justin Lancy September 15, 2011 at 6:13 pm #

      Remind me to email you whenever I need an ego boost!!! ;)

      Thanks so much for your kind compliment and for your support of Veritrope.

      • Marc August 24, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

        Justin, Narcissus, what’s your criteria for turning to Evernote or DT? Is it only short vs long term reference? For years I’ve been a big Evernote fan, but I gradually started to get a little bit concerned about privacy… While attempting to picture how DT could fit into my current workflow questions like consolidate search across both platforms and storage criteria (short term vs long term only??) jump to mind… Any article you could point me to? Care to share your thoughts either publicly or privately?

        Thanks in advance!! :)

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