DEVONthinking with MPU
One of my favorite podcasts, Mac Power Users, has just released a stand-alone show on DEVONthink, the information-management system for Mac that I’ve used for the past five years or so. If you’ve heard of Evernote, which is the system that MPU’s hosts Katie and David frequently talk about, then you know what DEVONthink is.
It’s where all of my files live – notes, articles, podcasts, web archives – and where I store searchable PDFs of every article, syllabus, assignment, book chapter, and everything else I’ve ever consulted or created in the last 20+ years. See that image at the top of this post? It’s a page from an article I photocopied long ago. Now I can search within it, including its footnotes.
Two things I love about it: it creates searchable archives of these materials using OCR; and it does so in a system that is non-proprietary. That’s future-proof: it means someday when the software doesn’t work, I can just drag and drop all of its contents out.
The episode was recorded as an interview with Gabe Weatherhead, who’s done a series of blog posts on the software. He’s used it for about nine years now, and wrote this post on going paperless with this software and a good desktop scanner. (Here’s another post on the same topic.)
Personally I gain nothing from wider adoption of software like DEVONthink, but I really value podcasts like MPU for the way they introduce me to software that helps me work smarter. I think I first encountered it when the author Steven Johnson described it back in 2005 as a system to find similar topics in your personal reference library to the topic you’re working on at a given moment. Ten years later, the software is still going strong and my daily work life happens almost entirely within it.