DEVONthink 3 for Historians: The Super User Guide

What is a Super User?

A Super User is someone who takes advantage of a platform's advanced functions. This guide will teach you how to use DEVONthink 3's most powerful tools and features to save you time and effort.

What are the powerful tools and features will I learn to use from the DEVONthink 3 for Historians Super User Guide?

We will teach you how to use new tools that we created specifically for historians: custom-designed SuperAnnotation templates (for archival documents and select secondary sources) and export scripts that send citation information to Bookends, a reference and bibliography management software. 

We will teach you how to use: Smart Groups, to pull all of your documents together using specific search terms; productivity templates that come with DT3; replicants, so you can have the same document stored in two folders.

What are these custom tools? How will they save me time and effort?

This guide was created with historians' specific workflows in mind. One of historians' most time-consuming tasks is citing archival documents: not only do you have to keep the citation information in your database with your document so that you remember where it came from, but you also have to put it into a reference manager so that you can easily cite when you start writing. So many steps! Thankfully, Ada was able to masterfully and elegantly code us a solution. Historians, rejoice!

We designed the Archival SuperAnnotation template to include special fields where you can type each document's name, author, date, collection, archive, box number, and folder. Then, by using our custom export script, you can send this data into Bookends with one simple step! No need to re-copy what you've already written, or to cut and paste data into each individual field. That's annoying. And too often we put off annoying tasks until an hour before an important deadline, when it becomes both annoying and stressful. Our tools save time, effort, and anguish!

Finally, we'll show you how simple it is to cite your documents using Bookends once you start writing. 

That sounds rad. 

It is. And what's even more rad is that our Super Users told us they wanted to use the same process for their secondary sources, so we added SuperAnnotation templates and scripts for books, book chapters, journal articles, and, brand new in this version of the course, newspaper articles! The templates include fields for the most common Chicago-style citation information for each medium. 

Is there more?

Yes. In this guide we will show you, step by step, how to redesign your workflow from the archive through to the writing phase. Our tips will help you quickly and easily get your notes and your documents into your database, and keep up with the basic maintenance that a database requires. 

What Super Users Are Saying about the Guide

  • Your step-by-step visual presentations are invaluable, as are the PDF screenshots. Your enthusiasm and personable interactions, coupled to your depth of knowledge, are highly engaging! And the SuperAnnotation templates and workarounds are gifts of gold to the DT user. You have done us historians and biographers a great favor. Your tutorials are comparable to crossing a river by the ease of leap-frogging, eyes wide open, from well-placed rock to well-placed rock, as opposed to wading knee-deep through the rapids, via a printed guide book, while wearing a blindfold. Thank you!

    — Charles Davidson

About Us

Avigail Oren is a historian who is addicted to learning new skills. 

Ada Barlatt
is a fun loving, freedom-seeking tech pro who geeks out over systems and loves creating ease with technology.

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Table of Contents

Downloads + Installation
How to Download and Set Up Bookends
How to Download and Set Up Scripts and Templates
How to Download and Set Up Scripts and Templates (V4)
UPDATE: Newspaper SuperAnnotation Template and Script
Annotation + Citation
Using SuperAnnotations
How to Export to Bookends
How to Use Bookends to Cite in Word and Scrivener
Super Searching
How to Create Smart Groups
Other Fun Stuff
Super User Workflows
Two Approaches to the Archive: Low + Slow and Smash + Grab
You are a Super User!
Workflow Consulting

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I purchase DEVONthink 3?

If you have not yet bought DEVONthink 3, you can use this link ( to purchase it. If you use this link, we may earn a small commission on your purchase at no additional cost to you. Remember, if you are a student or work in higher education or for a non-profit organization, you may be eligible for a discount from DEVONtechnologies (

I work in a language other than English. Does DEVONthink support OCR for multiple languages?

DEVONthink licenses ABBYY FineReader to OCR documents within its software. Many languages are supported, but a few are not. For example, Hebrew and Arabic OCR is not part of the language pack DEVONthink has licensed, because adding them would have to be passed on to the customer at a considerable cost. If you want to be 100% sure that your language(s) are supported, please feel free to email us so we can confirm for you.

How long will it take me to work through the Super User Guide?

The videos total up to 60 minutes in length, but you should budget about 1.5 - 2 hours from start to finish--it will take a few minutes to download and set up the scripts and templates and to get Bookends organized.

How long do I have access to the guides?

Forever! Once you've enrolled and paid, you'll have access to the material for as long as you need. So devour it all in one weekend or take things slow. It's your choice!

I'm a broke grad student. Do you offer a student discount?

Yes, we have a 25% discount for grad students. Please email from your academic email address or with a link to your departmental bio and we will send you the code.

What are the terms & conditions of use for the Super User Guide's scripts and templates?

All templates and scripts in the Super User Guide are for use "as is." We have successfully tested them on multiple Mac machines. However, we do not warrant that the technology will work with your machine or that the operation thereof will be uninterrupted or error-free, or that any errors will be corrected.

We are not responsible for any damage or data loss incurred with the use of the scripts. You are responsible for following the installation instructions as well as understanding what the scripts do before you use them. We describe what the scripts and templates do -- and do not do -- in detail within the course.

In short, we have tried our best to provide you with fully operating templates and scripts, however, we can not guarantee that there will not be any problems and we are not responsible for any errors, damage, or data loss that may occur. If you have any challenges installing or using the scripts please contact us, and if you are experiencing any problems with your Mac after installation we recommend you contact AppleCare.

What is your refund policy?

All sales are final, no exceptions. Please make sure you read the entire course website, including the lessons list, before you purchase. If you have any questions, we are happy to answer them! Our contact information is below.

What if I'm unhappy with my purchase?

We want to know! You have the opportunity to leave feedback at the end of the guide. And you are always welcome to email us. Our contact information is below.

We are open to feedback and will strongly consider your suggestions. We are constantly making updates based on our users input.

I still have a question. How can I contact you?

We'd be happy to answer any questions you might have. Send us an email at

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