DEVONthink 3 for Historians: The Starting Up Guide

Why should I build a database? 

We want you to spend less time searching for documents and more time writing, so we designed this guide to help you create a database and a workflow that will make you more efficient.

Why do you recommend DEVONthink 3? 

With this handy software, you can store and view all your sources in one place, create tags and labels to quickly organize documents, and use Wiki-style links to effortlessly cross-reference your work. Best of all, it has the capability to OCR your scanned documents! The one downside is that DEVONthink products can only run on Mac operating systems.

Why buy the DEVONthink 3 for Historians Starting Up Guide? 

Because this one was created with historians' specific needs in mind, and was written by a unique team: an experienced historian and a business efficiency expert. We've identified the best tools and processes for a historian's research and writing workflows. Our guide includes engaging introductory videos and step-by-step demonstrations that make it easy to learn DEVONthink 3 and set up a database.

There's another reason to use our guide, though--you're learning from our mistakes. We'll help you avoid the frustrations we've had and share the workarounds we've developed.

  • It was like having a friend explain things to you.

    — NM
  • The best part of the Starting Up Guide is the use of concrete examples drawn from scholarly life.

    — Cedric Tolliver
  • The videos provide clear instructions and tips with just the right amount of detail. I wish I'd had these when I began to use earlier versions of DEVONthink years ago.

    — James Tobin
  • Most helpful to me was the section about how to structure the content of the database. I didn’t know how to begin. I was familiar with groups, replicants and some of the other basics, and with searching documents, which I did for years in my law practice. But I didn’t know how to structure the database, how to organize its content. Now I do. That gives me the confidence to start work on the genealogy database that I want to develop to bring order to what is at present a couple thousand mostly unorganized paper documents and scanned copies of some of them."

    — Ken Cohen
  • Your course helped me get up to speed quickly so that I'm ready to use the program for a big project that's about to get underway. Thank you!

    — Elizabeth Sweet

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

Introduction to DT4H
Why Use a Database?
The Researcher's Workflow
The Role of Document Storage
Skills and Techniques for Document Storage
Getting Started
How to Create a Database
How to Work with Your Content
How to Find Your Content
Odds and Ends
How to OCR in Multiple Languages
Wrap Up
You're Started Up!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this only for historians?

No, the Starting Up Guide is useful for anyone who wants to learn how to use DEVONthink 3 to organize their research--you can just tune us out when we start talking about "historiography" and "change over time." However, the Super User guide is more specifically geared towards archival research.

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 Starting Up Guide?

The videos total up to 88 minutes of viewing time, but we recommend budgeting two hours to work through the Guide--you may want to pause the videos and try out some of the tools and workflows in your database after we demonstrate them.

How long do I have access to the Starting Up Guide?

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 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 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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