I’ve previously blogged about my (seemingly) neverending quest for the perfect information manager on the Mac (these are also commonly referred to as digital junk drawers). It seemed that every time I tried a new app, there was something preventing me from using it full-time. During the past few months, I’ve tried and used Yojimbo (no hierarchical folders, too much text-based), SOHO Notes (too memory-hungry and slow, doesn’t scale well), EagleFiler (too much filing-oriented – e.g. text edition is external), Mori (only text-based), Notae, Dossier, Journler, KIT, kip (now called Yep), NoteTaker…
Well, I finally caved in and paid for the first one I’ve ever tried:DevonThink.
I guess it all comes down to your own personal use of the software. I wanted to throw in it every bit of information related to a given project – so it had to be able to handle lots and lots of PDFs, images, Word and Powerpoint documents, without flinching or slowing down, but also let me add notes and details about all of these. It also had to let me organize these documents hierarchically (I know there is a tendency to replace filing with searching, but I’ve found it helps me immensely when I can visually relate different part of a project together). DevonThink allowed me to do that, in a fast and efficient way. I must admit I was also influenced by this piece by Steven Johnson, where he explains how he uses DevonThink as a container for meaningful, bite-sized quotes that he can then browse and relate when doing research. It suggests how DevonThink gets more useful the more stuff you put in it (thanks to its semantic relationships), something which is not obvious with all the other apps.
Now, let’s see how it scales… and more importantly, let’s see if I can stick to using a single app consistently 🙂