Tagging in DEVONthink

It isn’t the mountains ahead that wear you out, it’s the grain of sand in your shoe.

DEVONthink has a lot of useful features, one of them is tagging. Whereas it does not support hierarchical tags (like Sente or Aperture does), it is useful nonetheless. Great for literature (to_read, read, topics, articles_for_paper_x, etc.), images (subjects, quality, etc., see Aperture for some ideas), video, and much more.

DEVONthink itself has one huge disadvantage regarding tagging — when you want to tag multiples files that already have tags, DEVONthink does not allow you to assign tags (instead you get the message “Multiple Selection” in the tag field). Might be useful for some purposes, but in many cases (especially if you tag the files later) it is very inconvenient. However, John Sidiropoulos from A Digital Workflow for Academic Research has written a great AppleScript that easily allows you to add tags to multiple files even if these files already have tags that are not the same: Add tags to many DEVONthink items at the same time.

You simply copy the script into a text file, save it, open the Scripts folder in DEVONthink (there is a Scroll Icon between “Window” and “Help”, select “Open Scripts Folder”, go into the “Scripts” folder in the Finder window, create a subdirectory (e.g., “Tagging”), copy the file there, then you only need to select “Update the Scripts Menu” in DEVONthink again.

Afterwards, you can select multiple files, go to the Scroll Icon again, select your script, and enter it. The tag will be assigned to these files.

Super-useful and a great idea by John. 🙂


Read the comment by Paul on how to do it within DEVONthink.


  1. Daniel,
    One way to assign a new tag to a set of files with different tags is to use the Groups & Tags pane. Open the Groups & Tags pane, under the Tools menu, and drag and drop the files onto the new tag you want to add to them. You may have to expand the tag tree first.

    Thanks for taking the time to writeup all the great info you have on your blog.

  2. Hello Paul,

    great, thank you for the comment, I didn’t know that and that’s really useful … and yes, the tag tree has to be expanded — when I tried it out I used the Tag tree of the wrong database and accidentally moved the files into another database. But once I expanded the tags of the right database it worked like a charm 🙂

    Thank you very much and all the best


  3. Hi there,

    I am a fellow DT user. Thanks for this post! Just wondering – do you know if you can sort tags by their frequency? I want to sort from the tag used the most to the tag used the least to figure out my main topics for writing, but I can’t figure out how. Thank you.

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