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How to Version Documents

May 14, 2024 — Jim Neumann
Screenshot showing an item list in DEVONthink containing the custom versions group with versioned documents.

There are times you may want to preserve a document in its current state before making further changes. But you don’t have to duplicate your documents by hand and assign odd names, because DEVONthink has a smart rule for generating versions of a document for you.

If you look in the Smart Rules section of the Navigate sidebar, you will see one named Create Versions. Double-click the smart rule to edit it. You will see it targets any document without an Automatic Version tag in all open databases. The smart rule will…

  • Duplicate the document.
  • File the duplicate in a Versions group at the root of the database.
  • Add the Automatic Version tag.
  • Add a timestamp to the duplicate’s name.
  • Lock the document, so it can’t accidentally be deleted from the database’s trash.

To create a new version of a document, drag and drop it onto the smart rule. To run this automatically, you will need to add another event trigger. Click on the plus next to Perform the following actions and add the event trigger Before Saving or After Saving to generate a copy of the document in the state before or after your edits. Try each individually to determine which suits how you work and think.

Some other things you may want to edit:

  • You can change the Search in drop-down menu to point to a specific database or group, as needed.
  • You can modify the File action to change where versions are stored. For example, prefixing the Location placeholder on the path will create the Versions group in the same group as the modified document. Adding the Name placeholder will create a subgroup to house the versions for each document you edit.
  • Make any other metadata changes, e.g., label colors, ratings, custom metadata, etc.

There is also a related smart rule, Remove Obsolete Versions that helps clean up old versions. Double-click it and add an event trigger so it will run automatically. Daily or Weekly would be the most useful.