Keep It

I’m not exactly busy searching for a replacement of DEVONthink (To Go) on my devices. Sure, I’ve been through some unpleasant issues with DEVONthink’s iCloud sync, ending up with the conclusion that I should stick to the older and more proven sync mechanisms for the moment. But still.

When I became aware of Keep It I wasn’t immediately thrilled, to say the least. Many years ago, I have been using Keep It’s predecessor, Together. At that time, Together was an OK Mac app which never got an even halfway decent iOS companion. Even back then, an app of this category was not acceptable for me without an iOS companion.

Fast forward to today: at some point, I decided to give Keep It a try in the most literal sense of the word: by activating the two-weeks trial period of the subscription required to use Keep It.

I have to say I like the design of the app and how well it integrates with the design language currently favored by Apple. However, the app is not as polished as you’d wish. For example, scrolling through a list of entries is not exactly smooth, even on contemporary hardware.

In contrast to DEVONthink, Keep It does not support different databases or different sync stores. It can only sync between devices using iCloud.

Before diving deeper into features that may distinguish Keep It from e.g. DEVONthink To Go, my primary goal during the trial period was to see how Keep It would hold up in very elementary ways (e.g. store, search, organize) in comparison to DEVONthink To Go and whether it could, in theory, replace DEVONthink for me.

Thankfully, Keep It supports the creation of folders inside the database which was an important feature for me in mirroring my current content of DEVONthink databases in an organized way to Keep It.

On top of moving stuff over, I used Keep It in parallel to DEVONthink, i.e. everything that I’d add to DEVONthink was also added to Keep It in order to compare the friction of working with one or the other app.

To make a long story short, the overall experience of putting my stuff into Keep It wasn’t exactly encouraging:

  • Files that had an extension in DEVONthink were given an additional extension on top of the existing one. For example, a file named file.pdf ended up as file.pdf.pdf.
  • File that did not have an extension were not properly recognized but just declared as having the type “data”.
  • The share sheet was unable to store imports in any other folder than the default import location. Files shared to a different folder simply never appeared in that folder.
  • Sometimes individual files would not sync between devices.
  • After sharing a file to the default import location it was not possible to move the file to a specific folder because the target folder inexplicably did not appear in the list of folders offered by the move action. Outside the move action, the target folder was perfectly visible and had all the expected content.

To summarize, I think I’ll pass and maybe have a look again after a couple of updates down the road.