Keep It, Take 2

Today saw the release of DEVONthink 3.5, at a time where, admittedly, I was personally hoping the company would be in the process of significantly overhauling DEVONthink To Go for several months now. That does not seem to be the case, at least not full steam ahead.

Don't get me wrong, DEVONthink To Go is a really good product. However, there are some things that bug me for a while already, for example the seeming inability to customize the preview of markdown content. Yes, there are documentations of some quite hack-ish solutions that are
1. ugly
2. never worked for me

At the same time, markdown preview works very well in DEVONthink on the Mac.

A couple of weeks ago, as part of my habit of keeping up with products I've had an eye on before I had a closer look at Keep It. My first impression of the app, two years ago, was rather disappointing. At the time, Keep it had so many issues for me that I was eager to see what improvements have been implemented since my first contact.

In short, I'm impressed. Very impressed. The list of issues I documented in my last article about Keep It is entirely resolved.

Contrary to last time, importing my stuff (approximately 4000 Documents of various file types) went very well. Initial sync between devices took some time, but after that everything was fine.

Scrolling through even long lists is very smooth. It is possible to display the number of items in a folder, and (very much appreciated) it is possible refrain items in subfolders to also appear in the list of the parent folder.

The share sheet allows for storing items in arbitrary folders, as opposed to DEVONthink where imports go the “Inbox” folders of each data base, from which they have to be moved to their final location.

Preview of markdown content is fully (and very easily) customizable, but the developer did not stop at the customization of the preview. It is also possible to (again, very easily) customize the color scheme of the plain text editor within Keep it.

Search is fast and generally effective, saved searches allow for setting up a similar experience to the landing screen in DEVONthink To Go. There's plenty of meta-data (source, tags, comments) for items in Keep It.

My only complaint is that it is sometimes hard to find the settings dialogs for various aspects of the app. In the list view, for example, it is necessary to switch into “edit” mode before a settings cogwheel appears for customizing the experience.

I'd probably prefer a central settings dialog to Keep It's decentralized approach, but maybe that's just my personal preference.

Also, the app crashed on me several times, but at least for now, I never lost any data in response to a crash.

In summary, my impression is that DEVONthink on the Mac is still ahead of Keep It, but not by a large margin. On iOS, I actually prefer Keep It over the somewhat dated DEVONthink To Go experience.

On the other hand, I'm still on the fringe about whether or not I should flip the switch and use Keep It instead of DEVONthink. Document management is a big deal, and I cannot afford data loss1.

I'm still holding out my hopes for DEVON Technologies to release a redesigned version of DEVONthink To Go at some point in time, although maybe not in the near future2. And I expect this redesigned version to be good.


  1. DEVONthink for Mac supports an “Export” of data bases as a way to create backups. 
  2. Frankly, until today I was expecting the new version of DEVONthink Tp Go to be released shortly before WWDC, but I'm less confident now.