Academic Lifehacker


Tools and ideas to improve academic efficiency

Windows alternatives for DEVONthink

Many academics who use Macs swear by DEVONthink for organizing their research and files. Over at AcademHack, there’s even an entire category devoted to academic uses for the program.

I was intrigued by the organizational abilities of this program, and mourned my Mac-lessness. However, there are some alternatives for us with PCs. I’ve listed a few of the most promising DEVONthink replacements by price:

EverNote (free)
MyInfo (free 28-day trial, then $50)
AskSam (free 30-day trial, then $150 and up)
Nota Bene (free 30-day trial, then $249 and up)

Any other ideas for DEVONthink alternatives for Windows?

Addendum: This seems to be a current topic! I just discovered this thread over at The Efficient Academic group, which may also lead to some good suggestions.


Filed under: Computer, Files, Mac, Organization, Research, Software, Tools, Windows

28 Responses

  1. […] PC users, Gideon added this comment recommending OneNote, and Academic Lifehacker has a rundown of other […]

    • Prof. George Purdy says:

      One valuable feature of DEVONthink is that it uses a table of synonyms when it does a search. So it would “know” that dog and canine were the same.

      Does anything written for Windows have this feature?

      I don’t want to buy a Mac, but I will if I have to.


      • Bonnie says:

        I am late to the party and see you purchased a Mac. But for the sake of others, when I installed Evernote I opted to allow Google to search my notebooks. That allows me to take advantage of Google’s powerful and familiar search engine, including synonym table. This may be an option for OneNote as well.

  2. […] thought that it could be a good centralized solution to DevonThink for those of us on Windows, with the added bonus of being available from any computer. Sort of like a personal Google […]

  3. Michelle says:

    Google Notebook has some flaws in terms of organization, but if much of your research is coming off the web it’s an excellent way to keep “notes” on the bits of web sites you’re reading. You can highlight single paragraphs off a loooong web page and store them, along with your notes, and a link back to the original (or cached) page. And it’s available from any computer since it’s all linked to your Google account. And, of course, it’s free.

  4. […] > Esiste qualcosa di simile per Windows? onestamente? non lo so. altri lo hanno chiesto qua: http://academiclifehacker.wordpress….or-devonthink/ prova a vedere i suggerimenti — « […]

  5. […] never used, and can’t because I don’t own a Mac.In the comments, someone posted a link to Windows alternatives, which is nice, but, like many people, I find myself working on different computers in different […]

  6. Midas says:

    Although not really comparable with the apps mentioned, you should take a look at cross platform wikidPad

  7. Mipovia says:

    I used EverNote sometime ago, but it got ditched for Microsoft OneNote, for some reason I can’t remember. I believe it was that EverNote takes up a lot of memory and disk space, unlike MS OneNote.

  8. Shava Nerad says: doesn’t advertise as this sort of application, but I use it as such and it’s very inexpensive. It’s more of a mindmapping tool, but the outliner is excellent and links out to documents, urls,…

  9. […] of their favourite programs. Mac users have an array of delightful programs for academic work (DEVONthink, I’m looking at you), but even us Windows users have some favourite standbys. Why make the […]

  10. parezcoydigo says:

    Before I became a Mac and Devonthink user, I wrote my dissertation using Scholar’s Aid- -but that was a number of years ago, and I don’t know if it’s still in development. It offers many of the things I like about DT– hierarchical notetaking and some web integration. It also has a reference manager side that links notes directly to their sources. It was a good program. But, not good enough to go back to Wintel. I’ve written about my DT workflow at –

  11. Bob Johnson says:

    So I’m reading Steven Johnson’s Where Good Ideas come from, and I find now I can’t get Devonthink that he clearly loves dealy.

    Are the alternatives mentioned above truly comparable?

    • kberke says:

      I’m looking at DEVONthink for exactly the same reason–just finished Steven Johnson’s book. And I too am a PC user. Buying a MAC just to try this program doesn’t seem prudent. I’m hoping that Johnson’s book is popular enough that it leads to a PC equivalent.

      • Bob Johnson says:

        I bought a Mac for this program, but use it now only for video editing.

        I use one note from MS Office and it is fantastic. I tried Devon on the Mac and surrendered.

      • Me too. But I was just curious as to what DEVONthink’s capabilities are. I use EverNote and it’s brilliant. Does all I want it to do. The best is that it is on all my devices and so I can take notes wherever I am, clip from web pages, store photos of my hand-written notes etc. etc. I find it pretty good at finding related notes. And its all free.

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  13. There is a bundle to know about this. You made good points also.

  14. John Hammond says:

    +1 for MyInfo. I’ve used it before switching to Mac.

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  16. George Purdy says:

    I decided to buy a Mac, and I like it a lot.

  17. Blair Bishop says:

    I have OneNote and use it but it has limitations – mostly the linear “notebook” data storage metaphor and the fact that it does not paste the text exactly as it is in the original. The white space between paragraphs is missing, so you get a big lump of text all together, which is annoying.

    To simply capture or link to data – any data – I use Personal Brain as it is fast, easy, and more 3D in nature. You can link to almost anything online or on your hard drive. You can also publish your “brain’ online for mobile access.

  18. Adam says:

    MyINFO is the best one i guess. The interface is super cool and its just fun browsing through your system.

  19. Bob Johnson says:

    OneNote is a good program and I have now many sections to perhaps six notebooks. I have a mac and DevonThink, but could not ‘get’ it. DevonNote crossed the radar perhaps three weeks ago, and I think it a good middle ground. The magic of DevonNote is the hot key (mine is F6 – but you can make it what you wish) and the box on note that is begging for tags.

    Tagging. One note I was unable to tag, i.e. create new tags, on the fly. DevonNotes makes it easy. And the hot key lets you bring up a note taker, also on the fly. It automatically titles the note based on the initial sentence and the simple tagging is very helpful.

    I tried to reproduce this feature in OneNote. No luck.

    And the downside of DevonNote is it only works on ….

  20. Cseptima says:

    Does anyone know of any good alternative when you also work with a lot of IMAGES? I need to be able to organize them (and tag them, etc) just like with a text, but the usual programs are not fit for this….

  21. Lennard says:


  22. […] exciting updates and new software have become available since this earlier roundup of DEVONthink alternatives for Windows and this article on building a personal database. The programs on this list of top DEVONthink […]

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