Email Labels with DEVONthink Archiving

I use DEVONthink as my “knowledge management system” and one of the things I do with it is to archive my email. The great thing about the archiving feature is that you know that you always have a copy of everything as it never deletes email (it’s not a sync solution, it’s an archiver).

The challenge is using it when you have a Gmail account (or in my case, a Fastmail account with labels) and you apply multiple labels to an email. In an IMAP client like Apple Mail you will get multiple copies of the email based on how many labels you’ve applied to it. DEVONthink by default however won’t put multiple copies of the email in folders.

When DEVONthink’s mail archiver is working its way through your email folders during the archive process it won’t reimport mails it already imported because each email is assigned a unique identifier called a UUID. A database in DEVONthink can’t have the same UUID more than once. So if you have an email labeled “foo” and a second label “bar” after archiving you would only find the copy in “bar”. For some this might not be a problem but when I apply multiple labels to an email I want to be able to find it in those places whether I’m using the Gmail/Fastmail website, Apple Mail, or looking at my archive in DEVONthink. There is a solution - replicants!

DEVONthink has a feature called replicants which are essentially aliases to existing files. They let you have a file live in multiple places but there is only really one copy of the file. For mail archive there is an option to allow reimporting of emails using replicants.

To turn on this option open the DEVONthink menu and select Preferences. Select the Files icon then click the Emails tab. Finally, click Previously imported will become replicants.

Now you can see emails the way you do in Gmail/Fastmail!

Jason Kratz @jasonekratz