[Read the Update at the bottom] Evernote was starting to grind my gears when it came to its handling of code snippets, lack of keyboard shortcuts for many things i used often, and finally hitting me how expensive it was, amongst other “little” things that have changed over the years within the app. After reading several “Evernote alternative” lists written within the last six months, these are the things i determined were of the utmost importance to me for a viable alternative:
- Mac and Android apps. Ideally, cross-platform, device agnostic. Essentially i want to have an app for my MacBook and Android phone, as well as my Windows laptop, Amazon Fire tablet, and via a web browser in case i’m on a Linux machine or something. If write anything down on a device, boom, i should be able to do it and have it sync to the rest of my devices. Evernote allows this.
- A tool to easily migrate from Evernote to the new system. Even a guide would do, but definitely not prefered.
- Web Clipper since i’m often saving articles and web pages i come across.
- Ability to organize notes in a multi-level hiearchy. Ideally something more robust than Evernote’s limit to two-level hiearchy. If i needed something more granular, i had to go about it using tags. I employ tags, but tags coupled with the pretty crappy search system of Evernote, it would return way too many notes.
- Encrypted notes or text. Evernote allows for inputting text and encrypting it. It’s handy when i don’t want to have some sensitive material in a note, and don’t have to put it in yet another app. This is going to be the most tricky ask of an app.
- Markdown support out the box. I noticed more and more my frustrations with Evernote had to do with copying and pasting or just writing out code or commands without it breaking formatting.
- Robust keyboard shortcuts. Evernote’s offering is paltry at best. No shortcut to format code.
- Cheaper than Evernote. I’ve been a paying Evernote customer for at least five years. If i could find something cheaper or free, sign me up!
Possible alternatives i looked at are below. I didn’t put anything that didn’t have bullet number one. Even outside of note-taking, i’m not interested in Mac-only or iOS only apps. Besides Highland (but that has a very specific use-case).
Disclaimer: some links may be referal links where you’ll get credits for signing up, as well as me. Without further ado …
Bear – No Evernote migration tool, only a short guide to help. Passed on trying it. MacOS/iOS only for now.
- Microsoft OneNote – I tried it out back in 2016. I had migrated all my Evernote notes to it, but they didn’t get over there as clean or organized as i had liked. Not sure when Microsoft initially posted this message, but according to their site, the Importer tool can still be downloaded and used, but it’s no longer being updated or supported. Not a good sign. They have since made all their premium features free as of at least today, August 2019. Going to pass on going back.
- NoteJoy – Looked interesting. Apps for all platforms. Free plan and then cheaper than Evernote pricing. Has a thing called Libraries and Notebooks. No Evernote migration tool.
- Laverna – It’s open source. Markdown is standard way to input your stuff. No Android app as of August 2019, but the site says it’s coming soon. Decided to pass since no Android app.
- SimpleNote – Evernote (.enex) file importing! Also has importing for plain .txt and .json documents. Apps for iOS, MacOS, Android, Windows, and Linux. Note: for the Mac importing of Evernote files, you have to use the Electron version of the app and not the native MacOS version. This could change. Open source. Found out its created by Automattic — the folks of WordPress fame — and that i apparently at least created a SimpleNote account back in 2018 (it was already in my password manager of choice, Bitwarden).
- Turtl – Encryption/privacy at the forefront. Markdown support. Can even host on your own servers instead of theirs, but that option from what i looked into (FAQs, forums) it was rife with issues. App is on everything but iOS (for now). There’s a web clipper. Decided to pass on it.
- Notion – Has an Evernote migration tool. And a web clipper. And “infinite hierachy” for organizing notes! Kanban board and calendar. A robust free plan. The pricing for an individual, unlimited one is about half of Evernote at $48 paid annually or $5 / monthly. Evernote is $7.99 per month. Markdown support and much more. The amount of content types is astounding. The link about the Evernote migration tool has gifs of many of these things in action.
I downloaded and tried out SimpleNote and Notion after going through all of the above. SimpleNote didn’t offer any organization i wanted, which sparked my memory of when i signed up last year but left them. I decided they wouldn’t be of use for me here as a viable Evernote alternative.
So i moved onto Notion. I was able to easily import select Evernote notebooks, and could see them showing up simultaneously on my MacBook and my phone. I then began a much larger import and left the house to go on a drive (passenger), where i was able to get really in the trenches of using the mobile app how i would Evernote daily. It helped to sell me on ditching Evernote and going full Notion. As i mentioned above, all of my Evernote notes imported to Notion no problem and i am only at about 1/10 of the free plan capacity.
I cancelled Evernote premium, saving myself $96 a year. I’ll still have access to all my Evernote content, but lose device syncing between more than two devices and sharing with people. Not big deals.
I’ll keep folks updated right here if anything changes regarding Notion; but after the last two hours of making sure all my notes imported successfully, doing some moving around of things — it timed out a couple times when attempting to do large notebook imports (like 20+ of about 700 notes) — i’ve been happy with the app. Oh, and i realized that there’s no way to encrypt text in Notion like there was in Evernote. I’ll continue to use Evernote solely for the few notes i had that needed encrypted text. But i will probably switch to Laverna or Turtl for those encrypted note needs since they are much more secure.
I’m glad i finally found a viable Evernote alternative. Let me know your thoughts below. Cheers and peace.
[Update: 2019 August 15]
I was looking into if Notion had a password lock feature like Evernote does for mobile apps — it doesn’t — and i eventually stumbled upon this troubling Reddit thread regarding the Terms of Services (TOS) and essentially the “sub-licensing” Notion is granted with all of your content.
Continuing the search, i found another Reddit thread with a Notion representative saying Notion employees do in fact have access to your data but are legally bound to not look at it. Ha. Reassuring. And Notion doesn’t use end-to-end encryption while data is transferred from your computer to their servers.
As of about fifteen minutes ago, i deleted my workspace on Notion and all its contents.
Currently doing more of a deep dive into encrypted Evernote alternatives.