Digital Life: Evernote Alternatives

Evernote Plans

There have been lots of articles floating around the internet this week following the announcement that Evernote was changing its policies regarding how it was handling its accounts. Now, if you want to use the service on more than two devices, you must pay for their premium service to the tune of $34.99/year for their Plus account or $69.99/year for their Premium account though their are offering the Premium account for a year at half price to entice folk over to the paid service.

I’m not exactly a “power-user” of Evernote but I like being able to access notes across multiple devices (iOS, web and home computer) so I think I’ll try to find a different solution sadly. Or maybe a couple different solutions. Sadly, my work computer does not allow me to install any applications so whatever options I choose need to have a web interface.

I have collected some recipes in Evernote over the years but mostly I have various snippets, half-baked ideas, some lists and idea starters and an assortment of links stored in Evernote. I don’t usually use it like a paper notebook, it tends to be things that are copied and pasted from a digital source to a digital source, like URLs or in preparation to be digital content.

Google Keep

I had several folks recommend Google Keep as an option which offers a web based interface as well as an iOS (and Android of course). It has a very “sticky note” aesthetic and allows for checkbox lists, image embeds and categorization labeling. It ends up looking like a tidy wall of sticky notes and has tagging. There is a plug-in for Chrome to automatically add content to Keep from a web site and options to move content from Keep to Google Docs so if you are already entrenched in the Google camp, this might be a good candidate for you.


Microsoft OneNote is another candidate though I cringe at the idea of utilizing another Microsoft product. I’ve already adopted Outlook on my iPhone as a legitimate alternative to Apple’s kludgey Mail app which neither filters junk mail nor handles Gmail with any sort of efficiency so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Microsoft is quietly creeping in with alternatives that might actually be useful. It works across just about every possible platform and looks to be designed to integrate seamlessly with Office products, though for me that’s not as big a selling feature.

Another solution might be to use Apple’s Notes app which is available across the iPhone, iPad and the desktop. Of course, this only works if you’re fully invested in the Apple ecosystem. I am fully invested in the Apple ecosystem but I’m not sure I can take advantage of it at work because I cannot connect the work station to my Apple ID so I can only access it via the iCloud interface via a web browser which does not allow the addition of images as anything other than links. There is minimal formatting options on the web version.


The last option I’m considering is Simple Note. I’ve already been using it to a certain extent in combination with an older version of Notational Velocity (NVAlt) which will sync to Simple Note on my iPhone and the web. Notational Velocity hasn’t been upgraded in years and NVAlt has also been left to languish for some time so the default Simple Note apps and web interface are your safest bet. The biggest downside for Simple Note is the absence of any support for images. SimpleNote does support Markdown and tagging which is nice. But its still a pretty stripped down option in comparison to all the bells-and-whistles with Evernote.

With all of this research, I’ve determined that the bottom line is that I no longer want to have multiple places where my data detritus is saved. Evernote’s ultimatum is forcing me to set aside some time to merge and purge data and files and get them all in one place and then choose one system to use to its fullest extent.

Are you an Evernote user presently? Are you sticking with the service or jumping ship? If you’re leaving Evernote have you chosen a new service yet?

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32 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I, too, have been looking for a replacement for Evernote. I’ve tried the ones you’ve mentioned, and like different things about each of them.

    One thing Evernote does better than anything I’ve found so far is saving webpages for later or offline reading. I will be looking at Pocket and Google Hangouts to see if they will work.

    I just don’t feel I can justify a $35 subscription in the future. Heck, that could buy pens, or paper, or ink, or or or…..

    1. I’ve used Pocket for years and love it. I’m currently switching my Evernote archives of webpages back over to Pocket and using their tagging feature to sort archived web pages. I’d definitely recommend giving Pocket a try.

  2. I have been an avid Evernote user and like you, many of the things I have saved are off the internet. So, I may just start saving those recipes, knitting patterns, and similar items to Pinterest instead. I don’t know what I will do about my notes and documents though.

  3. I use Pocket to collect stuff. It has lousy organizational capabilities, but I can use it wherever I am. Plugs into Safari, Firefox, and Chrome; accessible from the Web, has an Apple app.

  4. I don’t use Evernote extensively, but I do really like the Web Clipper browser plug-in that lets me save whole web pages or pieces of them to Evernote and even annotate them. But I only use it at home and sometimes at work so I think I can continue to skate with the free version.

    I deleted the app from my iPhone a couple of years ago because it refused to stay in sync with the desktop app. It was really handy as a grocery list builder, because I could use my laptop to type it all out and then access it on my phone at the store and be able to check off items as I got them. But the syncing problems ruined that for me.

  5. I think I’m going to stick with the free version of Evernote and have the app on my phone and tablet only, using the web version on my Mac. It will be a pain, but the Mac is where I use it least often at the moment.

    I might try OneNote, but I’m still angry at Microsoft for buying and then shutting down the Sunrise calendar app…

    1. I’m going to try a version of this solution also. If it is too annoying, then I guess Evernote might be worth $35. I use it for web clippings, lists, all sorts of information that I don’t want to lose. Lately I find I use it for work information too, since it is the easiest way to make it available on all my devices and searchable. And it is good to have one central dump, rather than many.

  6. I use Pinterest to save links, writing notes about each thing as aappropriate in the pin text or on the board description. I flirt with OneNote, but at the end of the day I tend to use a regular notebook that I sort of use for everything. OneNote’s clipping feature is nice for when I want to extract figures and such thought.

  7. The only tool that houses full web pages like Evernote seems to be OneNote. Microsoft offers a tool that automates moving everything over from Evernote. For better or worse, I switched. I use OneNote already for work, so it seems good to be consistent. I once used Evernote for work, but had to switch there for data security reasons.

  8. OneNote now has a new web clipper I’ve been using (a Chrome extension) that’s pretty close to Evernote’s clipper. I’ve been using that for articles to save offline that I need for my work/research.

    For curious reading/articles friends post to that I don’t need for work but am curious about, Google Keep’s Chrome extension clipper is faster and easier to use (but it only keeps the web link and not the full article).

  9. I’ve used Notes and Reminders across all my Apple devices for years. I signed up for Evernote and never used it.

  10. I’ve never been a big Evernote user so the changes don’t affect me, but I have been using Google Keep the past few weeks and I’ve enjoyed it. I like the fact that it is available across multiple devices and platforms and doesn’t lose any functionality because you’re using it on a certain platform.

  11. I was so disappointed when I heard the announcement because I’ve been a happy Evernote user for many years. I somewhat reluctantly imported all my Evernote notes into One Note, just to see what it was like, and the import process was so seamless and painless that I decided to embrace it. I’m already sucked into the whole Office thing anyway, so what’s one more? 😉 I do also like that One Note integrates with the rest of Office nicely.


  12. I’ve used Evernote a good bit over the years, but this change is driving me away. Although if I can access it over the web and not have it count as one of my two devices, that might mitigate the damage somewhat.

    I’ve also started using Pocket some, but it’s not nearly as useful for me as Evernote. My bookmarks are synchronized across all my PC browsers, so that helps some.

    Speaking specifically about recipes, I’ve been using Pepperplate for several years, and it’s definitely my go-to site/phone app for food. For the biggest recipe-heavy web sites, you can just enter the URL and it imports the entire recipe. You can also enter them manually from other sites, but that’s a lot of effort for someone as lazy as I am. 🙂

    But Pepperplate is definitely my main tool for recipes.

  13. I’ve used Outlook since the ’90’s when I first got it at work. I’ve synched my handheld devices to it from the first (that first one being a Palm Pilot). I no longer use Outlook for email. I’ve used the “Notes” portion of the full Outlook program extensively. I have hundreds of them. It is very basic, just text, no photos, etc. I run the full Outlook program on my home PC. I use an app called Deja Office on my Android phone (Nexus). The desktop version of Deja Office syncs my phone and tablet with the desktop Outlook program.

  14. Have you looked at Trello? The free app is pretty appealing. It has web, iOS and Android functionality.

    I haven’t had a chance to play around with it much, but it seemsich more intuitive to me than Evernote does. They tout it as a kind of a project management and collaboration tool, but I can see using it for household management and info recording as well.

  15. I have years’ worth of content stored in Evernote, so switching would be a pain. I think $35 is nominal enough, end Evernote is worth paying something for, for me.

  16. Like many here, I’ve been an avid Evernote user for many years. I used it enough that I started paying for the service about 5 years ago. With all the hubbub created with the most recent changes, I decided to once again evaluate my needs.

    After much thought, I really don’t see anything that is truly equivalent. I already use OneNote, but more as a paper notebook replacement and not for web clippings, research, and the like. Not to mention that I have over 5000 notes in Evernote. Would I need them all? Doubtful, but culling my notes at this point would be a monumental task.

    At the end of the day the only thing you need to ask yourself is whether or not it’s worth the cost. For some it won’t be. For others the value is there. It’s not much more than many entertainment services like Netflix, Spotify, Google Music, etc. and people somehow find ways to justify that.

  17. Nimbus Note is closer to Evernote in functionality. Same ideology. Neither Google Keep nor One Note are helpful if one uses Evernote on a large scale and not only as web clipper. If I used it at work, I would have bought Evernote Plus (or Premium, esp. considering that in my country it’s cheaper than in US), but just for personal use – I don’t know. Also I do not like Evernote all that much right now – comany’s decision, while totally legitimate (it’s their program, after all), still colored the experience negatively. Man, it’s difficult to live in 21 century :).

  18. I have used Evernote for several years now. After putting some much “stuff” that I wanted to save I.e. Recipes, photos, notes… I was forced to upgrade. There is no going back now since I can’t find an app that works as well across platforms.

  19. I’m in the exact same boat you are, Ana. Thanks for posting on this. I use EverNote on about 9 devices (including family devices where I act as tech support) and really, really like it but I’m not thrilled with the idea of paying that much, yearly, to use it. My notes are mostly really random clips, cut & pasted text and URLs and other random digital notes to myself. I’ve used OneNote and am not thrilled with it, either, but it works pretty well for quick capturing. I use the Android/Windows ecosystem and no Apple devices, just out of preference and job-provided technology. Didn’t know about Google Keep, will look into it. Haven’t settled on a new system yet or ruled out EverNote, but will comment again when I do. Like you, I use my paper/pen/pencil notebooks for other regular activities, so it’s the digital aspect of EverNote that’s important to me. Thanks again for bringing up the topic. It’s very much an important Every Day Carry thing!

  20. I’m another disenfranchised evernote free version user. I appreciate your breakdown of the options. I’m going to look into onenote since I already have it on my pc.

  21. A bunch of new apps for note taking just dropped recently. Buno (my personal fav), Bear and Better Notes.

  22. The problem with switching to almost anything from Evernote is that Evernote is well-intergrated with automation services like IFTTT and Zapier. I haven’t found antyhing else to match. For instance, IFTTT will recognize bills or receipts in my email and automatically clip and file them to the proper Evernote notebook.

    That being said, I am now working with DevonThink. For those of you on the Mac platform who think it would be a pain to get years of digital content out of Evernote, give DevonThink a try. It will import everything from Evernote without a hitch, and searching is better. There is only a pretty poor prototype of an iOS app right now but an awesome iOS app is set to be released later this year (I have heard from people who are part of the beta trial).

    Also, if you like the Simplenote/nvAlt solution and can live with tetfiles only, do not despair. Brett Terpstra, the author of nvAlt, is currently in development with a successor, BitWriter, which promises to be awesome.

  23. You shouldn’t need to change from Evernote, as web doesn’t count as a device. So your 2 devices are your phone and your home computer, and you can use the web interface from any other computer or tablet.

    From Evernote’s site:

    Device limits apply only to the following Evernote products:

    • Evernote for Windows
    • Evernote for Mac
    • Evernote for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch
    • Evernote for Android
    • Evernote for BlackBerry
    • Evernote for Windows Phone
    • Evernote on Android Chromebook
    • Evernote on desktop virtual machines of Mac and Windows

    Other Evernote products, and third-party apps that use the Evernote API integration, aren’t affected by device limits. Examples: Evernote Web, Evernote on Apple Watch, Evernote for Windows Touch, Web Clipper, Skitch, and Penultimate.

    1. Oh. I am wrong about using the web interface from a tablet.

      If I had kept reading further down, it says, “Evernote Web is not optimized for mobile browsers. Because we want you to have the best experience possible, you must install Evernote from your mobile device’s app store.” So there’s a limit if you typically have it on your phone, tablet, and computer.

  24. I’ve been searching for a replacement for my note-taking application of choice (Circus Ponies NoteBook) since it was announced that Circus Ponies was shutting down. I had considered Evernote, but I had not pulled the trigger on starting to switch data (because Notebook still works for the time being). This change in how Evernote works stinks.

    The Google solution looks interesting, but Google has a very bad track record of killing projects with little warning.

    Sad to say (because I really don’t want to get wed to another Microsoft product), I am also considering OneNote. I’ve heard that OneNote is uneven over different platforms.

    I’ll be interested to see what options others suggest.

    1. Follow-up: OneNote is a no-go for me. The Mac implementation is seriously flawed. You can not save files locally on a Mac – everything has to be in the cloud (and there’s no support for dropbox – everything has to be in Microsoft’s OneDrive). These and other lesser issues (for me) are enough to make me look elsewhere.

      Since I use Macs, Windows and iOS devices, a good cross-platform solution would be nice, but I am starting to think that I may have to continue to do my note taking in an Apple-centric fashion (NoteBook was only Mac/iOS, but it worked so well that I was able to overlook the lack of a Windows solution). I’m starting to consider going with OmniOutliner, but it lessens the ability to do things like clipping webpages that I enjoyed in NoteBook and that others like with EverNote.

      1. in the pc version onenote comes in 2 flavours the windows 10 app that only permits storage in the cloud, or the office 2016(and older) versions that allows for local or cloud storage. Onenote is free and has versions for almost every devices. Unfortunately the various device forms of Onenote aren’t identical. I understand that Microsoft is working toward that goal. Evernote has some advantages and different approaches but Onenote does almost everything and more. I never fully explored Evernote as always working through a browser and some functions didn’t appeal to me. Syncing has dramatically improved so if you were frustrated with ON a few years ago you should take another look.

  25. I was a late and reluctant convert to Evernote precisely because of its Safari web-clipper. But that extension operates so erratically and inconsistently (when it operates at all) and Evernote has been so apparently unsuccessful at resolving the problem (which is widespread and dates back 2 years; check their discussion forum) that I bit the bullet and switched to OneNote. It’s getting the job done.

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