Notes on Notes and a Farewell to Evernote

Evernote cites ‘building the Evernote of tomorrow’ as one of the reasons for the price increase. The problem is, we as users really haven’t seen much of a change in their service.  For example, using Evernote as a basic notetaker is still a fairly painful experience. Exporting and sharing documents from Evernote is not as easy as it should be. I’m all for innovation, but asking the users to pay for it before you deliver is going to be a tough sell.

Katie Floyd, long-time Evernote user.

That’s a really good take.  I’ve been a Premium Evernote user for many, many years.  But even before this latest price increase, I’d cancelled my auto-renew, and moved my Notes to Apple’s Notes app.  The Notes app needs a lot of work, but Apple is chipping away at it.  And the fact is, I don’t really need a lot of bells and whistles on my note taking app.  I need two things.

One, the ability to file, manage and find as needed pdfs and other files, as a digital file cabinet for my paperless archival system.  For a long time I used Evernote for this.  Over time I realized I don’t need a separate, dedicated app for archiving and accessing documents.  Finder on my Mac, combined with Dropbox on all my devices, does this as well or better than Evernote.  Sure, I have to pay for Dropbox, but I’m going to do that anyway, so Evernote feels like an unnecessary spend.

Two, a simple but reasonably featured note taking app to take and keep notes for quick reference and some projects-in-progress.  Apple’s Notes app does this well enough.  It doesn’t handle pdfs perfectly, but it handles them well enough for quick reference purposes, again with the heavy archival lifting done via Finder and Dropbox.  And as bad as Notes is with pdfs, it handles them way, way better than OneNote.  I tried for 2 weeks to take notes and manage project materials in OneNote.  It just didn’t work for me.  At all.

So my current workflow is based on my ScanSnap scanner, scanning to designated folders, viewed and managed via Finder and backed up and synced via Dropbox.  With quick notes and oft-used reference cards residing in the Notes app.  Oh, and Google Keep serving as a free and handy cross-platform clipboard as needed.

Before today, I figured I’d continue to use my free Evernote account for something.  But the 2-device limit makes that infeasible.  I’m not mad at Evernote for trying to make more money.  I understand.  It’s just that the price hike on the heels of so little feature advancement leads me to pass.

Good luck Evernote, we had a good ride.

Christmas Comes Early: Evernote Has Folders!


I’ve moved from an Evernote evangelist to an Evernote activist and back to a happy Evernote customer, all thanks to the inexplicable absence and now presence of folders within its desktop app.

Without rehashing the dark and bloody past, and asking what in the hell took so long and whatnot, let’s move straight to the good news.

The just released version 4.1 of everybody’s favorite information storage and retrieval app finally lets us organize notebooks in folders.  They are called Stacks in the app, but that is just semantics.  Folders are here, and I am happy!


See the little white arrow to the left of “Work” up there?  Click on it and the Notebooks in the folder magiciliously  expand.





The process is a little kludgy.  When you create a Stack, by right clicking on a Notebook, you don’t get the opportunity to name it right away.  The selected Notebook gets added to a generically named “Notebook Stack.”  You can then select (important step), right click and rename the Stack.  It’s not elegant, but doggone it it’s folders.

The upgrade process was also a bit of an adventure.  I upgraded at work, and things went swimmingly.  After updating, I quickly made some Stacks.   When I upgraded at home, things went a little amiss.

First, my app somehow ended up in an Asian language very much indecipherable to me.   So I deleted that installation and reinstalled from scratch.  I got my English back, but the Stacks I created at work did not sync over.  I am apparently not the only person having this problem.

Someone suggested deleting your local Evernote database and resyncing (IMPORTANT NOTE: copy and paste or otherwise preserve your local, non-synced Notebooks somewhere before you do that; I learned that step the hard way when I reformatted my hard drive a few months ago).  I tried that, but it didn’t work.

So I had to recreate my Stacks.  That’s a little bit of a drag, but it doesn’t change the fact that…

Evernote has folders.


How to Make Everything Better: Evernote Edition

There are a lot of cool services and applications on the internet- no doubt about it.  I use a lot of them, and they make my life easier, more organized and more fun.  But they can be better.  And I’m going to tell you how.  This is part 2 of the series.  We’ve already made Google better.

imageI am an everyday user of Evernote, a web service and software application that lets users collect, organize and access notes and information.  I gladly pay $45 a year for the Premium version and have written about Evernote extensively.  My affection for it is well known.  But not unlimited.

There is one feature Evernote absolutely must add, and several that it should add.

Let’s start at the top.

Folders.  Why in the name of Elvis, Jesus and Coca Cola won’t the Evernote developers add the ability to group your notebooks in folders!?  This is a mind boggling omission.  And don’t talk to me about tags.  Tags are poor man’s folder, but why do we have to settle for that?  It does not have to be an either/or equation- we should have both.  The fact that I can’t organize my rapidly expanding number of notebooks into folders is a nagging irritation that simply should not exist.

If you have a few notebooks, you probably don’t miss folders.  If you have been conditioned to dutifully tag everything you add so you can pull the right sock from the laundry pile, good for you.  But if you are a power user, you need folders.  Or at least the ability to have them.

I have teens and teens of notebooks.  For work, home, family, tech, this blog, songwriting, and everything in between.  I want 5-6 top level folders, with subfolders underneath.  If you, like me and 99% of the rest of the computer using world, are coming from the land of Microsoft where folders are abundant, the lack of folders is a real drag.  A big, stinking, unnecessary and annoying drag.

Thus, the Evernote developers should stop all other projects and devote all of their time to implementing folders.  In fact, here’s a deal:  I’ll buy 5 Evernote Premium 1-year subscriptions and give them away to Newsome.Org readers if Evernote adds folders by Thanksgiving.  How’s that for putting my money where my feature request is?  Want to win a free Evernote subscription? Email Evernote (via this page) and demand folders.  Tell ’em Kent Newsome sent you.  Tell them we won’t rest until this wrong is righted.  Give us folders or give us OneNote.  And all that.

After we win that battle, there are a few more improvements to put on the to do list.  Oh, like a full featured “to do” list function, with email reminders.  While a “to do” list is a little different from a standard notebook, it would be intuitive and convenient to manage your to do list within Evernote.  Currently, you can manually create a to-do list, but it would be much better to have ready made “to do” list functions built in.  With that, we’ll need a calendar.  It doesn’t have to be a Google Calendar equivalent; it would be fine if it just showed your upcoming “to do” deadlines.  Or perhaps a Google Calendar widget that would show your Google Calendar in a side bar, with the ability to automatically add “to do” deadlines to your Google Calendar.

You can currently drag notes from one notebook to another.  What you can’t do is change the order of notes within a notebook.  We need to ability to drag notes both between and within notebooks.

The Evernote desktop software is elegant and, except for the aforementioned lack of folders, almost perfect.


The web version, while completely functional, is not as elegant.  It would be better if the web version looked, felt and operated identically to the desktop version.  This is not a huge issue, since I have Evernote’s desktop application on all my computers, but it would be nice.


The Evernote Web Clipper makes it easy to grab all or part of your screen and send it to Evernote.  I want the clipper to be more robust, with the ability to edit and annotate the clip before sending it.  One mandatory improvement: all web clips should go to your default notebook (“Inbox” in my case) rather than the most recently accessed folder.  Emailed content works that way already, so it should be easy to have clips work the same way.

From within notes, I’d like the ability to right-click on photos, PDFs and similar files and send them to destinations (i.e., PhotoBucket) with a single click.  Perhaps Evernote could facilitate third party created plug-ins to do this sort of thing.

The Evernote iPhone app is well designed and allows easy access to your data.  Like the desktop and web applications, however, it needs folders.  Screen space is limited on a phone, and it would be helpful to group your notebooks in folders to allow faster navigation and retrieval.

photo (11)

Now let’s dream for a moment.

If the Evernote developers wanted to send Evernote into another plane of awesome, how about the ability to embed all kinds of media in a note?  Zoho Notebook, a fine application in its own right, has allowed this for a long time.  Imagine the ability to embed, access and play YouTube videos, audio files and the like- from within a notebook.  Below is a test notebook I created months ago in Zoho.


I’m not holding my breath for this to happen, but to paraphrase David Wooderson, it’d be a lot cooler if it did.

What I very much want (in case you can’t tell) are folders.  Folders, folder, folders.  So Evernote- get to work.