I'm Giving Up on Evernote and Switching to OneNote

I’m Giving Up on Evernote and Switching to OneNote

Evernote, I'm done with you. I've had it. I'm moving on. I started using you six years ago, and you help me sync and store over 1100 notes in more than a dozen notebooks. I've talked about the power of using you several times here on my blog, but now I'm done.

Want to listen? There's an audio version below

I'm switching to Microsoft OneNote.

goodbye evernote hello onenote

I think.

As I sat down to write a blog post, I began my routine: open Evernote, start a new note, come up with a few possible titles for the post, and begin typing. But today, I didn't make it through my routine.

Instead of being able to log in and start working, I was greeted with an error message saying I needed to log into Evernote again. After doing that, I was told I'd exceeded the number of devices that could access my notes, and that I'd have to remove access from either my phone or my tablet if I wanted to log in on my computer.

Ugh! WTF?

I'm a big advocate of working in the cloud. In this article, I asked the question of whether or not it's possible to run a global business from a $300, cloud-based, Google Chromebook.

And, up until now, one of my must-use pieces of software has been Evernote. I love being able to sync my notes across my phone, tablet, computer, Chromebook, and any other device I could need.

But about a year ago, all of that changed.

In 2016, Evernote decided to eliminate many of the features us free users had gotten used to – mainly unlimited devices.

So, I decided to give the premium version a try for $42 a year. And, it was during my year-long trial of the premium version that they decided to limit free accounts to only two devices, meaning only two devices could sync and access your notes at any given time. After a year, I can say that I did not find even $42 worth of value in Evernote Premium.

Evernote upgrade options

Why I'm Thinking About Leaving Evernote

So there I sat, wanting to work, but faced with the decision to either upgrade, remove a device I use all the time, or finally give Microsoft OneNote a try.

Now, I know Evernote has been a wildly popular tool over the past several years. When blogger Michael Hyatt wrote about how he organizes his Evernote notebooks, tags, and notes, bloggers around the world (including me) starting looking at the software in a new way. And even Inc.com called Evernote their “Company of the Year” for 2011. For the past several years, I've been a MAJOR advocate of the software, but now I think I'm done with it.

Why (I Think) I'm Done With Evernote:

No New Features

Over the past few years, I don't remember getting any new features added to Evernote. But, in all honesty, I only use the tool for writing text, saving and archiving a few legal documents, and keeping a list of blog post ideas. There could've been awesome new features added along the way without me knowing about it.

Removal of Features for Free Users

As I said before, I used to be able to access my notes from any device at any time. Now that is no longer the case.

I get it. Evernote needs to make money, but removing features and requiring money to unlock them isn't the way I'd do it. And, the feature I care most about (syncing to a 3rd device), isn't worth the $35/year to upgrade.

Why I Decided to Try Microsoft OneNote

There are a few features I require for any business class software I'm going to use.

First, I need to be able to work from whatever device happens to be in my hand at the time. After all, when inspiration strikes, you've got to be able to take advantage of it.

Second, I need my work to sync across every device I own. Every day I use three separate devices; a Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7″, a Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus, and a souped-up Dell XPS 15. Sometimes I'll even use my Google Chromebook (which I used to write 1/2 of Exit Strategy).

Read my review of the Chromebook here

Microsoft OneNote checks both of those boxes. So does Google Keep. But, Google Keep, though it syncs with and is accessible by my Google home, is not something I love using as it's little more than a simple text editor.

So I've decided to try Microsoft OneNote. And when I found this importer tool to make migrating from Evernote to OneNote easy, it was a quick decision.

Evernote Features I Already Miss

But it hasn't been all fun and games. As with pretty much everything, there's a learning curve to OneNote. “Notes” are now “Pages,” and the interface is very different. Here are a few other features I already miss.

Word Count

I try to keep my blog posts between 600 and 1200 words, with the occasional “pillar post” that can reach anywhere from 2000 to 4000 words in length. While I'm not a stickler for a uniform blog post length, I do like to be aware of how much I've written.

Evernote has a feature you can enable that shows the number of words in a note. OneNote does not have a similar feature.

Simplicity

After years of using Evernote, I got pretty familiar with the tools, hotkeys, and other shortcuts to make the software easy to use. I'm sure OneNote has similar functions; I just haven't found them yet.

Automatic Sync

One thing I really liked about Evernote was the ability to change the sync schedule. While syncing across devices is a requirement, I don't need every app on every device syncing to the cloud every 30 seconds. Being able to set the automatic sync schedule was nice so I could save battery power on my phone and tablets.

Drag & Drop Notes

Though this functionality is not available in Evernote, it should be. I'd like to see OneNote implement a drag and drop feature.

Order Notes by Most Recently Used

I love that Evernote would bring my most recently edited notes to the top. This made it easy to find what I was working on last. OneNote does not do this, or, if it does, I haven't yet figured out how to sort by date.

Evernote vs OneNote

Since I haven't been using OneNote long enough to give you a detailed or thorough analysis comparing the two pieces of software, here's a comparison from the OneNote sales page:

OneNote vs Evernote feautures list

Source: https://www.onenote.com/import-evernote-to-onenote

Summary

I hate paying for things that were once free. While I don't mind paying for upgrades and new features, I don't like feeling like I got tied into something only to have the rug pulled out from under me a few years later. If I felt like Evernote was continually improving and getting better, I might feel differently than I do. Plus, I haven't found anything Evernote can do that OneNote cannot.

Is OneNote a perfect Evernote replacement?

I don't know. But I'm willing to give it a shot.

Over to you: Do you use a tool or app for your “digital brain?”

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  • doublecheck_me says:

    There’s famously ‘no such thing as a free lunch’ – everything costs someone something these days; so if you’re using Evernote’s free account, that means they’re subsidizing your access to the internet, providing server space, internet access and maintenance and support. So I can understand their wanting to limit how many devices you can _simultaneously_ connect to their service.

    There’s no real problem however in using as many devices as you want to connect to your account – just temporarily disconnect an existing device to connect a new one. Then disconnect the new one to go back to the original. I have a free account and its easy.

    Free (Basic) users have access to almost as many features as a paying user – the benefit of subscribing is mainly in higher limits – 10GB of online storage per month for premium users; you can build up to a 1TB account over several years. Try that with *any* other cloud provider.

    Disclosure – not connected with Evernote (or anyone else) in any way other than as a user.

    • Hey there! Thank you for reading and leaving a comment.

      I get it. As a business owner, I know all about servers, utility costs, and breaking even. But, what I don’t love or agree with is charging for something we used to get for free, but then not adding any more value.

      Competition is fierce. When Evernote started, OneNote didn’t exist. It seems like while the competition got smarter, Evernote didn’t. I don’t need 10GB of space – I don’t even need 1GB; I have a box.com account for cloud storage and a NAS here in the house. All Evernote did for me was sync across devices, and it looks like OneNote will do a great job.

      Have you ever tried OneNote?

  • Debala says:

    I use Evernote’s tags extensively in my genealogy work; those tags are nested by “Action”, “Record”, “Surname”, and “Location”. Sadly OneNote on a Mac, which is what I use, does not allow for custom tags. So, OneNote is not a viable option for me.

  • Mark Stevens says:

    There is a plug in for OneNote called Onetastic for OneNote (https://getonetastic.com/) this has different macros that can be downloaded to handle some of the gaps in OneNote (like sorting pages).

    • Hey Mark! Thanks for sharing that link – I think that’s the same link the official Onenote Twitter account shared with me.

      Given how feature-rich other MS software is, it’s difficult to understand why they don’t implement the features this addon adds. For me, I’ll pass for now. Have you tried Onetastic?

      • Mark Stevens says:

        I do use some of the functions of OneTastic. I still am getting used to using One Note and my process flow with it.

  • toddbecker says:

    I was “forced” to start using OneNote because my company uses the Office 365 suite and will not support Evernote. So I use OneNote at work. But I still vastly prefer Evernote. The main reason is the simple, linear list of documents, always sorted with most recent at top. The supposed flexibility of OneNote is actually its downfall. Documents can go anywhere, and are in no particularly chronological order. Evernote also supports tags, which are far superior than trying to stick to some artificial organization. So OneNote may seem to have the advantage for making pretty note layouts and imposing some organization. But if you have thousands of notes and need to scan in documents, and have little time to organize or reorganize them…Evernote is far more robust, and makes it easier to find what you are looking for on the fly. Also, OneNote has had major problems with syncing between different platforms. I never have that problem with Evernote.

    There is so much hype promoting OneNote on the Internet. I’m still much happier with Evernote, and happy to pay a premium for it.

    • hey Todd, thanks for reading and giving your feedback. I agree, sorting by recently used is a stupid thing to not include. Everything else MS does can sort by date, so why not this!?

      One pet peeve is that whenever I search Onenote, the software shows a list of notes, but not the location inside the notes themselves. This makes searching difficult.

  • Alan says:

    Howdy, Ellory and readers:

    I share you current evaluation of EN.
    Appreciate this article and the following comments.

    See my comments at:

    ALTERNATIVES TO EN DISCUSSION
    By ab1kenobee | Started: August 27, 2014 in Evernote General Discussions
    https://discussion.evernote.com/topic/66103-alternatives-to-en-discussion/?page=30

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