Help Find: Zero Knowledge or Offline OneNote/Evernote Replacement

I am looking for a OneNote replacement that either is fully encrypted zero-knowledge cloud-based or is offline only and I can manually sync it across my devices. iOS and OS X have great built-in encryption so if I can keep the data off the cloud, that will work great.

I have been using Standard Notes as an Apple Notes replacement for the last few months after hearing about it on the Complete Privacy and Security podcast and it’s great, but lacks image-file support. It seems that Standard Notes has no interest in supporting image files.

OneNote on Windows is great! It allows great organizations, lots of formatting options, and embedded image support. OneNote on OSX/iOS is useless because unlike Windows, they don’t allow offline files. Microsoft mandates that you use their cloud service with no option for offline files on Apple products.

I am the steward of confidential intellectual property of my clients, which has both text and images. Ethically, I cannot use a cloud-based service unless it is “zero-knowledge”. The current solution I have is pretty bad and involves creating PDFs that I manually transfer across my devices.

Is anyone aware of software at any price point that will meet my needs?

If you’re willing to get geeky and go open source there are several alternatives. Perhaps Laverna, in which your encrypted data can be self-hosted and accessed on iOS via web browser.

Or perhaps Joplin:

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Follow-up: the commercial apps Standard Notes and Keep It have full encryption now, and they don’t require geeking about. (I think Standard Notes might not do image attachments, but I include it for the sake of completeness.)

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Standard Notes is incredible! I’ve been using it for a few months, but alas they do not do image attachments, and according to an interview on the Complete Privacy and Security podcast with their founder, as well as several blog posts on their site, they have zero interest in doing images. They want to keep it “simple” which is unfortunate for me at least.

Followup idea to myself that I haven’t had before. What if I just make Pages documents? I think if I disable iCloud for it, then Pages will only sync locally, and I think there’s iOS pages apps. As long as the documents never touch the cloud, they don’t need to be individually encrypted because my iOS and OS X devices are full disk encryption.

And I can probably get all of the information I need per client into a 100-page Pages document which should be searchable from either OS X or iOS by simply opening the document in Pages.

It’s “free” which is nice but I don’t mind paying for a good product and technically I am paying for it as part of the Apple device cost.

Most importantly, there’s no lock-in because at any point in time I can export to PDF, and Pages should be around for a long time and if it’s ever deprecated, should have some kind of export to DOCX or something available.

At the recommendation of @bowline I did try Keep It, but you cant search encrypted documents, even if you decrypt them. And I really need to be able to find a specific line within the document depending on the day.

Hello fellow privacy enthusiast!

I use Pages documents because I am a student and I frequently need to use math icons and formulas and the LaTeX integration for formulas makes that extremely easy. LibreOffice is an option but it’s just nowhere as good as Pages or Word. I doubt Apple is collecting the contents of Pages files the way Microsoft does.

I also use my iPad to take handwritten notes and I use Notability for that. I know that the creator, Ginger Labs, is probably collecting some analytics, but I couldn’t care less about it because it’s just notes for classes that don’t work well in typing (i.e. Calculus, or any other heavy math-step class).

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Perhaps DEVONthink is a possible solution for you. it can store all kind of data and offers an WebDAV based sync (even on your own server) with end-to-end encryption. I am using this here in Germany where we have a lot of requirements for data protection by the so called GDPR.


+1 for DEVONThink Pro Office - that is the solution I am using with the WebDAV sync via my Synology Server.
I am, using three different databases within DTP so far and it supports all sorts of file types and formats, it has great search and analysis features and I am also using DEVONPro Agent, which is a much more in-depth search agent for Internet Research.

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DEVONthink can also sync via various local methods, including bonjour, LAN, or even using USB sticks as a conduit for “sync stores”.

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