Moving from Evernote to Devonthink and OCR

I finally decided to move from Evernote to Devonthink because security of my content in the cloud was too risky for me…and the annual price keeps going up. So here is my journey migrating my content to Devonthink.

It was no small task getting my Evernote contents into Devonthink and still have it fully searchable. One of the big benefits of Evernote was its OCR of attachment contents. I found it to be one of the best. Google has pretty good OCR but has a 2Mb file limit, PDFPen has a great product. I found it was outstanding with documents but hit or miss on images. Devonthink has an okey OCR feature. I tried several others and have come to the conclusion that FineReader by ABBYY had the best results. The reason I had to research these OCR tools was because the notes coming out of Evernote had only half of the OCR text. I tried several ways to get the data out and here is my results.

Imported EN notebooks directly into Devonthink Pro
The notes come into DTP as formated text and not available to convert to searchable PDF. Anything typed into your evernote note will come up in a search but nothing else.

EN Note printed to PDF and dragged into DTP
Notes come in to DTP as PDF+Text but only for the text you actually typed into the note, nothing in images is searchable…web clipper captures anyone?

Even running Searchable PDF did not capture text in images with any degree of accuracy.

EN Note Save PDF to DevonThink Pro
This had the same result as printed to PDF AND you lost the title of the note and any tags as well.
The note would come in as untitled.

EN Note printed to PDF and OCR’d with FineReader
Notes come in to DTP as PDF+Text AND the text in images are captured /searchable as well.
There is no need to run ‘convert to searchable PDF’ in DTP.

I’m sure there is a way to do this as a single script but I needed to do this in bulk for many EN notes.

This is my setup

  1. I created one folder on my desktop to receive my EN PDFs. I called it Fish Tank1…I have to have some fun. I spent a whole Saturday testing this out.

  2. I created a Services > Folder Action calling FineReader by ABBYY to convert the doc to PDF and save the output to another folder called Fish Tank2.

  3. Another folder action watches Fish Tank2 and takes any file, adds it to DTP and then deletes it.

Once my fully OCR’d pdf document was in DTP, I would review the title, add any tags and move it to the appropriate database.

I don’t have to worry about database placement too much since the new doc is fully searchable.

My database structure in DTP is pretty sparse as I rely mostly on the search ability.

I also have a hazel rule that cleans up my Fish Tank directories with any files older than a day so I don’t have any duplication.

Some lessons learned.

In FineReader set image quality to high. Even with this setting I found some degradation in picture quality but it was manageable.

Every method I tried, lost tags. I just add them back again in DTP.

The number one factor in successful OCR is image quality…300 DPI or better will get you great results.


Would you mind sharing the details of you folder action? I manually tried making pdf’s searchable with ABBYY . It work on the first one, then next failed with the message “can only convert files created by scansnap”

I might have to get another app, but I’d like to see how many ABBYY can convert.

I just downloaded DevonThinkGo for iOS and iPadOS - I don’t own a Mac anymore.

For years, I have been using Evernote as an archive for documents that I might need later. I have some 3000 notes in Evernote of that sort.

I want to start out by using DevonThinkGo as a replacement for my Evernote archive. Just to get to know what DevonThink is like and what it can do.

So my questions are:

1. Is there a reliable way to export my 3000 notes from Evernote and import them into DevonThinkGo? I guess, it requires a Mac, right? But is there anyway to get around having to manually copy/paste each note with attachments from Evernote to DevonThinkGO?

2. Does anyone else use DevonThink primarily as an archive for important documents that might need to be referenced in the future? Any tips for me on this use in that case?

3. When setting up my archive in DevonThinkGO, I have to create a lot of nested “folders” to store my documents in. For example: Accounting —> Receipts. This is an example of what I want to do. Have a main folder e.g. “Accounting” and then have nested folders below that level.
How would I do that in DevonThinkGO? Do I have to create Databases and then groups in that database or how does it work?

Thanks a lot to anyone contributing. I also posted this on the DevonThink forums, I hope that’s okay with DevonThink nerds on here.

Best wishes,

FYI, you will need the Legacy desktop version of Evernote in order to bulk export your notes. Evernote 10 desktop is basically a webpage and limits exports to 50 notes at a time. It is one more reason why I am a former long time user of Evernote.

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Thanks! I dont have a Mac so i wouldn’t be able to do that unfortunately. There is no way to export notes from Evernote from the web version?

I guess I’m staring into a manual export of some 3000 notes. D… you ForEvernote!

I’ve seriously considered going iPad only, but decided to keep an entry level mini for backups and some file automation.

My EN premium subscription hasn’t expired yet so I looked at some ways you might get data out of the IOS EN app:

If you click on an attached PDF or image, it will open and can be downloaded, shared, etc… via the Sharesheet. And if you “print” a note to a PDF the text is searchable, so you may be able to import the PDF directly into DevonTHINK to Go and avoid having to copy & paste. Good luck.

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Thanks! Will try it!

How would you go about organising DevonThinkGO best as an archive?

I have some top categories like Accounting and then nested below that, Receipts, Taxes etc.

How would you set that up in DevonThinkGO? What best correspond to the Notebooks feature in Evernote in DevonThinkGO?

I wish I could help you with that. But, IMO, the way you need to organize your files depends on how you plan to use them. I’ve supported accounting types that keep their files in massive folder hierarchies (one accountant had over 600 folders in her email account). I use three folders.

Until recently most of my files were in Gmail and Evernote. They currently reside in Gmail and two EagleFiler archives (which are standard Mac files & folders). One EF archive contains medical & financial info, the other is everything else. Files are prefixed with year-month-day and are searchable by contents. As I enter new files, Hazel does the renaming and places the file in the proper archive. It also creates a new note in Apple Notes so I can keep a copy of the last twelve months of my non-sensitive bills, etc. on my iPad.

I’ve never used a system of folders, I’ve always preferred search. DevonTHINK can handle whatever file structure you choose. And, as I recall, has an excellent search function if the files are OCR’d.

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