My journey towards replacing Evernote. (and...Is DEVONthink extremely slow over iCloud or is it just me?)

Over the summer I began (finally) to try to replace Evernote. Almost everything I tried has failed me in one respect or another…

Apple Notes - bare bones. Was crushed under the weight of trying to sync my imported Evernote database of over 6000 notes.

Bear - was crushed under the weight of trying to sync my Evernote notes. Poor collaborative features.

KeepIt - closest one to having good note and document support. Has collaborative features and nice interface.

DEVONthink - ugly and needlessly complex but is the most functional. The only app of the bunch that flawlessly imported all of my Evernote notes over. It eventually synced them too, but it took a long time. But here’s the thing…

DEVON is insanely slow at syncing over iCloud. I will often add a PDF to the inbox and wait up to 30 minutes for it to show up on other devices. I have emailed them back and fourth and they say that iCloud is just slow beyond their control.

Am I the only one in this boat? Am I simply asking too much? Evernote’s web-based, ‘cloud’ approach seems to be the only one that can handle the syncing. The interface is gross and really stresses me out but I guess that is the price of trying to organize all of my work in one place.

Any advice on fixing DEVON’s syncing speed or on the note problem are welcome.

I use Devonthink extensively and it is not slow syncing for me.


Nor for me. Syncs reliable and quickly.

Sometimes iCloud has issues. I check this page whenever I have trouble with synced files etc.

All is well now, but I’ve seen all the iCloud items (over a dozen" flagged with problems in the past.


Works fine here. But since DEVONthink ist not walled like Evernote, you could switch iCloud for Dropbox or a local WebDAV sync service and see if there is some improvement.

Btw, the most recent version of DT introduced push update notifications which should shorten sync times. May be worth a test.

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Same here! Added constraint for me: I want whatever I pick to be cross-platform so I’m not locked into the Apple ecosystem.

I tried DevonThink and found sync to be unreliable and the UI is too cluttered.

On the recommendation of a friend and colleague who made a similar transition, I’m going to try OneNote. I got it mostly configured Friday afternoon, and will field-test it beginning Monday. Also, my wife really likes it a lot and she knows her way around the Apple ecosystem.

My other option, honestly, is to go back to Evernote. Or at least give it a try. I can’t remember why I was so keen to dump it, other than concern over the company’s long-term future. That future seems even more precarious now, but if I figure it’ll be around at least another year, and there may be other options when a decision becomes critical.


I have thought about switching to Dropbox but I don’t pay them for storage anymore and I have about 30 GB of data in DEVON.

You are spot on about Evernote. If I can’t get anything to work for me, that might be the direction I have to go.

DEVONthink to Go / DEVONthink sync is quick for me on iCloud. Desktop syncing to 3 iOS devices. The OP didn’t mention what kind of network they are syncing over — WiFi, cellular, etc., or the speed of the network.

It’s amusing when folks don’t like DEVONthink because of its appearance — isn’t the real measure of succes whether the app has the best features for your job?

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Have you looked at Notebooks?
Looks pretty cool. I bought it, but haven’t jumped in yet.
Cross platform, iOS, Mac, Windows.
The iPhone version is free at the moment.

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I am curious to see where this thread goes. I am not happy with my notes / data archive setup.

Like pretty much everyone, I bailed on Evernote in favor of DEVONthink, but like many of you, I am constantly aggravated by how slow it is and I am wanting to see other options. Thanks @JohnAtl for the mention of Notebooks, I will check that out.

I like Bear’s UI, but it doesn’t save web archives like DEVONthink, I like DEVONthink’s features, but not the UI or sync speed (even search is not that fast), I love Apple Notes’ speed and native integration into the OS, but it is not at all up to the task of being a hierarchical data storage solution with the weird way it manages attachments.
I have heard that KeepIt is great, but I am not that excited of adding another subscription.

Anything I have missed?

The search goes on…

The majority of my Evernote files were pdfs, and my solution (as I’ve mentioned in another thread) was to dump everything into Google Drive. G Drive offers full text search of PDFs, Text, etc., which was the one reason I was still using EN. 100GB is $1.99/mo 200GB is 2.99/mo.

There is a one-time purchase option available for the macOS version of KeepIt (iOS version is subscription only).

If it becomes an area of friction, yea it can be a hinderance.

I have gone back to Evernote. I did the rotation and it seems that it checked most my boxes. I will say my tour of the different apps has made me use Evernote better.


I use DEVONThink exclusively and have no problems syncing BUT, I do not use iCloud but instead have it on my own WebDAV. Downside is that I can’t sync when out and about only when I am at my house but I don’t find that an issue. You can put the syncstore in dropbox too if you wish.

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I have DEVONthink to Go / DEVONthink over iCloud. Syncing has never been a problem for me. I just mention this so folks have a different perspective from those that do have syncing problems.

OneNote is another option that I like. Good with Apple Pencil too.

How has it made you a better EN user?

Not slow for me. It works without me even thinking about it.

Similar experience, in that DevonThink was able to flawlessly import all Evernote content … and what’s more, keep updating it as I used them side by side for a while, before switching over completely to DevonThink.

I haven’t directly experienced this “slow sync/wait time” problem yet, but I do agree there are sometimes sync issues that I’ve faced in the past (couple of years ago, though not recently).

Also, “DevonThink To Go” (the iOS app) keeps getting improvements, and version 3 of the Desktop app is in beta right now, so if you tried it in the past and haven’t looked at it since, try it again ! :slight_smile:

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You can synch Devonthink through Dropbox. I would try that myself. I can’t tell you why really. I used to do it that way and found Drop box synch worked fine. I switched to iCloud and have had no problems. I think it might depend on how much stuff you have though. I don’t think my files add up to 1GB actually, nearly all text and decades of stuff I have written myself.

Did you update DT with Evernote content manually, or did DT do that automatically for you? I’ve been thinking of returning to Evernote for a few odd edge use cases, among them being web clipping.

Along with others I use DT extensively and it’s works fine for me. Use Dropbox for synching.