I actually have simplified and am happy with Apple Notes and Reminders.
Having retired and had a brush with ill health a big thing for me is getting in shape if something bad happens (not that I expect it to !). Nobody in my entire family understand Devonthink. Everybody understands Apple Notes.
So I am simplifying. I still have Devonthink as an everything bucket for me, but important documents are going in Apple notes.
Going down the “what if something happens to me path”, I think it’s also important to have something like 1Password set up – maybe a family account so you can share vaults with your family. Makes it easier to know what accounts you have and what they may need access to.
What also makes Evernote’s $99 a tough sell for me is the fact I can only use it for personal things. I work with patient data at a hospital, and even though most of my meetings are non patient-specific, I will occasionally get something confidential relayed to me which ends up in my meeting notes. I need to keep all this stuff on company hardware/software, so using EN at work is out.
If I could put my entire life into EN (including work) then I might be more tempted to go all-in and use the Home Screen more along with tasks. That would definitely give me more value that I’m not getting now.
For now, I like the idea of Apple Notes at 0$ and my discounted Obsidian at $50 to cover the personal side of things.
I have to say (for me), I’ve come back to Evernote (in July of this year), and I’m finding it wonderful. Are there hiccups? Sure, but overall it’s working really well for me for a few reasons:
Web Clipper (and embedded content)
Easy to share URLs (both internal and external)
“Good enough” text formatting/editor
I have tried a numerous amount of apps recently and, despite some of its flaws, Evernote just clicks really well for me and my personal use cases.
What have I tried?
Apple Notes, Upnote, Agenda, DEVONthink, Bear, Amplenote, Notion, Obsidian, Craft.
How does Evernote excel for me?
Robust searching means I find what I’m looking for even when I’m not 100% sure of what it’s called. This kind of bleeds together with OCR. But Evernote search just works. I can filter things down if I need to, but 9 out of 10 times just searching by keyword finds what I need (even inside attachments). I can also save regularly used searches to the Sidebar & Home Dashboard for quick access.
I often have times where I don’t have cell service. It’s not every day, but it’s often enough that I need something that works offline. Evernote allows me to have everything downloaded so I don’t have to worry about whether something will be available when I need it.
Their web clipper is still bar-none, the best out there. I have yet to find content that fails.
One of my issues with Evernote years ago was their lack of easy URL support. You couldn’t link to App URLS (ie. things:///) and it was a pain to get an App URL out of Evernote for linking inside another app. They have sorted this out well, and it all functions as expected now. It’s quick and easy to share a public URL with someone else. I’m not fighting with Work Chat anymore.
While Evernote doesn’t have some advanced formatting options like block quotes, syntax highlighting, or toggle lists. What they do have works well for me. A rich-text editor while typing. Plus there are a load of shortcuts you can use, either by typing Markdown-style characters, or by using keyboard commands.
As I was testing all the apps, I realized none of them checked every box that Evernote did. Some did more than Evernote, but none did the basics of what Evernote gets right well enough for me to abandon it yet. Time will tell though. Apple Notes continues to get better, as does my runner up, Craft. We’ll see who manages to shore up the gaps first before it’s time for me to renew Evernote next July.
I was a user of Evernote as an early adopter. Put lots of things in there!
I had a use case at work… when I worked in a service department - Used a daily note to capture phone calls, things to do, general notes, etc. The search saved me so many times! I just kept a browser window open, and typed in. Phone numbers off of caller ID, names, all in checkbox fields. When I had a minute, I would go through each checkbox, see if it was closed, and check it off if so. Any open checkboxes moved to the next day. On a work computer where you can’t install any other software - hey, it worked well!
Nice post! I’ve been an Evernote user since 2008. And like most here, I keep looking at other options, most recently Craft (which David and many others seem to be quite hot on now). Although EN keeps getting “bashed” for various issues, especially during the v10 transition, I have to agree that, overall, it continues to serve my needs quite well, and the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.
On a related note, I recently purchased a Hook Pro subscription, which makes bi-directional linking between apps/ files much better. And the Pro subscription includes built in applescripts, so that I can now super easily create bi-directional links between Evernote, Omnifocus, Spark, PDF Expert, etc. Works great!
It was a lot like an electronic bullet journal! I do something very similar still. It does so much for my ability to disconnect and relax knowing those loops are taken care of. Pretty much classic GTD! Evernote served me well with employers who did not see the value of solutions for these things, or consistent processes, just because it had a web interface that I didn’t have to install.
Hook Pro is awesome as well - funny thing - it almost seems too good to be true! It has been very consistent in its linking, and very simple to use. I keep expecting the rug to be pulled out from under me.
I use DevonThink as an everything bucket* (with an exception discussed further down). I did use Evernote like 15 years ago, but was never comfortable with it. I think a caveat with DT is that you do need to be very embedded in Apple OS (it’s not for the faint of heart!) but otherwise it does most things Evernote can do with the ginormous plus that it’s all saved locally and you don’t have to worry about data security.
[I don’t think I do web-clipping the same as other people because I have no friction with DT for this yet it seems to be an issue for people? I either write the entire webpage to pdf - my preferred method - or I clip the bit I like to markdown. DT has share scripts for both options.]
*In the example above of saving a driving licence, you could do this with DT (just save it to PDF and once in DT you can run OCR). Stuff like that though I just save in an iCloud folder. I suppose I could put it in DT, and I have a database that is for legal stuff, but tbh the folder pre-dates me using DT and it’s never occurred to me to move it. I know if I need these proof of identity things, it’s in X folder.
I think multi-apps is the way to go, as long as a) you don’t have millions, and b) you have clear rules about what is used for what. Even in DT, I have 3 separate databases that have very clear functions. I think (for me) it’s too dangerous having one place for everything, where any old junk can be collected, and you can never find anything useful. My rules are very basic but serve me fine:
transient notes and quick scribbles : Apple Notes
work-related reading notes (my own writing) : Obsidian
all pdfs, web reading, meeting notes, etc. Etc. : DevonThink (to the correct database. 1 of 3)
emails : DT (I keep a database just for email archives - nothing else is in it. It’s very handy as I have multiple email addresses and it puts everything in one place with DT’s amazing search)
Very Important Life Documents : dedicated iCloud folder (files individually named)
all my photos : iCloud folders (sorted)
I used to have everything scattered everywhere, and it’s taken a lot of work to bring this streamlined list I to being, but it’s worth it as there’s no friction and I know where everything is.
I was a beta tester for Evernote, and was really impressed at first. I stopped using Evernote c. five or six years ago because it got slower and more bloated, and it became clear they were never going to make it simple to take your data with you. I won’t use anything with proprietary formats that I can’t easily move/export.
Oh my. I don’t think I could handle that many apps for my business/personal workflow (I’m looking in awe of your juggling skills).
I’ve used so many apps in search of the right method for me: Bear (it’s really a writing app), Apple Notes (won’t hold everything, type and quantity, of I want to throw at it), KeepIt (very complex iCloud syncing for the volume of data I need to store), Evernote (Legacy and Electron), EagleFiler (no mobile option), …
Tiring and after a decade of fighting I said enough.
Finally, I saw that DEVONthink will handle my data the way I want to. I don’t have to store everything in a monolithic sync location, because most of my data I don’t need to have remote phone access to. Once I identified which data I needed on my phone and which I didn’t, I made a database “Remote”, which is synced. I have another database I have synced for a personal topic I want to remain in a different bucket from “Remote”. Everything other database is only accessible on my laptop. That makes syncing much faster, as I don’t have to synchronize everything, and I can turn on or off sync for any database at any time.
My daily notes are text files in a folder in Remote. I found a shortcut to make a fresh daily note on my phone every morning. My client folders are in the remote database. Web clipping is via share sheet using markdown, so I can edit out extraneous cruft on the webpage before I convert to multipage searchable PDF for permanent storage. Emails are archived in various folders per relevant database.
Biggest draw of a third party tool, especially DT, is the excellent search and archiving tools, far better than the Finder. That’s what really started me on the journey; Spotlight won’t find what I’m looking for all the time, and the presented format is too ephemeral for me to reflect on the results. I also can’t see the contents of the file in the Finder and switch to another file without opening multiple documents at once.
I’m still grandfathered into the $45/year Evernote Premium plan somehow, which has probably kept me a paying Evernote “user” (I hardly ever use it lately beyond the occasional web clipping) longer than I otherwise would, since I know I could never get that pricing back again. So every time it comes up for renewal, I push my decision out a year.
Maybe this will be the year I finally cut the cord. Or decide to use it actively again. Who knows!