The Files app and Finder are a perfectly acceptable replacement for Evernote

I quit Evernote in April because it was running too slow and suffering feature bloat. I switched to DevonThink.

A month or two ago, I had to leave my only work Mac in the shop for 5-15 days and scrambled to find a replacement (I believe I’m the person referenced in the most recent episode of MPU). That got me thinking I wanted to reduce my dependency on Mac/iOS-specific apps – apps that require the Mac or an iOS device to use. I want to be able to work on a Windows machine or Chromebook and access my work documents from the cloud ifI need to. Can’t do that with DevonThink.

Plus, DevonThink is confusing.

I ended up just storing documents in the Finder and using Files to access them when necessary from my iPhone.

And you know what? It works. No need for Evernote, DevonThink, Bear, etc.

For me at least. Other people will have different needs and may find features in those other apps that are desirable.


This is what I switched to but use Notes as well.


The power of the Finder is frequently overlooked. In conjunction with a well thought-out system of folders, it can do a lot, especially with tags, favorites, etc. I use it for photo management.


Nice. Finder is under appreciated – it’s really very capable and flexible. I’ve also switched a lot of my DEVONthink file management to Finder.

If it’s important to create documents while using Finder than there’s a nifty little app I’ve used for a long time: Neu - lives in the menubar and will create a document (type you define) in the current Finder folder. Development stopped a very long time ago but it still works on Mojave. Neu fills the create-a-file gap between Windows Explorer and Finder.

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Very nice recommendation on Neu. It fills a gap for me in the Finder workflow.

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I agree with the pro-Finder sentiment here. DevonThink predates Spotlight and native tagging, and a lot of the problems it solved back in OS X Jaguar are no longer present.

My alternative to Neu is this Alfred workflow:


Good tip on the Alfred workflow - particularly because Neu seems to be no longer available.

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Ugh. My apologies. I didn’t test the download links before suggesting you grab Neu.

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One of the things I miss from Windows is being able to right click and create a new file. I finally found New File Menu and recommend that. $1.99 on the Mac App Store.

This is better than Neu. Thank you for the recommendation.

No worries! Thanks for trying.

For a couple of years I was happily using the free menubar text app Curiota, but I was missing the ability to access info on iOS so I reluctantly migrated all the files to Notes… and it’s worked out much better than I thought it would! I do miss the automatic breakdown of files by month, but in general I’m very happy with the stock Notes app.

FYI they also offer a free lite version to try out.

I picked up the similarly-named New File a while back (same $1.99 price, but was free at the time) but never found much use for it…

This is what I do. It’s fast, easy and bug-free. Throw in the use of a few selected tags and I’m completely covered by Finder, Files and Spotlight.


That’s a great idea! I will try to replicate it into Keyboard Maestro since I don’t use Alfred.


Here is another testimonial for use of the simple Finder files and folders scheme for long-term storage of PDF files. MacOS handles PDF files extremely well and has built-in capabilities for tags, markups and annotations. Backup is simple - just copy or sync the files and folders to a large number of targets - cloud sync/backup, external disks or NAS storage. The PDF files and folders are easily handled by Mac and Windows systems.

Years ago I made the mistake of saving several years’ worth of files (bank and financial records, pictures, home purchase and renovation records, family records, medical records, etc) in PaperPort for Windows. To accommodate the features designed into the application, the files were stored in a proprietary format - .max files. PaperPort eventually allowed use of PDF files, but too late for me. When I switched from Windows to Mac in 2009, PaperPort for OS X was not available. I later figured out there was a reason for this - Macs had native support for PDF files, so there was no need for applications such as PaperPort. In the meantime, I spent a large amount of time searching for a way to convert files from the proprietary .max format to PDF files.

My advice - NEVER store in a proprietary format information you will need for the long term, or information that you may want others to access (your heirs, beneficiaries, those who act on your behalf in case of illness or incapacity).


One other nice usage of the new file workflow is to create an empty file but with an informative file name - basically a short memo that will be instantly visible when you look at the folder.

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I agree on standardizing on a few simple file formats, especially for critical items. But would question the stability of using OS dependent tags, markups etc. I’ve been burned with metadata entries not carrying over to a new system before. I’d rather depend on a database I can get into to see the data if required.

I wonder if Finder tags do translate well through Time Machine backups.

Good points about the tags and the questionable stability of applied annotations. I get around that by ensuring that markups I apply are made permanent by “flattening” the PDF file. Instead of “saving” the annotated document, I export to a PDF file with the same name. The result is a “flattened” PDF file, and any text added will be recognized as text permanently embedded in the document.

The features and usefulness of Finder and Preview have improved markedly over the last couple of years. Hopefully that this trend will continue. One improvement would be saving a “flattened” version of the file with one step, instead of requiring the “export” function to do this. An example of a Mac app that does this well is PDF Expert. Saving “flattened” files is just as quick and easy as saving files with separate annotations.

One of my specific workflows is to annotate bills with the date paid and payment method used - check, credit card, etc. Another workflow is to annotate receipts with information that might be needed later - name of the item purchased, merchant, etc. Because this text is searchable, it could substitute for a tag. You could also place this type of information in the file’s name for easy searching later.

My fundamental concern is the risk of saving files in a proprietary database format. Finder with files and folders is “good enough”. Don’t make life more complicated than it has to be - because what could possibly go wrong?