An Experiment: Migrating from Evernote to Apple Notes

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The other day I got a crazy idea to migrate everything in Evernote over to Apple Notes.

Why you might ask?

Having my shared notes in Apple Notes while everything else lived in Evernote really bugged me – probably more than it reasonably should have, but such is my life.

The other issue nagging at me was having to pay for Evernote Premium. To be honest, I wouldn’t mind paying for the service if it weren’t for their 2 device sync limit seeming like a total cash grab. Also, I’m already paying for the iCloud storage so why not use it.

Making the switch was a bit time-consuming, but I really didn’t have to give up as much as I thought I would. In fact, in some cases, Apple Notes has actually turned out to be better.

What I’m Liking:

  • Sharing Things to Notes – It’s no surprise that Apple has baked ways to add things to Notes into just about every part of MacOS and iOS, with one notable exception which I’ll discuss a bit later.
  • Sharing Notes with Others – Sure Evernote allows you to share notes, but none of my friends or family use Evernote, so the feature was lost on me, and a big reason I was stuck using Apple Notes.
  • Simplicity of Design – I really started to notice the feature bloat of Evernote. (Evernote, if you’re listening, please let users with only one account hide the account switcher in the sidebar.) Apple Notes brings me back to a much more minimal design.06_20_18 at 12.11.23PM
  • Folder Hierarchy – I don’t need crazy folder structures for my notes, but Evernote’s insistence on a two-level hierarchy forced me to adopt some weird workarounds including prefixing my notebooks and using tags as a way to add additional levels. As long as you’re adding folders from a Mac, Apple doesn’t seem to care how many levels you want to have.
  • Apple Pencil Support – Evernote claims to have Apple Pencil support but it’s horribly laggy and a real pain to use. As a result, I was already using other apps, including Apple Notes to do any sort of Apple Pencil work.

What I’m Missing:

  • Searching Notes – You’d think searching notes stored in the stock notes app would be easy for a Mac, and if you use Spotlight, it is. Unfortunately, I use Alfred, and for whatever reason, Apple has chosen to store notes in a database that seems to be ever changing preventing any Alfred workflows from keeping up. For now, I’m searching my notes using Spotlight, which means remembering a separate keyboard shortcut. (The fact that Apple’s storing these notes in a database could also be a real pain if I ever need to get my notes out of Apple Notes, but I’m going to choose not to think about that right now because Evernote’s no better.)
  • Evernote’s Web Clipper – It’s really hard to come anywhere close to Evernote’s Web Clipper. Apple Notes can only save links to websites not a full page unless you do a web archive or save it as a PDF which requires a few additional steps. That being said, I was noticing Evernote’s Web Clipper had been doing some odd things to some of my clipped websites, so maybe not all is lost.
  • Note Links – I like to include links to other notes in my notes, as well as within Omnifocus tasks and projects. With Apple Notes, you can’t actually get a link to a note unless you pretend to share the note with someone.
  • Saving Email Content – My mail client of choice, Airmail, has native support for sharing content to Evernote, but surprisingly not Apple Notes. I frequently save important emails for reference, so this is one of my most frustrating features to lose. Surprisingly, Apple’s own Mail apps also lack any ability to share to Notes.
  • Tags – I didn’t use tags extensively in Evernote, but they were helpful in grouping things by topic without having to create a full-blown notebook. For now, I’m dealing with this by sub-folders, but I hope Apple considers adding tags in the future.

There are a few scripts and tools to help you migrate from Evernote to Apple Notes, but I opted to migrate most of my notes manually unless they were purely text-based, which meant this was a pretty time-consuming experiment. (Thankfully, it seems to be a successful experiment.) I’m nearly done migrating the last of my Grad School notes, but already I’m feeling a lot better having one single place for all of my notes.

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7 thoughts on “An Experiment: Migrating from Evernote to Apple Notes

  1. Doug Toft says:

    Thanks for an excellent post. You listed the pros and cons accurately.

    One workaround for the lack of a web clipper: download Bear (http://www.bear-writer.com) for free and install its web clipper extension in your browser. Then copy and paste clipped articles into Notes. This is not elegant, but it works.

    You can put tags in the title of your notes.

    • Andrea says:

      Thanks for the Bear suggestion! I would have never even thought of that. As far as tags, I’m using David Sparks suggestion of just putting them as hashtags towards the end of the note. It’s not perfect in that I can’t just click a tag to see all notes, but I can at least search.

      • muddyflanker says:

        It’s a slippery slope! A got bear partially to allow me to use the web clipper to migrate from Evernote to Notes, and then ended up migrating everything to Bear as it’s a far better solution with more flexible content, better tagging, great cross-device replication, and better wiki-style cross-linking between notes.
        OmniFocus and Bear are now pretty much my productivity suite. I even use Bear for preparing most written content; I find the parred-down environment, simple formatting tools, and its sheer elegance make me far more productive.

      • Andrea says:

        I will admit Bear keeps tempting me, but given how much of my notes include PDFs I don’t believe Bear’s current feature set could handle my particular use case. I’ve also struggled with tags being the dominant organizational structure.

      • muddyflanker says:

        Bear will embed PDFs, but that’s about it; you don’t get to pull the content in directly or index/OCR it unfortunately.
        I really like the tags as the primary organisation structure, as it lets you use them as a both a hierarchical folder structure or as ‘flat’ tags for searching or filtering/viewing.
        Adding native support for PDF content would be a huge addition, bu I’m not sure that’s where they see the product going.

  2. codemonkey85 says:

    > There are a few scripts and tools to help you migrate from Evernote to Apple Notes

    Apple notes will natively import .ENEX files exported from Evernote. It works on macOS and iOS.

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