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.
- 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.
23 thoughts on “An Experiment: Migrating from Evernote to Apple Notes”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Saving Email Content:You can simply drag York mail in to notes with your mouse!
Thanks for sharing. Unfortunately, this isn’t quite what I’m looking for because you first have to create a new note in order for it to work (at least with Airmail) but it may be enough for other users.
> 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.
This I did not know! Thank you for sharing this!
Is the procedure to export to .enex and import in to Apple Notes documented somewhere? I have over 5000 notes in Evernote, so an automated method would be the best.
– Reposted so that I could subscribe to replies
If you do a search for migrating from Evernote to Apple Notes, it looks like 9To5Mac did a decent write up about the process.
I, too, had been looking for an alternative to Evernote despite it being my ‘go to’ note repository for a number of years. Exporting to OneNote proved to be a disaster as notes were illogically sorted and I was left with the belief that it would just be too difficult to locate notes I needed access to. The whole process of exporting from Evernote and importing to OneNote using the clunky “OneNote Importer” tool was incredibly time-consuming, but the advantage was that I was left with a series of .enex files that I could subsequently import into Apple Notes.
I’m currently experimenting with Apple Notes in Mojave to see if it will meet my needs. I’ve never really used tags to a great extent but can see how this would be advantageous. The current version of Notes offers an in-app search function which, to-date, seems to be reliable.
Apple’s insistence in storing objects in proprietary databases irks me to a great degree. For this reason I’ll likely continue to use Evernote and Apple Notes in parallel until this and the missing functionality you’ve detailed above is addressed.
Great blog by the way!
Thanks so much for stopping by. I’ve heard great things about OneNote, but found it wasn’t what I wanted as well.
I’m consistently impressed with Apple Notes. As long as you aren’t trying to use it primarily as a document database (e.g. storing reference articles), it is surprisingly underrated. My disdain of the proprietary database format is what pushed me away from both and towards the vastly more powerful DevonThink.
i use Evernote as a backup for all my notes/works/file. I have shared notebook with my family and colleagues. This sharing is the only thing binding me off Apple Notes. In a hope such feature will be available someday in the near future
Interestingly enough, sharing is the last thing keeping me with Apple Notes. Most of my friends and family have iOS devices, and with Apple Notes being a stock app, it’s the easiest way for me to share things with them knowing it’s on their phones already and I will probably never get them interested in another note-taking app. Of course you have to share notes individually, not as a notebook like Evernote which makes Evernote more appealing if you’re planning to share a number of notes.
Very nice article. I am investigating moving from Evernote to Apple Notes as well. The family sharing seemed like a great idea, but never really panned out. For todos, tasks, and projects I have been using Notion (https://www.notion.so) the last couple of months and love it. I don’t think they do a good job explaining just how powerful it is, so take some time to experiment with it. [Be aware that the “public access” is just that, it essentially publishes your note as a public web page. I have come across other’s personal notes with passwords.]
Hi Michael! Thanks for stopping by. I’ve heard good things about Notion myself. I’ve looked into it, but I think I’d need to spend more time with it to truly grasp how I could use it. For now it’s too freeform for me to make sense of. Also, thank you for the tip about public access. Best of luck to those people who have shared passwords.
Hi there, I’m desperate to leave Evernote because of constant synch conflicts between my desktop and phone. I can never really be sure if they’re the problem or I am, so I’m wondering if you think Apple Notes or DevonThink will present less synch problems or if I’m just doing something wrong? Thanks!
I can’t say for sure what would be causing your sync conflicts in Evernote. I have had a few issues with Apple Notes over the years where it wants to bring back deleted folders occasionally. I suspect I had something wonky with my iCloud syncing when that was going on though. As far as DevonThink, you manage where you’re syncing from. I’ve only tried iCloud and Box. I’d say my main gripe with DevonThink syncing between iOS and Mac is that it wasn’t always as fast as I’d like, but you do get much more control over how you want things to sync and where, so that’s a plus.
Hopefully some of that helps.
I am using Evernote for “everything”. Not notes that I write, but all the stuff I want to save and be able to find again next year. – I have been “stuck” with Evernote Premium because of the search features. Being able to make string text search on everything is important in my life. Example: I Used Scanbot to scan front and back of all my old LP Vinyl covers. Most of it is very old jazz where it can (really!) be interesting to search for a specific musician across the back of 50 covers. This can be done with Evernote. But I could not find a replacement app which could do the same. – Then, somewhere I saw you mentioning DevonThink. I had never heard about that. So I gave it a try. DevonThink Personal + Devonthink to go on IOS. – Importing from Evernote (without first going through an Evernote export) worked perfectly. And very fast even on my very old iMac. (Minutes). Then I asked for encryption and synchronization via iCloud. Then I went to bed. Next morning everything was available for me on my lovely iPad Pro 10.5. No Hickups. I am now reading the book you also recommended. It seems a little lige taking a pilot license. There is so much to learn and to do. – So thank you for enriching my life (retired, 67, IT person for 40 years; still think it is fun). – Since you write about databases then, just for fun, try to Google “Boyce-Codd” and see what will show up. He was the guy who figured out how one should really design databases and how data should be split up into tables adhering to stringent logic. Relational databases, it was called. They are still out there on the mainframes.
That’s wonderful. I’m so glad you’ve had a good experience switching to DevonThink. I’ve been very happy switching myself. I’ll definitely check out Boyce Codd.
Thanks for stopping by!
I enjoyed this article and am considering the same migration to Apple Notes that you’ve described. In the image at the top of this article it appears as if some of the folders (e.g. “Carryout Menus”, “Lists”, etc) in your Apple Notes have customized icons. How did you do that?
They’re actually just emoji.