How to Say Goodbye to Evernote for Free

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Last month, Evernote announced that it would be changing its pricing model in a pretty drastic fashion, one that certainly disadvantages existing power users. First, the paid subscription tiers saw a huge jump – basically a 40% increase across the board.

“Evernote Plus” […] has seen the price jump from $24.99 per year to $34.99 per year (or $3.99 per month). Evernote Plus limits you to 1GB of uploads per month (the free tier is limited to 60MB). The “Premium” tier moved from $49.99 to $69.99. Premium raises uploaded data per month to 10GB and adds a ton of other features. New users will see the price increase right away, while existing users renewing a subscription will see the new pricing in August.

If you are a basic (free) user, you will now find yourself limited to only two devices. That’s a big problem if your goal in using Evernote was to have access across all your devices. And let’s face it–that’s been the big selling point of these sorts of notetaking apps: you will have access to all your data everywhere.

If you are trying to decide whether you should leave Evernote, exporting your data is a critical concern.

Here’s how to export your Evernote data into some other free notetaking programs or, failing that, start all over.

OneNote

Microsoft OneNote is a logical choice for people fleeing Evernote. It’s already part of Microsoft Office, which most attorneys use.

OneNote also has an iOS app, so there is functionality across devices, just like Evernote.

Microsoft is being the most aggressive in going after disgruntled Evernote users–so much so that they built their own importer tool to help you get your data into OneNote.

Regrettably, the tool is only for Windows. If you are a Mac user and want to export all your data, you’ll have to wait until they release the Mac version of the tool, which is slated, vaguely, for “soon.”

In the quest to scoop up as many disgruntled Evernote users as possible, Microsoft has put together a feature chart so you can see what you get with OneNote (which is free, by the way) versus the various Evernote pricing tiers.

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If you are already a Microsoft Windows/Office devotee, the export/import tool makes for a very smooth transfer from Evernote to OneNote. OneNote is very similar to Evernote regarding its organizational powers, so if you are already using Evernote with tags, nested notebooks, attached images, etc., OneNote might be your only choice.

Apple Notes

If you are a hardcore Mac user, you may want to think about transferring to Apple Notes. Apple Notes is arguably less robust than Evernote, but Apple keeps improving the app while keeping it free.

First, you will need to export your data out of Evernote. You can do this note by note, but it is probably more efficient to export an entire notebook at a time. In Evernote, you will want to go to your notebooks and right-click on that notebook and select Export Notes.

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This will export each notebook to Evernote’s semi-proprietary XML format. Then, hop over to the built-in Notes app to import.

From the File menu, choose Import Notes to bring up the Import menu.

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Select the Evernote folder you exported, and Notes will do the rest. The process is automated, but a bit slow: it took Notes about 4 minutes to import 120 notes. If you have been a long-time power user of Evernote, it will take a while to get your data into Notes. The ability to import is relatively rudimentary–you will have an “Imported Notes” folder for each file you import, and you’ll have to go back and rename your folders. And you won’t have tags, which might be a big problem, depending on how you organized your Evernote notes.

If you’re committed to staying with Mac, this may be a good choice, as long as Apple remains committed to improving the application.

Other Free Programs

There are several other notetaking programs that we have covered here, but most of them do not support bulk importing and aren’t necessarily as robust as Evernote or OneNote.

Simplenote has Mac, Windows and Linux desktop versions, an iOS app, an Android app, and a Kindle app. It looks great and has tag and notebook support, but you will need to start from ground zero. It’s a good choice if you’ve only been a casual Evernote user and don’t mind losing your data.

Google Keep is Google’s stripped down web-based notetaking app. It’s much more minimalist than Evernote but has browser extensions and iOS and Android apps. If you are using Google for everything already (and lots of people are) it makes for a quick and easy way to keep track of things, but it isn’t remotely intended to provide the kind of extensive research storage that Evernote does. However, it is free and given Google’s business model, is likely to stay that way.

Thinkery is web-based and supports import of Evernote’s .enex files, but chokes on the larger notebooks. Trying to import 120 notes failed twice, but importing much smaller notebooks worked fine. It has the full retinue of apps and extensions: iOS, Android, and Chrome and Firefox extensions. It is currently free, but they are preparing a paid version. 

If you are ready to abandon Evernote, your decision as to what program to choose instead will be driven by how much data you have in Evernote and what platform you are using. All of these free options offer some great functionality, but if you’ve invested time and money building a complete ecosystem for your notes, you may just end up dealing with the Evernote price increase.

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  • I’m a current Evernote Premium subscriber and I don’t really care if Evernote wants to charge me more. It’s not a lot of money either way.

    But I don’t understand why they just announced the increase without offering something for it. Like “hey, we worked our asses off to make the iOS app twice as fast and streamlined the UI, and it’s also time for us to deal with some issues around pricing we’ve been sitting on for a while.”

    Mostly I’m still just annoyed about a few things:

    Like how is it possible I still can’t create a hyperlink using the iOS app?

    I guess I would feel better paying more if I thought Evernote was working on anything useful instead of dumb features like Work Chat.

    • I’d agree. I don’t think the price change as such is outrageous, but they failed in two ways: (1) as you said above, it needed to be tied to improvements and (2) if they were going to knock free down to 2 devices, they should have made a low-cost “basic” tier with unlimited devices but still storage limits, etc.

  • I’ve been a freeloading user of Evernote, but now I will pay for the Plus subscription. I use it regularly on about 4 devices, and none of the alternatives allow me to encrypt text within a note. It also is probably worth $35 not to have the hassle of switching to something else.