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When it comes to taking notes and using them to get things done, having an app that syncs across all of your devices and also has a browser version is essential. Evernote has long been a leader in note-taking apps, though the company has faced criticism for raising prices, gutting the free version, and failing to address major concerns raised by power users. Nonetheless, you'll be hard pressed to find a service that does everything Evernote does, which is why it remains an Editors' Choice. However, it is not suitable for everyone. Many people are put off by the high price, and the free version is insufficient for most people. It's worthwhile to pay for Evernote Premium or Business if you need the best, most capable note-taking app and can afford it.
Microsoft OneNote, which is also an Editors' Choice for note-taking apps, is the only app that comes close to Evernote's prowess. The free version of OneNote is far more generous than the free version of Evernote. Using OneNote makes sense if you already have a Microsoft account, and especially if you already pay for OneDrive storage. If you're trying to decide which service to use, it's worth looking into the differences between the two.
What's New in Evernote?
Evernote will release a thoroughly updated version of its app for iPhone and iPad in September 2020, with similar new versions of its other apps for macOS, Windows, and Android on the way. The new app addresses a number of issues underneath the hood, making the app more stable and the search tool faster. The team also addressed issues with very large notebooks, which the app previously did not handle well, causing other issues for users.
A completely revamped editor makes a significant difference. Although tools for adjusting line spacing are still unavailable in the Apple mobile apps, it is now possible to clear the formatting of notes and change the font size and colour. Some effort was also put into smoothing the transition between the Apple mobile apps and the Evernote web app.
How Much Does Evernote Cost?
Evernote's service is divided into three tiers: Basic (free), Premium ($7.99 per month or $69.99 per year), and Business ($14.99 per person per month, with a minimum of two people). Students are entitled to a 50% discount on Premium plans. Other plan types, such as Plus, were previously available from Evernote, and while they are no longer available, some users' account types may have been grandfathered forwards.
In recent years, the Basic option has become so limited that it is no longer particularly useful for many people. Notes can only be synced between two devices, and they cannot be saved offline to mobile devices. Each month, you get 60MB of new storage, which isn't much, and each uploaded file is limited to 25MB. Storage that has not been used does not roll over. Tech support is also not included with the free account. I only recommend the free Basic account to get a feel for the app's interface. Microsoft OneNote is a better choice if you need a free note-taking app.
Premium accounts come with a slew of extra features and benefits. Storage is increased to 10GB per month, with a maximum file size of 200MB. You can sync with an unlimited number of devices, and mobile devices can store notes offline. You can annotate PDFs that you upload, and your notes have a version history. Evernote searches your typed notes, images, and the text in attached PDFs and Office files for text when you search for it. You can contact customer service via email or live chat. There's also a presentation mode that allows you to convert your notes into slideshows with no extra effort. You will also be able to scan and digitise business cards. Premium is the way to go, but as I previously stated, it is pricey.
The Business account includes features for team collaboration as well as administrator functions. Read more about it in our separate Evernote for Business review.
How Do Evernote's Prices Compare?
Evernote's prices are among the highest of note-taking apps. However, price is not the same as value. As previously stated, Evernote's free option pales in comparison to other free options, specifically OneNote. Zoho Notebook is another good free option. Then there are a few free apps that don't offer many features, such as Apple Notes and Google Keep.
All of the apps mentioned thus far provide both apps for taking notes and storage for them. Other note-taking apps are just apps, and you must bring your own storage or use a built-in third-party provider, such as iCloud, to use them. One example is the bear. It appears to be a scaled-down version of Evernote, and its pricing ($1.49 per month or $14.99 annually) is significantly lower than Evernote's, owing in part to the fact that you must provide your own storage.
If you already pay for storage through another service, whether it's Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, iCloud, Dropbox, or something else, it might be in your best interest to find a note-taking app that works with it.
The Evernote Method
Evernote is one of those applications that you either get or don't get. It's so adaptable and open that it's easy to get blank-page syndrome when you first start using it. On the company's blog, you can find Evernote tips and use cases that will help you understand not only how to use it, but also why. Furthermore, the app feels completely different from the moment you first open it to the moment you get the hang of it. It improves with use because it's difficult to see how valuable it is until you've filled it with notes.
In a nutshell, Evernote is a place where you can record, save, organise, and search all of your thoughts, notes, voice memos, images, files, and whatever else you upload. Everything is stored in the cloud and accessible via computer, smartphone, or tablet. It includes an excellent search tool that allows you to locate anything you've uploaded to your account. Evernote provides a plethora of tools for organising and finding your notes in other ways, including tags, geolocation tags, notebooks, and stacks of notebooks.
There are significant differences between Evernote and some of its main competitors. Google Keep and Apple Notes, for example, are much more similar in form and function to digital reminders or sticky notes. They're great for quickly jotting down an idea and keeping that note visible to help you remember it, or for adding an alarm-type reminder to it. Evernote is more akin to a digital filing cabinet, where storage and the ability to search for information are as important as making a note.
OneNote and Evernote have significant differences as well, despite having far more in common than Evernote and Google Keep or Evernote and Apple Notes. Pages in OneNote have a pasteboard or scrapbook feel to them, whereas pages in Evernote are essentially word processing documents. OneNote and Evernote also have slightly different note-organization schemas; which one is "better" is a matter of personal preference.
Designing an App
Evernote has apps for every major platform, including Windows, macOS, the web, Android, the iPhone, and the iPad. It's an important feature that the web app works in any browser. You can access your notes using a web app no matter where you are or what device you are using (as long as you have some kind of web-browsing device on hand). There isn't one in every note-taking app.
All of the apps appear to be in order. They have a three-paneled design that is similar to other productivity apps. Evernote employs rich formatting, which has been greatly improved in the latest iOS release and should be the same in the other apps when their latest versions are released. Menus allow you to change the typeface, point size, alignment, and other settings. Some people find formatting distracting, so if that's not your thing, look for a programme that supports the Markdown language. Markdown, in a nutshell, is a way to type text and apply basic formatting to it. Markdown is what you're thinking of if you've ever typed double asterisks on either side of a word in a messaging app to make it bold. Markdown is supported by Bear for Mac and iOS, as well as Laverna.
Everyone's Evernote account has a distinct appearance due to their note viewing preferences (i.e., the layout options they select in the app) and the types of notes they keep. For example, some Evernote users store a lot of images, in which case a layout that shows previews of those images is useful. Some accounts are extremely text-heavy. Other graphical elements, such as tables, are used by some. Overall, the ability to customise the layout and view based on the type of notes you have or your personal preferences makes a significant difference.
Evernote has a number of advanced features that most other note-taking apps lack. Perhaps the most remarkable example is the ability to search for text and find it in images, whether those images are snapshots of a page of typed text or contain handwritten text. Microsoft OneNote and a few other note-taking apps can do it as well.
When you photograph whiteboards, presentations, business cards, advertisements, recipes, or anything else you want to save, you can be confident that Evernote will index all of the text in the image. It's a fantastic feature, but it's not completely foolproof. It occasionally misses something due to a glare on the image or some other issue.
The importance of search cannot be overstated. Because Evernote's search works so well, you don't have to put in as much effort to thoroughly organise your notes. You can always search for text, whether typed or found in an image. Evernote Premium and Business accounts can also search the text within attached PDF and office files. To narrow your search, you can look only in specific notebooks or stacks of notebooks, or you can exclude notes that do not have a specific tag.
Premium and Business users also have access to a one-of-a-kind feature called Context. Context analyses the content of your note, both text and metadata, and then suggests related notes and news articles when enabled. Context suggestions can be a distraction in practise, but it all depends on how you work and what you do with Evernote. Plus, you can always turn them off. Alternatively, you can filter suggestions so that they only come from specific sources.
Work Chat, another advanced feature, integrates an instant messaging window into your Evernote workspace. All Evernote members, including free Basic members, have access to it. You can invite anyone to chat with you while you're in Evernote, but they must create an account in order to use the tool. I like the idea of being able to collaborate quickly and easily from the same window where I'm working, but with the rise in popularity of team chat apps, many people already have a prefered method for communicating with colleagues and collaborators that's equally as convenient.
The web clipper is one of my personal favourites. It's a browser add-on that allows you to save a web page as an Evernote note. For example, if you come across a news article you want to read later or a recipe you want to save online, you can clip it to turn it into a note and tell Evernote to save it to the notebook of your choice. The web clipper includes options for skipping over advertisements on the page, clipping only a portion of a page, and so on. Some Evernote competitors, such as OneNote, Simplenote, and Google Keep, also have a web clipper.
A feature called Conflicting Changes provides a much-needed service, but it's never worked as well as I'd like. When Evernote detects an error in a note as a result of a syncing problem, it notifies you by saving copies of the note to a folder called Conflicting Changes. When you edit a note offline without first syncing changes from a previous edit on a different device, conflicts occur. Conflicts can be caused by user error, but slow syncing or a device crash can also be to blame.
We've always wanted Evernote to display conflicts in a way that makes sense and allows us to act on them, such as by highlighting what's different between two versions. As it stands, you only get raw chunks of text or whatever format your notes are in, as well as a time and date stamp of the save. Without reading the two files word for word, there is no easy way to reconcile them. It could be as simple as an extra space or a punctuation mark in one version but not in another. But you'd never know because the differences aren't visible.
Compatibility with Other Applications
Evernote works well with other apps, which is a huge benefit when integrating it into your personal or professional life.
Every paying Evernote member, for example, receives a unique Evernote email address that they can use to forwards messages into their Evernote account, converting emails into notes. The app can also connect to Slack, allowing you to type a command into Slack and have the post appear as a note in Evernote. It integrates with other office collaboration tools as well as personal apps like Instapaper and Pocket.
If you want to connect an app or online service to Evernote but don't see it listed as supported, you can always check to see if it's possible through IFTTT or Zapier, which both support Evernote. IFTTT (if this, then that) and Zapier are online tools that help people connect apps that don't necessarily connect to each other natively.
OneNote vs. Evernote
Evernote and OneNote are two note-taking apps that are very similar, but they have very different styles, functionality, and appeal. Here are a few of the key distinctions.
When it comes to pricing, OneNote has a more generous free version with no major restrictions, whereas Evernote's free version only gives you a taste of the app.
Evernote gives you a monthly storage allotment, and unused storage does not roll over. By default, OneNote uses OneDrive or SharePoint for storage. Free users get 5GB of storage space and can pay for more. The one disadvantage of using OneDrive is that you can use it to store files from other apps, which means that the amount of space you have isn't exclusively for your notes.
In terms of style and organisational method, Evernote appears to be more business-oriented, whereas OneNote has the potential to be more casual and artistic, depending on how you use it. The purple colour scheme of OneNote certainly contributes to this impression. Evernote notes are linear and based on the same concept that governs text files, whereas OneNote notes are pasteboard style. The pasteboard vs. text file distinction also manifests itself in where tags can be placed. A tag in OneNote can be placed anywhere on a page, next to anything. Tags are only used at the note level in Evernote.
When it comes to web clippers, Evernote does a better job of identifying and removing advertisements when asked, whereas OneNote is easily confused by ads. Evernote also guesses which notebook you want to use, such as when you add a web page containing a recipe to a notebook for recipes. Clipped web pages are shuffled into a default notebook by OneNote.
A Constantly Changing Value Proposition
In terms of features and functionality, Evernote remains one of the best note-taking and syncing services available. It is still an Editors' Choice for its Premium and Business plans. However, it's a much less appealing app for casual users who want to use it for free.
If you're already a user of Evernote, it's difficult to leave and very easy to stay because of all the great features, as well as the new Apple mobile apps and upcoming revamped apps for all other platforms. If you haven't committed to Evernote yet—especially if you're looking for a free app—OneNote is well worth a look.
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