Alternatives to Evernote

This post on DEVONthink and Notebooks as an alternative to Evernote got me thinking again about what I do.

Here is a quick rundown of what I tried.

DEVONthink for iOS and macOS

I tried this and there is so much to love about it. The “trial” mode felt really weird at first, but in practice it let me use the app for a few months as I tried it out without needing to pay for it. This was good because it’s expensive and I don’t use it currently.

The best thing about DEVONthink was it’s “related” content capabilities. It would index your content and show you content that might be related across all the notes you had.

It pulled together a number of things for me a few times.

DEVONthink is smarter than Evernote and it isn’t trying to add a bunch of other features that aren’t core to it’s function like Evernote keeps doing. It’s also not a subscription.

I didn’t stick with it because I kept looking for reasons to use iOS and DEVONthink has a client, but it’s clearly an application built for macOS not iOS. iOS is more a “reader” for the data than a first party tool to use with it.

Zim

This is an open source Wiki builder you can host. I got it installed once, then I removed it for some reason and could never get it installed on my Mac again so…I’m not using it.

Simplenote for iOS and macOS 

I spent a few weeks with it. There are things to like, and so much to not like. Mainly, it supports no keyboard commands in iOS. That makes it super hard to use.

Turtl

Was super jazzed about the privacy part of this, but there were just too many hurdles to jump to make it useful.

Others

There were a few others, but I can’t find them now so they couldn’t have been that noteworthy.

Bear for iOS and macOS

Bear is pretty simple. It’s got Markdown and lots of export options in it. I’m keeping my text snippets here along with:

  • all my client notes
  • random information I want to track
  • a full typed copy of my raw unedited/written book notes

One thing I love is that from the iOS share sheet I can send a link with the title of the page and append it to my notes. I use this to compile my Freelance Friday resources as a running note I pull from every week.

Sync is really fast, but you do have to make sure you open the Bear app on your device and get it to sync. I’ve had conflicts with my running Freelance Friday note when I’ve added something from my phone and then later my iPad. It’s not a huge deal, but I’d love to see background sync so that it was just always the same on all devices.

I’ll write more about Bear and it’s usage at a later point.

WordPress

I used to keep all my tagged research in something like Evernote, but I don’t now. You’ll find it on my site where anyone can search it. That’s the individual quotes from books I read. The web pages I find foundational. Links to research papers I’ve read and want to reference later.

Here I figured anyone could look at it. I can link any time I use a quote back to the blog articles I use them in. I can link the full book reviews to the main book entries.

In practice I do this and I use the resources as I’m writing to find quotes and other research I’ve done that relates to what I’m currently working on. In theory this is going to become a huge index of my site with a bunch of links to everything else.

I’m happy to be out of Evernote. I still don’t think that it’s got its priorities correct. It seems to be to still be a ticking bomb waiting to die and take your data with it.

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