Think You Should Leave EverNote? Enjoy This Unsurpassed Solution

TL;DR

Exporting Evernote to PDF, with structure & tags intact, is easy with a dedicated $15 PC/Mac app.

Replicating Evernote’s web clipping function cost $0, courtesy of a bookmarklet; dump clean (!) PDF’ web pages/files into Google Drive for a content-searchable library accessible to every platform and device. Note-taking apps are plentiful, many offering worthy alternatives to EverNote’s bloated iteration.

Estimated Reading Time: 3:39 minutes

Evernote’s Anemic Native Export Options

Evernote’s native export options—HTML and XML—do not preserve your overall structure. Its third option, .ENEX, is recognized by only a handful of apps, e.g. Mac’s DevonThink and OneNote’s Windows-only import app.

The Evernote team schooled me, with a vengeance: if you don’t want your document-collection life ruled by the latest whim of a developer, create the docs in a universally recognized format; house them in an any-device-access friendly database with universal searchability.

This post resolves three concerns:

  1. exporting your Evernote database to PDF files, while retaining your tags, notes and overall structure → ExportNote (Mac/Windows)
  2. replacing Evernote’s browser-based clipping functionality, using any browser on any device → PrintFriendly bookmarklet
  3. maximizing searchability of your files, including rifling through the contents → Google Drive
If you want to escape EverNote, with nicely formatted/structured notes, $15 spells freedom // Whistling Ducks, Sylvan Heights Bird Park Scotland Neck, North Carolina

If you want to escape EverNote, with nicely formatted/structured notes, $15 spells freedom // Whistling Ducks, Sylvan Heights Bird Park Scotland Neck, NC

Part I: Exporting An Evernote Database

My quest to escape Evernote’s bloat, formatting issues, and annual hefty fee increases transported me to Google which, in turn, led to me to the DocumentSnap website. That  site long ago impressed me with its stellar content, and this visit underscored its helpfulness. Entitled “ExportNote: Evernote Export Tool That Keeps Your Organization Structure,” this Google-linked article provides a detailed step-by-step review of ExportNote‘s process and results. DocumentSnap’s review overwhelmed my standard knee-jerk refusal to purchase an app without a trial. I raced to the ExportNote.com site, studied the features listing on the home page, and purchased the $15 premium version. The $5 Basic version will NOT export note attributes (e.g. dates and tags); the $15 Premium will. The cheaper version loves only HTML; Premium adds PDF, and batch conversion. No contest!

I gave ExportNote’s its marching orders just prior to going to bed. The next morning, prepared for disappointment, I peeked at my iMac screen. My jaw dropped as I worked my way down the newly created folder tree. Reaction: yesssss!, with manic fist pumps.

Bottom-line: If, for whatever reason, you desire an I-Dream-of-Jeanie style blink conversion of your full EverNote database to PDF (or HTML), WITH your overall document structure preserved, ExportNote awaits you. The convenience factor, combined with the mahhhvelous results, elevate this little app to “absolute gem” status. Usage may be a one-time affair, but the beauty of the app’s handiwork lingers on.

Part II: Replacing Evernote’s Web Clipper

My work involves extensive web-based research. Web clipping is a necessity.

I tried the OneNote clipper, but horrendous formatting chased me away.

I increased my PinBoard usage. While there’s lots to love on that front, I’m squeemish about the export options. HTML may/not preserve tags and structure. That concern was sufficient to push PinBoard to the slot marked “if all else fails.”

More digging landed me on the iPad page at PrintFriendly.com. The site lives to provide a bookmarklet, designed to convert a page into a clean PDF—i.e. all extraneous material (ads, banners) removed. It’s a piece of JavaScript coding, appearing as a bookmark. One tap starts the conversion. A preview is presented, accompanied with a save button. “Save” pulls the final PDF on screen. On my iPad, a tap in the upper left corner of the PDF reveals save-location options. I always choose Google Drive, where I massage the page-title-as-filename, appending a date, ie 17.0310.

Part III: Searching Your Files From Any Device via Google Drive

Google’s storage allotments personify reasonable pricing:

  • Free: 15gb
  • $1.99/mo: 100g
  • $9.99/mo: 1tb

My Evernote PDF’d collection lives in content-searchable Google Drive, with the standard mirror on my hard drive. Via drag & drop of the granddaddy folder, I copied those files to an external hard drive; the contents are automatically backed up nightly to Amazon Web Servers.

Whether the device in hand is an Android Nexus 6p, an iOS iPad or iPhone, Mac BigBoy machine, Chromebook, or Windows Asus Zenbook, I can access that stash. And, because Google powers the search engine, the desired item(s) are retrieved with incredible speed.

Sample search queries:

  • *.pdf last 7 days “bullet journal” blogging
  • today
  • yesterday
  • last 30 days

Bonus: the text appearing within images feeds the search engine, as does the content of PDF and other text-heavy files. The weird search syntax of Evernote is replaced with Google’s familiar language.

Wrap-Up

What did I lose with the replacements? Tagging. My workaround: insert tags directly within the filename. This typically involves a ClientName. No loss on the note-taking front. My attempts to use EverNote for quick notes died years ago, courtesy of the bloat factor combined with unpredictable formatting results.

What did I gain? A thicker wallet, courtesy of canceling my Premium EverNote subscription; immunity to the latest gimme moe money now, features later whims of the development team; speedy searches available to all devices; reliable syncing among ALL devices where I’ve installed the gDrive app; and a saner overall system.

What about privacy concerns, given’s Google’s ad-driven focus? Attorneys have an absolute obligation to safeguard client information. Every U.S. jurisdiction maintains a special office, dedicated to overseeing attorney activities. That office issues rules and guidelines for attorneys. Long story short, I am aware of none precluding Google usage. To the contrary, most explicitly approve the resource following a studied review of how Google actually works. Bottom-line: few concerns here. (Yes, my browsers are stocked with anti-tracking etc extensions, as is my home office network.)

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Call to Action

When did you last devote focused time to analyzing your app usage generally, and EverNote in particular? If the latter triggers more joy than groans, fine. But if the bloat factor, combined with formatting hassles, conspire to kill the fleeting thoughts you’re trying to capture, it may be time for a change. Complaining solves nothing. A concrete plan to implement change, with a try-again mentality until you find your bingo!, just might yield long-term enhanced productivity.