Neal Sheeran

Rants, Raves, and Geekery



The new releases of both Evernote 5 for Mac and updated iOS versions serve to remind me that I’ve had Evernote installed on my devices for years, been a premium subscriber for at least three, and I have never really used any of them. I need to either make use of Evernote, or get rid of it altogether.

I’m a big fan of using OpenMeta tags for my documents, and Evernote’s tags are not compatible. As I’ve written previously, if I search for a specific tag on my computer, I get a list of all my tagged files: archived Pinboard bookmarks, nvALT notes, PDFs, folders, anything with that tag. I would have to search Evernote separately.

Which then begs the question: should I make Evernote my ‘everything’ bucket? Let’s see 1:

  • General notes: I use nvALT for these. Each note is an individual text file (which I can tag). I can draft a blog post in nvALT and preview it in Marked, with live updating. nvALT also has some nifty built-in Markdown shortcuts. Evernote loses on these counts. Evernote keeps its notes inside an internal database, which alone is almost a deal-breaker.2
  • Storing links: Sorry, Pinboard wins here. Again, see my previous post.
  • PDFs: The vast majority of my PDFs are e-books, or scanned personal documents. If I want to read a PDF book, I sent it to a ‘books’ folder on Dropbox and read it with GoodReader on the iPad, or send it to my Kindle app. My scanned documents get Hazel-ed away into folders that are specifically not in my Dropbox. Why? For security reasons, and I have yet to need immediate mobile access to any of my bills/receipts/vital documents.

One area where I think Evernote may be valuable is collecting things of a more visual nature. As a web design hobbyist, I often come across a sites with an interesting design element such as a color combination, or typeface. Admittedly, Pinboard is not the best place to store something like these visual snippets and I previously used Little Snapper to accomplish this, but the app hasn’t been updated in a while and there is no mobile capability. Evernote has some good tools for screen-capture or copying an entire web page and the iOS apps have a nice capability to take a picture of something and save it as a note.

I may keep Evernote around to fill this very narrow niche of collecting notes of a visual/design-related examples.

Update (22 Jan 13): My observations are somewhat in line with Eddie Smith’s. His thoughts regarding PDFs are interesting.

  1. As I write this, I’m listening to Mac Power Users episode #117. Katie Floyd’s use-cases for Evernote aren’t making any convincing arguments and David Sparks’ responses coincide with mine. Considering I have borrowed many of David’s workflow tricks, this is not surprising.

  2. There are two export options: HTML and an .enex archive that is actually XML. If you want a very simple markdown note to export littered with <div> and <br> elements, then you are in luck.