# Replacement needed for Evernote

Apologies dear Zettlers for a(nother) lame app recommendation thread – but who to ask if not this community of obsessive compulsive note takers ;-)

After seven years I finally pulled the plug on my Evernote premium sub. While its search never let me down to get to what I need within seconds, I just can't bring myself to have personal stuff unencrypted in some database on some server anymore – no small thanks to Sascha, Christian and other contributors here. I'm not looking for anything to build a ZK in or handle projects & tasks. And I have a few ideas already...

Here are the use cases I need something else for:

1) storing/retrieving *.pdf docs (it's not a huge library). I'm on Apple products and spotlight seems to search within *.pdf too. Is there anything to be said against just putting them into a suitable, minimal folder structure on my local machine or on iCloud?

2) notes containing inline images and text. This is nothing remotely to do with Zettel either, some stuff for memory's sake mainly. I'm spoiled by EN's image OCR, although it's not strictly a must. I think Bear Pro does inline images and gives me access to my files? Image OCR?

3) storing bookmarks/articles from the web. EN was great for that especially with the webclipper and the ability to either save just a bookmark or capture a whole site/article (later you'd just have to remember some keyword from the thing and EN would pull it up). For this usecase I'm not even concerned about using a SaaS tbh, so I might get away with keeping EN around in the free version just for that. What do you use for that kind of thing?

Ich verzettel mich... ¯_(ツ)_/¯

• edited December 2020

I am not sure what you are aiming for. Do you worry about privacy, when you state: „I just can't bring myself to have personal stuff unencrypted in some database on some server anymore“, or is your goal software-agnosticism or maybe something else? My recommendation will severely differ based on the goal you want to achieve by moving away from Evernote.

So what is important for you? Privacy? Or mainly software-independence?

Post edited by runit on
• Bookmarks: I use pinboard.in for ... well, since del.icio.us went belly-up. 7 years? 10 years? I'm their customer, so that's fine, but I never cared for or used the social aspect much because I have no friends on pinboard 😢

Storage: iCloud is fine, if you have that and trust Apple more than you do Dropbox. If you put all cloud storage on a scale of worst to nice, Apple would be a bit ahead of Dropbox (towards nice). If you reduce Evernote to a cloud storage/file sharing service, you could make a point for Apple taking better care of your data. -- But I'm more and more pulling the plug on these things. I don't mind Photos to sync from my phones, but in my room there's a box of computer parts that I'm going to assemble into a small NAS server to host Nextcloud, which in my testing over the past 60 days works well as a drop-in replacement for what I used Dropbox for. Nextcloud actually runs fine on a Raspberry Pi with a drive attached. The NAS is to up the game and have offsite-backup with friends, who also get a similarly built device. </rant> I totally get when someone says they're not ready to go this far, but setting this stuff up is getting more and more simple every year.

It sounds like you used Evernote as a convenient storage of stuff. Whichever cloud storage you pick, you will most likely be fine with macOS Spotlight to search the full text. Local-first apps that index a database of stuff can do well in that regard, too. When you search for "everything buckets", you get Evernote but also Yojimbo and friends for Mac, or DEVONthink. -- If we were having a conversation, I might probe a bit more and help us figure out if you would be better off with hoarding less files, and in turn making use of smaller, more focused storage spaces.

Like, I get why someone wants to keep the full text of an article around next to/in their reference manager. But e.g. store web clippings, one of Evernote's more famous use cased? I never got that, to be honest, apart from assembling mood boards.

Author at Zettelkasten.de • https://christiantietze.de/

• Thank you guys for the replies; especially @ctietze for taking the time out of the day for such a lengthy reply

@runit
Privacy, well - yes and no. I care enough to realize that some quite personal things just don't belong on a company's server, in the US, unencrypted. While I care a lot in principle, and sometimes find it astonishing and worrisome how little most ppl I know care about privacy, in practice I'm no better & don't care enough to inconvenience myself in any major way for the sake of privacy. When I did the deep dive into the NSA rabbit hole back in the day I tried for a while to move completely away from the likes of google or Apple and go down the open-source route, but I guess like for most people it introduces too much friction and headache to feel worthwhile, which opens the gate for the lame old "I won't change this societal issue by myself anyway"-excuse.

But if I have stuff on a big tech company's server, at least I want some basic encryption at rest, and not just in transience. So dropbox (I know about cryptomator, but saw too many horror stories) and EN are out! As @ctietze mentioned, iCloud isn't great – but I too think it's a bit better than DB because at least my stuff is encrypted with my apple ID pw (I am well aware that when pushed by US authorities they can access it anyway, despite what Timmy claims, Boston marathon & all that...).

Software agnosticism. Well I care about that for a ZK, and thanks to this site/community have already deployed an appropriate system to ensure its longevity
The other stuff mentioned above under 2) and 3) isn't mission critical so to speak, and partly (or dare I say, mostly?) transient in nature.

@ctietze Thanks for showing me pinboard.in, I'll take a look over the next days. Tbh I might just stick to EN for keeping bookmarks (3)) for the time being, more subscriptions are prohibitive for me rn, I only work a part-time gig to support myself while learning skills for a new career. Every dev: "It's just a coffee a month!". Oh boy do these coffees add up! Part of why I hugely appreciate TA hasn't been subscriptionized

I have thought about setting up a Pi as a NAS too, and got a nextcloud account recently to try it out with one of their data partners in NL. As I'm not a coder or "hardcore techie" setting all that up is not undoable, but quite a project for me though, compared to just using something that's conveniently baked into my devices. At the moment and over the next year I've got way too much on my plate to bother with all that.

You are right about me having used EN as a catch-all kind of storage space. I'll pay for that when I sift through it to salvage the wreckage
But I'm also happy to note that while EN encourages this kind of behaviour, I pretty much stopped doing it since ~2 yrs ago, even before finding out about ZK and useful note-taking. I guess my own experience was evidence enough that mindlessly connecting doesn't lead to any worthwile payoffs down the road

Wow, I wrote a lot already... Thanks so much for your thoughts. Where I'm at for now:

For 1) I'll definitely just file stuff away directly in Finder. I did some more experimenting with spotlight yesterday, seemed to work like a charm! As a side-note on that, I discovered https://johnnydecimal.com on this very forum yesterday when I came to write my topic. Don't remember off the top of my head who posted it, but it's well appreciated as it'll make building my filing system (folder structure) much easier and ensures it'll stay functional for hopefully a long time!

For 2) I might even go with Apple Notes for now (spotlight, image support, "free").

I'm still browsing for a sleek, sexy minimal note-taker, but I have to properly think through first why I think I need it, what exactly its role in my workflows are and what criteria it must meet... By then maybe nvULTRA will be finished 🤔😅

Ich verzettel mich... ¯_(ツ)_/¯

• edited December 2020

I see. I was down the privacy-rabithole myself and like you, I kind of decided for convenience while at least reduce the services I hand my data over. I also have similar experience with iCloud. It just works… for the most part. I had some headaches lately with iCloud but that's another story.

But now, I owe you some recommendations. ^^

@depraff said:
1) storing/retrieving *.pdf docs (it's not a huge library). I'm on Apple products and spotlight seems to search within *.pdf too. Is there anything to be said against just putting them into a suitable, minimal folder structure on my local machine or on iCloud?
2) notes containing inline images and text. This is nothing remotely to do with Zettel either, some stuff for memory's sake mainly. I'm spoiled by EN's image OCR, although it's not strictly a must. I think Bear Pro does inline images and gives me access to my files? Image OCR?

If you're already into the Apple-Ecosystem you can try out the Apple-Notes App. It will do Inline-Images, OCR-Search and it is completely free for Apple-Users. Downside: It is not easy to migrate your stuff, if you change your mind later. The only way of export I am aware of is pdf, when it comes to written notes. Anyway I remember it as very cumbersome. With files attached to the note, you can easily download them.

Bear is a little bit better, because you can export in Markdown if I remember correctly but you do not have access to your files right away. (Correct me if I am wrong).

If you can wait a little bit: Image-Preview is coming to The Archive. (https://forum.zettelkasten.de/discussion/1532/the-archive-b168-b169-check-out-the-image-preview-dangerous-beta-build) It is still experimental but there you get full control over all your files.

And then… there is Devonthink. It’s expensive but all your data is stored locally and you get powerful search: https://devontechnologies.com/de/apps/devonthink

3) storing bookmarks/articles from the web. EN was great for that especially with the webclipper and the ability to either save just a bookmark or capture a whole site/article (later you'd just have to remember some keyword from the thing and EN would pull it up). For this usecase I'm not even concerned about using a SaaS tbh, so I might get away with keeping EN around in the free version just for that. What do you use for that kind of thing?

I can tell you, what I do: If there is an article I want to save for later, I go to „Ablage“ (I don’t remember how it is called in the englisch version) on Safari and there is usually the function „save/export to pdf“. This goes into my inbox-folder for later processing. In my opinion this is way simpler than having some extension or dedicated program. It also helps, because I set the rule for myself that I have to empty this folder weekly. This way I also fight collectors fallacy. With stuff like Evernote, Pocket and so on I always tend to save everything and process nothing.

And for bookmarks I just use the bookmarks in my browser or I just copy the url into my notes.

• @runit You can export ALL of your bear notes using a variety of formats and save them in a folder of your choice. They are available immediately.

• Wow, @runit that's a detailed reply, much appreciated

@runit said:
If you're already into the Apple-Ecosystem you can try out the Apple-Notes App. It will do Inline-Images, OCR-Search and it is completely free for Apple-Users. Downside: It is not easy to migrate your stuff, if you change your mind later. The only way of export I am aware of is pdf, when it comes to written notes. Anyway I remember it as very cumbersome. With files attached to the note, you can easily download them.

THANK YOU for pointing out the lock-in problem! Even though it's just supposed to be an interim solution, why set myself up for likely headaches down the road, am I right?
(And since it might maybe interest others: Apple Notes does not do OCR search on images from what I could gather online, OCR in this case only applies to the handwriting capabilities of the app.)

@runit said:
And then… there is Devonthink. It’s expensive but all your data is stored locally and you get powerful search: https://devontechnologies.com/de/apps/devonthink

Another user here also recommended it to me. It is, in fact, already on my radar. At this point of time the price is prohibitive, which is not to imply that it isn't fair value. I don't mind paying for quality software at all, even if it's a "hefty" sum, as long as I own the license.
I might come back to it at a later point when my cashflow has improved.

@runit said:
I can tell you, what I do: If there is an article I want to save for later, I go to „Ablage“ (I don’t remember how it is called in the englisch version) on Safari and there is usually the function „save/export to pdf“. This goes into my inbox-folder for later processing. In my opinion this is way simpler than having some extension or dedicated program.

That's actually a super useful recommendation, since I already decided to simply file away my *.pdf in Finder, and since Spotlight searches within *.pdf too. Adding an inbox folder and copying your workflow seems like a great solution – I owe you one

Thank you for clearing that up re Bear @GeoEng51 . I will use Bear for 2) now, I can stomach the \$15,- annual subscription, especially with me admittedly being a sucker for that kind of nicely designed minimal UI.

So, I guess this means...

1) sorted.
2) sorted.
3) sorted.

You guys been great, happy holidays to y'all! 🎄

Ich verzettel mich... ¯_(ツ)_/¯