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Migrating from EverNote to Joplin


Recently I got a message that my Evernote subscription was going up. It’s been a $3 a month service, but moving to $4 for me. From USD$35 to USD$50 a year. Not a big change, but a little annoying to me. I have a few reasons, outlined below, but this post is mainly describing the process of moving my data.

Setting up Joplin is easy. You download the app, install it, and then (optionally) connect it to Dropbox, where it adds itself as an app in the /apps folder.

Export and Import

I can easily export a notebook in Evernote to their ENEX format. I do this by right clicking a notebook and selecting Export notebook.

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This asks me how to store the output. I get a single file, pick a name/location and this creates a file.

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Once this is done, in the Joplin desktop app, I have a few choices. I pick ENEX and then the type, select the file, and things import.

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I tried HTML, but got a mess.

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If I could edit in the right pane, this would be OK, but I have to edit in the source pane, which is annoying. I know HTML, but don’t want to write in it.

Instead, I picked markdown, which gives me a better view.

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I have perhaps a few thousand notes, but really only about 12 notebooks. Since I can export 12 times and import 12 times, this is easy.

I then have all my notes in a new app, where I can sync them between desktop, mobile, and the iPad in the kitchen.

Note I’ll spend a couple weeks working in Joplin and see what I think.

Why Leave Evernote?

Evernote has continued to expand their capabilities, which I get. As a software service, they want to keep growing and attracting more customers and providing more features.

However, for me, I want to simply take notes. I almost never include images, web clips, etc. Instead, I like simple text and quick software. I want to make notes and save them, syncing across devices. To me, I need a glorified way of capturing text files and moving them between machines.

While Evernote has worked well, they’ve done some things that make this less ergonomic for me. Specifically:

  • They add a div tag that notes this item was clipboard’d, which is perpetually annoying. I also copy/paste often as this is my writing tool and they add some markup in HTML, which I then have to remove.
  • New notes mean I have to select if this is a note, a task, or something. One extra, very, very annoying click.
  • Their navigation options are clunky and slow on mobile/tablet.
  • Their UX has me constantly clicking from the top to the bottom to the top of the screen.
  • They’ve become more chatty, and single-threaded with more lags. Something I find annoying.

They have also deprecated the Plus subscription, which is simple.

I decided to try Joplin, which I found in this PC Mag article. Joplin is an open source app, and if I keep using it, I’ll donate some money to the developer. I don’t mind paying for software, but I need something simple.

If this doesn’t work, I have other options. I might just create a private GH repo and use folders to organize text files. That’s about what I need.

I can also renew Evernote for a year and kick the can and hope they don’t try to force me into the $12/mo subscription.

I know lots of people love OneNote, but I find it overkill and too annoying.

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