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Evernote is the big tusker of note-taking apps.

The note-taking tool and its 200 million users rivals the number of Pinterest and Snapchat users, and one can bet that Evernote users spend more hours on the tool than the other two. It often seems like Evernote is the pacemaker for everyday productivity for its millions of users. Unfortunately, a portion of those millions are turning into the malcontents.

The reason? This little blog post which announced a BIG change to the way we freeloaders use Evernote. Two bits of disturbing news leapt out:

The prices for our Plus and Premium tiers will change for new subscriptions, and access from Evernote Basic accounts will be limited to two devices.

Evernote does not have an advertising model, and so the price increase – even though it is a substantial 40% — can be swallowed as a reasonable pill. But many Evernote users have spoken out against the restriction of using just two devices in the Free plan.

The core appeal of Evernote is its cross-platform reach. Record notes on one device and access it on another. Has Evernote destroyed the Golden Rule of any worthy note-taking tool? The noise of 1500+ posts on the Evernote Forum  goes both ways. And then there’s Twitter.

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Evernote is making all the noise, but there are other species in the note-taking jungle now. A few of them are ready to pounce on any dissatisfied fraction of its 200 million users. So, if you want to jump ship, it’s time to check out the best Evernote alternatives, and then start to migrate your notes.

Let’s look at the popular and free Evernote alternatives which tick the boxes Evernote just blanked out for us.

Evernote Alternatives for The Simple User

Even with the 2 device restriction, you can still use the Evernote web app and work with your notes. But maybe this change is making you introspect and review your note-taking needs. Maybe you don’t use all the bells and whistles that Evernote provides. Maybe you need a simpler note-taking workflow.

Here are a few good choices.

Google Keep (Free)

Platform: Web, Android, iOS.

Google Keep

You can find a lot of creative uses for Google Keep 10 Creative Ways to Use Google Keep Every Day 10 Creative Ways to Use Google Keep Every Day Google Keep is a simple note-taking app. But its simplicity hides its usefulness. Here are ten tips and ideas to use Google Keep for the little everyday things in life. Read More . Google Keep started its life as a barebones sticky note-taking tool, but now it has morphed into something more powerful with text recognition and automatic note organization. It is still not a feature-for-feature competitor to Evernote.

For example, it lacks the rich text formatting options or the app ecosystem of Evernote.  But it is the tool of choice for anyone who likes a simplified but streamlined note-taking system. You can fit Google Keep into any workflow 4 Google Keep Tips And Tricks For Better Notes, Lists And To-Dos 4 Google Keep Tips And Tricks For Better Notes, Lists And To-Dos Read More with the right tips.

Features of Note:

  • Sync notes across all platforms.
  • Supports audio notes, automatic transcription, checklists, images, and reminders.
  • Fast search. You can search for text in photos, such as images of receipts, by typing the words in the photo.
  • Supports collaboration with an email. Notes can also be sent to Google Docs.
  • Intelligent categorization of notes by topic, color, and labels.
  • Lacks an import option.

Simplenote (Free)

Platform: iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, Linux, Web

Simplenote

The clean and minimal interface is designed for fast note-taking. Simplenote supports notes of any length, but like Google Keep it is for quick note-taking Too Lazy to Take Notes? Try These Faster Notetaking Tips Instead Too Lazy to Take Notes? Try These Faster Notetaking Tips Instead There are several shortcuts you can take to capture everything from lectures to meeting minutes to to-do lists. Let's explore some of those shortcuts today with these tips for faster note-taking. Read More rather than longform recording. Simplenote is definitely recommended for list-makers who like a clutter free environment that is a bit more powerful than a simple notepad.

Official native apps and third-party Simplenote clients Simplify Note-Taking & Sync Notes Everywhere With Simplenote Apps Simplify Note-Taking & Sync Notes Everywhere With Simplenote Apps Simplenote and its ecosystem of apps for every platform toss all the superfluous features found in competing note-taking programs and focus on the ones that matter. All Simplenote apps sync effortlessly, with minimal interfaces that... Read More are available on all popular platforms including Linux.

Features of Note:

  • Sync notes across all platforms.
  • Write with Markdown on the web app, Windows, and Linux.
  • Supports version control – go back in time to your old notes with the slider.
  • Find notes quickly with instant searching and simple tags.
  • Share notes with an email.

Apple Notes

Platform: Web, iOS, and Mac.

Apple Notes

Bryan Wolfe dives into Apple Notes and answers the basic question, should you be using Apple Notes for iOS and OS X? Should You Be Using Apple's Notes for iOS and OS X? Should You Be Using Apple's Notes for iOS and OS X? For the first time since its release, Apple Notes for both OS X and iOS may be worth considering. Read More

With the coming of OS X El Capitan and iOS 9, it definitely gives the above two tools a run for their popularity. Notes are accessed from iCloud; thus you can sync them across all (Apple) devices on any platform. Now, you can create formatted notes with new text tools. Write notes with titles, heading styles, numbered or bulleted lists, and more.

If you are using an iOS 9 device and are a doodler or a sketchnoting fan, lean towards the colored drawing tools like a pen, pencil, felt tip marker, and eraser. Capture your ideas and annotate with these visual aids.

Features of Note:

  • Organize your notes into folders.
  • Attach photos or videos with a drag and drop.
  • Insert attachments to notes and browse them all with a single click.
  • Recover and edit iCloud notes deleted in the last 30 days on iCloud.com.
  • Lock notes with Touch ID or a password.

TiddlyWiki (Free)

Platform: Any

You shouldn’t discount personal wikis for note-taking 4 of the Best Personal Wikis to Keep You Organized 4 of the Best Personal Wikis to Keep You Organized What if there was wiki software designed to help you out on a personal level? You could use it for anything, for example to outline your novel, keep track of home improvement projects, or plan... Read More . TiddlyWiki is the best known among them and comes with the benefit of a worldwide community who are putting the software to many creative uses. TiddlyWiki is simple and easy to customize, even if you are ignorant about HTML and CSS. It is Open Source and designed to run on any browser. You don’t need to install anything or use a web host.

Thanks to the mature community, you can extend TiddlyWiki with the variety of plugins, themes, widgets, and languages. To get started, save the “Empty TiddlyWiki” HTML file to your computer and start creating your notebook.

Features of Note:

  • Completely customizable and private.
  • Encrypt the contents of your notebook.
  • Store your information wherever you want to – locally, on a cloud folder, your mobile, or on a USB Drive.
  • A custom desktop application called TiddlyDesktop is available which works with Windows, Mac OS X or Linux.

Evernote Alternatives for Power Users

Note-taking morphs into document collaboration when teams need to work together in real-time and spill their guts out on long documents. Sprawling documents are sometimes the product of fruitful brainstorming sessions and need more sophisticated features to handle the overload of notes and thoughts.

Here are a few worthy Evernote alternatives with super-powers.

Microsoft OneNote

Platform: Web, Windows, Mac, Android, iOS

microsoft-onenote

Microsoft OneNote is the usurper. It was snapping at Evernote’s heels even before the news came out. And now all that power with the free price tag tilts the result of OneNote vs Evernote The Best Evernote Alternative Is OneNote and It's Free The Best Evernote Alternative Is OneNote and It's Free The market is drenched in note-taking apps competing with Evernote. But there is only one serious Evernote alternative. Let us explain why that is OneNote. Read More in Microsoft’s favor. With the Microsoft Importer tool How to Migrate From Evernote to OneNote With One Easy Tool How to Migrate From Evernote to OneNote With One Easy Tool Want to switch from Evernote to OneNote? This tool from Microsoft makes the move as easy as possible for you. Read More , it is now easier to get all your Evernote notes into OneNote.

Coming over to OneNote from the linear structure of Evernote won’t hurt you much because it mimics a Moleskine with its neat division into pages and sections. Move your OneNote notebooks to OneDrive for easy access across all your devices and invite others so others can get to it. Sync them and work even when you are offline.

There is no Linux app yet. But OneNote makes a fantastic combo with a tablet like the Surface Pro 4, where you can trigger it with a click of the pen.

Use these tips to get productive with OneNote:

Google Drive

Platform: Web, Windows, Mac, Android, iOS

Google Drive

With Google Drive we get into serious document editing and collaboration tasks. As an office productivity suite it is not designed for quick note-taking, but you can pump data into it. Google Drive’s folder organization How to Organize Your Google Drive Like a Pro How to Organize Your Google Drive Like a Pro Google Drive's biggest benefits are its advanced search features. They can help you sort and organize your files and you'll always find what you need! Read More and smart search features 7 Google Drive Search Tips to Help You Find Anything 7 Google Drive Search Tips to Help You Find Anything Is your Google Drive a mess? Find everything easier with our help. Google's search operators can find almost anything, including text in images (OCR) or photos based on content, e.g. your dog. Read More make it well-suited to manage any amount of information. Add the seamless real-time collaboration and sharing tools 10 Tips for Managing Shared Files on Google Drive 10 Tips for Managing Shared Files on Google Drive Take Google Drive beyond a file storage system with the many tips and tricks that it offers for real-time collaboration. Here are ten tips to help manage your files on Google Drive. Read More and you have the note-taking solution for any team project.

Giving some thought to the folder structure is the first step. With some creativity, you can design your own note-taking templates (for some inspiration, look at these custom planners 6 Custom Planners You Can Easily Make with Google Drive 6 Custom Planners You Can Easily Make with Google Drive Use Google Drive as an everyday planning tool. Take any part of your life and you can create your own custom planner that is printable and free. Read More or pre-made templates 24 Google Docs Templates That Will Make Your Life Easier 24 Google Docs Templates That Will Make Your Life Easier Templates can save you lots of time. We compiled 24 time-saving Google Docs templates for work, health, home, and travel. Get on with your projects, rather than struggling with putting together documents. Read More ). Notes on paper? Make the Google Drive camera work for you and let the OCR feature take over.

Remember, you can always use Google Keep for quick notes and sync it with Google Drive for follow-up research. Extensions like Notes for Google Drive and Clevernote on Android are just two from the rich eco-system that surrounds Google Drive.

Use these tips to get productive with Google Drive:

Dropbox Paper

Platform: Web, Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS

Dropbox Paper (beta) is another tool which can be diluted for team notes or used as a personal productivity tool. Born from the erstwhile Hackpad, it is a collaboration app which uses shared Dropbox space to capture ideas, create documents, chat, and keep everything together.

The project is currently in beta, but so far it feels like a more stylized version of Google Docs. You can brainstorm as a team and share thoughts quickly with inline comments or compliment your feedback with emoji and stickers. Create task lists and assign tasks to team members or to yourself.

Dropbox Paper has a minimal distraction-free interface very much like Medium’s. The formatting toolbar stays out of the way. You can enrich your notes by embedding YouTube, Google, SoundCloud, and Dropbox content. Programmers can even use code-blocks.

Like any good collaboration software, Paper also has revision control to take you back to past edits.  Your documents can be organized into folders. Folders can be made available to your whole team, or they can be private to you and the people you invite to collaborate. Finally, you can export your documents in Doc X or Markdown formats.

Dropbox is still at an early stage. So, expect more updates and mobile apps soon.

Box Notes

Platforms: Web, Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android

Box often goes ignored when we talk about cloud productivity. But Box is not only nibbling away, it is taking nice chunks of the storage pie with a stronger enterprise focus. Starting off, it offers more free storage (10GB) compared to Dropbox (2GB).

With Box Notes you can add document collaboration to the arsenal. Use Notes to share ideas and collaborate in real-time with your team — all without leaving Box or the folder you are working on. Box Notes has a minimal text editor with formatting options. Share a Box Note with read-only access or full editing privileges. Add comments as colored annotations, supported by color-coded and recognizable annotations inserted by other collaborators.

Multiple collaborators can make changes to Box Notes simultaneously, in real-time. Box Notes supports many file types, tables, and revision history.

Some Other Tools You Should Look at:

The industry of note-taking apps is massive and not surprisingly you will find a lot of them in the Apple Store and Google Play Store.

And The Best Evernote Alternative Is….

Note-taking isn’t only about the software or the hardware. It is about habits too. Your digital note-taking habits A Quick & Dirty Guide to Perfect Digital Note-Taking A Quick & Dirty Guide to Perfect Digital Note-Taking Learn how to take notes the right way. Here are some of the most effective tips for becoming a digital note-taking pro. Read More determine which software you should go for. So, one would be hard-pressed to anoint one single app as the best among all the above. And there’s nothing stopping you from using two note-taking apps either. I use Google Keep for quick jottings and Evernote for deeper notes. Maybe, you use more than one tool too.

But have I missed the trees because of the forest?

Are there any other noteworthy apps out there that I have missed out today? What do you think about Evernote’s latest policy turnaround? Does it make the free Evernote account irrelevant?

  1. Mike
    November 26, 2016 at 2:44 am

    Awesome, awesome, awesome list! Thank you. Personally, I use Consol.io and think it should be a listed option! It's more than just than just notes and files; it includes end-to-end-encryption with tasks! I like Dropbox Paper, I like Evernote and Box was just too simple, honestly. I've tried most of the services suggested above. Consol.io and Dropbox Paper are my two favorites, but Consol FTW.

    • Saikat Basu
      November 30, 2016 at 6:42 am

      Thanks for the recommendation. Yes, Consol looks really good. But it is competing with the others without a free plan. But then security and encryption are its USP.

  2. PapaJoe
    October 4, 2016 at 12:29 am

    Hey nice review but left some serious contenders,
    1. Laverna (Free and opensource available on all major platforms encryption available)
    2. WizNote (freemium and opensource [can get sourcecode on Git need to pay to get more space no device restrictions] Not a single platform is untouched from this app.)
    3. PaperWorks (free and opensource encryption available.)

    I hope will see a review again on same topic thank you in advance :)

    • Saikat Basu
      October 6, 2016 at 4:35 am

      Excellent mentions. Laverna does look very neat. Checking it out in more detail now.

  3. Anarchist
    October 3, 2016 at 9:38 pm

    Laverna deserves a look mate its an opensource app, got encryption avail on major platforms, Android app is under development when its out it will be a dominating contender

  4. VPNer
    August 6, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    Evernote and Onenote are Slow to open notes. Very slow.
    google Keep syncs fast, opens instantly and is all I need for simple notes.

    • Saikat Basu
      August 9, 2016 at 10:47 am

      I think Evernote is much faster than OneNote. But yes, if you only take simple notes then Keep is the solution to go for.

  5. Gesh
    July 31, 2016 at 7:31 am

    I have tried OneNote and Evernote on a few of my computers and phones.... Evernote is still quicker to synch notes and more stable.

    • Saikat Basu
      August 1, 2016 at 8:28 am

      I haven't had stability problems in either of them, but yes -- Evernote is a bit quicker when it comes to syncing. But that's definitely not a deal-breaker for OneNote in any way.

  6. Coline
    July 20, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    Dear Saikat,

    Hi from Toronto !

    Your work in comparing these apps is clear. Brilliantly done.

    Thank you.
    Coline Bettson

    • Saikat Basu
      July 23, 2016 at 3:52 pm

      Thanks so much Coline.

  7. FileEagle.com Chris
    July 19, 2016 at 2:56 am

    An amazing list. Google Keep looks like a simple app !

    • Saikat Basu
      July 19, 2016 at 7:03 am

      Definitely recommended. I only hope they don't unnecessarily clutter it.

  8. RALPH
    July 15, 2016 at 7:36 pm

    The best as of my findings are evernote being the leader; follow by the next two which exclude import features in there function. Besides note taking there's the need to recreate.

  9. Joe Austin
    July 12, 2016 at 11:56 am

    Google Keep is what Apple Notes should have been. For the longest time, there was no IOS app. I did not realize they finally offered one. Woo hoo!

  10. DaveF
    July 11, 2016 at 6:53 pm

    Awesome Note on mobile devices has been great. I like the text editing features, etc. It appears not to be syncing to Evernote now. Evernote may have cut off access.
    FE Snap has been a good app for adding business cards. Quick photo capture, stores right to Evernote. I wonder if it will get cut off too.

  11. Hildegerd Haugen
    July 11, 2016 at 3:30 pm

    Did you check out Centrallo?

    • Saikat Basu
      July 11, 2016 at 3:55 pm

      Yes, I did. My focus was on the "free". Centrallo's 100 notes in the free plan is a bit limiting for serious note-takers. But then, serious note-takers should pay :)

      Centrallo does have an Evernote import feature.

  12. Al Adams
    July 9, 2016 at 11:42 pm

    I Have been using the EverNote Premium {A Free Gift From SAMSUNG Android Tablet Tab A Purchase} I Really Have Not used this EverNote Clipping, Syncing, etc. Service Enough To Even Come Close to even one quarter of the free version, so after some time I may have no problem going back to the Free Version when I Premium Version Expires 6 Months to a Year from now ...

  13. Ann Bartholomew
    July 7, 2016 at 9:05 pm

    I primarily use Evernote to store articles for later use. And sometimes its search feature has me stymied, and the one time I tried to have someone access info for me that I could access at a later date, even though I synced, i could never find it...

    • Stau
      July 8, 2016 at 2:02 pm

      Try memosnag (memosnag.com) for that. You can save the webpage where the article is or just the text or the images... It's pretty cool and it's 100% for free!

    • Saikat Basu
      July 9, 2016 at 3:15 pm

      TBH, I wasn't huge fan myself. But then I started using Evernote's advanced search syntax and things were just fine after that.

  14. Stau
    July 7, 2016 at 8:19 pm

    For simple users, memosnag (http://memosnag.com) is a great alternative, especially if your use case is about capturing, organizing and sharing things you like online.
    It's a startup, so less sophisticated, but it's free and I really like what they are doing.
    Here is a video explaining how it works: https://youtu.be/ScWT9-h8sQA .
    They have a web app with browser plugins for Firefox and Chrome. You can capture pretty much anything: images, youtube videos, webpages and even text.
    I have also the iOS app and I believe Android will come out in December. The mobile web version is good enough too, so even if you have android, you can still use it on mobile.
    I just used it to collect ideas for a kitchen remodel, share with my wife and the designer. Very handy. I was able to capture ideas online and also add my own photos taken at stores. Overall it's a great tool.

    • Saikat Basu
      July 9, 2016 at 3:13 pm

      Memosnag looks very good, Stau. Thanks for the recommendation.

  15. Shakiestnerd
    July 7, 2016 at 12:08 pm

    Yes, the Evernote 2-device limit caught me. So, I spent some time last weekend migrating to OneNote. This was good because we spent time cleaning up and organizing our notes.

    Reasons:

    - I already use OneNote at work.
    - Microsoft has a tool for migrating your existing notes
    - OneNote is available on all of our families devices (tablet, phone, laptop)
    - It is easily shared.
    - My wife likes it!

    I have also been playing around with SimpleNote (yes it is simple) and I keep a fairly large hierarchy of work related project notes in CherryTree that I synch using dropbox.

    • Saikat Basu
      July 7, 2016 at 5:26 pm

      I think the fact that you use it at work makes the shift almost a no-brainer :)

      I had the same experience -- it gave me a chance to look at my old notes again, and not so surprisingly, I found a few gems.

      We have covered CherryTree before but now revisiting it again.

      Thanks.

  16. Cassady
    July 6, 2016 at 10:00 pm

    Devonthink Pro Office (Mac) and DevonthinkToGo2 (iOS)

    • Saikat Basu
      July 7, 2016 at 11:45 am

      Thanks! Taking a look now.

  17. Dmitry
    July 6, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    Nimbus Notes

    • Saikat Basu
      July 7, 2016 at 11:46 am

      Ah, Nimbus Notes. Definitely need to try this. Monthly upload limit is less compared to Evernote's 1 GB.

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