Evernote Free vs. Paid: Which Plan Is Right for You?
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Most people have gotten over the fact that Evernote hiked their prices back in 2016. The question now remains: is it worth it to upgrade? And if so, which plan should you choose?

When most people start out with Evernote, the free plan is just dandy. With it you can:

  • Store and organize your notes.
  • Clip web pages and images using Evernote’s much-loved Web Clipper.
  • Search for text inside images.
  • Share and discuss your notes with other users.

For someone just dipping their toe in the note-taking world, this’ll work pretty well for a while.

But you’ll soon hit some limitations if you want to start organizing your life with Evernote The Best Way to Organize Evernote: Use Tags The Best Way to Organize Evernote: Use Tags Is your Evernote a huge mess? We show you a simple tweak that'll help you organize your notes like never before. Read More . The most frustrating of these limitations is the 60 MB per month upload limit. For text notes, that’s plenty. But if you start clipping web pages, saving images, and audio notes, you’ll soon run out of space and be forced to upgrade.

Upgrade Options

When it comes to upgrading, Evernote has two options: Evernote Plus and Evernote Premium. You can see a side-by-side comparison below (or on Evernote’s site).

evernote plan comparison

Evernote Plus costs $35 per year, and you get all the basic features plus a few more. Your upload limit is increased to 1 GB per month and your maximum file size is upped to 50 MB.

Evernote Premium costs $70 per year, and you get all the features of Evernote Plus along with a few more. Your upload limit is 10 GB per month, and your maximum file size is 200 MB.

The feature list for each of these options is slightly different. Which one you choose will depend on exactly how you want to use Evernote, and the kind of Evernote user you are.

Choose Evernote Plus If…

You’re a Web Clipper Junkie

Evernote’s web clipper is a browser extension that allows you to clip and annotate sites and images you find around the web. These are then saved to your Evernote account. This is especially useful if you’re researching a specific topic, or just want to make sure you don’t lose the cool things you find online.

evernote web clipper

The clipper itself is actually available to free Evernote users. But if you use it a lot, you’ll soon hit that 60 MB upload limit. If you find this limit stops you capturing important information, it may be worth upgrading.

You Need Offline Access

On the free account, you can only access notes on your mobile devices if you’re online. By upgrading to a paid plan however, you can choose which notebooks you want to store locally on mobile, so you can access them wherever you are.

You Use Evernote on More Than 2 Devices

Accessing Evernote on two devices is enough for most people. Luckily, that is actually possible on the free account. But if you want to access your notes on three or more devices (a computer, smartphone, and tablet, for instance), you’ll need to upgrade to Evernote Plus.

This limitation doesn’t apply to the Web version of Evernote, but relying on the Web version rather than the desktop app (just so you can use Evernote on your tablet) is far from ideal.

You Live in Your Inbox

Being able to quickly save important emails to your account for easy storage or offline access is an advanced Evernote feature many users won’t use. But sometimes, you’ll receive emails you want to save as a note so you can easily search for them later. This can be a big time-saver. It’s perfect for saving travel reservations and receipts.

By upgrading then, you get your own Evernote email address. When you send an email to this address:

  • The subject becomes the title of your note,
  • You can use @[Notebook] at the end of your subject line to add the email to a specific notebook,
  • You can use #[Tag] at the end of your subject line to add tags to the note, and
  • You can even specify a reminder by adding ![Reminder]to the end of your subject line (i.e. !tomorrow or !2017/06/04).

Head to this page for more information.

Choose Evernote Premium If…

You’re a PDF Geek

If you spend a lot of time reading and highlighting PDFs, Evernote could become your new best friend. I know many students who swear this feature alone makes Evernote Premium worth the money.

Although you can store PDFs on both the Free and Plus plans, the Premium plan takes this much further. As a Premium subscriber, you can store PDFs up to 200 MB in size. And more importantly, you can also highlight and annotate these PDFs with lines, text, and shapes.

annotate pdf evernote

As you can see above, these annotation features are much the same as the annotation features offered with Evernote’s Web Clipper. Both the text within the PDFs and your notes are then searchable. To start annotating, click the small a in the top-right corner of the relevant note.

If you don’t like these annotation features, however, there are plenty of PDF annotation alternatives 7 Chrome Tools for Quick and Easy Annotations 7 Chrome Tools for Quick and Easy Annotations Capturing and annotating webpages, images, or portions of articles can be useful for work, school, or even personal research. Chrome offers a nice selection of annotation extensions. Read More out there.

You Need Access to Note History

If you want to retrieve data from a previous version of a note, you’ll need to sign up to Evernote Premium. Evernote stores various versions of your notes, so you can easily revert back to these if you need to.

To view your note history (as a Premium user), click the i button at the top right of the relevant note, then click View History

evernote

This is especially useful in the event of syncing conflicts or if you accidentally delete something.

You Want to Make More Sense of Your Notes

Evernote has some pretty impressive search features by any standard. Not only can you search based on keywords and tags, and search within attachments and PDF annotations. Evernote also uses this technology to recommend notes related to the note you have open.

Evernote does this by examining the context of a note, and automatically suggests related content that might help you out. This only really happens when you have enough information within a note. When Evernote then finds something relevant, a link will be shown at the bottom of the note in a small “Context” window.

  • You’ll be shown links to your own relevant notes and attachments from within your Evernote account.
  • If you type the name of someone you’re connected to on LinkedIn, you’ll be shown a direct link to their profile.
  • Related articles from publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, and Fast Company will be suggested based on what you’re working on.

You Have Too Many Business Cards

If you find yourself at networking events always collecting mountains of business cards How to Scan and Manage Your Business Cards How to Scan and Manage Your Business Cards We exchange business cards because our memory sucks. Do it and use business card management apps to convert the cards into their digital equivalent. You just need a smartphone and the right scanner app. Read More , snap a picture of these using the camera within the Evernote mobile app (iOS and Android). Evernote then uses OCR technology 4 Free Online OCR Tools Put to the Ultimate Test 4 Free Online OCR Tools Put to the Ultimate Test With advances in OCR technology, converting text and Images from your scanned PDF document into the editable text formats is easier. We tested a few free online OCR tools so you won't have to. Read More to pull the name, contact info, and company name from the card. This is saved as a contact note, along with an image of the card, and a photo of the person, and LinkedIn info where available.

You Often Give Presentations

If you hate preparing presentations in apps such as PowerPoint, Evernote may have a solution.

Just click the presentation button at the top right of a note, and your note will be displayed full screen, so you can easily scroll through everything (including text, images, attached PDF and Office files).

It sounds a bit basic, but the end result is actually very slick and simple. Plus, you get a cool pointer to draw attention to different parts of the presentation more easily.

If you want even more control over how your presentation is displayed, you can use line breaks to divide your presentation into different sections.

Which Will You Choose?

Choosing the best Evernote package for you basically boils down to how much you value some of the features above.

If you love Evernote but need some more storage space, and the ability to save some of your notes offline, at $35 Evernote Plus is probably well worth the money. After all, it’s only the cost of one coffee per month.

It’s when you start getting to the $70 Evernote Premium option that people start to really question whether it can actually be worth that much. Will its PDF, business card, and presentation features really be able to give you $70 worth of value over a year? That decision is ultimately yours.

What do you think? Which of these features would be most useful to you? And are they worth what Evernote is charging for them?

Image Credit: Yulia Grigoryeva via Shutterstock.com

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  1. Mike
    April 19, 2017 at 7:29 pm

    I was a premium user for a couple of years, then transitioned to the Plus plan when that was offered. I am not happy with the 40% increase. It would have been smart for Evernote to add a feature or two such as search for text in PDFs to their Plus subscribers. The transition to a different note-taking service will be difficult since I have used Evernote for around four years.

    The deal-breaker for me has been Evernote's refusal to address the printing problems. (See this forum discussion: https://discussion.evernote.com/topic/32377-printing-problems-font-size-italics-and-underlining ) with the answer being to copy and paste into Word and printing from there. This is a very basic issue that should have been addressed years ago (note that the forum post goes back to 2012).

    There are many things that Evernote does well, but customer relations does not seem to be one of them. I will be exporting my notes out of Evernote and I would suggest that others consider the same before this company goes under taking your notes with them.

    • Rob Nightingale
      April 25, 2017 at 3:03 pm

      I think the main thing that annoys Evernote's main users is the slow response to issues like those you've mentioned. If they could fix these with small upgrades, I think overall satisfaction with the service would be a lot higher. Unfortunately, that's not how Evernote seems to operate.

      That being said, I still think it's by far the best note-taking service.

  2. Richard
    April 19, 2017 at 8:14 am

    I was a premium Evernote user until i discover Onenote. It does the same thing for free and since im an Office 365 subacriber everything (Onedrive including my music, photos, documents) is in one place with a really small price. So Evernote isn't worth the money. I suggest you to go with Onenote or if you really willibg to pay, get an Office 365 subscription. Office 365 is the greatest producticity suite ever.

    • Christopher Milligan
      April 21, 2017 at 6:37 pm

      Did you import your EN data into OneNote? I did, and they are a mess. I would have to go through every single note to put it in the right place, the OneNote Importer lumps notes together without much organization.

      • Rob Nightingale
        April 25, 2017 at 3:04 pm

        Importing from Evernote to OneNote is a nightmare. That was one of my main motivations for writing another article on why I still think Evernote is better than OneNote, even though many people disagree with me on that one ;)

        http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/evernote-better-onenote/

  3. Major H
    April 18, 2017 at 4:02 pm

    Hardcore Evernote premium user since 2011 here. I'm heavily invested with my archived material and input/org system.

    You can't beat the storage with tags and search function - there's even a android widget shortcut to instantly pull up a new note.

    There are other services I use for ease of use (Google Drive for pictures and PDFs because of desktop folder management, application save states across platforms, and Gmail integration / Pocket for blogs and articles because it's easier to read with a better interface / Todoist for task management), but I always go back to Evernote to save statements, ideas, and receipts on the go.

    • Rob Nightingale
      April 25, 2017 at 3:05 pm

      It seems like we use Evernote in a similar way!

  4. Brian Fizzle
    April 18, 2017 at 1:49 pm

    I dropped Evernote for everything business related and went to Quip. It's a little scary because there's a "freemium" offering that I'm afraid could go away but it offers everything Evernote does, plus it's faster. This is especially important because my school notes were getting to be 1000 words + screenshots every week and EN wasn't able to handle it. Plus Quip is still in the stage where they're releasing new features, so that's exciting. Perhaps the biggest reason to switch was the native Spreadsheet capabilities which is a life changer. Not having to manage a spreadsheet in Excel is weird but freeing.

    • Rob Nightingale
      April 25, 2017 at 3:05 pm

      I've not spent much time with Quip at all. I'll have to look into it!

  5. Alex z
    April 18, 2017 at 7:44 am

    Evernote is crap. They've been cutting features and increasing subscription price to try to keep afloat their failing business model. At one point they even tried to sell user data, but backed off after a public outcry.

    • Rob Nightingale
      April 25, 2017 at 3:06 pm

      I wouldn't say it's a failing business model. Changing their price plans was unlikely to have lost them any money. And they're aiming for premium users who really get into Evernote, not just people who are dipping their toes into the VERY limited free version. If you only want BASIC note taking, it's probably not the app for you.

  6. Maxwell Pink
    April 18, 2017 at 4:49 am

    If i were just writing notes and using the web clipper, I'd probably be able to get away with just the free service - at least i would've before the changes last year. However, as keeper of the family cookbook, i also do a lot of scanning. Blew through the 60GB in under two weeks, so immediately upgraded to Plus. Don't use all the features but i use enough of them to know i don't want to go back to free. Have absolutely no use for Premium, though.

    • Rob Nightingale
      April 25, 2017 at 3:07 pm

      I'm in a similar situation. The massive limitations on the amount you can sync on the free account makes the freemium offering pretty much useless to a lot of people....

  7. Dave
    April 17, 2017 at 8:28 pm

    I use the Premium version, and have for many years. It is worth it to me. I understand that everything cannot be free and the premium features are very useful to me.

    You can export your data out of Evernote at any time. I'm not sure why you would need to sync your notes to another service. You don't have a limit on total data storage, just upload per month. You can also sync it to your desktop for backup.

    If you don't need the paid features, use the free. But I get tired of people complaining about having to pay for things. Nothing is free.

    • Mark
      April 18, 2017 at 1:11 am

      I use Plus, but couldn't agree more!

    • Rob Nightingale
      April 25, 2017 at 3:08 pm

      Ditto. The same with things like Netflix price hikes. If you want a good service, you should at least be willing to pay a little for it.

  8. Hildy J
    April 17, 2017 at 8:20 pm

    I was a Premium user from back in the Stone Age when Evernote was a standalone application for Windows XP Tablet Edition. I stayed Premium for the multiple device sync until last year. Then I decided that OneNote did everything I needed for free, giving me $70 more to waste at Starbucks. Plus, Evernote has really downgraded Android development.

    • Christopher Milligan
      April 21, 2017 at 6:41 pm

      how about importing your EN info into OneNote? how did that go?

      • Rob Nightingale
        April 25, 2017 at 3:09 pm

        I've tried this before and it was TERRIBLE.

    • Christopher Milligan
      April 21, 2017 at 6:44 pm

      The makeover of Evernote's appearance is so bad that I am considering switching. It was much easier before to find what I wanted. They replaced the easy to use menu with a new default that I find utterly confusing and more work than before.

      • Rob Nightingale
        April 25, 2017 at 3:09 pm

        I find that with their search feature being so good, I pretty much find EVERYTHING I need via that...

  9. cybernard
    April 17, 2017 at 8:05 pm

    1. I just need tag, and notes with formatting mostly intact. The paid features hold no interest for me.

    2. The fact they won't let me sync my evernote notes to google drive(or etc) for storage is just lame. Sure after years of complaining you can embeded stuff from google drive, but you can't then store you notes on another service is just lame. I am not going to pay for storage from multiple vendors.

    3. Number #2 is especially painful given google offers free access to their API so it would trivial to do it.

    • Rob Nightingale
      April 25, 2017 at 3:10 pm

      I think you can store your Evernote library locally via a backup. You can probably then save this to Dropbox etc.