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Evernote is the world’s most widely used notebook application, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. Letterspace and Fetchnotes are two alternative iOS notebooks that focus on quickly adding and accessing notes.

I use several iOS and Mac notebooks for different purposes How & Why I Use 5 Digital Notebooks to Stay Productive How & Why I Use 5 Digital Notebooks to Stay Productive I use five different notebooks. Why? Because each has a distinct purpose or feature that helps me stay productive. Read More , and I’m always willing to try out new ones. Though my Evernote account is brimming with notes and other content I’ve saved over the years, I mostly use it for ongoing projects and still prefer lightweight notebooks for quickly typing notes and pasting content from other sources.

My latest iOS notebook app of choice is the fairly new Letterspace, which doesn’t match Evernote for features, but focuses on aesthetics and unique features like using hashtags for filtering notes. Letterspace is similar to its predecessor, Fetchnotes, which is also based on the hashtag system.

If you’re looking for a supplement or an alternative to Evernote, let me — a notebook junkie — suggest one of these for pure simplicity and ease of use.

A Word About Evernote

In case you’re not familiar with Evernote (also check out our free manual How To Use Evernote: The Unofficial Manual How To Use Evernote: The Unofficial Manual I see so many advantages to Evernote and we will explore some of them in depth later. But basically it all comes down to this: we are all becoming digital packrats. Read More ), it’s a cross-platform digital notebook for saving notes, PDFs, webpages, and even video files within a hierarchy of notebooks and stacks (multiple notebooks). Individual notes can be tagged and filtered by search.

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Evernote has over a hundred million users, and it’s supported by dozens of other apps, in addition to its own cross-platform clipping service which enables users to clip content directly to their Evernote account using a computer or mobile device, without launching the application.

Content in Evernote can be easily shared, and an upgrade to a premium account unlocks collaboration features that allow notes to be shared and edited by other users.

There’s no doubt about it – Evernote is the top digital file drawer for managing and sharing notes. But many users complain that Evernote can become a little bloated and slow to sync content between devices. Evernote also may not be the best solution for adding random notes not related existing notebooks and projects. Let’s see how Letterspace and Fetch can be useful alternatives.

Letterspace (free, iOS only)

As a dedicated paperless user, I read most digital content on my iPad and iPhone. As an active reader, I like to save quotes and jot down notes and ideas on the fly. For simple saving simple notes that don’t belong to a major project, I now use the iOS and Mac versions of Letterspace, because the application allows for tagging notes (using a hashtag) without the need to open notebooks or folders in other apps on my iPad.

So for example, if I’m reading an article in the magazine style app, Zite Completely Redesigned Zite Magazine iOS App Adds Tons More Categories [Updates] Completely Redesigned Zite Magazine iOS App Adds Tons More Categories [Updates] Zite, a leading iOS magazine app, just released a completely redesigned update that now enables users to rate stories, organize subscriptions, link to Facebook to get automatic topic suggestions, and explore and find article topics... Read More , I can select and copy a piece of content, and quickly paste it to Letterspace. The app includes a toolbar for quickly tagging one or more words that identifies what the note is about.

Letterspace_hashtags_two

The side panel of Letterspace consists of all your individual hashtags for filtering notes. Each hashtag becomes a virtual folder.

In the latest update of Letterspace, users can tap on a tag, and when they add a new note, the tag is automatically inserted in the note. You can also place an @ character in front of a name in order to filter content by mentions.

Letterspace_mentions

Long-press on the side panel or an open note to create a new note. This saves the trouble of tapping the + button at the topic of the app.

Letterspace syncs content between its iOS and Mac versions via iCloud, and it supports the universal share sheet within iOS for exporting an open note to other iOS apps. In the Mac version, sharing is limited to Mail, Messages, and Airdrop, but notes can also be exported as a PDF or HTML document. Letterspace also includes options for changing the font size and style of text, and selected notes can be archived or trashed with a simple swipe.

Letterspace_share

Unlike Evernote, Letterspace doesn’t allow for collaboration with other users, and it lacks a online platform for sharing notes. In addition, Letterspace doesn’t allow for adding images, PDFs, or media files. Letterspace is simply for text notes, and for many users (like myself) that might be its main attraction.

My list of tags in Letterspace has already grown rather long, and the app doesn’t allow for grouping them. But I still prefer this app over Evernote for quickly adding content that I don’t want or need to save in Evernote.

It would be useful if Letterspace included an iOS widget 10 Awesome Third-Party App Updates For iOS 8 10 Awesome Third-Party App Updates For iOS 8 The recent release of iOS 8 brought with it a flurry of third-party app updates to spice up your new or existing Apple mobile device. Read More , similar to what Evernote offers, for quickly sharing clippings from Safari, and a Mac Notification Center widget These Notification Centre Widgets Make Dashboard Irrelevant These Notification Centre Widgets Make Dashboard Irrelevant The Dashboard is dying. Most users ignore it, and not many developers are building things for it. Replace all of your Mac's Dashboard widgets using the new Today view in Yosemite. Read More for quickly opening the app from within any other app.

Letterspace is free, but you can support the developers by making an in-app purchase of one or more color themes ($1.99 each). Themes are accessed by tapping the font symbol in composition mode, which is also where the font style and size can be changed. Currently, there’s unfortunately no Android version of the app.

Letterspace_theme

Fetchnotes (free, also on Android)

Fetchnotes works similarly to Letterspace in that it’s a text-only note taking app, but it also provides online access to notes via a browser app. In addition, Fetchnotes has a reminders feature similar to Evernote, and notes can be shared with other invited Fetchnotes users.

I don’t find Fetchnotes’s UI as clean as Letterspace’s, but it does have some advantages over the former. When you create a new note in Fetchnotes, you can tap and pull up all your existing hashtags in the note editor, instead of having to type the hashtag. Like Letterspace, if you create a new note within a selected hashtag “folder,” it is automatically added to the new note.

Fetchnotes

The panel of hashtags in Fetchnotes are tucked away, which requires another tap to pull them up, whereas with the iOS version of Letterspace you simply swipe to the right to access all the hashtags.

Fetch

If you want Fetchnotes to serve as a to-do manager, you can assign reminders, as well as share notes to and via other apps using the iOS share sheet. While composing notes, Fetchnotes also allows for sharing a note with users of the app, using their @username. The sharing feature also allows you to use an email address or mobile number, but that part didn’t seem to work too well for me.

Fetchnotes doesn’t have a Mac or PC version, but it does allow for registering an online account for accessing and syncing all your notes from a web browser. The online version also allows for adding adding one or more photos as well as a time reminder to notes. Photos can actually be added from different sources, including your computer, Google Drive and Dropbox.

Fetchnotes

For some users, Fetchnotes may not be as elegantly designed as Letterspace, but since it’s free, it’s worth downloading, especially for its additional features not found in the latter app.

Will You Switch?

There’s no shortage of notebook apps for iOS or Android, each providing unique features, cloud storage and huge numbers of users. I personally prefer and recommend apps that are simple, easy to manage and let you add and access your notes in a speedy manner – which is why both Letterspace and Fetchnotes are great options for those of you looking to supplement or replace your Evernote habit.

Let know what you think! Are Letterspace or Fetchnotes adequate for most notebook junkies?

  1. Alrc
    July 11, 2016 at 7:39 pm

    Evernote will soon limit you to 2 devices unless you upgrade-L A M E! Time for something new

  2. Logan
    May 9, 2016 at 2:28 pm

    You may want to also give Arkiver a go. You can add notes, PDFs, photos, videos and audio and everything is saved in your Dropbox so you keep control of your content. You can organize with collections, tags etc and share items privately. There's a web app, native iOS/iPad app, and Android coming in a couple of weeks. Looks and feels kind of like Pinterest.

  3. notesrandom.com
    December 21, 2015 at 3:15 pm

    Try:
    Notesrandom.com
    Random your notes on browser!

  4. Ian Gertler
    July 25, 2015 at 2:19 am

    Great post ... thank you. Letterspace and OneNote are worthwhile. Another option is Centrallo ... it has a self-publishing capability for notes and lists as well.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      July 28, 2015 at 11:40 pm

      Thanks, Ian, for your feedback. I really like tag notebooks, and I am using three of them for different purposes. I no longer like throwing all my notes in one application. Will definitely like Centrallo.

  5. Andy Leventhal
    May 22, 2015 at 8:26 pm

    Wonderful input for me. I have been using Evernote for the past few years and begun to rely on it more and more for personal and business. But I was horrified the other day when I spent hours scanning hundreds of business cards into it only to learn that you CANNOT export these cards into some basic other applications. They have adopted a proprietary data format that no other app can read. What a waste of time. Im seriously thinking of killing it and moving on to another application. In this day and age, thats inexcusable.

    • Steve
      November 25, 2015 at 11:40 am

      I had the same problem but was able to import all of my evernote notes to devonthink. I am now a very happy devonthink customer.

    • MadDog63
      January 22, 2016 at 11:53 pm

      Andy, that is actually not true. There is a setting in Evernote IOS that allows every scanned contact to be automatically added to the contacts in your phone, which are automatically synced to whatever email service you are using. You can also manually save them to your contacts in the app. This is how I always use it. I never look at my contact in Evernote, but I always scan them with Evernote.

  6. Taylor
    May 14, 2015 at 4:57 am

    What do you think of notesuite? I love Evernote but the yearly cost and lately has been crashing more than usual.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      May 14, 2015 at 3:53 pm

      Hi Taylor. Notesuite looks interesting. I haven't used it yet, but I agree with you, that the yearly cost for Evernote is probably something I shouldn't continue paying. I'm not using the premium features enough. Thanks for your feedback.

  7. Peter
    April 1, 2015 at 1:32 pm

    OneNote all the way!

    • Bakari Chavanu
      April 2, 2015 at 2:00 am

      Awe, another OneNote fan. I wrote a comparison of the two applications, and I can see why some people would favor OneNote over Evernote. Thanks for your feedback, Peter.

  8. Ruth
    March 24, 2015 at 4:24 pm

    I used to be a big fan of Evernote but on the Evernote Trunk I found another great productivity solution which is called Beesy. This iPad app helps me get organized and gain time (30 mins at least/day). You should check it out espacially since they have integrated Livescribe 3 smartpen!

    • Bakari Chavanu
      April 2, 2015 at 1:59 am

      Ruth, I think I’ve heard of Beesy. I'll look it up. Thanks for letting us know about it.

  9. Litho
    March 16, 2015 at 3:50 am

    I tried Letterspace and did like it. That slider-bar thing on top of the keyboard seemed like a gimmick at first, but turned out to be super useful. I hope Apple incorporate that sort of functionality into the stock keyboard (possibly have us sliding along the spacebar - a few third-party keyboards already have this) in future iOS versions/updates.

    My problem with Letterspace was, as you stated, the inability to add images. I'm still an Evernote user and use it for most of my work-related stuff (along with Slack and Trello), but wanted a note taking app for the more personal and/or trivial things.

    My life isn't interesting enough to warrant a full-featured journaling app like Day One, for instance, so in the end I settled on Vesper. It's a tad overpriced and I'm not a huge fan of Gruber (he'd have you believe Apple invented oxygen) but credit where it's due (mostly to the two other devs who made it), it's a fine app.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      April 2, 2015 at 1:39 am

      Hey, Litho, thanks for your feedback. I found out about Vesper after writing this article. And the notebook junkie that I am, I ended up getting it because of its support for photos. On the other hand, I sort of like that Letterspace doesn't support photos. I simply want to use it for note, and that's it. When a photo is added to Vesper it takes up a lot of space. I wouldn't want that in Letterspace. I also hope the latter app gets the support of a widget. Oh, and I also think Vesper is little overpriced, but hopefully they won't try to charge for future upgrades.

      And though my life isn't that interesting either, I mange to write in Day One on a regular basis. You might check out my book about Day One and journal writing for ideas on that subject.

  10. Gregg Sewell
    March 13, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    I'm surprised you didn't review thinkery (https://thinkery.me/). No one service/site/app will fit everyone's needs, but I've found it amazingly flexible, quick and elegant on iOS and the web.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      March 24, 2015 at 5:51 pm

      Gregg, thanks for letting me know about Thinkery. I also should have included Vesper, but didn't really learn about it until after I wrote the article. I'll check out Thinkery.

    • Gregg Sewell
      March 24, 2015 at 5:55 pm

      I also use Vesper but didn't think about it in the context of your article. Glad you think it's of interest.

      Btw, I love what you write. Keep it up.

  11. Bakari Chavanu
    March 12, 2015 at 5:02 pm

    Good point, Silentcon. I wrote an article about the two apps back in June. Is OneNote for Mac A Viable Alternative to Evernote?. Thanks for your feedback.

  12. Silentcon
    March 12, 2015 at 5:03 am

    For anyone looking for a free alternative to Evernote, I use Onenote. It's available on all platforms so that's good. The iOS app syncs slow though.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      March 24, 2015 at 5:52 pm

      Silentcon, yep, I did a review comparison of Evernote and Onenote. It's good alternative. Thanks for your feedback.

    • Kim
      May 22, 2015 at 11:35 am

      To a point. The Mac version has no local storage and no backup. I just lost a lot of data in Onenote, it was unrecoverable.

  13. Rob
    March 12, 2015 at 4:53 am

    Interesting alternatives. I'd consider switching, but I think I'm suffering from sunk-cost bias. I have so much saved in Evernote, and have my own ways of doing things over there that it'd just be too much hassle to move. If many other people think like me, then Evernote is in a very good competitive position, indeed.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      March 12, 2015 at 4:23 pm

      Rob, I still use Evernote as well, but I just can't make it my sole notebook. If I put too much stuff in there I ended up getting weary about using it, because it feels so cluttered. In fact, my Evernote could do with some Spring cleaning. So Letterspace provides a great solution without having to abandon Evernote.

  14. Hildegerd
    March 11, 2015 at 11:30 pm

    After the demise of Springpad (I used it for everything!!) I had problems developing a new workflow, but for now I am happy with having text and voice notes in the Evernote competitor Centrallo (that has web application, iOS, Android and soon Blackberry BB10 app) and random hoarding in Keeeb and Dragdis, I would drop Keeeb the moment Dragdis got Android app, possibility to load up from machine and to write a note, if they added audio note taking too, I wouldn't cry either, since it is a feature I use often.

    This is because Dragdis (up to 10 folders free) have started to charge their users, and since I am gotten weary of free apps since SP I salute this since I want my tools to stay in business. (Centrallo charge too, for that matter).

    All the three mentioned apps would be perfect with just a little tweking, but we need to let these platform mature in its own sweet time and let the developers go with their dream for their app.

    When I choose apps for daily use I need both web application and Smart Phone app, but I am more forgiving if the web application comes first. Because it is on my mac I do the work for the most part (I need screen real estate).

    Anyway, I am following the developement of Cogi app (focus is audio) as well, and this could also be IT for many people if adding text and images in a note was possible.

    Anyway, Letterspace looks great and I would love to try it if they had a web application.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      March 12, 2015 at 4:20 pm

      Hidegred, yes, Letterspace is great, though I’ve experienced some iCloud syncing issues and for some reason the Mac version of the app keeps crashing. But on my iOS device, I have well over a hundred notes that are easy to access.

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