Evernote, the bug-ridden elephant

evernotelogoTo say this post pains me would be an under­state­ment. More than any oth­er tech­nol­o­gy, Ever­note is part of me, hav­ing evolved from habit to instinct over sev­er­al years and near­ly sev­en thou­sand notes. Every day ideas flit through my head, ideas for essays, for char­ac­ters, for jokes. Just now I catch a glimpse of one, with­out think­ing I am talk­ing into my phone like a Star Trek Com­mu­ni­ca­tor, telling myself that may­be I should title this post Leaky Sync. May­be not.

Because I use it so often, I am unusu­al­ly famil­iar with the service’s warts. Evernote’s appli­ca­tions are glitchy to the extreme; they often feel as if they’re held togeth­er by the engi­neer­ing equiv­a­lent of duct tape. Browser exten­sions crash, text cur­sors leap hap­haz­ard­ly across the screen — my copy of Evernote’s image edi­tor Skitch silent­ly failed to sync for months because I hadn’t updat­ed to the new ver­sion. Most issues are benign enough, but the apps are so laden with quirks that I’ve long held a deep-seat­ed fear that per­haps some of my data has not been saved, that through a sync­ing error, an acci­den­tal over­write — some of the­se ideas have been for­got­ten.

As of last mon­th, I am all but sure of it.

I’ve been learn­ing how to write songs. It’s ter­ri­fy­ing because I stink, so I trick myself, did­dling around with­out actu­al­ly intend­ing to record any­thing. With any luck I reach a fugue state, vague­ly lis­ten­ing for my fin­gers to do some­thing inter­est­ing; some­times instinct steers me toward the green elephant’s ‘record’ but­ton and I play for a while.

And so I find myself on Decem­ber 5, when a mean­der­ing ses­sion results in an 18 min­ute Ever­note audio record­ing on my iPhone labeled “not bad halfway through” — high praise, for me. Some of the chord changes are sheer luck, no idea what I did but they sound­ed good the first time.

I decide to give it anoth­er lis­ten with more dis­cern­ing ears, self-loathing eager­ly wait­ing in the wings.

And — noth­ing. Zero sec­onds out of zero sec­onds. It’s a blank file.

Alarmed, I tap record again, make anoth­er note. It won’t play, either.

Anoth­er. This one works.

One more. Zero out of zero.

I check the Wifi sig­nal (fine). I let the phone sit for a while to sync, just in case. I head to the web app, which — thank­ful­ly — shows the note intact, with its attach­ment as an 8.7 megabyte .m4a file.

I try to open it in iTunes — it shrugs. Quick­time spits an error. Time to bust out the big guns. VLC.


Teeth grind­ing, I con­tact Ever­note sup­port. The process is slow and bum­bling, but I’d like to think this has more to do with Evernote’s over­ly-struc­tured tick­et sys­tem than the peo­ple work­ing there. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, in the process of try­ing to learn what hap­pened to my audio file, I dis­cov­er anoth­er flaw in Evernote’s sys­tem.

As an appar­ent­ly stan­dard part of Evernote’s sup­port process, it requests that users send over an Activ­i­ty Log. This is a file gen­er­at­ed by each Ever­note appli­ca­tion that records the myr­i­ad house­keep­ing events going on behind the sce­nes — “Send­ing pref­er­ence changes…”, and so on.

For most ser­vices this log wouldn’t make me bat an eye, but in many ways my Ever­note archive is more sen­si­tive than my Gmail account. With email, there’s always the pos­si­bil­i­ty that the guy on the oth­er end will for­ward the mes­sage along, so I tend to behave accord­ing­ly. With Ever­note it’s just me. I try not to fil­ter myself because that’s how cre­ativ­i­ty dies.

I ask the sup­port per­son to ver­i­fy that he will not have access to my data. No, he assures me. Just the meta data, like note titles (why Ever­note doesn’t believe note titles are poten­tial­ly sen­si­tive is beyond me, but in my case they’re usu­al­ly blank any­way).

Still, out of habit­u­al para­noia, I skim through the log before send­ing. Thou­sands of lines of gib­ber­ish, dates and upload counts and [ENSyn­cEngine] INFO: Send­ing search changes.

And then I come across some­thing more leg­i­ble. It’s a text note I left a few evenings ago, a stray thought about sex, if I’m being hon­est. Fur­ther down, anoth­er note, the entire con­tents of the text, bro­ken up by some HTML tags. And anoth­er.

Turns out there’s a bug, this time com­pli­ments of Ever­note for Mac’s ‘helper’ — an offi­cial mini app that’s meant for jot­ting down notes with­out hav­ing to switch to the hulk­ing beast that is the desk­top appli­ca­tion. On my Mac­book Pro, run­ning the lat­est ver­sion of Ever­note for Mac, this ‘helper’ app records the entire­ty of any text it saves into the log file.

Alarmed and not a lit­tle bit furi­ous that I near­ly sent him some deeply embar­rass­ing mus­ings, I tell the sup­port per­son about the issue, not­ing that it is a seri­ous breach of pri­va­cy (and an obvi­ous one, given that I noticed it in all of ten sec­onds).

They say to file anoth­er tick­et.

As for the audio file: even more bad news.

It’s been near­ly a mon­th and the most sub­stan­tive thing Ever­note has said is that it is “see­ing mul­ti­ple users who have cre­at­ed audio notes of all sizes where they will not play on any plat­form.” The com­pa­ny has given me no infor­ma­tion on what’s wrong with the cor­rupt­ed file, and no indi­ca­tion that they might find a way to get it work­ing in the future.

Adding fur­ther insult, the up-to-date iOS appli­ca­tion con­tin­ues to cre­ate cor­rupt­ed audio notes, despite receiv­ing an update on Decem­ber 17, twelve days after I report­ed the issue. The sup­port team actu­al­ly couldn’t tell me whether that update addressed the audio prob­lem — they said I should check the App Store release notes, which rou­tine­ly includes the ambigu­ous line “bug fix­es”, so I had to fig­ure it out for myself. Two more cor­rupt­ed notes lat­er, I can say with some author­i­ty that it’s still there (I’ve also encoun­tered a new issue, where some audio files sim­ply van­ish).

Through it all, the sup­port team has dis­played a marked lack of urgen­cy that has bor­dered on non­cha­lance. May­be they’re trained that way, or may­be data loss on Ever­note isn’t as rare as I’d hope.

None of this has been life shat­ter­ing, but given how reliant I am on Ever­note it is deeply unnerv­ing — now each note I instinc­tive­ly leave myself is tinged with anx­i­ety. I’m con­cerned that as I dig through my Ever­note archive I’ll encoun­ter more cor­rupt­ed audio notes, and, worse, my para­noia is increas­ing­ly con­vinced that there may have been notes that nev­er were saved to the archive at all.

More than that, I am alarmed that Ever­note seems to be play­ing fast and loose with the data entrust­ed to it. Instead of build­ing a pro­duct that is secure, reli­able, and fast, it has spread itself too thin, try­ing to build out its install base across as many plat­forms as pos­si­ble in an attempt to fend off its inevitable com­pe­ti­tion.

This strat­e­gy is tol­er­a­ble for a social net­work or mes­sag­ing app (Face­book got away with atro­cious­ly bug­gy apps for years). But Ever­note is lit­er­al­ly aim­ing to be an exten­sion of your brain, the place to store your most impor­tant ideas. Its slo­gan is “Remem­ber Every­thing”. Pre­sum­ably the integri­ty of its data should be of the utmost impor­tance.

What’s worse, it isn’t con­sis­tent­ly improv­ing. When iOS7 launched, Ever­note was one of the first appli­ca­tions to over­haul with a new, ‘flat’ design, and as a result ben­e­fit­ted from being fea­tured promi­nent­ly with­in the App Store. But func­tion­al­ly, it was clear­ly a down­grade from the old app, with extra dol­lops of slug­gish­ness, crash­es, and glitch­es — it may well have intro­duced the audio record­ing bug I fell prey to (I believe it dates back to at least Octo­ber, when I encoun­tered a sim­i­lar audio issue that I chalked up to user error).

Evernote’s secu­ri­ty track record has been sim­i­lar­ly frus­trat­ing. Asked in Octo­ber 2012 why the ser­vice had not imple­ment­ed the increas­ing­ly-com­mon two-fac­tor authen­ti­ca­tion option already offered by com­pa­nies like Google, Evernote’s CEO, Phil Lib­in, wrote “Find­ing an approach that gives you increased secu­ri­ty with­out mak­ing Ever­note hard­er to use is not just a mat­ter of adding two-fac­tor authen­ti­ca­tion…”, imply­ing that some­thing bet­ter was on the way.

Five months lat­er the promised secu­ri­ty upgrade was still MIA — until Ever­note was hacked, its data­base of user pass­words was com­pro­mised, and the ser­vice rushed to imple­ment a two-fac­tor sys­tem that didn’t look much dif­fer­ent from the sort Lib­in was appar­ent­ly aim­ing to leapfrog.

This is a com­pa­ny with over $250 mil­lion in fund­ing and 80 mil­lion users. And unlike many web ser­vices that promise exhaus­tive secu­ri­ty and reli­a­bil­i­ty, it’s one I actu­al­ly pay for.

Iron­i­cal­ly, the same day I was told Ever­note didn’t have a fix for my cor­rupt­ed music record­ing, the New York Times pub­lished an arti­cle about Ever­note titled, An App That Will Nev­er For­get a File.

Update, 1/3: Ever­note CEO Phil Lib­in con­tact­ed me and we spoke about the issues described. He apol­o­gized, say­ing the post rings true and that there is a lot of work to be done both on the appli­ca­tion and ser­vice fronts. In the short-term the com­pa­ny will be imple­ment­ing fix­es for the issues above, with plans to focus on gen­er­al qual­i­ty improve­ments in the months ahead.

Update, 1/5: Lib­in has pub­lished a lengthy respon­se to this post (and the ensu­ing uproar) on the Ever­note Blog, out­lin­ing the company’s plans to rem­e­dy its qual­i­ty issues by refo­cus­ing on the core pro­duct and its design:
On Soft­ware Qual­i­ty and Build­ing a Bet­ter Ever­note in 2014

Comments (205)

  • Wow, this is very trou­bling to hear. Will have to re-think how or if I should dis­cuss Ever­note with my clients and stu­dents.

    • Read the CEO’S respon­se to this post first though. It appears that he took Jason’s post to heart and that it’s “all hands on deck” to make improve­ments. Libin’s hon­esty has renewed my faith in Ever­note.

    • Not mine, at least not yet. I’m thank­ful for Ever­note and am depen­dent upon it. But I’ve been strug­gling with issues like the­se for years. A quick search on Evernote’s forum will turn up lots of bugs and painful­ly annoy­ing usabil­i­ty issues in the Win­dows client, many with staff acknowl­edge­ments, but which have nev­er­the­less been around for months, some for years.

      I’ve always assumed the issues with the Win­dows client per­sist­ed because every­one at Ever­note used Macs, but the above sug­gests that the Apple clients have prob­lems too.

      It’s great that this is get­ting press and that Lib­in has respond­ed. Hope­ful­ly things will pick up.

    • I am not sure whether Lib­in / EN real­ly knows what’s need­ed to improve the ser­vice. I’ve used EN from the start and expe­ri­enced that re-designs often made it hard­er to use — func­tion­al­i­ty had changed or moved to a dif­fer­ent loca­tion and I had to re-learn the tool. And it’s become slow. It takes about 5 secs each time I open a note in the browser before I can start edit­ing. Deli­cious went a sim­i­lar path, now I’m using a very sim­ple, fast and not very slick look­ing book­mark­ing tool.

    • Fea­ture bloat is a com­mon path many soft­ware devel­op­ers take to increase sales of the prod­ucts, often at the risk of killing the base usage of the pro­duct. Look at Adobe Pho­to­shop, I still could be using the ver­sion from 94′. 

      I too used EN exten­sive­ly 4 years back, esp trav­el­ling and not­ing work notes — impor­tant stuff — voice record­ings to prac­tice pitch­es and ideas. So much so that I killed my base­camp account because I had a tool that was free and sim­pler to use.

      Over time with every ever­note update, I too have reduce using it. Every­thing from the poor login (I don’t remem­ber pass­words) over mul­ti­ple devices, try re-sync­ing 4 devices when you lose a pass­word. To UI changes that are a com­plete change.

      Its a pity because the core prob­lem it solves is a good one and I have 100’s of notes on their sys­tem.

      Might give them a tin­kle to see if they need a new pro­duct man­ager 🙂

  • This is, dis­tress­ing, to say the least.

  • Yeah, I’m can­cel­ing my pre­mi­um sub­scrip­tion also. The soft­ware qual­i­ty has real­ly gone down­hill. I can bare­ly cre­ate lists in ever­note… the cur­sor nev­er does the right thing. A sync con­flicts are ter­ri­ble.

  • I feel like I could have writ­ten this exact arti­cle. I love Ever­note and use it a LOT. I am ner­vous for all the same rea­sons. Hop­ing the ser­vice grows up soon.

  • You have out­lined every issue that I have with Ever­note and I ful­ly agree. While I don’t rely as much on it, I still store lot of impor­tant data in it. 

    they often feel as if they’re held togeth­er by the engi­neer­ing equiv­a­lent of duct tape. 

    This sums up the apps. While I have had no major issues with Web Clip­per, Skitch and iOS apps are not up to the mark. Win­dows Client works well, but is not well thought out. 

    Skitch(Windows) has this big annoy­ance of putting every­thing in my “Pri­vate” note­book. They real­ly need an option to select a note­book!

    Many times, web clip­per just hands up and does not sync PDFs or images (I have to paste in Win­dows Client). 

    While the fea­tures are good, they real­ly need to improve a lot when it comes to the appli­ca­tions!

    • Thanks Ishan, sounds like we’ve had a lot of the same issues. Agreed, hope they improve!

  • Oh, don’t you just love pro­pri­etary soft­ware! Does any­one know of a FOSS ever­note solu­tion?

    • Yes, because open source soft­ware is always rock solid, extreme­ly pol­ished and free of bugs…

    • Did he say that? No, he didn’t.

    • None that are as well inte­grat­ed with browser exten­sions and online back­ups. But you can live pret­ty well once you get into the habit of wiring your emacs org-mode with a pri­vate git/hg repo.

    • I do not think FOSS has any­thing to do with qual­i­ty. SOme FOSS is amaz­ing, some is bug­gy and ter­ri­ble. Why not start a qual­i­ty project for an Ever­note replace­ment?

    • Read what he said which is noth­ing to do with qual­i­ty but more to do with open access to your data instead of pro­pri­etary for­mats like Ever­note uses.

    • Tomboy is an accept­able FOSS solu­tion, but it’s not audio ready. Also, Tomboy is ugly and slow on OSX. There’s also cozy.io and may­be own­Cloud has some­thing a lit­tle weight­ier. And of course, there’s Emacs + Org-mode

      There is no FOSS option that offers the UI fea­tures of Ever­note, how­ev­er, the basics seem like low hang­ing fruit to me… per­haps I should give it a try.

  • Thx for the detailed post. I shall pro­ceed with cau­tion.

  • Any alter­na­tives to Ever­note any­one can rec­om­mend?

    • OneNote is the app I use in sync with Sky­Drive. I don’t use it as heav­i­ly as some of you appar­ent­ly use Ever­note, but it has nev­er failed me.

    • Google Keep.

    • Enjoy Google sell­ing your data.

    • Yet Microsoft has decid­ed not to make this appli­ca­tion cross plat­form in a strange attempt to pro­tect its mas­sive Win­dows Desk­top OS mar­ket share? For note tak­ing apps to be suc­cess­ful they need to be cross plat­form. OneNote is not!

    • Not true. See details: http://www.pcworld.com/article/2043415
      Also, for what it’s worth, OneNote is a very high qual­i­ty appli­ca­tion. Once you are used to it, it becomes indis­pens­able. Glob­al search is awe­some. Always avail­able on Phone, Tablet, Lap­top, Desk­top, what­ev­er.

    • Non­sense. Even the arti­cle you linked states it — OneNote is not avail­able for OSX, no lap­top, no desk­top. If that is not about pro­tect­ing the Desk­top OS mar­ket (the sub­ject of the orig­i­nal post) what is the rea­son?

      I have used OneNote at work (as a Microsoft con­sul­tant) ever since it came out and find it ridicu­lous that MS have nev­er pro­duced a OneNote I can use on my home Mac. 

      If I want­ed to use web apps all the time I’d still have a Chrome­book…

    • Def­i­nite­ly not true. OneNote has native apps for basi­cal­ly every plat­form: Win­dows 8 (mod­ern app), Win­dows desk­top app, iOS, Android and Win­dows Phone. They also have a browser ver­sion you can access through Sky­drive to edit with­in the browser. 


    • OneNote may be great. I know a lot of peo­ple swear by it. Per­son­al­ly, I had it drop the ball and cor­rupt all my notes back in an attempt to try being on Win­dows that itself was a dis­mal fail­ure. (Vis­ta any­one?)

      I’m glad to see that they have made it cross-plat­form on mobile devices. But, IMHO, a pro­duct is not cross-plat­form with­out a Mac OS X ver­sion.

    • Good point about lack of Mac OSX client. I didn’t think of that since I’m on win­dows, iOS and Android only. 

      btw, you can hard­ly keep judg­ing win­dows by vis­ta. Let’s not keep beat­ing the vis­ta horse dead 🙂

    • Huh? How can you say it’s not true when there is no OS X ver­sion!

    • Also the iOS ver­sion of One Note is ter­ri­ble. Read the reviews.

    • Have you used it on iOS? I have. I have no com­plaints

    • OneNote is great if your work­flow is Win­dows-cen­tric (espe­cial­ly Win­dows 8, win­dows Phone), and I use it for work a lot; how­ev­er, my _per­son­al_ work­flow is Apple-cen­tric, and OneNote just isn’t very Apple-friend­ly. Given this HUGE pri­va­cy hole in Ever­note, though, that may be what I end up going back to.

    • I use spring­pad, seems to do the job for me.

    • For the basic func­tion­al­i­ties of Ever­note, you can try Tag­Spaces. It is com­plete­ly free, open source and runs offline…

  • I haven’t had any data loss, but I’ve also nev­er cre­at­ed such a large audio file in Ever­note. Have you noticed issues with text only notes?

    • I haven’t noticed any, but I think it’d also be hard­er for me to tell if a por­tion of a note didn’t get saved (the audio files sim­ply won’t play).

  • I’ve been com­plain­ing for years about their edi­tor. Numer­ous posts to the offi­cial Ever­note forums and cus­tomer sup­port all go with­out res­o­lu­tion. I’ve even used Jing to record repro­ducible bugs. Every new release of Ever­note has me excit­ed to check the “release notes” for some­thing along the lines of “Edi­tor FINALLY Fixed” =) Seri­ous­ly, web based rich-text edi­tors are more pow­er­ful and less bug­gy than Ever­note. The crazy cur­sor issues, con­stant note con­flicts despite no where near con­cur­rent edit­ing attempts, and unusable/unstable lists are some of the most annoy­ing issues. I am still using Ever­note on a dai­ly basis because there aren’t any more pow­er­ful alter­na­tives, but I wish Ever­note would stop work­ing on worth­less prod­ucts like “Hel­lo” and would instead just focus on mak­ing their core pro­duct sta­ble and reli­able.

    • What would count as a pow­er­ful alter­na­tive?

    • Fair ques­tion. For me, that would involve the fea­tures I use on a dai­ly basis. At a min­i­mum, it would be native cross-plat­form apps (Mac/iOS/Windows/Android) with a com­pre­hen­sive and func­tion­al rich text edi­tor, Note­books, Tags, Email address for inject­ing notes, OCR (on doc­u­ments & images), Web clip­per for Chrome/Firefox, short­cuts, note pre­views, ver­sion­ing, and cloud sync capa­bil­i­ties. Of course, if there were a seam­less way to jump-ship between prod­ucts, that would make the switch eas­ier.

      Some fea­tures that are not present in Ever­note, but would be even more com­pelling argu­ments to switch:
      * Stor­age agnos­tic back­end (e.g. iCloud, Drop­box) so that we do not have to use a sin­gle provider. Caveat: it would put more pro­cess­ing bur­den on the device.
      * Pub­lic key encryp­tion of note­books because we know now more than ever that our data is not pri­vate nor pro­tect­ed from the reach­es of the US gov­ern­ment.

    • I’ve hoped for sim­i­lar release notes for years and have found the forums sim­i­lar­ly unhelp­ful. Hope­ful­ly we’ll see some changes soon.

    • A thou­sand times this!

      Also, for­get about copy­ing a chunk out of Ever­note and try to drop it into an email or some oth­er des­ti­na­tion. Rage every time.

    • Yes, I have had this prob­lem too when try­ing to copy notes into an E-Mail. In a round­about way, I’ve solved it by open­ing the note on evernote.com and copy­ing the resul­tant HTML into an email. This is not an accept­able solu­tion.

    • I do an extra step that helps ver­sus issues with the edi­tor, which is to select the con­tent and then do “Sim­pli­fy For­mat­ting”.

  • Note that I’ve nev­er been a pre­mi­um user. I’ve had sync issues with Ever­note in the past, but I haven’t had any issues for ~2 years. The Android ver­sion isn’t any bet­ter and I can’t even use it as my main note tak­ing app because it just isn’t that great. 

    I still use Ever­note all the time to take notes or write up todo lists on desk­top and read on mobile. The mul­ti­me­dia fea­tures suck in gen­er­al, unfor­tu­nate­ly. I real­ly wish they would work on fix­ing the bugs instead of adding more “fea­tures”.

  • Where there are bugs, I assure you there are defi­nate secu­ri­ty issues as well..

  • Since the M4A file seems to have some con­tent (con­sid­er­ing it’s 8.7 MB), it may be pos­si­ble to fix it your­self. I’ve nev­er used the soft­ware, but I did find this post a few months ago that explains how the soft­ware ‘Syn­a­lyze It!’ was used to repair a WAV file:

    • Thanks Doz, real­ly appre­ci­ate it. The tagline for that app made me laugh: “Reverse Engi­neer­ing and Bina­ry File Analy­sis made easy” — will report back here if I get it work­ing.

  • Ever­note is held togeth­er with duct tapes. I read some­where they have dif­fer­ent teams cod­ing for dif­fer­ent areas of ever­note. Thus the duct tape feel­ing, because they’re lit­er­al­ly tap­ing codes togeth­er.

    But sad­ly, there is not pow­er­ful alter­na­tive to Ever­note.

    • That is the stan­dard for any large piece of soft­ware. Can you imag­ine a chef mak­ing a 5 dish mean for a ban­quet him­self? No, he has teams that pro­duce dif­fer­ent dish­es.

    • Uh, no. They may have dif­fer­ent teams if you want to call them that but it is in man­ag­ing the teams that deter­mine the qual­i­ty if a pro­duct. Microsoft is ter­ri­ble at this. Apple is great at it.

    • I don’t think that’s nec­es­sar­i­ly true. I’m involved with a larg­er piece of soft­ware and we have one team that is involved in all areas of the pro­duct.

  • I had the same issue with record­ing on android (s3). In fact, i was also record­ing some noodling on the gui­tar. After that day, along with oth­er major bugs with the android ver­sion, I decid­ed to leave the ser­vice behind. It’s great that Phil got in touch with you, but the basic func­tion­al­i­ty of cre­at­ing and sav­ing notes (text or audio) needs to be rock solid. The fact that they are work­ing on any­thing else while there are such major bugs in the sys­tem is the absolute worst thing they can do.

  • This and the Hack­er News dis­cus­sion has left me look­ing for an alter­na­tive to Ever­Note. I’ve been mak­ing do with the free account for sev­er­al months. How­ev­er on advice of numer­ous arti­cles, I’ve been train­ing myself to add more con­tent into it. Pro­tect­ing user data is by far the most impor­tant job soft­ware is entrust­ed with. I quit Win­dows and all Microsoft Soft­ware after too many near cat­a­stroph­ic data loss­es with Word and the rest. Its sad to hear Ever­Note can­not be trust­ed as well.

  • A sim­i­lar issue hap­pened to me. I was using the Android Ever­note wid­get ‘Page Cam­era’ to snap pho­tos of notes I had writ­ten — and auto­mat­i­cal­ly adjust the con­trast / crop­ping to fit the page. 

    Unfor­tu­nate­ly the algo­rithm for doing so was also reduc­ing the res­o­lu­tion of the image so much that the text was unread­able. At a thumb­nail size it looked fine — so I didn’t notice the prob­lem for a cou­ple of weeks. But when I returned to my notes (that I had since trashed the paper copies of) — they were total­ly use­less.

    I con­tact­ed Ever­note sup­port who told me that it was a known bug. I was very angry. If it is a known bug that the Page Cam­era doesn’t work then the Page Cam­era should not be includ­ed in the wid­get!

    I love Ever­note when it works — but I agree that the com­pa­ny poli­cies don’t seem to inspire as much trust as I’d like.

  • Wow, thanks for this arti­cle it con­firms so much I was hop­ing just wasn’t true. I’ve always put them down as user errors or wonky inter­net con­nec­tion etc. real­ly breaks my heart 🙁

  • I’m the old­est 30 year old I know. I car­ry notepads and post-it pads around every­where, even with my iPhone5 sit­ting in my pock­et. Each day, I select a size of notepad accord­ing to how big I think my thoughts will be on a par­tic­u­lar day. For me, the pen to paper is cathar­tic. My hand­writ­ing can change depend­ing on the mood I’m in when I’m writ­ing some­thing, and it’s great to go back and see how it changes. My great­est ideas are usu­al­ly in chick­en scratch, and I can bare­ly read it lat­er. Although I keep most of the pads, I rip off sheets and stuff them an a copy feed­er if I want to save them to a db.

    • I feel the same way but have slipped off to try­ing elec­tron­ic notes more. One thing’s for sure; if I want to remem­ber some­thing, writ­ing it down is the best way.

    • I use Penul­ti­mat­te. Iron­i­cal­ly owned by Ever­note 🙂

  • Oh yes, this is per­fect­ly writ­ten. About an year back, while I was on the verge of mov­ing to a paid account and found a bug which erased a com­plete note. 

    It was some­thing on the lines of “cer­tain spe­cial char­ac­ters / for­mat­ting present in the note would not save it”. In my case, it was a huge list of books that I had to read (col­lect­ed over sev­er­al months) — When I added one item to it with some character/formatting that was unsup­port­ed, the whole note was lost 🙁 This was from the PC. I tried in the web ver­sion and even that was emp­ty (sync had hap­pened).

    I reached out to their cus­tomer sup­port and it plain­ly said my com­plaint may nev­er get tak­en up because they catered to pre­mi­um cus­tomers first. I was furi­ous and gave up the idea of going pre­mi­um. As they had told, my com­plaint was nev­er attend­ed to. The note was lost com­plete­ly.

    Hav­ing said that, I should men­tion that I still use Ever­note (may be more than before) because I have not seen any oth­er alter­na­tive (do not want to use pur­chase One Note). Google Keep was launched after my beloved Google Read­er was killed so I feared to go to a Google ser­vice again.

    So Ever­note it has been and I only pray that no such thing hap­pens again. The­se days, when­ev­er I paste some text into Ever­note, I do a Ctrl+Shift+V to ensure only the paste hap­pens with­out for­mat­ting.

  • You want to store ideas? Nev­er heard of DEVON­think Pro? Its arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence (i.e. text min­ing) can increase ran­dom con­nec­tions between all of your notes, so you make new ideas for free.
    Scal­able: 50 GB library, no prob­lems. Secure: pass­word pro­tec­tion. Robust: nev­er crash­es. Extend­able: all kind of scripts, browser exten­sion.
    They could improve the mobile ver­sion, but it’s still usable.

    • Ryan, nice app, but it’s not cross-plat­form. Mac-only.

  • Did the CEO also say any­thing about the pri­va­cy bug and poor cus­tomer ser­vice?

  • I asked myself, ‘Do I real­ly need markup and all that jazz?’. I aban­doned Ever­note (and the even worse OneNote) for Notepad++ and a bunch of plain text files. At least I know that in 5 years I’ll still be able to open them.

  • Time to make the move for me then.

  • They are def­i­nite­ly spread­ing them­selves too thin. What hap­pened to a sim­ple notes appli­ca­tion? Google’s Keep is actu­al­ly pret­ty good and sim­ple, easy sync.

    Good luck with sup­port — at least you got some joy from it, as opposed to Dropbox’s sup­port, which isn’t.

  • Exact same thing hap­pened to me. I was at our pediatrician’s office lis­ten­ing to our doc­tor give us speci­fic instruc­tions for our 1 mon­th old pre­mie new­born. I open the EN iPhone app and hit record since I am nev­er going to remem­ber all of the instruc­tions. The record­ing goes for like 5–7 min­utes. At the end, I wait for a full sync and every­thing appears good. Lat­er that day, I go to tran­scribe some of the notes to text and noth­ing. A blank audio file. 5.7 MB in size but won’t play on iPhone. I go to the desk­top and noth­ing. Did the same thing as you and whipped out VLC, noth­ing. Sup­port says they will for­ward to the engi­neers for cor­rect­ing but that my audio is gone. Sim­ply unac­cept­able.

  • Duct tape is a won­der of engi­neer­ing and a poor anal­o­gy here, but the trou­bles you expe­ri­ence with ever­note are expect­ed to hap­pen when you choose to rely on the hip and trendy “cloud ser­vices” for your data. 

    There was a time in com­put­ing where such ser­vices would offer the option to take the mat­ter in your own hands but now with the move to the closed world of mobile com­put­ing and the civil war on gen­er­al pur­pose com­put­ing peo­ple are increas­ing­ly renounc­ing at stay­ing in con­trol in exchange for some com­fort and con­ve­nience.

    This mis­ad­ven­ture is the direct con­se­quence of your own delib­er­ate choice, deal with it.

    • The prob­lem here is not the use of a cloud ser­vice, it is bug­gy soft­ware. What if he had used non-cloud soft­ware? Either his files would not be avail­able on all of his devices, he would have to use alter­nate cloud soft­ware like Drop­box or equiv­a­lents, or install his own shar­ing mech­a­nism on his own com­put­er. The lack of avail­abil­i­ty on all devices is its own prob­lem. Drop­box would like­ly be more reli­able and they keep back­ups, but that would be the cloud. If he installs cloud soft­ware on his own com­put­er then he would have to spend time man­ag­ing it and there is no guar­an­tee that it would not have bugs. Like local soft­ware, cloud soft­ware can be good or bad. Choos­ing a cloud ser­vice is like choos­ing any oth­er pro­duct: you ana­lyze the plus­es and minus­es and do com­par­isons with oth­er prod­ucts. To reject cloud ser­vices out of hand and blame the author for his data loss is not fair.

    • Yes it is fair, peo­ple need to take own­er­ship of their own actions. it is easy to blame the soft­ware but at the end of the day no one held a gun to his head telling him to use the soft­ware. After the first time I would have lost a sound record­ing I would have cho­sen a dif­fer­ent more reli­able piece of sound record­ing soft­ware and then attach it to Ever­note.

      Peo­ple are aver to jump and crit­i­cize soft­ware when some­thing goes wrong but don’t say any­thing for months or years when the soft­ware has been work­ing great for them.

      I say, take your loss and learn from the lesson. Do you want to ditch Ever­note? Fine, but see you again until the next piece of soft­ware fails you.

    • Wait, this makes no sense. The soft­ware offers a ser­vice, he pays for this ser­vice, how­ev­er the ser­vice doesn’t work reli­ably. Why would that unre­li­able soft­ware be above crit­i­cism? Are you real­ly sug­gest­ing we should be find­ing work-arounds for poor soft­ware we pay for? This dis­cus­sion isn’t anti-Ever­note, this is hold­ing Ever­note to a high stan­dard. We should absolute­ly be com­plain­ing when soft­ware fails provide the ser­vice we pay for.

    • As some­one who has a lot of stuff stored in Ever­note and am oth­er­wise hap­py with the soft­ware, if I found a prob­lem I would act just like Jason Kin­caid, except per­haps for the blog post­ing. I would try to get the prob­lem resolved so that I could keep using the soft­ware and accom­pa­ny­ing ser­vice and not have to switch to some­thing else, which would take a lot of my time and might lack fea­tures I need.

      I’m not sure I under­stand your point about ditch­ing Ever­note. The com­ment I replied to was blam­ing Mr. Kin­caid for using the pro­duct to begin with, and that’s what I was say­ing was wrong.

    • You real­ly need to read his post again. You missed a lot.

    • at the end of the day no one held a gun to his head telling him to use the soft­ware” sounds like tobac­co or NRA talk­ing…

    • The fact that you think “cloud ser­vices” are hip and trendy means you have no idea what you’re talk­ing about.

      Server/Thin-Clients have been used since the 60s. Just because they have a dif­fer­ent mar­ket­ing name now doesn’t mean the tech­nol­o­gy isn’t valid.

      Stop being a Lud­dite and edu­cate your­self please.

  • Any­body still remem­ber Google note­book? I’ve test­ed Ever­note occa­sion­al­ly through the years since the ear­ly begin­nings, and it’s nev­er been fast respon­sive intu­itive easy enough for me to start using. It’s always felt like it’s some sort of mess and I was always sur­prised by its suc­cess. I have it installed on my ios and Android phones almost always but end up nev­er using it, instead I most­ly use col­or note or Google Keep and late­ly Our gro­ceries. Such a pity for such poten­tial to go unful­filled. In a way I’m glad to have read this post only to reas­sure myself of my deci­sions.

  • It’s worth men­tion­ing that the UI expe­ri­ence on iOS is not pleas­ant. I love Ever­note fea­ture set, but cringe any­more any­time I have to use it. Using it on my iPhone I feel like I am leav­ing iOS and using a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent sys­tem. I do feel that the Mac OSX UI expe­ri­ence is a lot clean­er.

    Dare I sug­gest that may­be a ground up re-write of the app is need­ed? They could take a page from the design of Ves­per. I like their approach, but need sync­ing for mul­ti­ple devices. When Ves­per releas­es sync­ing, I may wait a few months for the bugs to be worked out and then make then give it a try.

    • I will nev­er under­stand why they released a Ves­per with­out sync­ing. Makes it use­less to me.

  • all dai­ly users will agree with the duct tape com­par­ison, its a great idea that was exe­cut­ed well but has got­ten out of con­trol over the past few years. as the com­ments show, there isnt real­ly an equiv­a­lent alter­na­tive (nota­bil­i­ty, ves­per, a few oth­ers come to mind).
    my oth­er big com­plaint about ever­note is how they seem to come up with a new user expe­ri­ence and inter­ac­tion design for every new expe­ri­ence they come up with. the iOS app for exam­ple is just lay­ers of who knows what and a new sys­tem to learn, which is very dif­fer­ent from the browser exten­sion and the mac app.
    frus­trat­ing all around. i want them to be bet­ter and i’m putting my trust and $$ behind them but with no dras­tic improve­ments in the next 6 months or so, i may have to make dif­fi­cult choic­es and move on past ever­note.

  • I recent­ly lost some text data in ever­note. I have sus­pect­ed oth­er text loss­es as we’ll but had just chalked it up to user error or poor sync. I have got­ten many merge con­flicts despite nev­er using the app at the same time. I think I may just end up using Drop­box and a text edi­tor for my notes. Drop­box seems rock solid as a file stor­age sys­tem. Plus if I have made some screw up I can always pick­up an ear­lier ver­sion of the file through the web app. Thanks for this arti­cle, I think I am final­ly done fool­ing with ever­note it just seems too bug­gy and the code base looks like it must be a mess.

  • I love using Ever­note and Drop­box for it’s con­ve­nience. But for my impor­tant infor­ma­tion, espe­cial­ly doc­u­ments and records that I want kept safe yet shared with fam­i­ly mem­bers and my lawyer and accoun­tant, I use SafelyFiled.com Every­thing stored there is encrypt­ed both dur­ing uploads and in stor­age and I love the dual authen­ti­ca­tion fea­ture for added secu­ri­ty. They have some great check­lists too!

    • Thanks for the sug­ges­tion of SafelyFiled.com. Iron­i­cal­ly I have entered the link into Ever­note for lat­er inves­ti­ga­tion!

  • Can I also add that their newest web clip­per exten­sion sim­ply sucks? Over­ly-com­pli­cat­ed, and un-intu­itive. Love the app, and I’m a fan… but yeah, they need to get back to basics: reli­a­bil­i­ty, secu­ri­ty, user-friend­ly.

    • Yeah it is ter­ri­ble. I unin­stalled it. I find it such a pain to use that I dump con­tent in Pock­et first and then send it to Ever­note.

  • Yeah. I also think Ever­note is not data secu­ri­ty. There are times that notes dupli­cate them­selves by them­selves.

  • Thank you for this eyes-wide-open post. I’m an Ever­note pre­mi­um sub­scriber but have been annoyed with the bug­gy apps, man­age­ments atten­tion on glossy new fea­tures in lieu of improved reli­a­bil­i­ty, etc. My respon­se has been to — gasp — move back to paper and pen for my note tak­ing. As an incen­tive — I’ve “invest­ed” in some nice foun­tain pens and great pads and note­books — go Rho­dia, Mon­teverde, TWSBI and Lamy!

    Evernote’s for­ay into this “fea­ture” with their Mole­sk­ine note­book and dig­i­tal note tran­scrip­tions was so dis­may­ing let’s kind­ly call it vapor-ware.

    Also I find writ­ing, shows my mood giv­ing me a meta-check on my notes when I’m review­ing them. When I’m excit­ed and inspired, my hand­writ­ing is chick­en scratch and near­ly unread­able. When wary and alert, I slow down and pen care­ful bul­let points that are sur­pris­ing­ly suc­cinct.

    Addi­tion­al­ly it’s per­ceived as rude and at best geeky to take notes in a device when your in a meet­ing and expect­ed to inter­act with oth­ers. Pen and pad are much more appro­pri­ate espe­cial­ly when deal­ing with exec­u­tives.

    I’m not sure I’m going to renew my Ever­note sub­scrip­tion, I feel as if I have a foot in two sep­a­rate camps.

    Again, thanks for shar­ing this thoughts.

  • Four things keep me from return­ing to Ever­note, after aban­don­ing it sev­er­al years ago:

    + The cor­po­rate arro­gance con­tin­ues. I remem­ber when Ever­note was first released, cut-and-paste was the only way to get exist­ing data in, item by item. I com­plained on a board some­where, and Phil Lib­in respond­ed, lit­er­al­ly, with “So what? Why’s that a prob­lem?”

    + As when it first launched, you can export your data only as html or Evernote’s pro­pri­etary for­mat. They trum­pet porta­bil­i­ty, but if you can’t export your text notes as text files, wtf. It’s a data lock-in.

    + The text edi­tor (Mac) has always been crap and bug-rid­den. Cur­sor jumps around, para­graph breaks van­ish. Mind you, the­se prob­lems exist­ed when Ever­note was first released… And they still do.

    + Too big, don’t trust them. They lock in your data (export­ing only as html and their pro­pri­etary for­mat is not “porta­bil­i­ty”) and are care­less with it, and some­what slip­pery in how their terms of use have shift­ed over the years.

    I’ve been using Note­Suite on the Mac. Does near­ly every­thing Ever­note does that I need, uses iCloud for sync­ing (zero prob­lems and I’m fine with iCloud), and there’s no cor­po­rate arro­gance.

    • Interesting..I’m look­ing into it. I have a Pre­mier Ever­note account and am dump­ing it. The CEOs lame respon­se is a day late and $45 short. It also shows he knows of the­se issues and is just doing dam­age con­trol.

  • 1. Aren’t you back­ing up your data? Cloud ser­vices are WORSE than a hard disk: they’re SOMEBODY ELSE’S hard disk, in an unknown envi­ron­ment.

    I keep 7 weeks of inde­pen­dent whole-data back­ups of my thou­sands of Ever­note entries. I run an export at week­ly back­up time. Cake, and I can move to some­thing else if I need to.

    2. Ever­note suck­age start­ed when they moved from sys­tem UI-sup­port­ing apps to some ghast­ly RIA crap that fights the sys­tem UI. How many oth­er apps have trou­ble with the cur­sor, or with keep­ing up while you type? I stopped updat­ing clients when I saw the first of those sor­ry clients, and Ever­note works real­ly smooth­ly for me, albeit with­out two-fac­tor auth.

    • So when your house burns down and takes your back­ups with it?

  • Been Ever­note Pre­mi­um since I can remem­ber. Use it dai­ly. I love it because it is so ubiq­ui­tous. Any PC, any Phone/Tablet OS that I use. 

    But there is no doubt that below the shiny exte­ri­or, it is a poor­ly run tech­ni­cal team. Always been bug­gy. Web inter­face only recent­ly has made it to 2009 stan­dards. Android and IOS apps are on dif­fer­ent tracks that lead to user frus­tra­tion based on what does what. 

    Spring­pad is a much bet­ter UI on web and App, but has some flaws. It is not as uni­ver­sal and IMHO its killer flaw is that they have not cre­at­ed an Ever­note importer (they point to a 3rd par­ty one that kind of works)

  • I am an avid Ever­note user but I wish they would stop adding super­flu­ous fea­tures like pre­sen­ta­tion mode and fix the basics like edit­ing of bul­let and todo lists. I get weird for­mat­ting issues all the time try­ing to work with bul­lets.

    Also, shared note con­flicts are absurd­ly com­mon. There are bet­ter col­lab­o­ra­tive edit­ing imple­men­ta­tions than all or noth­ing.

    Come on Ever­note! We want to love this thing, focus on the details please.

  • I don’t use Ever­note, but I was just think­ing about some oth­er (zero-cost) soft­ware I’m using which has some annoy­ing bugs, and won­der­ing how reli­able it is. (Then I burned a DVD of my cur­rent project, just in case.)

    If users want to send the mes­sage to devel­op­ers that they like the pro­duct but would rather the devel­op­ers focus on qual­i­ty rather than sim­ply adding new fea­tures, how can we do that? There’s soft­ware I use that cost me $0, but which I would glad­ly pay mon­ey for them to fix bugs in it. Instead, I’m sure that they’re adding fea­tures, and when we see the next release, it’ll have a lot of new fea­tures, some bug fix­es, and a bunch of new bugs.

    For most soft­ware, we just don’t have a mech­a­nism for this. The only axis upon which we as con­sumers can act is what we buy or use, but in some cat­e­gories there are a very few seri­ous options today, or it’s imprac­ti­cal to shift all our work between them with any fre­quen­cy, or it wouldn’t help any­way because none of them is much bet­ter than the oth­ers.

    If Gmail were to sud­den­ly start los­ing my email, hypo­thet­i­cal­ly, it would be a huge pain to move to a com­peti­tor, and it would be vir­tu­al­ly impos­si­ble to tell before­hand if they would be any bet­ter, and it would be a huge pain to move back in a mon­th or two if Gmail got bet­ter. What are we to do?

    • Thanks for the thoughts Vin­cent. Def­i­nite­ly feel your pain. This is why hav­ing con­trol of our data is so impor­tant, but even if we do, seems like the lit­tle things (e.g. meta­data) often doesn’t work between ser­vices. Anoth­er issue is that a com­pet­i­tive pro­duct has to be A LOT bet­ter for peo­ple to go through the has­sle of switch­ing, so the incum­bents have plen­ty of lee­way to ignore lit­tle things.

  • This is why I’m using Spring­pad. The author of the arti­cle may give it a try ans share his thoughts on it.

  • Shinier inter­face with few­er fea­tures? Sounds exact­ly like what they did to Skitch when they bought it, piss­ing off a huge num­ber of users. Like a lot of oth­ers, I didn’t upgrade for months until they added back in the fea­tures I use all the time.

  • Long time Ever­note user. Actu­al­ly since the very begin­ning before Phil and the cur­rent team. (Wish I could access that data, btw). This is trou­bling. My advice to the team, is tem­porar­i­ly hold the devel­op­ment iter­a­tions and fix this issue. All hands on deck. 

    As a pow­er user I have all the fea­tures I need for 2014 but wish:

    1. The iPad and iPhone apps wouldn’t crash
    2. That the search func­tion­al­i­ty on my PC didn’t hes­i­tate EVERYTIME after two char­ac­ters are typed in.
    3. The search func­tion­al­i­ty was more intu­itive (instead hav­ing to remem­ber short­cuts)

    And last­ly, this ter­ri­ble secu­ri­ty issue and dis­ap­pear­ing audio files that Jason writes about.

    Phil, this is seri­ous and I’m sure you’ll get on it imme­di­ate­ly!

  • Anoth­er thumb up for Spring­pad after los­ing my stuff 2x on Nev­er­note!

  • I’ve had so many prob­lems, audio files includ­ed, that I’m not renew­ing. And their iOS7 update made it hard­er to use (and to read with the whole low-con­trast thing).

    Too bad there’s no rea­son­able com­pe­ti­tion, which is why EN doesn’t have to fix any­thing. If some­one came out with a pro­duct that would store on Google Dri­ve, that’d be awe­some.

    • See my posts below.

    • As long as you don’t mind Google sell­ing your per­son­al data to adver­tis­ers.

  • Pre­mi­um user since 2008. This post rings true and so glad Phil paid atten­tion. Its high time to stop adding ANY fea­tures. May­be even take some away tem­porar­i­ly. The IOS7 app tru­ly sucks. Fre­quent crash­es and the worst inter­face redesign pos­si­ble. The new post func­tion often doesn’t work. The 5.0 desk­top win app search is hor­ri­ble inter­face and unre­li­able results.

    — ios 7 — sta­bilise and get it back to rock solid. Go back to sim­ple non-green design and one that works when func­tion is select­ed.
    — desk­top — review search. Some­times search comes back with no answer when I know the note is there. Try­ing lat­er it works. Very frus­trat­ing.

    • Ever­note has always had a bad UI. It’s clut­tered an unin­tu­itive. We’re stuck with it for now.

    • Agreed but it was accept­able before win v5/ ios7.. 

      As the oth­er com­ments here note, part of the issue lies with how hard it is to cre­ate good UI on mul­ti plat­form apps. 

      But the UI is sec­ondary to hav­ing faith that this ele­phant will remem­ber my sev­er­al thou­sand notes com­pris­ing research, tasks, work, pdf, text notes and some pics, will be there forever. This is the crux of how I read Jason’s post and while I don’t use audio, his com­ments res­onate with me.

      I have faith in Lib­in and EN, and I hope this is a great lev­el set for the EN team to re-focus on some fun­da­men­tals before expand­ing ser­vices. Per­son­al­ly if I was CTO I would place a freeze on 3rd par­ty app con­nec­tiv­i­ty until the base apps for win, mac and ios are rock solid for the 80 mil­lion of users and espe­cial­ly us pre­mi­um users who before any­thing wish for reli­a­bil­i­ty, sta­bil­i­ty and effi­cien­cy. The team need focus, focus, focus.

  • Hey Jason, Ever­note employ­ee here. Looks like Phil beat me to the punch, but still sor­ry to hear about your trou­bles.

    Out of curios­i­ty, do you hap­pen to use any­thing out­side our Mac and iOS clients?

    • Hi Daniel, thanks for the com­ment. Yeah, I some­times use the Android app (the­se days usu­al­ly the Nexus 7; also on the Nexus 4 some­times).

  • Thank you for call­ing out the ele­phant in the room. I wish your arti­cle didn’t res­onate so much, but it’s spot on.

  • After months of months of wait­ing their Fire­fox Web Clip­per is still bro­ken. Noth­ing works. They come out with all those new tools, but noth­ing real­ly works.

    Just a sign that a com­pa­ny is not focused any­more.

  • Excel­lent arti­cle, thanks for the heads up. I was actu­al­ly with­in a click of sub­scrib­ing to Ever­note Pre­mi­um ser­vice, but will hold off until they get their act togeth­er. Thought Ever­note would be a high­ly reli­able and cohe­sive sys­tem com­pared to my rag­tag method of copy/pasting notes around ios Notes, Yahoo Notepad, and Gdocs. It’s as crap­py as it gets, but (knock on wood) the memos/notes/ have remained intact for years and years.

  • This rein­forces my deci­sion to keep work­ing on a Mac app that will have some over­lap­ping func­tion­al­i­ty (link and web page stor­age), and sync with Ever­note rather than com­mit every­thing I’m work­ing on to some­thing like Ever­note. Evernote’s quick­ly becom­ing a hot mess, add to that, I’m sick of ser­vices that store your info just dis­ap­pear­ing. Local stor­age of your own info with some shar­ing is still the safest, best route I think.

    • Try Note­Suite.

    • I bought Note­suite on Mac and iPad and moved most of my Ever­note con­tent to it. Not bad so far but not sure if it is a keep­er. I won­der how long they will be around for one thing.

    • Anoth­er Mac/iPad note app is Out­line. No iPhone app though.

  • Yes, yes,and amen to all of this. Sad to see that a post on a well-read blog gets so much atten­tion from the CEO, while posts on their own user forum are real­ly con­sid­ered just noise. (I’m think­ing specif­i­cal­ly of all the Win­dows ver­sion 5 beta testers who said the pro­duct was bug­gy, ugly, and miss­ing fea­tures, yet they pushed it any­way. For­tu­nate­ly, as a forum read­er, I knew not to “upgrade.”) I won­der if the EN cor­po­rate cul­ture must be one where the mes­sen­ger is shot, so the truth sim­ply doesn’t reach a cer­tain lev­el of man­age­ment.

  • I see your prob­lem. You’re using a Mac. While it’s true that I’m not exact­ly much of a Mac fan, I also have a legit­i­mate rea­son for say­ing it. Ever­note isn’t Mac native. It prob­a­bly has a small­er devel­op­er count, and prob­a­bly doesn’t have as wide­spread test­ing as the PC Ever­note does (just be sheer weight of users). If you are a Mac user who insists on using PC native pro­grams, expect a few bugs. I know I expect a few when I use Mac native stuff on my PC (hel­lo, Scriven­er and Final­Draft).

    • That makes no sense at all. Ever­note is of course Mac native.

  • I’ve tried Ever­note mul­ti­ple times, but its mon­strous size and slow work always ruined the expe­ri­ence. After anoth­er failed attempt I’ve dis­cov­ered OneNote, which is built into MS Office. I nev­er real­ly tried it, and I was real­ly shocked that I’ve over­looked such a great pro­gram. It does sync to the cloud, works on mul­ti­ple plat­forms includ­ing Android, and it is crazy fast.

    • +1 for OneNote. It’s basi­cal­ly on every plat­form and works great.

    • Again, no it isn’t. It’s not on OS X.

  • I under­stand why Ever­note has it’s fans. After all, I’m a Mac fan­boy, so I get it. I tried Ever­note when it first came out and found it too kludgy to use. Also, their cod­ing and metaphors seemed off to me. I hate bad code. Of course I fil­ter most apps through the lens of a clean Apple aes­thet­ic. As a real estate agent, I use Ever­note, but grudg­ing­ly. As soon as Note­Suite comes out with an iPhone app, I’m gone. 

    I have high hopes for Note­Suite. So far I like it and the learn­ing curve is not as steep as Ever­note. The down­side to Note­Suite is that there is no iPhone app and it’s Mac only. The devel­op­er says there is an iPhone app on the way in the first half of 2014. Some peo­ple will not like their is no web ver­sion. So far though, I think it’s the best con­sumer lev­el alter­na­tive to Ever­note.

    • Thanks Roland, will keep watch­ing Note­Suite keen­ly for iPhone/iPad ver­sions.

  • Medi­at­ing complexity/extending toolsets /syncing data and UX in and across mul­ti­ple plat­forms is a chal­lenge for all soft­ware dev the­se days.
    Rapid iter­a­tion for mktg sched­ules with­out ade­quate QA doesn’t help.
    [Is ade­quate QA in cur­rent world even pos­si­ble?]
    I can’t think of a sin­gle app on any of the plat­forms I use [Mac,Win,Android,Linux] that I can con­sid­er ‘bul­let-proof’ reli­able in any way like I could may­be 5–10 yrs ago.

    I use Ever­note [Mac & Nexus 4/7] and it works ok.
    I don’t ham­mer it and also try to build in some redun­dant best prac­tices if I’m work­ing on mis­sion crit­i­cal stuff. To my mind, the dataloss/notetaking/formatting glitch­es & bugs men­tioned are part of the con­tin­u­um of flawed soft­ware tools we all rou­tine­ly work with [the MSOf­fice suite and Exchange come to mind but Adobe has real­ly been drop­ping the ball late­ly too]

    That said, Ever­note team should do the right thing and take a long view; step back and focus on stability/usability and stop push­ing more bells & whistles. Ulti­mate­ly, I will stay with a sta­bile, use­ful toolset.

  • as some­one who works on a very large web app for a liv­ing … oh man, if you could see what goes on in the kitchen you’d nev­er eat again.

    if you care about your data at all, back yer stuff up, often. very very often. if the ser­vice doesn’t allow an export, or makes it too hard, don’t use ‘em, (and cer­tain­ly don’t give them mon­ey).

    • That’s why I don’t use Ever­note (or any oth­er note ser­vice) for crit­i­cal file stor­age. Every­thing is on my Mac which is cloned dai­ly. All my work files are on Drop­box and Google Dri­ve which of course are backed up dai­ly as part of my Mac clone. 

      There are some real Ever­note fanat­ics out there in the real estate indus­try that put every­thing in Ever­note. Some have even made a cot­tage indus­try of sell­ing you expen­sive how-to videos on how to use Ever­note in real estate. They even sug­gest you are out of the loop if you don’t do things their way. The­se agents are real­ly the ones out of the loop because they are stuck in bib­li­cal all or noth­ing propo­si­tion.

      There are apps that I absolute­ly love on my Mac and iDe­vices. But, I am always look­ing for new apps that do the same thing. I’m just a geek that way. There are also some real­ly gift­ed coders out there that real­ize UI, per­for­mance and data porta­bil­i­ty are key to a great app.

  • Left the Ever­note uni­ver­sum after their iOS7 client dis­as­ter.
    PANDOC is the soft­ware of choise to migrate your notes to some­thing like Mark­down

  • Two words: Google Keep.

    • And anoth­er walled gar­den …
      The­se are your impor­tant notes, why give them to some­one else? Go open source and run your own infra­struc­ture

    • Google Keep has its own prob­lems…

    • Where Google will hap­pi­ly sell your con­tents to adver­tis­ers.

  • Same case here, I used Ever­note for 1 whole year, than my most impor­tant file (the agen­da of more than 6 months of meet­ings, with all the sub­jects and details) were gone.
    I was a free user, and after 15 days Ever­note gave 1 week of the paid plan, so I could recov­er a file of 2 months of ago, so in the final I lost 8 weeks of work! Oh how I hat­ed it.
    Nev­er used it again, as as an alter­na­tive to Ever­note I use Drop­box, cre­ate any file and save on it. Drop­box has been secure and reli­able in the past 3 years.

  • Yeah, well, it’s just Ever­note. I don’t use it for any­thing impor­tant.

  • Dit­to. I use Ever­note dai­ly, and have for about 3 years. But only because it fills a crit­i­cal need and there hasn’t been any seri­ous com­peti­tors. The qual­i­ty prob­lem is not a recent thing, it’s been this way the whole time. The engi­neer­ing orga­ni­za­tion there is just sig­nif­i­cant­ly sub-par (I say this as a long time soft­ware engi­neer­ing man­ager). Peri­od.

    I even once thought about writ­ing a let­ter to their CEO in case he wasn’t aware of how bad it was, but I fig­ured I’d just sound like a crank. Here’s a hint to him though if he ever reads this : If you want to build a 100-year com­pa­ny, hav­ing a solid foun­da­tion for your pro­duct is a good place to start.

  • I agree with most peo­ple here that Ever­note needs to focus on stability/usability over push­ing out more bells & whistles, but my main con­cern is that the tool can real­ly only han­dle basic notes and lists at this moment. For any­one with more com­plex ideas and com­pli­cat­ed issues to remem­ber, there aren’t real­ly any good alter­na­tives. If any­one has heard of some oth­er tools, please let me know.

  • This is very alarm­ing. Thank­ful­ly I stopped using Ever­note a while ago. I use plain text files saved in Drop­box. Obvi­ous­ly it doesn’t sup­port any­thing oth­er than text, but I have sim­ple needs.

    • Plain text is the way to go. You may add a ver­sion con­troll sys­tem like git to your files (that even works with drop box)

    • What about use RTF (rich text for­mat) files in Drop­box? They can at least include images. This is my cur­rent plan to move away from Ever­note. I real­ly don’t like the fact that Ever­note stores in a pro­pri­etary for­mat that can’t be export­ed eas­i­ly.

  • Thanks for your detailed post and shar­ing your expe­ri­ence.

    It tru­ly is inter­est­ing how the uni­verse works! Yes­ter­day, I engaged in try­ing Evernote/Skitch as an alter­na­tives to a com­pet­i­tive pro­duct I’ve used for a decade to record notes, scrib­bles, audio, and video — now into the cloud. 

    With my deep dive into Ever­note, I was first tak­en back by the anti­quat­ed UX on the desk­top ver­sion and lim­it­ed capa­bil­i­ties of the tablet ver­sion. I gave up, but still respect­ed Ever­note to be a viable alter­na­tive, be it some­what dat­ed.

    I believe you put the final nail into the Ever­note coffin.

    Lesson learned: some­times it is bet­ter to be hap­py with what you have — the grass may look green­er on the oth­er side but the pes­ti­cides just aren’t worth it.

  • For me the clar­i­on call was when the fire­fox clip­per stopped work­ing after the upgrade to FF26. There was no com­mu­ni­ca­tion from ever­note when it hap­pened what­so­ev­er.

    When I con­tact­ed sup­port­ed I received hems and haws and sug­ges­tions to use chrome’s clip­per… !!! Aston­ish­ing. Sim­ply aston­ish­ing.

    If ever­note can’t main­tain a clip­per for fire­fox, a top open sourced browser, then I’m not sure what the heck I’m pay­ing them for.

  • I want to see good inte­gra­tion with Inter­net browser. So we can save and add notes about online con­tents and oth­erd

  • I use Col­orNote for notes, and Box for files.

    The UI of Ever­note is so cum­ber­some, that I couldn’t use it. Note tak­ing is about “input speed”, not fea­tures.

  • sad but all feels true to me too. i believe i’ve lost hun­dreds of notes which i have no idea how to recov­er and over time i’ve got­ten more frus­trat­ed vs. delight­ed by ever­note which is a big bum­mer…

  • Drop­box with text edi­tors that hold the files like notes is what I use and I’m on every plat­form except Mac.

    Resoph note for PC.
    Sim­ple note for ios.
    Drafts for android,

    And they all sync up per­fect­ly from Drop­box.

    • So this is all text only I pre­sume? I don’t require audio record­ing for my notes (I can use a sep­a­rate app if I need to do that.. I’m on Mac/iOS as it hap­pens), but images/photos are a real­ly use­ful part of my note tak­ing.

  • I had and saw so many prob­lems, bugs, glitch­es, strange­ness, data lost, unsync­ing peri­ods that at some point I just stopped try­ing to get help from their inred­i­bly slug­gish sup­port. Ever­note should stop grow­ing, no more users!, and start build­ing bet­ter soft­ware. They didn’t real­ized that some peo­ples lives are stored in their data­bas­es and loos­ing one sin­gle note could be some­thing as near as the end. Thanks for putting in a great arti­cle every­thing I think­ing and expe­ri­enc­ing with this App.

  • Augh, all so true, and so many of the com­ments fill in all the oth­er pain points. Bizarre sync­ing, cum­ber­some input, and so many glitch­es I start­ed think­ing I was invent­ing them. Thanks for writ­ing this.

  • Jason you bring up many excel­lent points. Many con­cern me… Some I have expe­ri­enced, oth­ers I have not… either way, none of your exper­ince is accept­able. Glad you heard from Phil… But, is it too late for you?

  • The iPad ver­sion of Note­Suite is superb, prob­a­bly bet­ter than the desk­top one.

    I’m lik­ing Note­Suite a lot. Does every­thing I might want to do with Ever­note (includ­ing web clip­ping, audio, and PDF anno­ta­tion). There are still some UX issues, as with any new app, but they have a roadmap for fix­ing the­se.

  • I feel your pain, which is why I recent­ly pret­ty much aban­doned Ever­note despite hav­ing 2 years Pre­mi­um left on my account.

    I now use a com­bi­na­tion of plain text notes and Devon­THINK for doc­u­ment stor­age.

  • Same as many before. I’m a paid user for years. To many prob­lems last year. 1/1/14 I switched to note­suite: typed AND hand­writ­te notes in one app. Great.

  • I used to use Catch (catch.com) which was excel­lent. Nev­er had a prob­lem. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, they shut down the ser­vice in August (2013) as they were not mak­ing mon­ey.

  • Ever­note Ver­i­fier. Is there some­thing like it out there?
    Since get­ting ALL your data out of there is not pos­si­ble, It would be great to have a crawler that would check your links, for emp­ty audio,video, cor­rupt images, and the like.

    IFTTT : could it dupli­cate every­thing some­where else(s). It would be prefer­able on my own hard dri­ve. Or have every­thing dupli­cat­ed on dif­fer­ent cloud ser­vices. Could some­one let me know if they a have a defined recipe list?

  • To quote anoth­er com­ment, shared note con­flicts are absurd­ly com­mon. There are bet­ter col­lab­o­ra­tive edit­ing imple­men­ta­tions than all or noth­ing. decid­ed not to use Ever­note for any­thing that needs to be updat­ed, but only to store sta­t­ic stuff.

  • Just start­ed to use Ever­note, as I got 1 year of pre­mi­um for free. So far, the win­dows app works fine. Now I real­ly have to go deep­er into the Android app and test it, before I move my data to Ever­note.

    Any­way, I guess that the respon­se of Phil Lib­in is a good sign. Keep­ing up with com­peti­tors — spe­cia­ly on sys­tems like ios and android — seems to cause a lot of trouble/bugs. Its like its more impor­tant to ship out a pro­duct right in time — instead of deliv­er a good and work­ing pro­duct.

  • I have 13,000 notes in my Ever­note data­base and i’m scared to death now after read­ing your blog post. :(((

  • I’ve expe­ri­enced many issues with Ever­note and I’m a pay­ing Pre­mi­um user. I’m always unpleas­ant­ly sur­prised when Ever­note comes up with prod­ucts such as Ever­note Mar­ket or Ever­note back­pack, which are so tan­gen­tial to their core tech­nol­o­gy.

  • I am Pre­mi­um-User since back in 2010. Since then Ever­note has let me down twice. I have around 8000 notes in my account but I can­not say this exact­ly, because on every device i own (a Mac, a PC and an iPhone) there are dif­fer­ent num­bers of notes (vary­ing a few hun­dred notes). But a few days ago EN made me quit­ting my Pre­mi­um sub­scrip­tion. I record­ed two days of an impor­tant meet­ing as an audio note with­in Ever­note on my iPhone5. On the first day i had no prob­lems. Excel­lent audio qual­i­ty and play­ing on every device i tried. On the sec­ond day the record­ing went well again. It was about 5 hours worth of audio. But when i saved the note in the iPhone-App it crashed and my audio file had gone to nir­vana. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back. My pre­mi­um sub­scrip­tion is still run­ning until July so EN has a bit of time to gain back lost faith. We will see. Until then I changed back to textfiles and a audio record­ing app called “iProRecorder” that i used before Ever­note. Although the app is not updat­ed any longer, it has nev­er let me down dur­ing any record­ing.

  • The prob­lem is big­ger than Ever­Note. The pen­du­lum in the Web/App soft­ware indus­try has swung too far from ‘get it right’ towards ‘get it out the door’. There is a dif­fer­ence between releas­ing ear­ly and iter­at­ing to get your ‘design’ right, and releas­ing ear­ly and iter­at­ing to get your code debugged. Too many of today’s crop of devel­op­ers think of QA as a bur­den, or some­one else’s job.

    My opin­ion based on my expe­ri­ences and obser­va­tions. Even Apple and Google reg­u­lar­ly release poor qual­i­ty soft­ware.

  • Your update made it seem as if you had pre­cip­i­tat­ed a change in EN’s game plan. They didn’t decide to refo­cus on account of your post… Phil Lib­in is sim­ply let­ting us in on what was and is already in the pipeline. Clar­i­fy­ing things… Con­firm­ing what is to come. I think regard­less, we would have been pleas­ant­ly sur­prised in due course with­out his dis­clo­sure.

  • I’m an pre­mi­um Ever­note user, main­ly for sync­ing doc­u­ments and text con­tent, and the ser­vice has been my brain for a while now (it even dri­ves my blog via postach.io). I’ve also been a user of Office 365, which I real­ly loved, but going back to a Mac-cen­tric work­flow made the ser­vice less usable, so I went back to Ever­note. I’ve had a much bet­ter expe­ri­ence that you’ve appeared to have, but the secu­ri­ty issues you’ve exposed may dri­ve me back to Office 365 (or at least just using Sky­drive and a local doc­u­ment man­age­ment app like Paper­less or doo).

  • I should have post­ed a blog rather than a pri­vate email when I wrote a sim­i­lar rant when the iOS 6 era client was unus­able for typ­ing.

    I use SoundE­v­er on iPhone for record­ing sound part­ly because it is vast­ly safer when dri­ving (big ugly but­tons on the entire phone face).

    I think a lot of the trou­ble on iOS comes from a deci­sion to use a nest­ed web-based edi­tor instead bit­ing the bul­let and writ­ing a ful­ly native iOS edi­tor (it may be native now but I doubt it).

    The Sur­face RT ver­sion is, and always has been, a pret­ty dis­as­ter. It’s a nice exam­ple of try­ing to fol­low the Metro UI guide­li­nes but proves they don’t scale and run­ning on RT is hor­ren­dous­ly frag­ile.

    Some defense:

    For peo­ple with issues such as:
    “For any­one with more com­plex ideas and com­pli­cat­ed issues to remem­ber, there aren’t real­ly any good alter­na­tives.” stop think­ing of indi­vid­u­al notes as need­ing to have a com­plex engine — I track very com­plex writ­ing and soft­ware devel­op­ment ideas in Ever­note by using mul­ti­ple notes and note links. It can eas­i­ly be used in “wiki style”. Some of the tech­niques I use, such as drag­ging a col­lec­tion of notes into anoth­er to get a list of links, came from lis­ten­ing to Phil’s pod­cast.

    I have lit­tle sym­pa­thy for peo­ple who go on about how they have used the ser­vice for years, it’s vital to them, but have nev­er paid for it.

    • How self right­eous. Then don’t offer a freemi­um ser­vice and make every­one pay for it. May­be Ever­note would have turned out bet­ter, but I doubt it. Crap­py code is crap­py code.

  • Switched to One Note; hap­pier!
    Yep! I had been los­ing stuff for some time but pre­sumed it was me. Beside all the above, Evernote’s han­dling of Secure Notes is kludge at best. Find­ing an alter­na­tive has been on my medi­um to-do list for about 6 months. So today I spent like 2 hours set­ting up OneNote (2010) and copy­ing about 8 notes over (man­u­al cut and paste), and test­ing iPhone and browser access; secure notes; fea­tures, etc. Not bad, a touch slow to sync. But the rib­bon and quick access tool­bar which I hat­ed when intro­duced, and with which I am now com­fort­able, is most­ly the same as oth­er MS Apps, it seems fea­ture rich and proces­sor light. I will keep it for a cou­ple months and see how it works out. At moment I would rate it 8/10, Ever­note would get a 4/10. Not per­fect but much bet­ter espe­cial­ly if you are a pow­er MS Offi­cer. I had to tweak the con­fig a lot. I bet 2013 is real­ly good but haven’t yet a com­pelling rea­son to $$.

  • I have nev­er had prob­lems with cor­rupt­ed or delet­ed files(thank god, but it might be because all my notes are text only), but Ever­note crash­es way too often on my Android tablet and I sit with my heart ham­mer­ing in my throat every time, fear­ing I might have lost what­ev­er I was work­ing on.
    It’s bad for my health!

  • Fail Lib­in’.…. Clear­ly work­ing hard on EN IPO or sale: pump­ing up user-num­bers, brag­ging about the ‘user-expe­ri­ence’, but ignor­ing said ‘val­ued’ users com­plete­ly — and con­sis­tent­ly. Only a ‘VIP-blog­ger’ gets his atten­tion…

    Have been using EN for years, hav­ing rec­om­mend­ed it to sev­er­al clients… No pow­er-user, so have not real­ly run into recur­ring errors. But one of the things repeat­ed­ly gave prob­lems is/was the installer: it just stopped. And, it installed to a sep­a­rate fold­er, not replac­ing the exist­ing install, so I had to man­u­al­ly locate the data­base-file. It seems fixed now, but it took at least a year — if not longer… Seems basic but fun­da­men­tal to me.… (how­ev­er, EN is free — may­be that gives many of us here less lever­age?)

    @ Jason Kin­caid: try http://audacity.sourceforge.net/ (Win­dows only) to sal­vage that music file.

  • EDIT: Audac­i­ty for Mac: http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download/

  • Thanks for the arti­cle. Many peo­ple have been com­plain­ing to Ever­note about seri­ous issues only to be ignored. One media arti­cle and sud­den­ly they seem to care…I’m hard­ly encour­aged, but I hope they “get it” final­ly. I looked at oth­er note-tak­ing soft­ware and unfor­tu­nate­ly noth­ing had many of the must-haves on my list but owing to sim­i­lar issues am on the fence as to whether I keep using Ever­note.

  • Run your own ser­vice, on your own server. Accept no sub­sti­tutes. Ever­note has the keys to your king­dom.

  • I hope they change that awful new green col­or back to the old pleas­ant green col­or.

  • Hel­lo,

    I have not noticed any of my notes van­ish but I don’t use audio record­ing in EN

    Given that Phil seems to care about what Jason thinks about EN, I’m going to post some­thing I have already pub­lished in EN forums, as a respon­se to Ever­note cus­tomer sup­port, and vir­tu­al­ly in any place I’ve come to think it would go fit with the dis­cus­sion.

    If Ever­note con­tin­ues to mar­ket they aim at being our exter­nal brains, when are they going to ful­ly encrypt my ideas? And I’m not tak­ing about their clum­sy test encryp­tion, I’m talk­ing about full server side encryp­tion. I have some­what 1500 synced notes and about 400 local notes that I won’t be putting up on their servers unless they offer full server side encryp­tion. And I can say it is a role has­sle, and that is utter­ly annoy­ing and inad­e­quate for my pur­pos­es or rather for the aver­age pur­pos­es of users.

    And please, don’t tell me it is not easy or even fea­si­ble. As long as I can be sure that my notes are safe from pry­ing eyes, EN can’t be regard­ed as my external/reliable brain.

    Phil, stop adding fea­tures that are not being demand­ed and start adding full encryp­tion and oth­ers. The­se shouldn’t even be con­sid­ered fea­tures, they are MUSTs…

    For the record, I’m a pre­mi­um users since 2008 and I always sug­gest your app when I’m asked how I keep track of my notes. But I always make sure they under­stand that their notes can be accessed if EN infra­struc­ture gets com­pro­mised. While I think that the EN suite is extreme­ly smart and catchy, I regret to not be able to trust it and be forced to fid­dle around if I want to sat­is­fy the aver­age needs of every user who aims at man­ag­ing a paper­less setup.

    I real­ly hope Phil gets to read this.

    • Yes, EN could do full encryp­tion (to be ful­ly secure, the encryp­tion would have to be done on the client so the only thing that gets sent to the server is “ran­dom noise”). How­ev­er, if they didn’t have the key to decrypt this “noise”, then they couldn’t index it, so the only indexing/searching would be lim­it­ed to what could be done on the client — prob­a­bly no OCR for exam­ple). I’m not say­ing they shouldn’t do it (it would be good to have it as an option), but we need to under­stand what we’re ask­ing for

    • 100% under­stood. They could move the com­put­ing pow­er to the thick clients like Mac or Win plat­forms and let mobile devices con­sume the con­tents

  • Note­Suite (mac only) is the word. It looks like Ever­note is a Note­Suite wannabe. NS is robust, the exten­sions for safari and/ or chromi­um less demand­ing, way much bet­ter then EN. And it syncs through iCloud, so it does‘t ris­es any pri­va­cy con­cerns.
    It does have an iPad app — which let you use a sty­lus, too. Note­suite is awe­some.

  • I just signed up for a Medi­um Size Busi­ness account on Office 365 (so I can have access to MS Office and OneNote) and am mov­ing every­thing out of Ever­note to Sky­Drive Pro and OneNote. 

    I’ll prob­a­bly end up also ditch­ing OS X and let­ting Win­dows 8 use the entire hard dri­ve on my Mac mini since the only remain­ing pur­pose I had to OS X was video edit­ing, which I can do with oth­er appli­ca­tions.

  • I think Phil cares that this blog post is get­ting wide view­ing more than any­thing. if he real­ly ares about the issues he would have already done some­thing about them.

  • First of all, nice arti­cle. It’s impor­tant to explose the issues clear­ly. But, let’s be real: EN is still a great app. It’s just that they’re hav­ing some grow­ing pains. All pop­u­lar appli­ca­tions or ser­vices go through this. Yes, it may be a lit­tle bug­gy, but if they lis­ten to their users, won’t they even­tu­al­ly resolve the prob­lems?. I’ve been using Ever­note since 2010 and it’s been good to me over­all. I went from Android to iOS, from Win­dows to Mac OSX. All my notes sur­vived. Ever­note and Drop­box were instru­men­tal for my paper­less lifestyle. But I’m not going to jump ship just for a few bugs. What frus­trates me is their inabil­i­ty to keep the UI the same accross the dif­fer­ent plat­forms. I also find myself using the web ver­sion and mobile app ver­sions inter­change­ably. Has it been bug­gy? Yes. But I still find great val­ue in this cross-plat­form note tak­ing appli­ca­tion with its encrypt­ed text option and two-fac­tor authen­ti­ca­tion. I do agree with some here that more empha­sis should be made on secu­ri­ty. By the way, my brain is bug­gy too.

  • Thanks for post­ing this. My expe­ri­ence is a sim­i­lar one, although with a series of com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent bugs and incon­sis­ten­cies. If there was a wor­thy com­peti­tor app avail­able I would jump ship in a heart­beat.

  • Alas… I total­ly agree with Jason.

    Please Ever­note team, please Phil, get back to your core-busi­ness!

    Get rid of Hel­lo, Food, Peek, Seek, Clear­ly, Penul­ti­mate, Skitch, (wow, how many are there!?) … and focus on Ever­note. Just Ever­note. The pro­duct we love.

    Fix and stan­dard­ise the leg­endary painful text edi­tor (you know, like adding the head­ers 1, 2, 3…), improve sync, and fix the bugs.

    That’s all what we need!

    • I dis­agree. Penul­ti­mate and ask itch are part of Evernote’s core busi­ness to me at least.

    • For you, yes, of course… but Food for some­one else, Hel­lo for anoth­er and so on…

      That’s why it’s not part of the core busi­ness when the main Ever­note apps are so clumsy/buggy/unstable.

      Diver­si­fi­ca­tion only works on rock-solid core pro­duct.

      Also, I don’t under­stand why they do this because it’s again­st the log­ic of the API: let oth­er com­pa­nies build great (sub-) prod­ucts on top of Ever­note!

    • No no no. Skitch and Penul­ti­mate are way more a part of the core fea­ture set than you’re rec­og­niz­ing. They’re both MASSIVELY, MASSIVELY pop­u­lar. Also, Ever­note acquired both, they didn’t build them from scratch, so your bit about the log­ic of the API is skew­ered.

  • Ever­note and Bitrix24 are the best free pro­duc­tiv­i­ty tools in the his­to­ry of human­i­ty. Bugs piss me off too, but I can live with them.

  • Thanks a lot for writ­ing this Jason. I have expe­ri­enced very unpro­fes­sion­al cus­tomer ser­vice, not big errors (knock on wood) but a lot of appli­ca­tion crash­ing (iPad and iPhone) and I hope the CEO under­stands that this is a MAJOR issue, you have to have the cus­tomer TRUST when it comes to such an impor­tant app in your life (for me TSW and gen­er­al infor­ma­tion stor­age).
    Thanks again!! 

    PS: I have to start back up my client files on my PC!

  • This is exact­ly why I ditched Ever­note a year or so ago and went over to Sim­plenote — reli­able to a fault, has not lost a sin­gle note. Ever­note drove me crazy — I’d lit­er­al­ly walk into meet­ings with my notes entered on my com­put­er and they wouldn’t sync to my phone.. and look like I was unpre­pared. Sim­plenote saved the day and is light­en­ing fast. If all you need is text notes — bin­go.

  • This is all I need­ed to ditch Ever­note for good! I have been a user since 2008 and have been let down sev­er­al times. After being a pre­mi­um user I down­grad­ed after they elim­i­nat­ed the “clip to pdf” fea­ture, which was essen­tial to my work. They sim­ply ignored thou­sands of users which con­tact­ed the forum and sup­port ask­ing for that fea­ture to return. Com­plete arro­gance and short­sigh­ness. After that I endured the work­flow get­ting slow­er and bloat­ed untill now, when I sim­ply can­not get the web clip­per to clip any­thing at all. Again I went to the forum just to con­firm that hun­dred of users have had expe­ri­enc­ing the same prob­lem while Ever­note sup­port doesn’t seem to care. Out­ra­geous!

  • Thanks for shar­ing. I loved Ever­note when I first got my iPhone and iPad (I was a late adopter) but have not used it as much, and no longer add new notes. I just found it too rid­dled with prob­lems and bugs, had prob­lems try­ing to access info when not on wifi, and when I tried to upgrade awhile back, I could not even make that hap­pen. Unfor­tu­nate.

  • Thank you so much for tak­ing the time to put into words what many of us think, and thus cre­at­ing the nec­es­sary force to hope­ful­ly bring change for the bet­ter for all of us.

  • I came across your arti­cle search­ing for “ever­note 5 win­dows per­for­mance”. I’ve been using EN for sev­er­al years at this point, and am a Pre­mi­um user, and gen­er­al­ly rec­om­mend it to every­one who needs help orga­niz­ing. I don’t know how I func­tioned before EN.

    I’ve had some issues here and there as described with sync issues and such, but would just try to remem­ber to close Ever­note on com­put­ers I’m not active­ly using, or remem­ber to not edit notes on my smart­phone or risk wonky for­mat­ting on the desk­top side lat­er on, etc. some oth­er issues here and there as well, but most recent­ly, since the ver­sion 5 update on Win­dows, the client lag issue is absolute­ly killing me. I’ve been in touch with EN sup­port on this and we’ve tried all sorts of things. noth­ing works. this issue is well doc­u­ment­ed on the EN forums. I’m fair­ly tol­er­ant, but this issue has been ongo­ing for months with­out res­o­lu­tion, with frus­tra­tion mount­ing. The respon­se from Phil Lib­in sure sounds nice and promis­ing, but with­out deliv­ery of fix­es, it’s all just dis­ap­point­ing cus­tomer ser­vice fluff talk — it’s a garbage respon­se. this arti­cle was writ­ten in Jan­u­ary. It’s May 2014. I’m still suf­fer­ing through the client lag that’s appar­ent­ly appeared in Novem­ber 2013. how long does it take to get this stuff fixed? it’s become very frus­trat­ing deal­ing with this, going on sev­er­al months now. I pay for this ser­vice.

    Mac client seems to work okay.

    (Wish Word­Press offered a post acknowl­edge­ment sys­tem — my frus­tra­tion mir­rors that of many who’ve post­ed before me.)

  • July 2014 here. Came here because ios crash­es, win­dows crash­es of Ever­note nev­er get fixed. I lost drag and drop near­ly 2 years ago on Win­dows. It nev­er came back. I was about to get post-it notes, but now the post-it note cam­era crash­es the app. Every sin­gle time. Stop mak­ing Ever­note socks and start run­ning QA.

  • Weird I have not had any prob­lems with Ever­note. I do hope for stronger text man­age tools ( sort­ing, search­ing ) like Notepad++ has, but for it’s designed for — the stor­age and retrieval of text infor­ma­tion — it does a great job.

  • Same prob­lem. Start­ed using Ever­note, using Mac, iPad, and iPhone. All was fine until today. Mac app crashed twice. Now, sync doesn’t work. Thought I’d give Ever­note a try again, now I’m done with it.

  • Its August 2014 and I still have prob­lems sync­ing. Both when I setup a new com­put­er and when its an exist­ing one that upgrades to the next ver­sion. You can love the sys­tem and still say it has prob­lems. I always love the com­ments that mine works and you nev­er com­plained about the new fea­tures. Not help­ful. Ever­note has issues with sync­ing and some of us know it. I have con­tact­ed sup­port both on a paid and free account. All times the expe­ri­ence with tech sup­port was bad. They would rather blame me or the Inter­net speed. Nev­er mind I might have tried sync­ing on mul­ti­ple new com­put­ers and mul­ti­ple Inter­net con­nec­tions. Its frus­trat­ing.

  • To me the most incon­ve­nient ’ fea­ture’ of Ever­note is the Web Clip­per. It is quirky when you use it from browser to browser and when you are not using it, it runs in the back­ground hog­ging resources and slow­ing Inter­net access dra­mat­i­cal­ly (I am sit­u­at­ed poor­ly with respect to my incom­ing sig­nal and I can’t move just because of that.). So I end up using Task Man­ager all the time to shut it down to get decent Inter­net speed. 

    Add this to the lurk­ing pres­ence of a par­tic­u­lar Ever­note ‘expert’ in the online Help forums, who butts in rude­ly, basi­cal­ly telling every­one not to stop whin­ing and go use some­thing else, and you get a for­mu­la for mass pro­duct aban­don­ment.

  • Sep­tem­ber 2014 and as any­one who has used ever­note since this post knows, the soft­ware is still garbage. I use it on iOS, Mac, and win­dows. It’s junk, no mat­ter how many times you rein­stall it. I have show stop­per bugs month­ly. I don’t even con­tact sup­port any more. All they say is rein­stall. Rein­stall ever­note, it’s become the new reboot. I have had enough. Lib­in has proved him­self a liar. Good luck with the socks and wal­lets.

  • 8 months lat­er, and your blog post still rings true!

  • Guys, you just need to remem­ber the actu­al devel­op­ment team is very small.
    I am build­ing the 3rd ver­sion of my cloud based app and I also inte­grat­ed Ever­note, among oth­ers. The devel­op­er sup­port respon­se or gen­er­al sup­port or bug fix­es is VERY big. Shit I end­ed up find­ing and solv­ing 3 bugs in their PHP and Python sdks and api. So yeah.… to much hype and to lit­tle pro­gress.

  • I agree 100% per­cent. I was just about to start a rant blog because Ever­note forked one of my notes (again) into two diver­gent copies pre­sum­ably due to spot­ty con­nec­tiv­i­ty. And this is with no oth­er device involved. It is high time that some­one cre­ates a note-tak­ing app that doesn’t lose or gar­ble your data.

  • 8 months lat­er and Ever­note is STILL FILLED with bugs too numer­ous to count. When the iOS ver­sion mys­te­ri­ous­ly and intru­sive­ly began adding extra space between lists with check­box­es I said “Enough” and ditched it for OneNote. With recent com­pa­ny projects using Ever­note, I’ve reluc­tant­ly had to come back. Found this web­page search­ing for a solu­tion to a bug — search­es work dif­fer­ent­ly on Win­dows and iOS, with intitle:WORD on the iOS return­ing intitle:WORD*. Geeez.

    Indent / out­dent is STILL BROKEN on the iPad after a year. There’s STILL no font selec­tion, size, or col­or or there either. There’s STILL no sim­ple note title view in iOS. 

    And for­get about mean­ing­ful new fea­tures, such as intra-note links, which are com­plete­ly nec­es­sary to use Evenote as a pri­ma­ry work envi­ron­ment.

    I had great hopes with the CEO’s Jan­u­ary com­ments, and was even sent them by a tech sup­port rep. But the new line spac­ing bug is evi­dence that Ever­note has got­ten worse, not bet­ter.

  • this is so strange, because I have had NO issues with Ever­note in the years which I have been using it. I do in fact use it more now than ever before (the chaos in my brain was leak­ing into my work atmos­phere) but I’ve nev­er seen stuff like this.. I do how­ev­er only use Ever­note for text and a few pho­tos from the web clip­pings which I try to remove in any case. 

    EN for me is every­thing: my work’s tasks, per­son­al tasks, projects of all sorts, work plans, blog posts in the mak­ing, a per­son­al jour­nal, lit­er­al­ly, Ever­note is my go-to for EVERYTHING. I’m just sur­prised to read this because I have nev­er *knocks wood* had an issue with EN.

    I should also note that I have also nev­er had an issue with hacks on EN. Gen­er­al­ly, I don’t have an issue with hacks because noth­ing I work with is par­tic­u­lar­ly earth-shat­ter­ing­ly sen­si­tive. Banks get hacked all the time and it doesn’t wor­ry me because it would be the bank’s fault, and any charges made dur­ing those time which I haven’t made would be paid back. Some­one said this is a prob­lem. I don’t think so. Pri­va­cy is sub­jec­tive.

  • I share your over­all expe­ri­ences with Ever­note. Ever­note still feels like beta soft­ware, yet its been around for years. That’s not good. Glitch­es and bugs are fre­quent, and their sup­port is ill-equipped to deal with bug reports. I tried report­ing some bugs, and it was more frus­trat­ing deal­ing with their sup­port peo­ple than it was worth.

    I got tired of los­ing notes and hav­ing notes cor­rupt­ed. I could write an essay about all the glitch­es I found, but they have a wall between devel­op­ers and users, so it is point­less.

    If I under­stand their CEO’s respon­se to your blog, Ever­note includes your note titles (which may con­tain pri­vate infor­ma­tion) out­side of the data­base, in logs. How can their CEO find that accept­able?

  • I have Ever­note for Desk­top. It has func­tioned well in about two years: one sta­bil­i­ty or synch­ing prob­lem after anoth­er. I haven’t renewed my Pre­mi­um sub­scrip­tion.

    • Sor­ry. Should have been: “It HASN’T func­tioned well in about two years.”

  • I became a fan of Ever­note 2yrs ago and a paid sub­scriber a year ago. I absolute­ly hate the Win­dows appli­ca­tion and only have it so that I have a phys­i­cal copy of my notes on my machi­nes.

    Since your post, and Evernote’s reply, have you detect­ed improve­ments to your issues? One of the things I hate is that the search func­tion­al­i­ty varies from plat­form to plat­form; from my Android phone to the web ver­sion to the Win­dows ver­sion, how it deals with boolean log­ic varies — there are times when I search one plat­form and get no hits for notes I know are there and can find on oth­er plat­forms. And I find that utter­ly incred­i­ble.

    I had pre­vi­ous­ly tried oth­er note tools, and decid­ed Ever­note pro­vid­ed the most com­pre­hen­sive note solu­tion. If its best days are indeed behind it, what alter­na­tives are rec­om­mend­able the­se days?


  • Can’t agree more. I use Evernote’s basic fea­ture, using copy/paste text, not even those webclip/other func­tions, and it fail to search text! I have mul­ti­ple “Win­dows” in a note, and it can see some but not the oth­er. “Ever­note fail to search for text” google search brought me to this page. 

    The only rea­son I haven’t switched to oth­ers (OneNote?) is Ever­note has encryp­tion fea­ture. But that doesn’t even work on Mac! 

    I am switch­ing out soon.

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