Evernote has long been the go-to application for taking notes, tracking documents, organizing projects, and generally being the place to put anything you might want to find later.
However, in the last few years, Evernote’s reputation has suffered due to an aging interface, increased fees, a series of layoffs, and a new CEO. While there are no indications that the application is going away any time soon, and it still boasts (according to most accounts) a couple hundred million users, it doesn’t hurt to have a plan B in place in case you decide it’s time to bail.
Luckily, there are a number of applications such as Microsoft OneNote, Zoho Notebook, Simplenote, and Google Keep that are looking to compete as the place for you to keep your thoughts, ideas, and other stuff. In this article, we are going to tell you how (or if) you can migrate your Evernote data to one of these applications.
However, whether or not you plan to switch, it’s a good idea to know how to export your data, if only to have an independent backup of that information, just in case.
How to export your Evernote data
Evernote lets you divide your notes into separate notebooks. When you export your data, each notebook must be exported into a separate file in Evernote’s .enex format (you can also export to an HTML file if you want).
You can only export data using the Evernote local application for PCs or Macs; you can’t do it from the online version. To try it out, I used a Mac on which I’d installed version 7.9 of Evernote. Here is how you proceed; the process for a PC is very similar.
- Click on Notebooks in Evernote’s left-hand menu or select View > Notebook from the top menu. This will give you a listing of all your Evernote notebooks in the main window.
- Select which notebook(s) you want to export. (If you want to export your entire Evernote file, then select them all.)
- Right click on the selected notebook(s) and choose “Export Notes from ‘NotebookName.’” You can also go to the top menu and select File > Export Notes.
- In the pop-up window, type in the name you want to give your export file and select the folder in which you want to save it. You can also decide whether you want to export the associated tags (assuming you used any). Click on Save.
Now you’ve got your data, where do you want to put it? I’ve look at four of the best-known Evernote alternatives — Microsoft OneNote, Zoho Notebook, Simplenote, and Google Keep — to find out the easiest way to move your data to each (assuming you can). Two of them, OneNote and Notebook, offer importers to make things as simple as possible for you. Simplenote offers a fairly simple way to import your .enex files once you’ve exported them from Evernote. And Keep… well… not gonna happen.
Microsoft OneNote is perhaps the application most compared to Evernote, and Microsoft has taken advantage of that by offering very explicit instructions, and by providing its users with an importer to make things as easy as possible.
There is one exception: If you are using the Evernote client on a Mac, and you downloaded your version of Evernote from the Mac App Store rather than from Evernote’s site, you won’t be able to use the importer to automatically import your data directly. Instead, you will have to use the link in the importer (see below) that helps you import your Evernote .enex files.
However, assuming you have the correct version:
- Go to the page “Making the move from Evernote to OneNote” and download the importer. (According to the page, it will work for PCs with Windows 7 or later, or Macs with OS X El Capitan 10.11 or later.)
- Make sure that your desktop copy of Evernote is closed. Otherwise, the importer will simply tell you that you’ve successfully installed it, but won’t go any further.
- The importer then goes to work, creating .enex files for each of your notebooks (but not downloading them to your OneNote account).
- The importer will then ask you to choose which notebooks you want to select. All of the notebooks are automatically selected, but you can choose specific ones as well. If there was a problem with the import, there is a link that will help you import your own .enex file.
- If you haven’t signed in to OneNote, you’ll be asked to do so. Otherwise, click on Import.
- Once it’s finished, you’ll be notified of any notes that failed to import. In the case of OneNote, it will not import reminders or encrypted content.
In my case, the move to OneNote worked well; each Evernote notebook was moved to a OneNote notebook, and all my PDFs, images, text, and other content (with the exception of one reminder) were immediately recognizable. Because OneNote divides its notebooks into tabbed folders, and Evernote does not, most of my new OneNote notebooks had one tab. However, one that had 114 notes was divided into three tabs; I’m not sure why.
Zoho also makes it very simple to migrate your Evernote data. You can import the data into Zoho’s iOS, Android, or macOS clients, or using the online version (I used this last). Along the way, Zoho has several warnings about being patient because of Evernote’s quirks, however, I had no difficulty.
- In Zoho Notebook, click on “Settings” in the right-hand menu.
- In the Settings window, scroll down to “Migrate from Evernote” near the bottom of the list.
- The next page is a warning to be patient until all Evernote’s data is migrated into Zoho Notebook, and an assurance that Zoho will send you an email to signal that the migration is complete.
- You’re then taken to your Evernote account (and asked to log in if you’re not), where you have to authorize Zoho to access your account. You can choose the length of the authorization, up to a year; I chose a day. The migration process then begins.
- Unfortunately, I didn’t see any way to choose specific notebooks and I have a lot of content in my Evernote account. As a result, I got the email telling me that the migration was complete about 15 hours later.
As with OneNote, Zoho Notebook was able to important all my Evernote content and, from what I was able to tell, replicate my notebook structure nicely. The only difference was that, unlike Evernote, there were no “stacked” folders.
Simplenote is, as its name implies, a much simpler note application that is still on many “best of” lists. However, the process of moving from Evernote to Simplenote isn’t quite so simple.
To begin with, you can’t import into the online app, but need to use the Mac or PC version. And once again, Mac users are at a slight disadvantage: The version of Simplenote that you download from the Mac App Store doesn’t support importing. You need to use a version that is available on the Github site. (This can be especially confusing since the Mac App Store link is the one that’s on Simplenote’s main page.)
So assuming that you’re using a Mac, and haven’t installed Simplenote yet:
- Go to the Github site. Scroll down until you see the Simplenote-macOS-1.5.0.dmg file. (The version number may change.)
- Click on the link and download the file. Install it to your Mac.
- Go to the app menu, select File > Import Notes from the app menu. You will be offered the choice of importing Simplenote, Evernote, or plain text files.
- On the next screen, you will be able to either drag your .enex file into the Import box, or click on the box and select the file. The import will then begin.
Unlike OneNote and Zoho Notebook, you cannot import more than one notebook at a time, and since Simplenote doesn’t use a notebook format, your notebook categorizations will disappear. One way to get around this is to create tags for each notebook before you export them from Evernote; you can import the tags and search for each set of notes in Simplenote that way.
Simplenote also doesn’t import images or other media, so if you’ve been using Evernote to collect business card images or other photos, you’re out of luck.
Google Keep is a very simple and useful note application — if you start it from scratch. There is currently no way to move data from Evernote (or any other app) to Google Keep, even if you wanted to.
It’s always difficult to get used to a new application when you’ve invested a lot of time, effort, and content in one such as Evernote. But if you can easily move from one app to the other — as you can with at least three of these notebook apps — then the hardest part is taken care of.
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