There are some apps that — by sheer virtue of excellence — forever define all software of its type. For note-taking apps, there is no name more famous or beloved than Evernote. In this extensive Evernote review, we will go over the many reasons why it’s still the best app for notes.
Since its beta launch in 2008, over 200 million users have used Evernote. Looking at its impressive list of features, it’s easy to see why. Evernote has advanced options such as optical character recognition (OCR), document scanning and team management features to keep track of every note, each uploaded file and all the deadlines of your team members.
However, this only applies to the paid versions. Using Evernote for free is a different matter since it not only lacks all of these features but also comes with a drastic limit to monthly bandwidth and note size. Read on to learn more about Evernote and how it compares to other notes apps.
Strengths & Weaknesses
- Plenty of great features
- Available on all major platforms
- Precise searching options
- Bare-bones free version
- Monthly bandwidth limit
Evernote has a slew of features that clearly set it apart from other note-taking apps. When used properly, it can double as a solid project management tool that the entire team can access from practically all of their devices, which can then be synced to the cloud. This eliminates lost data, as every team member can connect and use the app at any time.
There are several types of notes and files that you can create, including audio recordings, photos, handwriting scribbles, attachments and reminders. Of course, since Evernote is a note-taking app, the note itself is the primary unit, with the most options and customization devoted to it. The different types of notes you can make in it is incredible.
You have many options when making a new note. Besides the usual blank note, meeting note and to-do list, you also have the option to create a lecture note, an essay outline or daily reflection. These cover just about any work, school or personal life-related needs for taking notes. For example, the essay outline offers you a tried-and-true template for essay writing.
The next step is to organize and group these notes inside a notebook. It is easy to organize notes in different ways with Evernote. You can create tags, crosslink between notes and employ a powerful searching tool that can find words and files across notes; you can search by keyword, the date a note was created or modified, and even the location of where it was written.
Evernote Document Scanning & OCR
With the paid versions of Evernote, you can also search and sort through Microsoft Word docs and PDFs, as well as annotate the PDFs. The document scanning feature extends this to business cards, receipts, menus and other printed documents. Simply take a picture and let the scanner convert the words and symbols in the image to text. Taking video notes is still not implemented.
To round up the helpful additions that will all but eliminate your need to transcribe text is the optical character recognition feature. Evernote’s OCR has the capability to detect 11 handwritten and 28 typewritten languages from both handwritten notes inside the app as well as pictures of sticky note reminders or project whiteboards.
Evernote also integrates with a number of popular apps. These include Gmail, Outlook, Google Drive, Salesforce, Slack and Microsoft Teams. The good news for workplace automation lovers is that Zapier and IFTTT can also easily integrate with Evernote. Through these two apps, you will be able to connect Evernote to over 2,000 additional apps.
A very useful web clipper add-on is available for all major web browsers. This web clipper allows you to take clips of images and text you found on the web and save them directly into Evernote. You can easily clip out web content that you want to have saved and not include pesky ads or parts of the webpage that you do not want to include.
The biggest problems with Evernote all stem from the limited and missing features between pricing models. If you want to use Evernote in a professional capacity, you will have to choose a paid version, something that we will talk about in greater detail in the next section.
Evernote Features Overview
|Embed note links|
|Optical character recognition (OCR)|
The most commonly criticized part of Evernote is the major differences between its paid and free versions. When it first launched, Evernote was very generous with its free version, but over time, it added more and more restrictions to it. In this regard, Evernote is clearly inferior to OneNote, an app that doesn’t force its users to pay to have advanced features (see our Evernote vs OneNote comparison).
- : Minimum of 2 Users
The 60MB monthly upload limit shouldn’t be an issue if you only want to use Evernote as a free note organizer, but you will quickly run out of space if you record audio or take and share pictures via the app. Plus, only two devices can be synced up in real-time on the free model.
Obviously, the free version is pretty bare-bones and will not meet the needs of even small teams. It will be more than sufficient for personal use, writing short notes and to-do lists, but its maximum note size of 25MB prohibits it from being used for anything more. To start using it for free, all you need to do is open up an Evernote account.
Evernote Premium & Business
Next up is the Premium plan, which costs $7.99 per month. This version can sync across an unlimited number of devices, has a 10GB monthly upload limit and a 200MB note size cap. If you want to make use of those document scanning features, have OCR and be able to annotate your PDFs, then this is the version for you. It comes with a 14-day free trial.
Last but not least, we have the Business version, costing $14.99 per month per user. As the name suggests, this payment tier is aimed at business owners. With a monthly upload limit of 20GB and an additional 2GB per user, its most notable additions are team collaboration and team administration features. It also integrates with some of the best CRM tools, such as Salesforce. You can try it free for 30 days.
At first glance, Evernote can appear daunting, even overwhelming, especially to a first-time user who isn’t too familiar with note-taking apps. As soon as you start taking notes in Evernote, though, it becomes clear that it isn’t hard to figure things out, even though it is filled with options upon options.
When contrasted with a beautiful and minimalistic app, such as Zoho Notebook, Evernote can come off plain and even cramped at times. However, it manages to overcome this initial impression by providing an excellent tutorial. This comes in the form of animated lessons that succinctly explain Evernote’s features, and it’s something that we would love to see included in all apps.
Once again, though, what Evernote may lack in pure esthetics, it more than makes up in functionality. For an example of this approach, look no further than Evernote’s templates. They feature dozens of expertly crafted templates for work, school and personal matters, and the program allows you to access and duplicate these customizable time-savers in just a few clicks.
Evernote covers all the major computing platforms; its web, desktop and mobile apps are available for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android devices (and a Linux version is rumored to be in development). Customer support consists of email and live chat, though it is restricted to the paid versions.
Security & Privacy
As a company, Evernote came under heavy fire due to several incidents involving security breaches and privacy concerns. In 2013, around 50 million user accounts were compromised in a massive hacking data breach. For a short while, sensitive user information — including emails and passwords — was exposed.
Because of these blunders, Evernote realized it had to invest more in its security. The first step was to migrate its data infrastructure to Google Cloud. Then came two-factor authentication (2FA), a protective feature that has since become commonplace across apps of all types. We strongly encourage you to turn on this option for every software that has it available.
When in transit between Google Cloud and Evernote’s data center, customer data is encrypted using IPSEC (IP security) with GCM-AES-128 encryption. Data stored on the Google Cloud is encrypted at rest with Google-managed AES-256 encryption keys. The data centers themselves are staffed by physical security and protected 24/7, all year-round.
Evernote guarantees the privacy of its user data through three self-imposed laws of data protection. They promise that your data is yours, that your data is protected and that your data is portable.
What this means is that Evernote does not claim legal copyright to your content, that it doesn’t aim to profit off your content by selling it or using it for advertising. It also means that you can take your data and leave the platform at any time. For an extra layer of security and privacy, we recommend you use Evernote with one of our best VPN choices.
For business purposes, Evernote offers the best collaboration features out of all of the best apps for note-taking, but it still isn’t as good a project management tool as dedicated PMT software like Monday.com, Basecamp, Asana, Jira and other well-known stars of the digital project management world. Its free version is also somewhat lacking.
Although you can use Evernote effectively in its free version, you will be limited by how much content you can upload per month. Plus, with only two devices that you can sync up at the same time, you will likewise be forced to choose which platforms you can install and use Evernote on.
The bottom line is, if you want the best note-taking app and are willing to pay a little extra for all the fancy features — transforming it into an indispensable piece of software that will serve as a repository for all your private thoughts, random musings and work reports — you can’t go wrong with Evernote.
What are your impressions and experiences concerning Evernote? Do you think it’s still as good as it once was, or do you prefer some other note-taking apps? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below. As always, thank you for reading.
- Evernote is a cloud-based app that allows you to make, edit and share notes. It boasts a number of advanced options, including advanced searching, PDF annotation, document scanning, optical character recognition, team collaboration and team administration features. However, most of these are available only on the commercial versions of Evernote.
- The free version of Evernote is a good -- if stripped-down -- app for personal projects, but if you want to use it for anything more serious, you will have to buy one of the paid versions. These come with advanced features, increased upload limits (from 60MB per month to 10GB and 20GB) and an unlimited number of devices you can sync, compared to the two you get with the free plan.
- It depends on your needs. Evernote only really lives up to its potential on its paid versions, and the free model is comparatively light on advanced options. No other note-taking app has as many features, but if the high cost of Evernote is a no-go for you, we recommend you check out OneNote, Google Keep and Zoho Notebook as a replacement for Evernote.