14,147. That’s the number of notes I had in Evernote.
A few weeks later, only a few thousands notes remained in Evernote. In their place, I now have 11,278 plaintext files and a completely new way to write, learn and organize my work.
Over the years, my personal usage of Evernote had grown to cover more than just note-taking and journaling. I had come to depend on Evernote as the “Swiss Army knife” of my productivity tool kit. For example, I had used Evernote as my task manager, Evernote as a read-it later app like Pocket or Instapaper, and even Evernote as a sales and networking CRM. Evernote’s mission to “capture everything” had largely became how I used the tool.
Unfortunately, a few cracks started to appear with Evernote and my usage. First, my Evernote notes had become a bit of a monster, both conceptually and organizationally and in terms of the total number of notes. I felt a desire to to refine my note taking process and to slim down the number of notes I had. Second, Evernote as a product and company had seen better days.
The problems with Evernote as a company and as a product are not really the point of this post. But a quick summary of Evernote problems will often include: pricing changes, feature bloat, privacy around your notes, significant corporate changes, lack of product additions, and poor product performance (at least for me on Desktop).
Personally I rarely had much of an issue with the product or paying for a great product, like Evernote. But these concerns had built up over time and formed into on-going questions like: What’s going on with Evernote? Is it time to leave? How can I migrate? What should I migrate to?
A couple of months ago I finally decided to explore some Evernote alternatives and how I might migrate my notes. There are some solid Evernote replacements but I elected to switch to my notes to plain text files. Though Evernote’s corporate and product issues played a part in my decision too, my shift to plaintext files was less a rejection of Evernote, and more of a push to change up my way of organizing and working. To be clear: My goal was not to replace Evernote but to evolve my systems.
Migration is not an insignificant undertaking. Evernote makes your life easy for collecting, jotting ideas and then finding your old notes and documents later. If you have been a heavy user of Evernote, you likely have hundreds, if not thousands, of notes. Migrating to a new system is a time-consuming effort, and you still need to consider and adjust to your new way of working too.
There are several ways to migrate off of Evernote and onto another tool. One of the easiest note-taking tools to import into is Bear, a Mac/iOS markdown notes app. Lifehacker has a decent, though somewhat dated, post sharing several approaches for migrating to Microsoft’s OneNote, Apple Notes, or Simple Notes. Unfotunately none of these approaches work for migrating off of Evernote and onto plain text files. Even the best script, Ever2Simple, won’t keep your images, tags and meta-data when migrating to txt files. Losing so much information from my notes was a non-starter for me and forced me to find a new approach.
Fortunately, as I’ll show in this write-up, with a couple of steps and a combination of tools and scripts, you can effectively export your entire collection of notes out of Evernote and into markdown plaintext files. Most importantly, you can also still preserve the essentials of your old notes like images, tags, and even metadata like date created. Yoou can also maintain your legacy Evernote links between notes.
In this post, I’m going to show you how to migrate your notes out of Evernote and convert them into a collection of plaintext files in markdown. I’ll provide be providing a step-by-step guide to exporting out of Evernote and and processing into a format that you can open on any markdown editor. Additionally we will be sure to keep the images, links and meta for your original notes. Along the way, I’ll share some tips and my way of doing it too. At the end, I’ll conclude by briefly sharing a bit more about why I left Evernote and a few aspects of my new plain text life.
Let’s get started migrating our Evernote Notes!