Evernote Love/Hate

Evernote_IconThe review, How I Use Evernote, at Cranking Widgets got me to try out the app about a year ago. The post has a lot of great ideas on how to use this basic but powerful note taking app. Since then I’ve fallen in love with Evernote, migrating fully over from Jott, the minute they suspended their free (and somewhat mediocre) transcription service. It is now among my most used apps, and at free, it’s a pretty awesome deal.

Some of my uses:

  • Code snippets and Keyboard Shortcuts database, organized by app/language
  • Client and Research Notes
  • Account Info repository
  • Visual Memory – anything I need to remember that I can snap a pic of
  • Document Archive
  • Blog post/Email drafting

Cool features:

  • good tags implementation
  • iPhone support for voice and photo memos
  • easy web clipping
  • text recognition on photos (in theory at least – I haven’t seen it work)
  • horizontal rules! something Google can’t seem to get right, nothing like an HR to help organize a page
  • good list support – making multilevel lists is easy (If only you could paste them into other apps)
  • advanced searches on attributes, eg. creation date

The iPhone syncing works like it should, unlike Things for example, which you need to manually sync over a local wifi network. The ability to have the app on multiple computers, combined with the website and iPhone app means you pretty much have access to your data no matter where you are. And with a handy export to HTML, your data is safe and portable (if you remember to make regular exports). And yes, you can export all the notes in one click. Nice. Now that I’ve talked about how great Evernote is, I want to note how infuriatingly bad it is in certain areas. The main problem is the text editing.


  • Use styles sparingly. The moment you set a style, say bold, expect everything in that note to default to bold. Even if you unbold, it often randomly reverts to bold again
  • editing lists = suck. move a list item may change the styles on the whole list
  • No decent tabs or table support
    • you can’t edit a table, so be sure to get the rows and cols count right the first time, or you will have to copy and paste all the values into a new table
    • the other day I was making a table, and a cell popped out into new column, making a discombobulated mess of a table. Nope, no way to fix it, save remaking the table from scratch like above
    • tabs are just a several spaces, so you can’t get things to line up pretty. Also makes it difficult to make a note of code that needs tabs to be readable

Picture-1Here is my wishlist that I think would make this app flawless:

  • fix the text editor
  • make a function to revert a note to plain text, so you can edit on the iPhone (instead of just appending to it)
  • ability to hide notes – Google docs got this right. Notes add up quick.
  • Back button – where was I just before
  • iPhone ability to edit pending notes – after I click save in the subway, if I get another idea I have to start a new note. Bummer. – Fixed!
  • Font zooming – the default font-size is a bit hard on the eyes, and changing the font style, like I mentioned, can be a world of hurt