On June 29, 2008 I started using Evernote. I was a massive fan of what Evernote could do and I shared plenty of content about the app over the years. On June 29, 2021 I quit Evernote. 13 years later – to the day – I decided that Evernote was no longer for me.
I cancelled my paid account and started – in earnest – migrating my notes to a new app for that sort of stuff. The app I’ve chosen has evolved over time in a way that works better for how I want to handle my research, something that Evernote has failed to do for me.
I talk more about my move and to what I’ve moved to in this video I posted to my YouTube channel.
I’ve read many comments on that video, both from those who like the direction that Evernote is heading and others who quit Evernote a long time ago. Others were asking about my move to the new app and if I’d showcase how I’m making that all work. (I will do that to some degree on my YouTube channel, but not here on the blog. So if you’d like to see that then make sure you subscribe to the channel.)
There was one comment that stood out, though. One that, while only one person posted it, I’m sure others have thought it.
Striking a Chord
When I first saw that comment I gave it some thought. I’ve left plenty of apps before and have occasionally returned to them, but more often than not when I decide to quit something I’m done with it. This comment led me to think a little deeper about the real “why” behind my decision to quit Evernote.
Then when Francesco D’Alessio of Keep Productive posted my decision on his blog over at Medium, that compelled me to go further than that. I knew I’d struck a chord with my decision. It wasn’t going to be enough to just let that YouTube video stand on its own. I’d have to invest more time in showing where I was going with the data I used to keep in Evernote. More attention would need to paid to this shift over a longer stretch of time. I needed to reveal the core reason for my decision to quit Evernote after 13 years as a loyal user.
That core reason is that I don’t trust Evernote anymore.
Broken Trust = Broken User Experience
Evernote has gone through many trials and tribulations over the years. A few minutes reviewing the company’s Wikipedia page will show you many of them, although I didn’t seem to find any mention of Evernote Hello and Evernote Food in the entry.
When the new interface debuted in late 2020, I was immediately turned off. Not by some of the issues that plagued other users, like slower speeds or conflicting keyboard shortcuts. I just didn’t like what I was looking at.
I’m no stranger to user interface changes. Asana made massive changes to theirs shortly after Jeremy Roberts and I wrote a helpful guide to Asana. A guide, by virtue of the UI changes, was no longer all that helpful. We had to complete new screenshots and make other changes to the book because of this new look to Asana. A side effect of this was my hesitancy to write about apps any longer because of quickly they could iterate.
Todoist has made interface changes. The operating systems I use have made significant user interface changes over the years. The blogging platform I use has made changes, too.
Yet I haven’t quit using those things. I’ve adjusted and kept going. That’s because I trust the results I get from them. I know the learning curve will be worth it because of what I receive in return.
Evernote stopped giving me that long ago. That realization compelled me to finally quit Evernote.
They took away note sharing in a way that made sense to me – sharing with people who didn’t use the platform used to be simpler to do. They limited access to my notes across devices, which forced me to choose where to keep my data. I never really “liked” how exporting out of Evernote was handled, but with every change and alteration that was made I became more resentful of the proprietary .enex extension that made me feel like my data wasn’t as portable as I’d like.
I Won’t Be Back
The internal turmoil at Evernote didn’t go unnoticed, either. I’ve spent over a decade with my ear to the ground in the productivity space, and apps are definitely a part of that. Evernote wasn’t humming along as it used to in the early days. It was sputtering, seemingly having lost its way.
Even as Evernote tries to reinvent itself by looking to its roots, it rushes to make changes and misses opportunities in the process. James Jordan is spot on in the comment showcased below:
Evernote was once considered to be one of the original Silicon Valley unicorns – an app that shone brightly and was worthy not only of the valuation it received but the trust of its users.
Now, with options like Notion, Obsidian, Roma Research, and even Microsoft OneNote, Evernote is a far cry from that distinction. If anything, it’s now a dinosaur.
So I won’t be back, YouTube commenter i.m. CXS. I’m going all-in on my new notetaking (or better still, notemaking) app of choice, Obsidian. As soon as I finish migrating what I need to into Obsidian, I’m shuttering my Evernote account for good.
And frankly, I should’ve quit Evernote a long time ago.