Aram Zucker-Scharff
6 Ways Evernote Fails and the 1 Reason I Don't Uninstall It -
"The problem with Evernote is that it is absolutely horrible at taking notes." - Aram Zucker-Scharff
After spending some time as an Evernote user I'm just fed up. Here's my reaction. I'd like to know: What do all of you use the program for? I feel like the only one whose had any issues with it considering the rave reviews flying around. - Aram Zucker-Scharff
I use it as a staging account. It's where I throw stuff that I don't have time to otherwise categorize. I also use it to store info that I know I'm going to need later but I'm in too big of hurry to do anything else. It's also great for screenshots. The best note taker in the world is still Notepad, or at least Notepad++. - Keith - @tsudo
I do the same thing with OneNote, and if I pull it from the web or another doc, It'll keep a link. Also, it lets me pull up notes without opening the main program, just a blank notepad like area that auto saves and is searchable. This is what I don't get, what does Evernote do that makes it competitive? I feel like I must be missing out on some big secret. - Aram Zucker-Scharff
I use Evernote, for work and home. Reason #1 Its free, Reason #2 It works on multiple platforms. (I can find something of interest at work on a PC, and pull that same info and edit on my iPhone, or Mac at home.. try that with OneNote) Prior to Evernote, I was a Google Note book fan, the only problem was that I could not edit notes on my phone, but I can with Evernote. - Steve Sill
I use Evernote to collect things from the web I want to remember that might go away (Photoshop tutorials are good examples...), I use it to store account credentials like a password manager. I use it to store all the PDFs that I have collected over the years. I use it to store MP3s so I can access them on other computers. I use it to store any bit of text or information I might need to recall later like the stuff my kid's school sends home, insurance policies, credit card emergency contact information... - Lindsay
You don't have to save the link in the note when you cut and paste from the web, it captures that information for you. You can see the metadata for notes in the Windows (and I'm assuming Mac) clients at the top of each note. You can edit that if you need to but the web clipper or cut and paste from a website does it automatically. - Lindsay
I guess I don't use it for note taking in the sense of academic note taking and I can see how it might be not as ideal, but it's extremely useful to me and I'm a very happy paid subscriber to the service. My main two complaints are not being able to store zip and other file types and not being able to share notes with specific people/groups. Oh, and lack of an Android G1 app. But I'm hoping all that will come eventually and it's still useful to me in the mean time. - Lindsay
Lindsay, that's some of the same stuff I use OneNote for. While I do feel safe putting my passwords on OneNote, I don't know if I would with Evernote, considering everything passes through the web. I had no idea you could use it to store MP3s, but that doesn't seem like the ideal solution. The downside to Evernote is if you don't tag something properly it can be very very difficult to browse to. - Aram Zucker-Scharff
This is especially an issue with passwords, you don't want to make them easy for an intruder to find but trying to browse notebooks in Evernote is an exercise in frustration. For stuff on the web, isn't that the whole point of printing to a PDF? I have to admit, I am seeing some legitimate uses for Evernote, but still how often to you use it to go back? It seems to me that most people seem to use it more as a drop box than anything else. - Aram Zucker-Scharff
I use or for note since the beginning of 2005, when it was still a desktop only client. Since that time I've used it to store login information, registration information, names and telephone numbers, where I've put certain things in the house (and whereas move them to later because I always forget, LOL), snippets of pertinent knowledge from webpages, events (when did we get the dog? When was first visit to Cirque du Soleil? Etc.) and anything else that I would like to ask quick and instant recall off the phone when it's just something in the back of my mind particularly on the tip of my tongue. I add words to those notes, words and phrases, which reminds me of such content to which I think I will use in the future to find that particular note back. With now over 2000 notes ever note has become the Google off my information, a powerhouse of facts and trivia. Sensitive information is encrypted; no problem there. By the way, I also use OneNote but in a much different way. - Ruud Hein
Aram - for passwords, I store those in encrypted notes, so I don't worry so much about whether it's exposed on the web. It's not an ideal solution as I can only decrypt those on the Windows client but I don't have to look things up that often... It's more for peace of mind that I know they are there if I forget. - Lindsay
For printing to PDF, now that I have Evernote, I don't have to do that anymore, I can just clip straight to Evernote. But I have a huge backlog of them, and now they are in one place, tagged and organized. And I do use them (I was just looking up some information on my kid's upcoming band concert that I'd scanned in so I can forward to my mom before writing this). Search works well for me, and the OCR is great. I don't HAVE to use tags because of that. I actually use tags as notebooks instead. - Lindsay
I don't like the "folder" model of organizing information. If I use tags and structure them I can look up information in several different "thought paths". Yes, I tag every note, and make a point of it. It's been a while since I used OneNote but all the notebooks and sub-notebooks made it hard for me find things. I like tagging much better... it's flat and deep at the same time. - Lindsay
I also use OneNote for work. I have a separate account for all my work notes (so I can hand it over when I leave). I use it to document chat sessions (our logs are erased daily) and code snippets and I document processes and procedures (with links to relevant files/sites in the steps). I keep account credentials and other information encrypted there. I use it every single day, probably about 70% adding info and 30% looking it up again (but when I do need to look it up, it's quick and easy!). - Lindsay
See, the issue I have is that yes, some of this stuff that Evernote can do is good, but I can do the same thing (all of it) and a lot more in OneNote with the exception of the easy sync. I guess part of it is work style Lindsay, I like OneNote's notebooks and sub-notebooks, they make organizing things easy. Like I said before, it seems to me that the legitimate uses of Evernote are more along the lines of a box to dump things in. Evernote doesn't do structure as far as I can see, not really. Also, how many notes do you deal with in your tags? The UI discourages browsing, so you need precise tagging or a very good memory for what it is to look up. Still it seems to me that Evernote is bad at taking notes and is more of a FTP for random bits. - Aram Zucker-Scharff
For example: one of the main things I use OneNote for is to build a bible for a game development team I'm on. Within the notebook for that project each topic has it's own section, each section has headings on notes with general descriptions and in-notebook links then when I want to drill down into more detail I pull it into a sub-note. For me, OneNote is a real reference. One that works the same way an encyclopedia does. In OneNote, I know that if I go to a tab on factions I can get a listing on factions and dig deeper to find cross-links to bios, profiles and sub-factions. With Evernote I'm stuck trying to use a horrendous double scroll bar to find out what the hell the faction was I was thinking about earlier in the day. See the problem? It still feels to me that OneNote is a tool that builds productivity, but I'm not sure that Evernote really does. I mean, it is great that you can drop random personal factoids in there, but why do you need to? - Aram Zucker-Scharff
Yeah, I agree, Aram. I don't use it to take notes, but to archive info. I am very picky about tags. I put at least one tag and usually several on every note. I have hundreds of tags and I have those organized in hierarchies. I use the auto-complete feature for filling in tags in the web clipper. Between tags and search I have no problems finding things again. I use Evernote from home, work and my phone and LOVE having access to my info anywhere I am. That's the main advantage over OneNote for me. - Lindsay
And why would you use Evernote to save websites when Delicious does it better, Google does immediate caching and the Internet Archive saves old versions of the website? I understand that Evernote does this stuff, but it seems to me that there is a whole host of tools out there, many of them free, that do it better. Most of them are also better about increasing content for your social network. Then there is OneNote, which does it all also. You have enlightened me here, I see there are some useful things that Evernote can do, but I can't see how it can become competitive. - Aram Zucker-Scharff
Delicious doesn't save any of the content (I have quite a large archive, btw). Internet Archive has failed me (lots of times) and I have had problems finding things again on Google... Most of the stuff I put in Evernote I don't really want to share with the world (though I would like to with specific people). OneNote is not free, limited to Windows, and doesn't automatically sync with a backup in the clouds and isn't accessible from my phone. For me, it serves my needs better than OneNote. - Lindsay
I am pretty familiar with the other tools available out there (I am a beta site addict and a digital packrat... if it looked at all useful I tried it). Evernote isn't perfect but it's constantly improving and what's already there works for how I need it. And it's ONE service verses several that lets me have my data where, when and how I need it. It's my digital file cabinet. - Lindsay
Lindsay, you hit on the very reason why I wish I could use Evernote so much, the ability to have my stuff living on the cloud would be fantastic. Right now my OneNote is being synced up between my laptop and desktop using an FTP solution with my server. Having it automatic with Evernote has so much promise. But I can't use Evernote for notes, or to work with text in the free-form drop and drag I use with OneNote. I can't pop-up a single notepad-style file either. On top of all that, I don't own an iPhone, only a Palm Pilot. I'm getting a lot of great feedback on here and on the blog post about ways to use Evernote, but so many of them tie into the iPhone it is just depressing. My Palm Centro feels left out :P. But seriously, if I could get easier lists on Evernote alone, I feel that would make a huge difference. I'd like a solution to my mess of a backup system and Evernote seems to understand that, it just doesn't do what I need it to do, but all these other services do. By the way, when it comes to website - Aram Zucker-Scharff
I guess what it really comes down to was just how disappointed I was in Evernote, I expected to be able to find a solution to my backup issues, but for me, using Evernote caused way more problems then it solved. Also... it did make me consider getting an iPhone, but then I looked at iTunes on a friends computer and my resolve not to get one was strengthened. In the end, the deal is that I use OneNote for everything, even these posts I put on FriendFeed are typed in OneNote, my work, my hobbies, my play, it all goes into OneNote and Evernote can't do that, it can't even come close. I’d look into a Sharepoint server (which essentially should give OneNote the easy syncing and e-mail abilities Evernote has) but that's expensive. - Aram Zucker-Scharff
Yep, EN works best as a dump place of lose info bits, for me. ON I use for structured info (documenting work projects esp.). Too, it's the value-over-time. You've been building in ON for a long time, hence you have tremendous value back - Ruud Hein
You know you can open a note in a separate single editor window right? That's not what you mean by "notepad-style file"? As for the phone use, since I now have an Android G1 and no longer the nice Windows mobile app I've had to make do with Evernote Mobile website and posting via email (for pictures). It's not ideal but it works fine and still lets me have access to things on my phone. There's no perfect solution. I think there's possibilities with Evernote's API if I could find time to write a client! - Lindsay
Yea, but it doesn't work the same as OneNote's does. I can just hit Windows+N and pop up a little window that is pretty much advanced notepad. It works great. The pop-out window in Evernote (which you have to use to get to the unordered list button) isn't nearly the same. The Evernote website scales down to your G1 well? I'd love to see someone do something really unique with Evernote's API, I think it has a lot of potential. - Aram Zucker-Scharff
Ruud, I see your point. - Aram Zucker-Scharff
I agree there are several limitations that make Evernote worse than OneNote for capturing and searching notes... but OneNote doesn't run on Mac or iPhone or easily sync across multiple devices. - Jon Price
Jon, I guess you are right, but for an all Windows user like me, that's not something that really matters to me. - Aram Zucker-Scharff
I'm liking Evernote for a lot of reasons but it does have weaknesses. I won't commit to it until they have encryption at the notebook and note level (currently you can only encrypt a selection). Also, ease of notetaking needs to be improved. I want a pop-up window that I can stickpin on top of all other windows. - Rod Bauer from twhirl
I also want hierarchical notebooks so I can organize them. - Rod Bauer from twhirl
@Rod - Those three very things are the main reason I can't convert over from OneNote to Evernote. OneNote has them all, Evernote does not. - Aram Zucker-Scharff
Let me sum this up for you Aram... you don't like evernote... you love onenote and no matter how good evernote is, you are a onenote zealot... I have read all of your posts above and it is clear as a bell that you dont WANT to give it a chance... you WANT to hate it... you WANT it to fail... - CasperBoo
but the fact is, outside of academics on windows that have been using onenote since its inception, more people are signing up for and switching to evernote each day than those staying with or starting with onenote each month! You just can't beat reality... love it or hate it, this is the future of note taking... in the cloud with tags... folder structures are a thing of the past... the way mind mapping works, which is what evernote is most like, is with cross referenced keywords (tags), which is how the brain works... not like a real, physical notebook like you seem to want. - CasperBoo
I use it for storing recipes and knitting patterns (web clips and pdfs), primarily. Also, I keep my gluten free menus and lists in there so I can access them at the store or when deciding where we want to eat out. I also put my grocery list in there so no matter who is heading to the store, we can access it from our phone (you don't have to have an iPhone, there's a mobile interface). I hate the text editor, though. - Alix May
If I used nothing but a single Windows machine, I'd use OneNote. But I don't - I use several machines and several platforms. I just throw anything I need to remember on there then sort them out later. - Trent Hamm
Half of Aram's posts are, "Well I only see the good part being the cloud..." That IS the whole point of why it is good!! - capnb