Six Reasons Why Evernote is a Freaking Joke

Starting in summer 2016, I took to using Evernote to take notes at meetings and classes instead of pen and paper as I had for nearly a decade before (I have paper notes dating back to my first college courses in fall 2007). I take notes with a Logitech K810 Bluetooth keyboard connected wirelessly to my Samsung Galaxy S7 phone, using the Samsung Wireless Charger as a stand. I’m not sure why, but many people are surprised/impressed by this. Often, I recall my classes at University of Central Florida being filled with people on laptops or MacBooks, which seems like overkill to me and is probably quite a bit less productive than my setup (although I often devolve into transcribing verbatim due to being able to type 100+ WPM, the small size of a smartphone removes the “wall” between others and I, and discourages multi-tasking).

My use of Evernote is fairly basic: primarily for text-based notes. I regularly use only my smartphone and home desktop PC, so Evernote’s recent decision to limit syncing to two devices (and simultaneously raise the prices of paid subscriptions with no new features) did not affect me. I’ve never approached Evernote’s atrociously small 60 MB per month data limit. I find the PC client useful for its search functionality, and like being able to view, write, and update notes from my phone. I’ve recently expanded into using Evernote to take photos of whiteboards or handwritten notes where necessary; it does a nice job of correcting lighting issues and cropping + straightening.

Nevertheless, it is abundantly clear that Evernote, as a company and product, is a freaking joke. Here are just a few big reasons why:

1. Evernote notes literally cannot be printed. Customers have been complaining about this basic feature being broken for over SIX years, and Evernote doesn’t give a crap. If your note has any italics or bold text, the printing comes out wonky. Like many “support” forums, Evernote’s forums have descended into people blaming users for trying to use an app for something it’s not designed/intended to do. Some even say printing is stupid! Evernote employees actually advise not using bold or italics as a workaround. I kid you not.

2. Evernote sync just plain sucks. Their solution is to put conflicted items in a “Conflicting Changes” folder, and changes can “conflict” even if the user does everything right. Evernote gurus instruct users on the forums that they should be very careful to click the “Sync” button and wait for it to complete before attempting to edit a note on any other device. Basically, blame the user for something that other apps like Google Docs have figured out. As for Conflicting Changes, Evernote offers no “diff” feature to compare these conflicts. Even MediaWiki (the bungling, convoluted PHP disaster behind Wikipedia) offers diffs. This can’t be too hard to implement.

3. Evernote’s PR is a freaking trainwreck. First, they had the poorly executed 2-device limit in June 2016, coupled with a price increase that makes Evernote almost as expensive ($7.99 vs. $9.99 per month) as Adobe Photoshop, an infinitely more complex and per capita (by features), a less stupid program. (Admittedly, Adobe for some reason removed tabbed browsing in Acrobat X and XI and then their forum volunteers/employees enjoyed going off on customers about why they shouldn’t want/need tabbed browsing, and then there is Adobe Flash, but I digress.) Second, in December 2016 they announced a Christmas present: a new privacy policy that says they will read your notes whenever they feel like it. You can’t make this stuff up.

4. Evernote forum morons (I don’t actually participate in support forums but often read them or find them via Google) repeat the mantra about Evernote, in addition to NOT being a word processor or synchronization tool, is also not a collaboration tool. Anyone who finds issue with this is Just Plain Stupid™. Of course, then, I think, I must be pretty stupid. What the hell am I using this piece of crap for? The search and “sync” functions? (The latter should really be labeled “backup” because remember, you should only edit an Evernote note on one device at a time or Bad Things Will Happen, quite literally, because you’ll have to manually reconcile a “Conflicting Change” with a note that’s missing half of what you wrote.)

5. Evernote’s Android and iOS apps literally bog down if your note is over about 10,000 characters. Seriously, in a 3-hour lecture, I’ve had to make three separate “Part 1,” “Part 2,” and “Part 3” notes because the typing becomes slower until the words don’t appear until many seconds after I’ve typed them, making corrections and even moving the cursor agonizingly slow. This is for a PLAIN TEXT note on the Samsung Galaxy S7, literally the Greatest Smartphone that Doesn’t Seem to Have an Explosion Problem in the World™. Seriously, I’m pretty sure my phone became hot to the touch because of the Evernote Android app not being able to handle a 10 KB note. This is like something out of 1991 (the year of my birth). The PC client doesn’t have this problem, but this is simply ludicrous to begin with.

6. Evernote cannot save an empty note. What? Even Windows NotePad can save a text file with no text in it. On the PC client, I often end up titling a note first, before typing anything in it. I put a “.” in the note body to be able to save the note. After I write the note, in the viewing pane, the preview of the note forever remains “.”! There is literally no way to update the preview snippet. actually, this seems to be working now in v6.4.2.3788 of the PC client, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t working before, and still, Evernote will never fix the printing issue for some reason and apparently believes they are treating their users and customers a lesson (yes, the paid version can’t even print).

As you can see, I am still using Evernote but I did, in addition to these grievances, suffer data loss once where I lost part of a note when switching from PC to phone, but this is Probably My Fault Anyway™ and I also should not feel so entitled as to complain about a free product that I am choosing to use of my own free will. Google can’t even get search to work properly in Google Calendar, and one commentator says it doesn’t matter because Google doesn’t make ad revenue off Google Calendar anyway, and another says I should be grateful to even have a Google Calendar. So, in the spirit of Christmas I am grateful for my Google Calendar and this freaking joke we call Evernote. (Though, in a year, it will probably be pretty embarrassing to look back and see I was still using Evernote at the end of 2016.)

14 thoughts on “Six Reasons Why Evernote is a Freaking Joke

  1. Try Notion! It’s amazing! I imported all of my notes from nevernote to Notion….
    you’ll love it!

  2. Andorid App is sucks. (knowing that that there are more android devices than iPhone) Note 9 s-pen is not writing smoothie as it should. Killing the market. When writing with s-pen, a hand touching the display courses unwanted dots and lines. Not support I s-pen buttons after years. All showing me that they have serious management issues and are going to die together with or before the iPhone. Give it another 5 years or so and all your data will be fucked and you have to find a new place to organise all your documents. A company that is able to add a correct print fun… For me Microsoft OneNote made it up big time. First I was sceptical, course it is not so intuitive but than I realised how powerful their office offering is and the best it is for fee!! I rather have functionality that is way beyond Evernote can even dream of than a subscription service that is not capable listening to their paying customers for years

  3. I hate Evernote. I love the concept though, and I’m writing a technical book. I can’t even cut and paste, and now after reading the comments I am stunned at the issues people have. This product had me happy at the prospect that I could keep all the information in my book cataloged properly so I could keep track of it, but the stark reality is that it is all just a tease, and a waste of time.

    1. Yes, there will just be too many inconsistencies in formatting and if you have any formulae Evernote will be even worse. I still use Evernote but just for note-taking and keeping track of text information where formatting doesn’t matter. Sort of like a .txt file with synchronization.

    2. I used to love evernote and even spread the good word about it, until a syncing failure cost me two months of data in one of my more important notes. I’m in the process of transferring everything to Onenote/ Google drive, and deleting Evernote. It treated me well in the past, but i believe I’ve now outgrown it.

      1. That’s awful; I have read several accounts of lost data. The only time I had that happen was switching between PC (web browser) and Android app while taking notes in a lecture. I lost my notes on the last half of the lecture.

        I’m still using Evernote as of July 2018. I have tried OneDrive and hate how there is no way to disable the folder popping up everytime I turn on my PC (same for the Corsair VUE software for their gaming keyboards which is annoying). I haven’t tried OneNote more than once but recall some deal-breaker preventing me from switching over.

        I wish there was a reliable way to backup Evernotes with no action required, of course! I use Backupify for my Google data (Gmail, Drive, Calendar, etc.), and they have a solution for Salesforce data, but nothing for Evernote. Of course, it’s only once or three times per day so you could still lose data if something got erased on your Gmail or Drive within a single day.

  4. Richard –

    This is so true. Although I haven’t had the issues you describe with syncing, I find myself still looking for a simple tool that can handle something like a cut and paste to Word and Email without spending a bunch of time reformatting. I hate to resort to the evil empire (OneNote) but find myself headed that direction. Have you had any luck with a better tool?


    1. Hi Dan,

      I’m actually still on EverNote, even paying $34.99 for Plus so I could sync between more than two devices. But, I have been hearing good things about OneNote from others at the university, lately.

      Also, I don’t recall any issues with syncing in the past six months. The perennial shortcomings like long notes slowing to a crawl on Android, not being able to print italics, and not being able to handle formatted text remain, unfortunately.

      – Richard

  5. I had to take a break to google android Evernote sucks. It makes me feel a little better knowing others feel my pain. Back before the BlackBerry, I used the Palm. Almost 2018 and a hierarchical notetaking app that syncs without making me want to tear my hair out is still on my wishlist. I find myself thinking that Apple devices might cure my Evernote woes. I’ll just soldier on until Evernote’s replacement arrives.

  6. I have used Evernote for years, and have just recently grown increasingly dependent on it for life management and staying organized between two people (my spouse and I).

    I cannot reiterate enough how unreliable evernote has become. It has shortened account numbers in the process of typing them while setting up accounts, leading to issues logging onto my websites the first time I learn the number didn’t sync correctly. If a sync fails, it may take you two or more steps back in the note, rather than at the moment the sync failed. (It fails a LOT). Very frustrating!

    The only thing that keeps me from making the full jump to a competitor like Bear is that there is no cross platform support, or Android support at all with something like it. Google Drive is way too disorganized in comparison and less efficient. Has anyone made the compromises or made the jump to something different entirely?

    1. I have noticed on the Android app, Evernote will now drop the last character from a line if it’s preceded by a space. There should be a setting for this… I guess it’s to delete extraneous characters, but it is quite possible to end a line with a space and then just one character on purpose, which the app deletes upon hitting Return (Enter) on the keyboard.

      However I am not sure why it is dropping numbers from your account numbers stored in Evernote documents.

      I am actually still using Evernote and even upgraded to Plus so I could sync between more than two devices (as the web interface is annoying). However, I would check out Google Keep instead of trying to use Google Drive.

      As for the sync issues, I haven’t had any since December 2016, luckily.

  7. I have to agree. They have taken what used to be a decent and simple note syncing app and rather than fixing or improving the few shortcomings it had they added a ton of useless bloat that just gets in the way.

    The greatest flaw, IMHO, is no diff function to fix the constant conflicts it generates. Diff features have been around for decades in other apps and this app desperately needs one. WTF are they thinking?

    I’d put bloat as the next biggest flaw as they have taken a note taking app and tried to turn it into a word processing app. The two have distinctly different uses I didn’t load Evernote wishing for a WP app, but I will delete it as soon as I can find another effective note syncing app that isn’t trying to bloat itself into a WP app.

    A lousy sync process has to be on the list. Never really clear if it has synced or not, and constantly contributes to note conflicts. Some time recently they did an update that seems to require a network connection to even open a note on my phone making the app completely useless when no network is available. This is debatably the worst feature depending on your location. I only encounter it occasionally so it gets 3rd place for me.

    1. Thanks for your comments. I am still using Evernote, and haven’t had issues with conflicts in a while, but this is a very limited use involving only two devices (phone and home PC) where I never work on Evernote on both devices at the same time. Otherwise, I would have the same issues again.

      I agree the word processing features are poorly implemented. Sometimes I can’t even figure out why a particular note formats text or paragraph breaks in a different way from others. Italics text still prints illegibly in August 2017.

      Evernote being unusable without Wi-Fi or network connection also makes it unusable on tablets, or on phones if you visit rural areas. This is another example (along with two-device limit on app) of coercive tactics to either sell a premium subscription or cause a user to stop using Evernote entirely.

      Google Keep is an alternative I tried briefly, but I ended up sticking with Evernote. I believe a better note-taking app will emerge eventually… and it won’t be Evernote.

  8. Pingback: Tech Insights for Educators #3: Intro to managing digital data | Richard Thripp's Website

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *