If you thought you deleted your Evernote account, you didn’t.

This is anecdotal evidence, since it is just my experience. But, on the off chance that this is widespread, I think people should know about this.

This all took place over the course of about 45 min on Wednesday night, July 5th, 2017.

After having it brought to my attention that I still had an Evernote account (that I had not been using in quite a long time), I went down the path of deleting the account.

Step One: Get into account
I tried to do this on my iPad, but found nothing but “sign up” buttons. Not a single log in button. Annoying, but anyway, I moved over to my MacBook Pro and logged in successfully.

Step Two: Go to settings and find “Delete Account” button
Like so many web services now, this option does not exist. There is however a “Deactivate Account” option. Also annoying, because what the hell does “deactivate” actually mean..?

Screen Shot 2017-07-05 at 9.29.04 PM
Their advice of “Return to your notes and delete any private notes and empty your trash” is pretty telling that none of your data is removed from their system when you deactivate, but who knows, maybe it is?

Step Three: Click Deactivate account and get logged out.

That should be the end of the line, but in my case it wasn’t. Remember how I said I started this process on my iPad, and then moved to my MacBook Pro? Well, when I returned to my iPad I found I was still logged in. Probably just cached and would log out upon trying to do anything with the interface? WRONG.

I was able to navigate the UI, create new notes, modify tags, and even send invites to collaborate on newly created notes. Shouldn’t this account be unusable?

I was able to navigate the UI, create new notes, modify tags, and even send invites to collaborate on newly created notes. Shouldn’t this account be unusable?

This got me thinking that perhaps I didn’t finish the deactivate process on my MacBook, so I went back to my MacBook and attempted to login to the account. I was presented with this:


This shows that the account was “deactivated” but posed another concern. Remember what it said in the first dialog up above?

When your account is deactivated, you will be logged out of Evernote, and this account will no longer be usable. You will not be able to create another account with your same email address.

Well that doesn’t seem to be true since the login page tells you the account was deactivated and gives you a chance to reactivate..

So, bottom line. You can never get rid of your account and if you don’t explicitly delete ALL your data and empty the trash, your stuff will live on within Evernote’s walls indefinitely.

Message to all web services:
Just let people delete their damn accounts and purge all their personal data in the process.

Moving From Evernote To Apple Notes

I am a big fan of what Apple’s Notes has transformed into with the latest release of OS X 10.11 and iOS 9.0! I say transformed because it has truly become a new product with these latest releases. Prior to these updates, the app was barely worth mentioning, and certainly not reliable enough to be used for storing important note based data. I had been a long time Evernote user prior to using Notes.app and I have to say that although Evernote has some great features, the downsides outweighed the benefits. Overall Apple Notes fits me a lot better.

One of the biggest hurdles to making the jump from Evernote to Notes is also one of my biggest annoyances with Evernote; available export formats. You have two options for exporting notes out of Evernote: 1. “.ENEX” 2. “.HTML”. If you are simply making a backup, these may be ok, but if you need this data to move somewhere else, they are close to worthless. Even if your notes are simply text, you have no option to export as plain/rich text.

After a good bit of trial and error, I finally came up with a way to get my data mostly migrated from Evernote to Notes.app several months back. The method was not super streamlined, and did leave some text needing to be tweaked, but for the most part it got me most of the way there.

The only caveat to this method was that I used the beta version of the software that I used as the intermediary between Evernote and Notes, and this version has since been removed now that the software has launched for $9.99. The Write app is nice, but of course my end goal is to have everything in Notes. I am more than willing to spend $9.99 to save the time and hassle of manually getting all my notes moved over, but since I do not have the paid version, I am uncertain if my method will still work with the paid version of the app.


UPDATE 2015-10-18: It seems as though step 4 below is not possible if you updates Notes.app on your mac to the new El Capitan version. I will be looking for an alternate method for this step and update when found. If you find a way to import with the new version of Notes, please let me know! Thanks! See Below!

UPDATE 2015-10-19: I tried using the release version of Write over the weekend and it does not support the importing of Evernote archives. This whole process has really fallen apart! 😦

I found two scripts for importing .txt files into Notes.app. One is for single text files, and one if for a folder of notes. The scripts are working for me on El Cap.

Single File: http://d.pr/f/yjhj
Folder Import: http://d.pr/f/1aBrG (folder must contain at least 2 notes)

Update 2015-12-26: A new post by Larry Salibra with another script to aid in migration!

What was needed?

  • My Mac
  • Evernote installed and fully synced
  • A Mac app by the name “Write

These steps outlined below is what it took to get my Evernote data migrated over to Apple Notes.

  1. Export all your Evernote notes to an Evernote .ENEX export file.
  2. Open the Write App and import your .ENEX data into Write.
  3. Once all your notes are in Write, you can now export them all as individual plain text notes.
  4. Now take your plain text notes and drag them all into Apple Notes.
  5. This will import all the text files into Notes and you can begin organizing and fixing as necessary.

Like I said, this is not the most straightforward approach, but it did work for me. It was much better than manually copying over hundreds of notes.

As a side note, you can also get a great app from Write for free than can be used to keep a running backup of your Notes.app notes. It’s called “Notes Exporter” and is a quick way to export all your Notes.app notes into individual text files for a backup.

*It is important to say that Although Evernote’s format is very much a “Lock in”, it is fair to say that Notes.app is as well since it has no native Import/Export options built in. You will reply on third party tools at this point to get plain text in/out of Notes.app.

Capturing Workflow. How I am most effective.

I have been organized for quite some time when it comes to collecting information and then digging it up at a later date. From complex file structure, to more simplified apps that manage files, I have gone from one end to the other. For the most part, over the last 5 or so years, I have relied predominantly on Evernote and OmniFocus to store everything in my life that I wanted to retrieve later. To be completely honest, it has always been a pretty good solution, but it was never 100% perfect. I don’t really blame Evernote, because managing an app of that scale, which actually runs on damn near every platform under the sun, is no easy task. Slowly over the years, however, I began thinking about what other options there were for capturing and storing my life. Both Evernote and OmniFocus are great tools, but I was thinking they may not be the right tools for me. Starting in January of this year (not a ‘new years resolution’, just a convenient time to transition), I decided to start looking into some alternatives. I wanted to use the month of January to explore new options since the month is generally pretty slow and if things went horribly wrong, I would not be in the middle of major projects, etc. After trying some different setups during the first 1-2 weeks, I pretty quickly fell into a new flow that was working really well, and most importantly was really easy to maintain!

The great thing about Evernote was the ability to store everything and search for it. The problem I ran into more times than not, was actually being able to find the stuff at a later date. It seemed that the more stuff I put in, the harder it was to find something to get out. Speaking of getting things out, it is super easy to get things in to Evernote, but getting them out is quite a different story, and not a fun story. As for OmniFocus, it is a fine tool, but there were two reasons for me switching away. The first was that it was not the right tool for the job: it had way more bells and whistles than I needed. The second issue had to do with the apps. They do have an app on each of the platforms that I use (Mac, iPhone, and iPad), but the issue I have is that each of the applications looks completely different. Functionally they are pretty much the same, but when I am looking to capture tasks and get through them quickly, having to remember how each version works is not what I want to be focusing on.

The end solution for me became a more simplified approach. All my notes are captured as plain ‘ol boring text. It seems kind of weird and ancient, but turns out to be very effective and much easier to work with. There are a bunch of way more famous internet people than me who tout the virtues of plain text, so I will leave it to them to teach you the ways! I have to say though, I was skeptical for a while, thinking that there is no way that plain text would be ‘powerful enough’ to capture everything, but in reality, it absolutely is. The flow of plain text makes for a much easier means of capturing, organizing, parsing, and archiving information. The biggest key to this process is having access to the same repository of text from a number of locations. The fact that plain text is readable and editable by pretty much everything, adds to its power. By keeping each note as a single file in a single repository, you can then act on those files from a number of different applications and locations, and always have the latest information available to you.

If you have a system that is working really well for you, don’t switch; there is no reason to. If you have a system that is kind of working but you think, “there must be a better way”, this may be worth looking into. Most importantly, if you are driving yourself crazy because you can never find what you need, when you need it, definitely look into this type of system –or any system– before you completely lose your mind!

The tools I use to be the most effective.

27" iMac (home) / 11" MacBook Air (work)

  • nvALT – Capturing text (pulls from dropbox folder ‘Notes’)
  • Byword – Capturing text / longer form writing (pulls from dropbox folder ‘Notes’)
  • Dropbox – Storing all my text files and documents
  • Things – My master ‘to do’ list for short term and long term projects
  • Reminders – Various shared lists with my wife for shopping
  • Pocket – Saving links from various sources for later reading

iPhone 5s

  • Notesy – Capturing text (pulls from dropbox folder ‘Notes’)
  • Byword – Capturing text / longer form writing (pulls from dropbox folder ‘Notes’)
  • Things – My master ‘to do’ list for short term and long term projects
  • Drafts – A great launchpad to multiple locations for text
  • Dropbox – Storing all my text files and documents
  • Pocket – Saving links from various sources for later reading
  • Reminders – Various shared lists with my wife for shopping

iPad Air

  • Notesy – Capturing text (pulls from dropbox folder ‘Notes’)
  • Byword – Capturing text / longer form writing (pulls from dropbox folder ‘Notes’)
  • Drafts – A great launchpad to multiple locations for text
  • Things – My master ‘to do’ list for short term and long term projects
  • Dropbox – Storing all my text files and documents
  • Pocket – Saving links from various sources for later reading
  • Paper – Sketching and drawing
  • Paper Pencil – Hardware stylus used for drawing / sketching ideas
  • Reminders – Various shared lists with my wife for shopping

Non Digital

Looking for an insane comparison of pretty much every iOS text editor in existence!? Brett has you covered! iTextEditors

UPDATE 2014-06-20
I am back with Evernote! I think what I needed more than anything was a fresh approach and look at how I was doing everything when it came to capturing text. Nothing wrong with plain text, in fact that is still the way I keep most of my notes in Evernote (in markdown too). An important thing to remember is that just because you can keep everything in Evernote, this doesn’t me that I have to.

UPDATE 2014-10-01
I have now also reverted back to Omnifocus! Kind of makes this post weird huh? Well, after using the beta of Omnifocus 2 for a while, I really liked the changes. Once version 2 made its way onto the Mac, iPhone, and iPad, I was ready to start using it fulltime. I did a migration of data and some clean up and haven’t looked back. They have really got a lot right here in this new version 2.