Note taking – and keeping – is a massive part of my life as a student. It’s been like that for many years, which is why I’ve had an Evernote account since 2008. For four and a half years I’ve had that account, and for four and a half years I’ve tried to find an actual use for the app/service that everyone on the internet is going nuts for. And, for four and a half years, I’ve completely failed to do so.
Evernote has built a huge name for itself as the go-to note service. That has lead to support for it being integrated in all sorts of apps, along with other big names like Dropbox. Evernote has apps on most mobile devices – several apps even – and has its own Moleskine physical paper notebook line that works with it. Livescribe even went as far as making the new Sky WiFi-enabled smartpen more or less an Evernote accessory. So many people can’t be wrong about how great the service is, so since notes are such a major part of my life, I occasionally get the urge to sit down and force myself to get into using it. Like I said, this has been going on for four and half years, and I’ve failed every time.
What strikes me the most about Evernote is that every time it’s mentioned in an “essential apps” list, the same list completely ignores the apps that I personally find essential (e.g., Goodnotes or Goodreader on the iPad, two apps I’ve produced or annotated literally thousands of pages worth of notes with). Perhaps that’s why I always find myself looking for the features I’m used to from those apps when I use Evernote. Instead of getting that though, I get what’s essentially a word processor, and not at all what I’d call a note taking app. There’s no shape creation, handwriting, document annotation features, or anything like that. It is for all intents and purposes a cloud connected word processor, and that’s not something I personally consider a note taking app, but rather…well, a cloud connected word processor!
It’s not note creation that most people talk about with Evernote, however; it’s storage. The ability to sync between the devices and tie in with other apps seems to be very popular, and I get that. Heck, I’d even consider using it for that myself, if it wasn’t for the ridiculous pricing scheme!
Instead of operating with online storage, it operates with an upload limit each month. Even if you pay for the “premium” service, this limit is set at 1GB. To me, that is perhaps one of the biggest jokes I’ve ever heard. Just to put things in perspective, the file I worked with before my exam a couple of weeks ago was 696MB. It consisted of 1100 pages worth of highlighted text and text annotations, and I synced it from Goodreader on my iPad to Dropbox up to a couple of times a day in order to have it updated. That’s the sort of documents I work with and annotate.
Even if I paid for Evernote, I would break that upload limit by uploading a single file one and a half times. Not that I would get that far, because the upload limit for a single note is 25MB. Dropbox doesn’t complain how I upload my files, or how often, as long as I keep within the 100GB limit I have for actual storage. Given that, I’m very happy to pay Dropbox more than I would Evernote, as even though Dropbox isn’t really designed for notes, it’s capable of handling mine, which Evernote isn’t.
At this point I’m sure it sounds like I’m against Evernote, but not really. I get that for many people, Evernote is an amazing service that allows you to remember tiny tidbits of information. All I’m saying is that it’s definitely not for me. After having had an account for four and a half year, I think I’m entitled to point out to anyone who does use Evernote that you should give the alternatives a chance. Evernote might be perfect for you, or you might not even know that there are other options out there. All I know is that after all this time, I’m done trying to find a use for it for me personally.