Opinion: How evernote should have moved users from their old app to the new one.

November 19th, 2020


Evernote has a new version, v10 of the app.

I got the notification to update in the old app, and clicked to upgrade.


I'm on mac, so I needed to download the new version...

...strange, that didn't happen before. Usually it just updates.


The new v10 version looks like the web version

It reminded me immediately of the web version.

I have been using the web version of evernote on my work laptop.

(it's linux, and doesn't have a native client)


I was pleased with the new web version when it came out a while ago, because the old web version was


limited. (no tables, not code fragments, ...)

So that was a pleasant surprise at the time.


It was still a bit slow, and clunky, but it was enough for basic search and basic note taking.

Yeah the search sometimes needed multiple tries, and I needed to type the tag query manually. (no auto-complete like the mac app)

But it was workable-enough-ish


The new version breaks my 'mass cleanup' workflow

Any time I want to do heavy lifting, I'll do it on my macbook in the native app anyway.

With heavy lifting I mean thinks like:

  • reorganizing notebooks

  • reorganizing tags

  • mass sorting notes

  • mass tagging notes

In general, the things I procrastinate because it's a bit of work. Mainly cleaning/sorting/... my Inbox notebook, which has grown massively because of not having been cleaned for a while.


Well, the new version is slow...

...extremely slow.

Changing a title, takes seconds for it to update in the list view.

Tagging about 30 notes or moving them to a notebook, took minutes, enough time to go grab a drink!

And it's not like I can continue cleaning/working because there is a giant wait-for-the-spinning-wheel blocking me from doing that!


So that sucks...


Another workflow of mine is also broken.

Taking notes while watching conference talks.


My video-notes workflow:

I use the tray icon on mac to do this:

While watching a conference talk:

  • any time there is a slide I find interesting, I do a quick screen-clipping.

  • any interesting things said about that slide, I note down below it.

  • any other interesting things mentioned, I also note down

  • any thoughts / links to other things, I note down


So I'm building my personal chronological summary, while watching.

And I can easily scroll up a bit to compare with what I noted / clipped earlier in the talk.


There are a couple important things here:

  • take notes quickly

  • take screen clippings quickly

  • re-organize the notes&clippings while watching


Extra nice features:

  • first line get's used as title


Things that were missing

  • first line get's used as title, but limited in characters

  • only plain text, no rich text stuff (bold, lists, tables, horizontal lines)

  • auto-save

The new version breaks my 'video-notes' workflow

This workflow is broken in the new version.


You can still write text in the 'quicknote' tray-icon thingy.

But, for some reason, if you take a screen clipping, a new note is created in the background, and the clipping is not added to the 'quicknote' which you're currently creating.


So I can no longer easily take a screen-clip, and add some remarks below it.


I tried to change my workflow to adapt to these changes by splitting into separate notes, and merging them afterwards.

But the quicknotes all add an automatic title '<date> <time>' when created.

So I need to enter titles for each partial note, and then merge them together.

I ended up with:

  1. creating a screen clipping,

  2. open the auto-generated new note

  3. give it a title (replacing the timestamp)

  4. add notes about the slide

But evernote is so slow! Creating the 'auto-generated new note' takes seconds!

The actual workflow is more like this:

  1. creating a screen clipping,

  2. <wait a few seconds for the note to be generated>

  3. open the auto-generated new note

  4. <wait a few seconds for the image to be in the note>

  5. give it a title (replacing the timestamp)

  6. <wait a few seconds for the other views to update>

  7. add notes about the slide

And if am too fast, not waiting enough for Evernote to catch up between different note-views*, I get a note  conflict!

A note conflict on the same device!


There are 3 note-editing-views and 1 note-viewing-view:

  • view: list overview of all notes

  • edit: docked evernote window for editing notes (next to the note-view)

  • edit: popped-out note-editor (without the list-view)

  • edit: quicknote tray icon thingy


There is significant delay between each view/edit window, and delays between 2 edit windows causes note-conflicts if you edit it, before it has caught up.



So I ended up installing the legacy client.


I know why they are re-doing the app. I even think it's a good idea, a necessity if they want to keep surviving as a company.

They want to make all apps over all platforms the same, so they don't have to maintain 5 code bases.

windows, mac, web, android, iphone -- each had it's own code base, so any feature or update would have to be written 5 times.


So I think it's the right move, but the experience has been horrible.


So what could Evernote have done differently?

They could have informed the user!


Something like this would have been awesome:

Hey Tjen, there's a new version of Evernote!

We're re-creating large parts of the app, making it the same across all platforms (windows, mac, web, android, iphone).

Why? Because then we'll be able to add new things 5 times faster!


But to do this, we need to take a step back first...

Because it's a lot of work to make Evernote the same everywhere.


So in this new version, not all functionality will be present yet.

But have no fear, we'll be able to add it 5x faster now!


If you want to see a comparison of all features between all the platforms, you can check it out here: www.evernote.com/new-version-comparison-to-all-platforms


We have noticed that in the past year, you have used:

- mac

- web

- android


And we discovered you use some features that are currently not yet in the new version:

- mac tray icon screen clipping with text

- mac tray icon auto title


And some features that are currently very slow in the new version:

- mac mass update tags

- mac mass update notebooks


We have a prioritised list of currently missing features here:



And you can also see which of these features we've observed you using.


If you find these missing features breaking your workflow, you can keep using the old version for a while still, but we won't be bringing any new things for this one.

We recommend you install both the new and the old version, so you can experience yourself if the new version is sufficiently ready for you!

And you can experience new functionality!


We hope to see you on the new version soon!


Kind regards



Especially the part where they inform me, which features I've been using, and how I would be impacted from updating to the new version, would have been helpful to set my expectation!


They are likely tracking these things anyway, so probably have the data to inform me!


Important parts are:

  1. explain what's happening

  2. explain why it's happening

  3. explain what the impact could be for me

  4. give me a way to compare features between old and new version

  5. give me a way to see the roadmap

  6. use my user data to estimate personalized impact

  7. list missing features I use


That would have been amazing expectation setting.

And even partially doing this would have mediated the awful experience.