Why I switched back to Evernote (from Notion/Obsidian) and why Anytype should care!

I know I am random user no. 2653 with an opinion so nobody has to care, but I think the reasons why I switched back to Evernote (from Notion/Obsidian) is something that Anytype can learn from.

TL,DR

The more complex and freedom a note taking app gives me, the more I get lost in trying to create the perfect note taking setup and the less productive and organized I became. Evernote has simple yet powerful quick capture options, has simple organization and dedicated global tagging and has the most powerful search and filter options without being complicated to use.

The simplicity is something Anytype can learn from and take in consideration.

Note taking history (can be skipped)

In the past years I have been chasing the next shiny new note taking app, to become even more organized and productive! I went from Evernote/Onenote to Google Docs to task managers like Remember the Milk/Asana and Wunderlist from where I discovered the database-like tools such as Airtable/Zenkit and Monday.

Then Notion came and took the note taking world by storm! I loved the freedom to build my own system(s) but the more options it got, the more I was building new dashboards and linked systems and the less organized and productive I became.

After Notion came Roam research which revolutionized note taking for me with bi-directional links and block linking but after the free alpha it was too expensive for my use. Luckely Obsidian quickly filled the gap but again after a year I noticed I was again more busy building database system, playing with plugins and trying to code new and better dashboards. And again, I became less organized and productive.

Insert good old Evernote, which I re-discovered a few weeks ago and it was a breath of fresh air and provided features I never knew I needed until now!

The 3 Evernote Features I didn’t know I needed

These are the three features I didn’t know I needed:

  1. Quick and simple capture of information into Evernote
  2. A simple organisation structure with powerful global tagging
  3. The most powerful search and filter options I have seen in any app

1. Quick capture

Evernote supports many ways to quickly and easily capture information and add it to Evernote.

It has the best webclipper on the market, one of the only mobile app that has quick capture widgets for adding notes, photo’s, audio and task and even supports mail-to Evernote.

All these options are simple and fast, don’t require you to open Evernote and have default locations where to store these quick captured notes.

Quick capture and default storage locations for quick capture is something I think Anytype should be thinking about adding. It removes a huge barrier for using a note taking app since you don’t have to think in the moment where to store your information/note.

In comparison with almost any other app

  1. you need to open the app
  2. search your location to store your about to capture information
  3. make a new note/block
  4. then capture or add your information
  5. close the app

Step two and three are the ones that are the biggest barrier for quickly adding information that Evernote has solved very well.

2. Simple organization and powerful global tagging of notes

Evernote shines in simplicity, notes are stored in Notebooks and Notebooks can be stored in Stacks. Basically a two deep folder system and that’s it! No nested items, no notes within notes within notes getting lost. All visible in the sidebar.

Then Evernote has a dedicated global tagging feature. You can add any tag to any note and when you click on a tag, all notes with this tag are shown. Simple and fast.

This can be replicated in Anytype (and other apps) but require more effort and input from the used. You need to add a tag relation to every note/object and remember to add it as well. Then you need to make a set where you filter on this tag to get somewhat the same result.

Because this is a dedicated feature it also comes with a dedicated notes panel for an overview of all your tags. Again in Anytype you can recreate this with but it takes much more effort and input.

3. The most Powerful search and filter options I have seen in any app

Even with a simple organization structure you can lose notes when your system grows and grows. Evernote has the most powerful search and filter options I have ever seen in any app! Without being complicated to use or requiring a lot of input up front from the user.

You can global search by typing in the search bar, then you get a dropdown menu with suggestions to filter on tags, notebook, keywords and more. You can even filter on content in your notes like note contains images, PDF files, checkboxes (checked/unchecked), dates, names, tables, lists, calendar and more.

And you can save your search/filters for later use that you can add to your favorites.

It is so simple, yet so powerful.

Again, this is something Anytype could add to the search and will make it much more powerful and user friendly! Imagine being able to search your notes on a specific relation, then even filter on the used keyword/tag in this relation!

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I think both can coexist!

On one hand, a very simple and intuitive core workflow that anyone can just pick up and use (which I agree with you is important). On the other hand, for advanced users, powerful and complex features.

Plugins are (well, will be) a good example of this. For developers, full control/access to create anything they want/need (for example, a plugin to show coordinates in a map View). For casual users, they can just pick their favorites, install and use.

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I agree :slight_smile: . I would be very happy to see the two worlds united in Anytype: a simple core to “just take notes” and a set of extensions and additional features for those who need/want to do or more. Your request reminded me of this request:

I know it is different than the point @Jeroen wants to make, but it is similar in the sense that it needs to unite two worlds: one for friction free, distraction free, simple notetaking, and one for customizing, linking, tagging, querying, etc.

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I think while it has a totally different take the core point is indeed the same. Less friction using the app. Where I focus on quick capture, organisation and better search that post seems to be all about less friction writing in the app/note itself.

My main point I wanted to make with this post is to make it easy and quick to add information and then to easily and quickly find that information. I discovered for me that is something that is more important then I thought. I lose time figuring out where to quickly store notes, specially if the mobile widgets don’t have quick capture.

I think I will make seperate feature requests posts for each feature and go a bit more indepth.

Also, I think Anytype already has a few awesome features like the bookmark set and image/file set. These make it simple to view and find specific things which I really love and are exactly what I mean for simple powerful organisation!

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