My Evernote migration workflow

I encountered some annoyances in migrating from Evernote, and came up with my own workflow for dealing with them. While others have commented on some of these issues here before, I didn’t see a clear workflow that I could learn from, so hopefully this will help others doing the same thing.


  • The new version of Evernote doesn’t work with the DT import script, and limits export to 50 items at a time.
  • What are just PDFs in Evernote, become groups with a PDF and a (mostly) blank document enclosed. I just want the PDFs.
  • Evernote doesn’t embed OCR information in the PDF on export, but keeps it on their server, so you need to re-OCR everything.
  • Images need to be re-ocr’d as well, but to avoid having the text in a separate annotation file in DT, you need to convert images to PDF.
  • Some images appear as formatted text documents on import, these should be converted to PDFs and OCRd.


  1. Install Evernote Legacy, the old version of Evernote, which does work with DT and also doesn’t limit how much you can export at a time.
  2. Create a smart group in the Evernote import group that searches for all documents of the kind “formatted text” whose size is less than “1kb”. After import you can select all of these items and just delete them. Unless you have notes with only a word or two in them, this should be safe.
  3. Create a smart rule to find items of the kind “formatted text” whose size is larger than “1kb” and convert them to PDFs. (Move the original to the trash.)
  4. Create a smart rule to find PDFs in your Evernote group whose word count is less than 1. Set it to OCR these PDFs. This will re-ocr all the PDFs that need it. (Move the original to the trash.)
  5. Create a smart rule to find images in your Evernote group and OCR them, converting them to searchable PDFs. (Move the original to the trash.)
  6. Create a smart group in the Evernote import group that locates all PDFs with a word count of more than one. After running all the smart rules, drag all these PDFs to a new folder, outside of the Evernote import folder.
  7. Create a smart group in the Evernote import group that locates all groups whose size is less than 1. After doing all the previous steps, select these and delete them. You should be done now. However, if you have some word or XLS documents, etc. you may need to find and drag them into the new folder and then delete the remaining groups.

This is far from the kind of import experience I would have hoped for when migrating thousands of documents (12,487 to be exact) to a new app, but once you have it set up it works pretty smoothly. It is best if you do it in small batches, one notebook at time. I had a number of false starts as I learned to set up rules, but now it seems to be working without errors. I hope this can help others trying to do the same thing.

UPDATE: Now that I know about @BLUEFROG’s excellent script, and read the step-by-step instructions for using it, I was able to streamline this process greatly.


There’s a script to drop the groups at Quick way to delete 'empty' imported Evernote notes - #9 by BLUEFROG
It also renames the pdf
Personally, I’m not concerned about the groups, I can work with them

My concern is tags are not assigned at the group level; the tags are duplicated among the child records
I used a script to transfer the tags to the group


I wish I’d been able to find that script when I was searching the forums earlier. Looks like it would have saved me a lot of time. And it would have been good to have the renaming feature, since what I was doing doesn’t do that. Thanks.

This has nothing to do with DEVONthink. Evernote removed the cross-application channel when it rewrote the Mac app for version 10.
Also, the imports are controlled by Evernote’s AppleScript commands provided in the legacy version.

It doesn’t’ really matter whose fault it is. The are the things a new user trying to migrate from Evernote to DT needs to deal with and there is no good documentation about this that I could find. I’m trying to help users like myself - it is honestly very difficult and overwhelming and has caused me to already lose about two days of work. I wouldn’t be moving here if I wasn’t fed up with Evernote, so telling me that it is all Evernote’s fault doesn’t really help…

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Now compare that documentation with what I’ve written above …

So everything is much easier with @BLUEFROG’s script. I’ve updated my original note to reflect this, as well as a link to the step-by-step instructions on how to use it.

UPDATE 2: In my experience, the DT import script is slower and less reliable than doing an export from Evernote and then importing using “files and folders” import from the enex file.

I can’t confirm slower/reliable; both methods use exported enex data
Manually exporting the enex file allows use of the Evernote’s Version 10 product
fyi Entire notebooks can be exported with no note limit
Separate exports per notebook are recommended to preserve notebook assignment

I was getting incomplete import of large notebooks (over 700 items) using the script, but not with file import.

It’s also worth noting that Evernote 10 recently added HTML export although I haven’t tried importing that output into DT.

I still use Evernote’s web clipper with a free account and export to DT so I’ll try it next time I do a batch (and see if I can then get rid of Evernote’s legacy version).

Thanks. I’m happy to say that even though it took me almost a week, I’m finally done…

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