switching from evernote to DEVONthink Pro

I don’t mind paying for software but can anybody convince me to switch from Evernote to DEVONthink Pro ? :slight_smile:

I understand that syncing with DEVONthink Pro can be done through Dropbox. But its method seems rather awkward, through terminal scripts etc. Waiting on a official DEVON sync is an alternative.

Can I use one single license on 3 of my own Macs ?

At the end I now know what I have for free but don’t know what I get for a steep price :frowning:

Cheers, Mike

You may use the DENONthink app on more than one computer, for your own use. Avoid simultaneous access to a databas, as that can cause damage to the database.

Bill thanks for your kind reply. I hope you understand that the answer is too vague to make the switch from Evernote to DEVONthink Pro so I wait till the sync option is released.

cheers, Michiel

Yesterday I took the plunge and installed the DEVONthing Pro demo. :slight_smile:

At first it is overwhelming but after playing a while I see a lot of advantages (compared to Evernote) but with current poor syncing to iOS (I read the App reviews only) and other Macs I will wait untill a better sync solution is provided :slight_smile:

I’m a longtime DevonThink Pro Office user, have recommended it to many, many people. But I’m at the point where I’m STRONGLY considering abandoning DevonThink and moving to Evernote as my information repository. I’m completely open to discussion and if one can make a compelling case why I shouldn’t with issues perhaps I’ve not yet considered, I’m absolutely open to staying. But with every passing year I’m growing more frustrated with DevonThink and more impressed with Evernote. There are several main reasons I’m considering the switch.

  • multi-device access. I’m so sick of only being able to access my database on my Mac I could scream. 8 years ago that was fine. Now, not so much. I looked deeply into DevonThink To Go a year ago and the reviews were just horrible. Maybe it’s better now, but it was clear that when this app was initially released it was a very flawed piece of functionality.

  • speed. Evernote is SO much faster and responsive than DTPO. Not even close.

  • search functionality. Yes, DTPO can utilize really nifty, uber-complex boolean search strings. I don’t care. I’ve never used that functionality once. Evernote (with my Premium membership) can search the text in JPGs, which I’ve found very handy on multiple occasions.

  • interface. The DTPO interface is still the same one it’s had basically from the start, and while I understand UI is a “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, I’d bet that if you randomly polled a thousand people, the overwhelming UI preference would be Evernote’s. It certainly is for me. It’s just a far more attractive app.

  • cross application interoperability. Evernote has become a standard of sorts. Every iOS scanner app I have on my iPhone has the built in option to export what I just scanned to Evernote. Know how many of them give me an option to to export to DTPO? Yeah, zero. With every passing year this has become more and more of a niche product. I’ve got an IFTTT ‘recipe’ that works such that when I favorite a tweet, it gets automatically added as a note to a specific Evernote notebook. That’s extremely powerful and handy. Those are just a couple of examples, but I could list many more.

Every year I keep looking for reasons to stay with DTPO and every year it gets harder to make the case. I’m now at a point where I just don’t see why I should stay with DTPO. The thing that’s making me cringe is the idea of trying to get all my data out of DTPO and into Evernote. Now, this is the one thing that gives me some pause about Evernote. It’s data export options are somewhat limited. Basically, if I ever wanted to move away from Evernote, or if they announced they were shutting down operations, my only option would be to export all notes as HTML. But it is a fairly robust export, preserves all formatting and has link to all attachments, nothing would be lost. So the data is not trapped. Just can’t export a PDF as a PDF, a JPG as a JPG, etc…

So there you have it. I’ve long loved DTPO, but that love turned to like which then turned into apathy and now I frankly use DTPO as little as possible. With every passing week, it’s looking more and more like it’s time to say goodbye to an old friend that has grown very long in the tooth.

The first thing I would answer is simple: if the app is not right for you, or no longer right for you, then it is time to move on. Only you can evaluate the the pros and cons of the two apps relative to your usage. For instance:

  1. The very limited export options from Evernote are exactly why I abandoned that app many years ago. I have a peek every now and then and the fact that I can’t export from it what I have put into it is, frankly, appalling to me. So, no I don’t agree that “the data is not trapped”. Just try and recreate your data structures in a new app. That’s a lock-in if there ever was one. It’s a sneaky trick to make migration harder for you. Contrast that with DT - anything that goes in can be got out again. Easily.

That there is a deal breaker for me. An absolute deal breaker.

  1. The search is exactly why I stay with DT. I use those “nifty, uber-complex boolean search strings” sometimes and I never search for text in Jpegs, but there you go, individual uses for individual users.

  2. Go to say, No idea what you’re referring to with speed… never see a delay here.

But yes, the Interface sure could do with some love from a clever, talented designer.

My 2 cents

Terry, thanks for that thoughtful reply.

It’s not true to say once you put data into Evernote you can’t get it out. I hear that about Evernote, “it’s a sneaky way of trapping you into the app”, but I honestly don’t get it. I just did a test export of a notebook with 8 notes in it. Some were the DTPO equivalent of a web capture, some were rich text files, some were PDFs. I got it all out. It’s an HTML export but the attachments like PDFs are exported in their native format, in this case, a PDF. I can open it up in Preview, no problem. It’s all there. NOTHING is “trapped”.

Would it be a massive pain in the butt to have to take everything out and recreate it somewhere else? Yeah, sure. That’s true with DTPO, too. The question I ask myself there is why would I ever want or need to do that and I come up with these basic reasons:

  • the company maintaining the app goes away, closes shop, and now I have an abandoned product I know will soon stop working.

  • I decide I no longer want to use the app (like what I’m considering with DTPO).

Re the first point, I don’t think that’s a serious concern with either company. Both are well entrenched, hopefully both are profitable, both have solid revenue models and have been around for quite awhile. Evernote quite clearly has the far larger user base so is probably a bit less of a risk on this count, but I don’t view it as meaningful.

The second point is what it is. One key there is which app is more actively developed and has done a better job of evolving with the times, leveraging new and emerging technologies, etc… There is zero question the answer there is Evernote. DTPO is largely the same app now with the same functionality set now that it had 10 years ago, and that’s a problem for me. So from a risk factor on this count, at least for me, staying with DTPO and watching this functionality gap grow seemingly by the month is the path that is far likelier to lead to greater discontent.

I’m not sure of the reason for your comments. It is apparent that you have made up your mind (some time ago, it seems) to switch to Evernote.

(And sorry, but your data IS more locked in, and an HTML export with the bits and pieces is not an acceptable solution for most people. (Indeed, this is a common reason people come from Evernote to DEVONthink.))


Bluefrog…not sure why I’m making my comments? It’s exactly what I said. Here’s my rationale, I genuinely want to know, am I missing something? Is my thinking inaccurate? My questions are not rhetorical.

Am I strongly leaning towards migrating to Evernote? Yes, no question.

re data export, just because people keep saying it doesn’t make it true. You say two contradictory things in your post. “Your data IS locked in”, and then you proceed to list one of the ways you can export your data while saying it’s unacceptable for many people. It’s not that the data is locked in, it’s that you don’t like the way it’s exported. Those are not the same thing, by any stretch. Now I can completely agree that many will not like the html method. Would I prefer they had the same robust export functionality of DTPO? Yes, absolutely. DTPO is the clear winner here, without question. But let’s be clear: Evernote’s data export method is inferior to DTPO’s, but your data is NOT locked into the app. That’s just not true.

So if my other points are valid, then for me this becomes an issue of which I value more, the usability and functionality of Evernote or the improved data exportability of DTPO. That’s an honest question and I can absolutely see how one could fall on one side of that fence or the other.

What’s wrong with using multiple apps for different purposes? I use DEVONthink a lot, I use Evernote a lot, I use Spotlight and the OS X file system, I use Notebooks, TheBrain, ConnectedText. Some of these things work well iOS, some don’t. iOS isn’t an extension of the desktop, anyway, so who cares if iOS versions are different – I don’t – that argument went out years ago. When I want to connect these applications, I figure it out. I frequently use PDFs because that’s what it is best at – the “portable document format”. When I want variety in interfaces and features, I do my research, test different applications, and buy what I like.

When I hear things like “not having this feature is a ‘deal killer’” I wonder “really?” Why so rigid? Is the UI really that important? Is the age of an application really that important? Is not having DEVONthink available on every imaginable version of every operating system really that important? Isn’t it the work that’s more important than the toolbox?

korm…terrific post and great questions.

That’s what I’ve been doing for the last couple of years or so. I’ve been using DTPO as my main “information repository” and then using Evernote for things I clearly needed “on the go”, like travel info, recipes where I needed to see them at the store, lists of restaurants I want to visit, books I want to buy, etc…

And this approach is absolutely an option, no question. For many, this may work beautifully. It was kind of ok for me for awhile.

But over the last few months as I’ve used Evernote to replace things like Instapaper, and moved my “To Read” and “To Watch” data sets to it, and as I’ve more tightly integrated it with things like Twitter and Pocket (i find a lot of great articles pertaining to my work via the lists I follow in Twitter, for example), the sources I’m now using to input into my information repository are changing in such a fashion that it’s now more smooth and organic to just have them in Evernote. Getting them from there and into DTPO requires additional steps and I’m asking myself if there’s value in doing so. I’m absolutely open to maintaining the dual model if I see the value in it. So far, I’m not.

Let me be clear, I’m NOT saying that one app is better or worse than the other. For my needs, I’m struggling to find anything (other than export, which I’ve never used until now) that DTPO does that Evernote won’t also do for me. And that makes it difficult to build the case for my workflows for using two apps instead of one.

Exactly why I keep abandoning Evernote and coming back to DT. Evernote has a good UI, and that’s what I like about it. But why should I have to pick and choose my stuff from an exported HTML file when I can simply drag and drop from DT?

Then don’t.

Don’t export. You can “simply drag and drop” from Evernote to DEVONthink.

Drag a note from Evernote to DEVONthink and you’ll get a nice Formatted Note, if the note was text or a web clipping, or a PDF, if the note was a PDF. DEVONthink’s developers have already done the heavy lifting to make transferring from Evernote to DEVONthink easy. Take advantage of it.

The thing about most successful software on OS X is that it probably does what you want if you take some time and play around.


I used to have everything in DTPO, and now use Evernote for most things (Logs, Notes, General Info, clippings, etc.), because of what I feel is superior syncing to multiple devices, improved UI, and ease of use.

But I am continuing to use DTPO for major research projects because of its ability to replicate, export, and use AI to find connections.

That’s what works best for me.

R. Barre, interesting. That may well be where I end up with this. Thanks for sharing your process.

I’m a pretty hard core Evernote user, 2635 notes in a short amount of time. However, i find that Evernote is not the best app for knowledge worker. Sure, there’s related searches, good search functions, nice UI, shortcuts, notebook, tags and etc.

But the organisation is a mess despite everything, the best way to find a note in Evernote is to search. Filing your documents is a bit of a pain compared to Devonthink’s filing method.

I don’t know, it’s such a pain for me that I’ve changed my full blown Evernote system (with ninja tricks like having !top tag that will show up as first in tag list) to keeping everything in inbox. And naming each file YYMMDD keyword keyword keyword. (this works as tag, and categorisation)

Ok, my point it I use Evernote for:

  1. stuff i need to sync to my mobile
  2. web clipping of interesting articles. (recipes, hobbies, etc)
  3. as a diary, powered by instagram, foursquare, twitter with IFTTT
  4. some how to stuff, like apple keyboard shortcuts symbol and it’s equivalent keyboard
  5. dimension of my house, wattage of lights when i need to go to hardware store.
  6. stuff i need to share with others

I don’t use Evernote for:

  1. note taking
  2. work related projects and it’s relevant files

Devonthink is great for knowledge worker and knowledge based projects. I can create new database for each project (so the AI can give me new insight for the project, and for organisational purpose).

My notes in DT feed on each other, giving me more and more ideas. I use it as my digital commonplace book.

I also use DT for serious stuff like tax documents. You don’t want to search through evernote. It could take you many searches, and sometimes relevant documents that you forgot to tag “tax” or sometimes documents fall through the cracks.

Conclusion: DT is only for serious work. Evernote is for convenience.

Another perspective, my notes in DT is 50 to 500 words and they’re themed. They’re fine grained, and refined notes.

My Evernote consist of huge articles that’s not so focused sometimes. One article can be about productivity, health, posture and etc. They’re broad stroke.

So I think of my DT as a precision weapon, and my Evernote as a shotgun. Sometimes i get new insight from the articles i read from Evernote, and transfer it to DT as a knowledge gem.

Also, my DT’s note title is only one or two words. This is how focused it is. there’s a benefit to this, my notes are often wikilinked a lot to each other as i create new notes, without me purposely trying to. Forming new connections different from what the AI generates.

Ryan, thanks for sharing that perspective.

My experience is very different, though. Unless I know precisely where I put something, I’m finding anything in either application via searching. At one point I was putting a LOT of time with respect to DT Pro into maintaining a very precise folder structure, and then I realized that for me, working on maintaining the integrity of that structure was a complete waste of time. Dump it in and use search to find it.

So far I’ve transferred all of my notes out of DT Pro from 2013 and 2014, and I’ve tagged almost nothing. My experience is Evernote search is very fast and in some respects (particularly the ability to search for text strings within images) better than DT Pro. I’ve not yet experienced anything “falling through the cracks”.

Part of my test here has been to migrate one year of DT Pro inputs at a time, doing it over a couple week span a little every day, then see what happens. So far, for my needs I’m finding this is working beautifully.

I’m open to maintaining data in both apps, but at this point I’m simply not seeing any need to do so. Perhaps that will change as I get more and more data into Evernote, but based on my experience so far, I’d be surprised if that happened.

And re note taking, I’m finding it one of the best apps I’ve ever used for that purpose. Some of my notes are taken electronically. I can make notes in Drafts or SwiftKey and use the tight integration with Evernote to seamlessly move them in, or take them directly in Evernote on either my Mac or my iPhone, or one of my favorite ways is to take notes in my Moleskin notebook by hand, then simply scan them as a jpg or PDF and put them into Evernote. Evernote’s ability to do OCR on images and PDFs is hugely valuable here. And it’s one reason that drove me to move all my note into Evernote. So many of them are taken by hand and then what do I do with them. Having them in DT Pro would be basically worthless, I can’t search the contents of them so I’d have to use extensive metadata to ensure I could find them again, and now I’m back to spending time maintaining and massaging my data, something I’m just not interested in doing.

At the end of the day, very cool that both apps are available. I’ve loved DT Pro for many years, I just wish in the last 3-4 years they’d done a more credible job at bringing a mobile solution to the market, improving interfacing with other commonly used apps, and updating the interface.

If Evernote works for you then be happy. I used Evernote for a quite a while, my experience was ok, but not something that excited me. Trying to compare the two is like comparing a bicycle with the space shuttle. If you only need to get to the corner shop then DT is not for you.

By the way - why don’t you just take notes in DTTG? Then they are already in DT and ready to go. Seems a bit of a mission to handwrite, then make a JPG and then scan it…

Anyway - if your data is critical like mine is then I’m much more comfortable in the way DT stores my data - untouched, and fully available should I need to export it. The ability to export into the same original folder structure is very comforting.

Add in the web server for non-Mac users, the now excellent syncing capability (well done Nathan), and you have a singular reason for owning a Mac.

DTTG is not a good option for me. I prefer handwriting notes because often I’m not just recording text but also making drawings or mind maps based on the information being presented. The ability to do that in free form, then scan and dump it into Evernote and have those handwritten notes be searchable is a great solution for me, and scanning and exporting takes about a minute or less depending on how many pages I have. Every scanner app I have on my iPhone exports directly to Evernote, including allowing me to select notebooks, add tags, etc…

In terms of acting as an information repository, my thinking going in was that DTPO was “more robust” or more “professional grade” and that Evernote was more of a lightweight solution, but so far I’m not seeing any evidence that this is the case. Both seem pretty equivalent in terms of how I store and then access and retrieve information. For my needs I’ve yet to see where DTPO offers any more robust functionality than what Evernote gives me.

The only meaningful difference there I’ve yet found is the export functionality, where DTPO can preserve the same folder structure upon export. That’s absolutely a difference and if you frequently export or expect to need to, I get that being a differentiator. In the 10 or so years I’ve had the app, I’ve never once exported from it.

Just expressing opinion, as you did. Both products are successful.