I have been looking for the best Evernote alternative for a very long time. I have tried OneNote, SimpleNote, Notion, Dropbox paper etc. but nothing worked for me.
So my search continued, but this time I was looking for open-source alternatives.
My main criteria were, there should be an Android app, a Desktop app for Both Windows & Linux and a strong focus on Privacy.
So, in my search process, I have come across Joplin.
It’s been almost a month since I switched and I have never been so happy with the overall setup.
Please note: this is not a sponsored post, I really like Joplin hence I thought of writing a post about it so that others may get benefited.
Why Joplin is the best EVERNOTE alternative
There are many reasons why Joplin is the best Evernote alternative for 2021. Let’s examine all the points then you can decide on your own.
#1. The overall look and feel
In general, I like Evernote layout like Notebooks then Notes and then Tags.
It works great for me and for many years I have adopted this layout and it fits very well with my workflow.
But now with Joplin, I don’t need to learn anything new, it almost feels like an Evernote but with different window colours.
Here is my simple setup, you can see how close it is to Evernote.
#2. Personalized experience
We all like customization’s, we want to make changes to suit our needs. With Joplin, you can exactly do that.
Whether you like dark mode or a regular white background or any other themes, it’s up to you to select.
Not just this, you can extend functionality with various extensions according to your needs.
If you are technically sound then you can edit style sheets to change the look and feel, however, I wouldn’t recommend this for common users.
(My coding knowledge in this area is limited so I’ll stay away from this)
You can see below Joplin with dark mode (Nord theme)
#3. End to End encryption for data security
By far this is one of the main reasons why I have switched to Joplin. Since I store most of my documents including medical so I’m a bit hesitant to use Evernote.
Even if I do, I always felt some kind of fear (if you don’t know medical documents has the highest value in the black market).
But now I have enabled Encryption with a strong randomized key and stored that key in a safe place.
But please be cautious before you enable this option (not enabled by default), if you lose your key then there is no way to recover your data.
#4. Open source Evernote alternative
I like open-source software due to its very nature of opening source code to the public.
Sure, I may not be skilled enough to understand their source code but many other software engineers worldwide are reviewing and updating code regularly.
As a result, any malicious code can be detected quickly.
Joplin is an open-source alternative for Evernote, hence my preference.
And one other point, we always think opensource means free software.
I think it’s true in many cases but it does not take any less effort to build open-source software as opposed to commercial options.
So it’s important to recognize developer efforts and contribute wherever possible, either in donations or code contributions.
#5. You can store your notes locally
Unlike Evernote Joplin by default stores your notes locally but optionally you can sync your notes using cloud service providers like Dropbox, WebDev, OneDrive etc.
So your notes will never leave your computer unless you want to sync between your various devices like Mobile or Tablet etc.
But it’s a good choice to sync notes across all devices to access or take notes on the go.
#6. Various syncing options
Joplin does not have a centralized server to store your data instead it follows a different approach to this problem.
They have enabled various syncing options like OneDrive, Dropbox, NextCloud, WebDev, AWS etc.
So the option really is with the user. If you don’t like Dropbox then choose a different option. In fact, you can use your own hosted NextCloud server.
#7. Apps available for almost all platforms
I think the developers of Joplin has put a lot of effort already into developing various Apps. They have created Apps for every other platform like windows, Mac, Linux, Android & IOS.
No matter which device you use Joplin app is available and you can sync your notes flawlessly.
Personally, I have started using Linux for some time and there is an official app to support Linux but unfortunately, it’s not the case with Evernote.
No complaints, maybe different priorities.
#8. Plugin support
If you want to extend Joplin functionality then you can use various plugins that other developers have been developing.
There are quite a few plugins available but personally, I have not used any of them until now.
But you may give it try.
#9. Web clipper for Chrome & Firefox
I think there is no better Evernote alternative without the web clipper support.
Sure, the interface may not be as intuitive as Evernote but we can live with it.
#10. Markdown and Visual editor support
When it comes to editing or writing notes there are various options here as well.
If you like markdown editing like me then you can choose to write in Markdown mode. Else there is an option for visual editor as well – it’s your choice.
And if you don’t like built-in editors then you can optionally choose external editors as well.
For me, the built-in editors are more than enough hence I have not used any external editor so far.
#11. No monthly subscription
This is an important point, I’m not against any commercial software and their payments terms.
I think we should pay as per our usage and benefits, if Evernote is adding a lot of value to your workflow then you should pay and make sure to use Evernote to the full extent.
But in case if you can’t pay for whatever reasons then you don’t need to stick with limited options.
Just start using opensource note-taking apps like Joplin and contribute whenever you can (code contribution or monitory support)
For sure, no one will force you to pay monthly subscriptions.
#12. Notes history
I think this is one of my favourite features in Joplin.
By default Joplin stores 90 days of notes history. As a result, you can easily go back and check/restore previous versions.
However, if you want to increase your history limit you can do that easily under the settings section.
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Downsides of Joplin
Well, all the above points are positive ones but Joplin does not have any negative points?
Sure, like any other software Joplin too has few cons. If I don’t explain them here then I’m biased.
In fact, if we don’t have any cons then it will not be an Evernote alternative instead it’s a copy of Evernote.
So let’s examine the cons as well.
#1. Android app UI is not modern
As I mentioned above, there is an app for Android and it’s working great for me. Options like Camera usage, Notes Sync, Attachments etc. are very much functional.
However, the UI seems to be a little bit dated, especially when you have so many apps with really good UI and built using Material guidelines.
In fact, I like Evernote UI, it’s polished and picture-perfect (don’t forget funding is key in development).
I think this is not a big problem and it can be solved.
#2. The search functionality works but not as good as evernote
Evernote search functionality is one of the best. Just type a few words and your matching notes will appear instantaneously.
But when it comes to Joplin we do have search capability but it needs a little bit of improvement.
For example, the default search looks for exact keywords instead of partial matching. Because of this, you will have to either type a full word or try multiple times.
But I’m hoping Joplin developers will fix this in their futures releases.
#3. Camera scanning features are limited
The inbuilt scanning capabilities of Evernote is awesome. You really don’t need any scanner or third party app to quickly scan documents.
I personally like the auto-detect feature it works great.
Joplin does have a Camera integration with the Android app but it’s not as powerful as Evernote.
But I can understand…these things will take time and needs funding for development.
How to import notes from Evernote
In case if you want to give it try then there is an easy way to import all your notes from Evernote quickly, you can follow the below steps.
Step1: Download and Install the Joplin desktop application.
Step2: Now open your Evernote and right-click on the notebook that you want to export and then export as ENEX Html format.
You can also find the export notes guide on the Evernote website.
Step3: Open Joplin and from the File menu click on import and select ENEX html option
That’s it…all your notes in that notebook will be imported. But please note you need to repeat these steps for all your notebooks.
Conclusion – is Joplin the best Evernote Alternative?
There are many Evernote alternatives (as they claim) besides Joplin but none of them come as close as Joplin.
Almost all identical features with cross-platform support and above all it’s open-source and free to use until you decide to contribute.
In fact, Joplin does have an app for Mac hence this is one of the best Evernote alternatives for Mac if you are into the Apple ecosystem.
So based on my experience, it’s the best option if you are really serious about moving out of Evernote.
Give it a try and let me know what do you think.
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