Easing away from OneNote to Joplin for notes

I went from Evernote to OneNote and now I’m considering a move to Joplin. I’m taking the move slowly, but the more I use Joplin, the more I like it.

1. I’m testing it out still and getting a feel for the program.
2. I need to know it’s reliable.
3. I’m syncing between my laptop, phone, and a tablet, and haven’t come across any issues yet, but that definitely needs thorough testing before I commit.

Joplin has the ability to sync notes from device to device in several ways, and notes are written, edited, and stored in Markdown. It’s more like Evernote than OneNote in how it’s organized. There are notebooks, tags, and notes instead of notebooks, sections, and pages. But that’s not a problem to deal with. Notebooks can be nested, so sub-notebooks feel like sections to me.

The layout is a little busy when all the sidebars are open, but it’s really well proportioned on my desktop and the sidebars can be toggled on and off and you can even choose to show only the editor window or the note window. I didn’t get a screenshot of that layout, but it’s an option.

Joplin’s syncing process sounds more complicated to set up than it actually is, and it turns out Markdown is pretty sweet. I like writing blog posts and notes in text only, because the files are simple and small and go anywhere and can be read and edited on every device I have.

Markdown is easy, and that’s pretty sweet too. Apparently some of the text formatting shortcuts in WordPress’s classic visual editor are based on Markdown.

Joplin doesn’t have an entire domain devoted to it yet, don’t know if it will ever have, to be honest, but it doesn’t need it because all the syncing you do for your notes is through your own accounts or cloud setup. I use the default Dropbox, because my notes repository isn’t huge and probably won’t be even if I add in all the notes I have in OneNote. I don’t attach files often, because I prefer to have them stored independently.

Joplin is open source and the associated forum and project seems to have plenty of development going on. There’s also a decent amount of documentation for the program. It looks and works great on my phone and tablet, too.

All in all, I really like it, and I think this might be the open source alternative to OneNote and Evernote I’ve been hoping for.

ETA: I forgot to mention a very important feature of Joplin and that’s that it will export an entire notebook of notes into individual .md text files (Markdown text files). (A text editor like Notetab or Notepad++ can open them just fine, although Windows Notepad doesn’t recognize the line breaks.) There’s also the option to export individual notes as PDFs.

All Joplin needs for me to be even happier is an option to export entire notebooks to PDF for archiving, and an export option to create HTML, .doc(x) or .odt files and I would be very happy indeed.

Exporting OneNote sections to Word

Here’s something I discovered about exporting from OneNote today: To export both pages and subpages of a section from OneNote to Word, expand the pages first.

I did some reorganizing of my Journals which are set up as Section > 2016, Page > September 2016, Subpages > September 16, 2016 & September 15, 2016, etc, and had them collapsed so the sidebar wasn’t too long (365 pages is a lot of pages for one section and I wanted some white space in that list!).

What happened, though, when I did my usual export to Word to back up my entries by section (year) is that most of the subpages didn’t export. Only those that were expanded were included in the Word docx file. :o

That wasn’t good, so I went back and expanded everything, then exported again, and it worked exactly as I expected.

I tried to find mention of this online, but I couldn’t find anything. So here it is, a tip for anyone who might be wondering why OneNote doesn’t export subpages to Word when exporting. See if your pages are collapsed and if they are, expand them before you try to export again.

I’d rather it not be this way, but as long as I have a workaround I’m satisfied.

Sometimes I still miss Evernote, but one of my favorite things about OneNote is how easily I can export pages, sections, or notebooks directly from OneNote to Word. I couldn’t do that in Evernote, and exporting to HTML wasn’t really what I wanted. I do it to back up important notes in a format I can access easily if my OneNote files were to become corrupt.

I miss Evernote, but I miss it less after installing Pocket

I’m pretty happy with my switch from Evernote to OneNote in most respects, except one. I used Evernote as my to-read list and regularly clipped articles I wanted to read later to a “To Read” notebook. If I liked the article I moved it to my Clipped notebook, where I kept random articles and clippings from the web to revisit later if I wanted.

I don’t organize these articles, because it’s not some massive amorphous list of things I’d like to read someday/maybe. These are articles I absolutely want to read as soon as I have time and I get through them quickly. No one article usually sticks around longer than a week, and if I keep passing it over, I usually just delete it.

I still have those notebooks in OneNote, but OneNote doesn’t quite work like Evernote did and I find it more difficult to read articles I’ve saved.

Pocket has become the solution to that problem—an excellent solution, in fact, because it’s compatible with every device I own and I can read on any of them, much the way I was able to read my Evernote notes on any device, even my 5 year old Droid X.

Although OneNote is compatible with almost all my devices, it won’t run on the old Droid (which I still use as a reading device) or my second generation Kindle Fire. Believe it or not, these are my two favorite reading devices and I choose them over my newer options almost every time, unless I need OneNote. Now I can read on my preferred devices, despite their age.

If I want to save an article, I can visit the original article from Pocket and clip it to OneNote. (I tried it and it works just that easy.) This seems like it’d be extra trouble compared to just moving a clipped article from one notebook to another, but this really isn’t a big deal for me, because I don’t save that many articles. Mostly I read and delete.

And if in the future Pocket goes the way of Evernote and starts limiting device usage, I’ll just go back to reading on OneNote.

Some days, I still miss Evernote. I used it for years and was quite happy with it, so it’s only natural. But now I don’t miss it quite so much. :)

Evernote is changing, but so am I: switching from Evernote to OneNote

Evernote has been my go-to software app for notes for many years. I’ve loved it for a long time, but the time has come to make the switch to OneNote. The thing is, I have an Office 365 subscription that I’m very happy with, despite the fact that I don’t actually use the new versions of Excel and Word.* I tried OneNote soon after installing Office 365, and although I didn’t hate it, I didn’t see a big need to switch.

One reason was because my phone is getting old, I mean really old (it’s an original Droid X), and it’s starting to have trouble running newer applications. My little Droid X is still on Android 2.3.4. But goodness, I love that phone, and it still does what I need it to do: check my email, send texts and messages, play music, make calls, take photos, and run my 6 e-reading apps.

On the other hand, Aldiko has recently started crashing on me, and the Kindle app has started to load really slowly, so it’s definitely going downhill. And my phone won’t run OneNote, while it still runs Evernote without a hitch. So I decided at the time not to make the switch.

But last night I got the following email.

Evernote Basic is changing

At Evernote, we are committed not only to making you as productive as you can be, but also to running our business in as transparent a way as possible. We’re making a change to our Basic service, and it’s important that you know about it.

In the coming weeks, Evernote Basic accounts will be limited to two devices, such as a computer and phone, two computers, or a phone and a tablet. You are currently over this limit, but will have at least 30 days to adjust. Plus and Premium accounts will continue to support access from an unlimited number of devices.

Look for additional communication from us explaining how your account is changing and outlining your options. For more information about why we are making this change, see our blog post.

The problem with this is that I use Evernote everywhere: phone, Kindle fire, Fire tablet, laptop, desktop… You get the picture. But out of the 60 MB of data transfer Evernote allows a free account, I use less than one MB most months. Right now, I’m at 259 KB for the month. There’s just no reason for me to pay for a subscription for this service. And now I won’t be able to access Evernote on all my devices.

To put it bluntly, Evernote has suddenly become much less useful to me.

So, last night, I used the OneNote importer to copy my Evernote notes to OneNote. And I quite like it. It’s going to take a little getting used to, but I think I’ll manage.

I have to say, I’m sorry for Evernote, but I think their recent changes are going to be the end of them. Not because I think it matters that I switched, because I was probably never going to be a paid user anyway. I don’t worship the ideal of a paperless life, by far, and I don’t like digital clutter either. But instead of making changes that will make Evernote indispensable to users, they’re limiting it in a way that makes it less likely the software can ever become indispensable to those who might go on to become paid users.

*I still use my Office 2007 versions, although there are features in the 2016 editions that I like, such as how Word remembers where you last were in the document when you reopen it. The switch to OneNote made me feel like I should try again, because I really like the OneNote interface. I just… really hate that green all over Excel. The blue from 2007 was so much more soothing a color. I loved those colors. It’s made it really hard to get over my other issues with 2016 and commit to the newer versions.