I’ve been an Evernote user for more than 10 years, but finally decided to switch away from it. I started to use Joplin, an open-source note-taking app a couple of weeks ago, and won’t be looking back.

Evernote has been a long-time companion of mine, and with 5000+ notes it has been an important piece in my everyday workflows, acting as my long term memory, a secondary brain. Besides taking notes about work, it’s where I’ve kept my daily journal, stored web clips, and had an extensive list of recipes for cooking. It was also a single convenient place to store my ebook collection.

But it hasn’t been a great tool for a long time. Recent pricing changes without clear value, the questionable commitment from the new owners, downtimes, and performance issues made me realize I need something more stable. Since note-taking is such an important piece of my workflow, I need my notes available and accessible for long term, and became quite sceptical if Evernote can provide that in the future.

I was looking for an alternative for some time, considering tools like Notion - but the problem of long-term use and stability always came up. If a company controls an app, strategy might change, features I’ve been relying on might go away, or I could just get locked in to the platform. None of these are very appealing. And Evernote has been doing worse and worse. So it was clear I need something that is based on a file structure or uses markdown that is usable by other apps even if the tool goes away. My concerns with central control and company strategy changes were also a strong factor in why I started to look at open-source solutions.

Joplin seemed to be fitting pretty much all my requirements. Open-source tool, markdown based, basic note-taking structure (notes, notebooks, tags), available on all platforms I use, good options for syncing and security, available offline, and a web clipper. So after a brief dry run I made the decision to migrate and leave Evernote for good.

Migrating from Evernote to Joplin is super easy. Just export notebooks from Evernote one by one and import to Joplin. While larger notebooks took quite some time (might need a few retries), it was without problems. I needed to set up Joplin and syncing (I used Dropbox) on each device.

As one could expect, since Joplin is an open-source tool, the experience is bare-bones. Some things I’ve noticed:

  • Working with a high number of tags is difficult (no way to search or filter).
  • Web clipping offers no preview (on the plus side, clipping works pretty well, so previewing is not so important).
  • No easy way to work with multiple notes at the same time (there is a plugin for a note tabs).
  • I’ve had note automation in Evernote with Zapier, but there is no easy way for creating notes automatically in Joplin (subscribing to Joplin cloud provides email to notes as a workaround).
  • Notelist width needs to be constantly adjusted, as longer note titles don’t wrap.
  • Since Joplin workspace doesn’t synchronize (just the notes), each device needs to be set up with plugins and settings separately.
  • Search, filter, list options are less refined.

On the plus side, synchronizations seems better than Evernote, clipping from the web is almost instantaneous, direct-to-markdown clips also seem much more usable than the sometimes HTML-ridden mess Evernote’s clipper produced, and there are some really useful plugins.

But overall, pretty impressed with Joplin, and while I keep my Evernote account open (have a couple of months left from my subscription), I haven’t opened it since I started to use Joplin full-time.