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Switching to Evernote from Mind Manager

Evernote - OS X Desktop

For sometime now, I’ve been using Evernote as my primary, only note-taking application. You’d think it’d pale in comparison to my tool of choice for years previous, MindManager for mind-maps. I’m not sure why, but I’ve gotten to like Evernote more. I spoke about this on a recent RIA Weekly episode (have you subscribed to that yet? Come on!).

What it does

Evernote really only does text notes with some minimal formatting for lists, bolding things, etc. It also has an iPhone app, which is handy, and some publishing options which are interesting too – see my public notebook over here.

Evernote’s first killer feature is the text recognition it does in pictures: you can take pics of receipts and whatnot and search over them. To be honest, I don’t really use this at all. The thing I like about is the synchronized web nature: I can take notes on my desktop, my iPhone, or the web-site and it all syncs up. I also like the idea of collecting together all the different files I have: presentations, pictures of receipts, pictures of books that look interesting, audio notes (another nice feature)…and then being able to tag them all and file them into note books. Really, it’s sort of like a file system dedicated to your notes.

Evernote iPhone UI

Being able to take little notes on the go, on the iPhone is nice. I use the audio recording to nice effect a fair amount as well. You’re limited to 5 minute recordings (ugh!), but that’s long enough to save most notes to yourself. I’ve also had good success using it as spot to collect together my expenses, spanning PDF print outs of bills, scans and pics of receipts, and other things.

The funny thing here is that I was never a big fan of Journlr, Yojimbo, or a steady fan of VoodooPad, all of which, really, do the same thing if not more as Evernote. The syncing nature of Evernote just feels better than a purely desktop driven notebook. There’s also something to Evernote’s stripped down simplicity: those other notebook things seemed like massive power-tools when all I needed was a hammer.


That said, as with any piece of software I use daily, I have a laundry list of wishes:

  • I’d really like to use the public notebook as a podcast. It doesn’t seem to create enclosures for the audio notes I take. I can see that there’d be a bandwidth thing there, but come on: it’d be a sweet way to do a lazy podcast.
  • Copy-pasting with formatting really drives me crazy: it gets in the way more than it helps. Evernote only does pasting with the formatting: I just want to paste the plain text.
  • As I said, I’d like to put things in multiple notebooks. The GMail “folders are labels/tags” approach is how I natively think. I think many-to-many, not one-to-many.
  • It bugs me that the iPhone app doesn’t download the notes – this means I have to be online to access them, which sort of cuts out one of the key motivation for the mobile version. Sure, there’s an IMAP solution, but that seems like a painful hack.
  • I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to do with those to do items. Is there an iCal feed for them? Can I get it integrated into Things or something?
  • It’d be nice to be able to post to a blog from it. The blog apps on the iPhone have so far been a disappointment, while the Evernote editor on the iPhone has been OK.
  • I don’t think you can link between notes, which was always a nice part of VoodooPad.
  • Integrations – there’s a suck-it-in integration with (which I think would be disastrous with my 11,000+ bookmarks), but there’s not too much else. What would these integrations be, exactly? Good question.

But my list is pretty small.

Better than a bunch of directories with files in ’em

I’d recommend checking it out. I first heard about Evernote a year or so ago, signed up for it, but didn’t really “get it” until I forced myself to start using it. Really, I think this was just because there was an iPhone app and I wanted to play around with more iPhone apps. I upgraded to the premium version, giving me plenty of space to store my notes and the ability to store any type of file.

Now if I can just figure out how to batch import all my old mind maps into there, I’ll be set ;>

Categories: The Analyst Life.

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Comment Feed

8 Responses

  1. My Dad is a huge mind map proponent. Would you say your transition from MindMap to Evernote was primarily influenced by the iPhone?

    Steve HarmonJanuary 28, 2009 @ 1:09 pm
  2. It seems like the iPhone was the catalyst, yeah. Now, I don't do it because of the iPhone features, but that's what made me decide to go through the hassle to try it out.

  3. Hmmm. Sad to hear that. What features would bring you back to mapping?

    @MichaelDeutch (Mindjet)

  4. @MichaelDeutch

    I'm in the same boat as Cote. What I really want is a mind map interface that I can toggle to and from linear text notes. The problem with mind maps is that my data is trapped in each map. I'd like to see a notebook and sync metaphor applied to MindManager.

    Mind map nodes could easily be represented in a linear fashion.

    Look at it this way – if Mindjet owned Evernote, how would they integrate the two products?

  5. If you could just export Evernotes to a PDF format you could then import them into a mindmap to at least "see" and reorganise them. I have tried with the currently available formats and end up with a single long text or html file, not individual notes.
    I have copy pasted the notes into a .CVS file and then been able to export that to many mindmap programs, including freemind or Xmind. This worked from inside a note- to get individual lines as individual nodes, or from the exported txt file to get each note as an individual. But no pictures. Little thumbnails would be nice, like they have on the Evernote online version.

    EmpressJune 27, 2009 @ 4:57 am
  6. One really useful feature for Evernote would be the automatic generation of mind maps from existing notebooks with associated tags. This would make Evernote much, much easier to use.

    Car ShareJune 28, 2010 @ 3:07 am
  7. I actually use Evernote in combination with Mindmeister, a web based mind mapping tool. Evernote provides ubiquitous capture (via e-mail or mobile client) and Mindmesiter provides the structure to my ideas an projects. When I want to have detailed notes or more infromation referenced in a mind map, I insert a link to the URL for that note in Evernote. I also do the reverse of this and put links ot mind manager maps in some of my more general notes in Evernote. I haven't stuck myself in an infinite loop of note-map-note yet, but someday…. 🙂

    JasonJune 2, 2011 @ 2:28 pm
  8. I love mindmap and evernote- I use them both. I don't think it has to be one or the other. There is nothing in evernote that competes with the mind-mapping capabilities of mindjet mindmap, and nothing in mindjet mindmap that enables you to store, sync and organize pdf files….

    It would be great to see integration between these two services.