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I am not here to discuss why or why not one should move from Evernote to another application or service. That is such a personal decision, and I am sure everyone has personally valid motives.

Myself, after careful consideration, I decided to move to OneNote.

And moving from Evernote to OneNote should be straightforward enough - after all, Microsoft offers a tool (OneNote Importer) just for this purpose.

On the other hand, many users (including yours truly) have encountered a number of problems: notes without a title or (oh the horror) notes without actual body. Oh, and keep in mind that I am not overly concerned with a bit of formatting issues.

In any case, a glitch here and there is probably to be expected. If you have a relatively small number of notebooks and notes it is not particularly onerous to manually adjust (copy & paste) even a couple of dozen notes. But if you happen to have an Evernote database with several thousand notes… or few tens of thousand notes… the percentage of import errors increases exponentially. To the point where you may be tempted to give up, or where manual intervention is simply unfeasible. I know I was in that situation. Then, because I am a (rather aging ) software developer by trade, I figured I should try and understand the problem (or problems).

It turns out I was too fast in blaming the Microsoft product for the poor import.

So here is a simple recipe to insure that conversion problems are kept at the very minimum. I just finished porting over 31,000 notes and, at my last count, I have 41 notes that I have to manually fix. And I can live with that.

Preparation

  1. Before you install and run the OneNote importer, export your Evernote database to ENEX files. Do NOT export the entire database in one pass. Export each and every single notebook. This may be a pain - especially if you have a large number of notebooks. Still.
  2. If you do not have a good text editor capable of handling large files (I assume some of your notebooks may produce large export files) get one and install it - there are several excellent freeware and/or opensource offerings (I happened to have become accustomed to Visual Studio Code)
  3. If you do not have a super-simple XML editor, get one and install it.  Believe it not, my tool of choice is the ancient workhorse Microsoft XML Notepad (1998 - yes 1998). I am not sure you'll be able to find it for download… but you will definitely find XML Notepad 2007 (still available on Microsoft site) .

Editing Session

  1. Using XML Notepad, open (or attempt to open) the ENEX file(s) you created when exporting your notebook(s)
  2. Many files will open without problem. But that does not necessarily mean that they will import without problems.
  3. Some files will report errors and you will not be able to open them. See Figure 1. In this particular case, the XML generated by Evernote breaks the entire file because of a non-breaking space in the title of the note. Who knows, I may have copied that title from a web page or from an email signature. Interestingly enough, the OneNote importer is often able to CORRECT the error and import the note correctly. In few cases, for rather mysterious reasons, the note will not import at all. Or it will import without a title. I could not detect a pattern.
  4. I will spare you the gruesome details of the investigation, and come to the important point: it turns out that the structure of the XML data in the ENEX files does not always and/or necessarily abide to the "declarations" found in the "document type definition" specified in the file's header. If you have no idea of what I am talking about, it does not matter. Just use the following nuclear option:
  5. The solution is surprisingly simple:
    1. open the ENEX file in your text editor
    2. Look at the second line - you should see the following:
      <!DOCTYPE en-export SYSTEM  "
      http://xml.evernote.com/pub/evernote-export2.dtd">
      See Figure 2.
    3. DELETE this line. Don't even ask.
    4. Save the file

Importing

  1. Fire up OneNote Importer
  2. When you get to the page "Select Evernote Content", click on the link "Import a file instead" - See Figure 3
  3. Select one of your datafiles, click Next and let the OneNote Importer do its job. No, it is NOT a fast import operation.

In closing: if you are moving to OneNote, for any reason, experiment with one notebook - before embarking in the full conversion. See the difference between a straightforward import with OneNote importer and one done after the editing I attempted to describe.

I hope this helps a bit...

image.png.dee94bd7c4d532275aedbe259ef7a332.png

Figure 1

 

image.thumb.png.375c3ce73d4642195ae7c3b221f4545e.png

Figure 2

 

image.png.fee2009d82d23efa1719250b4025deef.png

Figure 3

 

 

 

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  • 8 months later...

Thank you for sharing your experience.

How this can be done for multiple users, Importer asks for login. Lets say if there are 100 users and we need to import all of their EN into ON. by default if we import it actually stays under logged in user storage( if its work account, it store under OneDrive)

Any other approach or API?

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I do not think it could easily be done for multiple users. First and most important issue: how would you collect and manage the credentials for more than one user? Even assuming that users are "corporate accounts"... the security implications are quite serious...

Also, the verification and manipulation of .enex files is really a manual process. Automating that process for multiple notebooks for multiple users... it's a software projects that could demand weeks of time... !

That's all I can contribute on the matter. 

Incidentally, I can confirm that I have adapted my workflow and I am leaving in peace with OneNote. I easily juggle the two different apps (the original desktop version and the Windows 10 version). I found that I can leave without a ridiculous number or tags (and if I really need "tags"... I just insert a simple section with "keywords" that can be found by the OneNote full text search). I find that search most often appears to be much faster and - most important - more accurate. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

@OldManGeorge just wanna say thank you very much for the guide. Thanks to it, I was finally able to switch over to OneNote from Evernote after at 3 previous attempts over the years failed. I was seriously worried I was gonna be stuck paying $75/year for Evernote just because I couldn't find a way to properly move my data between services.

That said, there are some peculiarities on the OneNote side I'll point out:

1st of all, on Windows 10, you'll want to use the OneNote for Windows 10 app and not the OneNote 2019 app. The former uses the paradigm I describe below, while the latter mixes that paradigm with Evernote's, with very confusing results. You'll also want to have the OneDrive application running. Microsoft doesn't mention it explicitly, but it's what OneNote for Windows 10 uses as its sync backend. If it's not running and/or you're not signed into it, OneNote for Windows 10 won't sync properly. This took me a few hours to figure out; I believe the vast majority of OneNote sync problems reported are due to it.

OneNote for Windows 10's sync and file paradigm is different from Evernote's. While Evernote does operations locally and periodically syncs them, OneNote for Windows 10 is basically a desktop client that reads and writes files in real time from cloud filesystem. If the client is unable to write to the cloud filesystem, the operations queue up until it can.

Following from the above, OneDrive (NOT OneNote web) is the canonical location and record of OneNote files, not whatever you see in the client. To get an imported Evernote notebook to show up in your client, find it in OneDrive, where it will be in your Documents folder with the same name as the imported file. Right-click it and then click Open in OneNote, then follow your browser's prompts to open it in OneNote for Windows 10. If you want to delete a OneNote notebook, close it in the client (right-click -> Close this notebook), and then delete the corresponding file in OneDrive.

Confusingly, OneNote web is missing some of OneNote for Windows 10's features. I don't recommend it as a client.

OneNote shows recent notebooks in the in-app dialog for opening notebooks, even if the recent notebook as been deleted or you no longer have access to it. It's nice for history, but it's quite confusing.

The TL,DR of this is: if you want to do work within a OneNote notebook, open the notebook (if it isn't already open) in the OneNote for Windows 10 app and work on it there. If you want to do perform a file operation on a OneNote notebook, such as renaming or deleting it, close it in the Windows 10 app, and then rename (and then reopen) or delete it from the OneDrive Documents folder.

As to why I'm switching after over a decade with Evernote: price (my entire Office365 subscription costs less than my Evernote one) and much better freeform support. In OneNote I can, for example, hand draw a graph and then label the axes in text boxes, while Evernote forces writing and typed text to be separate. Also, the Evernote for Android suffers from awful pen-input latency, while the OneNote for Android app doesn't.

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On 12/14/2020 at 12:30 PM, KrisCo said:

Thank you for sharing your experience.

How this can be done for multiple users, Importer asks for login. Lets say if there are 100 users and we need to import all of their EN into ON. by default if we import it actually stays under logged in user storage( if its work account, it store under OneDrive)

Any other approach or API?

TBH I think the best way would be to provide migration instructions for the users and let them handle it from there (if they so choose). As @OldManGeorge implied, there's very little of the process that can be automated, as most of it (export, import, open) takes place within the proprietary apps themselves. Also, OneNote has a rather useless and annoying import behavior in which it splits imported notebooks with over 100 pages into separate 100 page sections. This means you have to manually remerge large notebooks within the OneNote for Windows 10 application itself.

There is, however, 1 area that can be automated with a script: removing the 2nd line (<!DOCTYPE en-export SYSTEM  "http://xml.evernote.com/pub/evernote-export2.dtd">) of each exported .enex file.

Another way to save time is to encourage users to discard obsolete notes from Evernote before beginning the migration process. I found that over half my Evernote notebooks were either empty or had obsolete information (e.g. job postings) with no current or future value.

The sooner you get started, the better, as Microsoft explicitly states that they no longer develop or actively support the Importer. Therefore, the longer you wait, the more likely you and your users are to run into bugs.

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  • 1 month later...

Wow!! I thought wanted to migrate from Evernote, after years of use, to One Note as suggested to me; it's a painful task. The export and import process is honestly too frustrating. Unless there is another user-friendly way to do the application transition, I think I will remain with Evernote. The more I attempt to transition to One Note, I realize how much of a dauting task this is which causes me to rethink my decision to make this change. Microsoft needs to develop a way to make the process easier if they would like longtime Evernote users to switch to One Note, their product.🤔 😒

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  • 1 month later...

I am a heavy O365 user and have longed wanted to move to Onenote. I have about 2,000 notes. I have tried everything I can think of. Used Windows 10 OneNote. I've used the last OneNote desktop version. I've downloaded Evernote and tried to newest version to export the enex file and i've downloaded the legacy Evernote version. I have adjusted the Enex file to take out the 2nd line as @OldManGeorgementioned, but I continue to get an error. I've signed out of my O365 account, I've signed in, I've disabled sync in evernote, I've tried everything...see screenshot below. If anyone was able to assist me, I can't tell you how much I'd apprecate it. 

Jason

 

image.thumb.png.b1876c060198424019e597131a82fd12.png

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 4/17/2021 at 4:02 PM, JasonEvernote said:

I am a heavy O365 user and have longed wanted to move to Onenote. I have about 2,000 notes. I have tried everything I can think of. Used Windows 10 OneNote. I've used the last OneNote desktop version. I've downloaded Evernote and tried to newest version to export the enex file and i've downloaded the legacy Evernote version. I have adjusted the Enex file to take out the 2nd line as @OldManGeorgementioned, but I continue to get an error. I've signed out of my O365 account, I've signed in, I've disabled sync in evernote, I've tried everything...see screenshot below. If anyone was able to assist me, I can't tell you how much I'd apprecate it. 
 

Did you ever find a solution to this?  I have done all this (except the removing the 2nd line thing) and I keep getting the error.  I tried exported a notebook that is really just text notes, most very small.  No good at all.  I have used Evernote mostly for document archives of searchable PDFs.  I don't think OneNote is practical for that.  However, I I do have some actual notes in Evernote.  It isn't that much.  Maybe a little over 500.  But, I do want to keep them and I don't really want to manually copy and paste them to OneNote which is what the importer recommends.

Has anyone been able to get the importer to work recently?

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I am having the same problem as Jason above. I was able to successfully import a notebook to Onenote once, deleted the notebook from Onenote (don't ask why), and have been unable to re-import it. I've gone to every synced device and deleted every local copies of the notebook I can find, but still get unexpected error message. Has anybody found a workaround for this?

--Doug

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@Koshkaboo and @DougS44

I have tried everything. Multiple computers, legacy Evernote, Evernote sync turned off, and all these steps mentioned above. It will not work for me. I’m hoping Microsoft can find a way to get behind this again, and convince Evernote not to be so insecure. If EN had any value, Microsoft should just buy them, but I don’t see that happening either. EN isn’t terrible, and for me, it’s just a consistent EcoSystem reason for me. 

 

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11 hours ago, PinkElephant said:

Looks this is a problem of the importing program, not of the source application.

So better get MS moving on the issue.

Possibly. With something like this, it would take both companies to work together. I'm sure @Microsoft Windows would be willing to do their part. I'm not sure it's a good PR move for Evernote to trap you in their system. If you want to leave, allow customers to leave with their own data that most pay for. It would be similar to Microsoft not allow Word Docs to be opened by Google Docs or Apple Pages.

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  • Level 5

The ENEX export is a well known format, unchanged since years and used by many import routines. If MS wants to use it, I doubt they need any help from EN.

What no import routine can do: Add missing functions to the receiving app. What does not exist there will be lost in translation.

Hint: It is important to create one ENEX file per notebook, name it accordingly and import one by one. The note-notebook relation is not part of the ENEX file.

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Thanks for the explanation. I’m not sure I’d call it a well-know export when it’s only specific to Evernote. If it was that well-know, I would suspect they would have even less customers. Perhaps you should search on the Internet, outside the EN discussion group, and see how big of an issue this is. As mentioned earlier, it’s an interesting tactic to pretty much not allow people with thousands of notes or those that have more difficult data to copy out of the Evernote platform. I’m sure this specific export format is probably fine, all I was saying is it does not work with the OneNote import any longer, and if that is a way EN wants to keep customers, then I guess that’s their right because I can’t get out. However, first time I can and safely and accurately import to OneNote, I’ll probably be gone. If anyone else reviews this thread in the future and can’t figure it out, please update this post. Thank you very much.

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  • Level 5

Practically all note taking apps import ENEX (all of them probably eager to win over customers from EN).

Maybe import issues are only an indicator how serious MS it taking ON. It has a pretty mixed history of being pushed and abandoned and pushed …

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MS has a note on the download that they don't support the importer any longer.  I suspect that something "broke" the importer and no one is actually fixing it.  

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Like Jason above, I have tried everything I can think of to get the (unsupported) Microsoft OneNote importer to work and had no success. I finally have had some success using another tool mentioned in another thread - Stefans Tools Evernote2Onenote utility (Evernote2Onenote - Stefans Tools (stefankueng.com)). It does have some significant limitations, especially regarding notes with multiple tags - read the release notes carefully. I was able to get this to work by installing the OneNote desktop app (aka OneNote 2016, not the OneNote for Windows app) and the legacy Evernote app. When you run the Evernote2Onenote utility you may get a message "Could not find the ENScript.exe file" and will need to manually select this in the next dialog box. For me, this file was found in the C:Program Files (x86)/Evernote/Evernote Legacy directory. I was able to import my Evernote notebooks successfully using this utility, however I do have a lot of cleanup work to do to remove the duplicate notes due to the multiple tag limitation (I do not want to mess with my Evernote structure if I later decide OneNote isn't going to cut it for me).

Jason, this might be worth a shot for you, your mileage may vary.

--Doug

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Nothing is ever easy is it. I might have spoke a little too soon about how successful I was with using the Evernote2Onenote utility. If you want to get your newly imported notebooks up to OneDrive so you can access your notes from multiple devices, there's some hoops you need to jump through. I'm still working on this, but it's the whole transfer your notes from OneNote 2016 to OneNote for Windows issue (lot's of fun google reads on that). So not out of the woods yet.

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Thanks DougS44, the only thing that worked for me was installing the legacy Evernote, and exporting to ENEX files. I then used Stefans Tools to import those ENEX files. Once imported, I fixed some issues, moved them to the "right" notebook in OneNote. Many of my imported notes did not include my attachments. But this better than the alternative of re-creating each note manually. I will be keeping my Evernote as a back up to OneNote. All my new notes are going into OneNote. The result is not perfect, but I am working through it.
-Mike

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Mickle22 - yep, totally agree, lot's of cleanup required with this method, but I haven't found anything better either. I expect Microsoft quit supporting their migration tool because it required too much support for an app they give away for free. Oh, and once the notes are in OneNote 2016, you then have to share them to yourself to get them to show up on OneDrive so you can access them from other devices.

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  • 1 month later...

OneNote is ok but it’s search is too limited for me, that it doesn’t highlight or do inline search for me rules it out as a reasonable notes option. Not being able to easily find key words within notes is such a time waster for me. 

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Personally, I'm not sure this thread is to compare ON and EN. It's like Mac vs PC, Ford vs Chevy, Blondes vs Brunettes. 😉 

As a heavy O365 user, ON is easily superior for me, even though I've been a premium EN user since the beginning. It's just difficult to make the move from one to the other, if not possible. And that, is the reason for this thread. Continued conversation regarding moving to ON.

Happy 4th.

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  • 4 months later...

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