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Evernote Notes to PDF a Key to PKM Workflow


Kim Korn

Idea

At this time, Evernote is a critical piece of my overall PKM System and Workflow. Essential to this workflow is the capability of producing a fully functioning PDF from an Evernote Note.

This is something Evernote Legacy does just fine with the File/Print to PDF... command.

On the other hand, With the new Evernote, the only option to produce a PDF of a note is to select the Print option for a note, then select a PDF printer. With three different PDF printers I selected, the resulting PDFs are not true PDFs. They are an image of the Evernote note. They are not highlightable, comment-able, or searchable.

If the capability to produce a fully functional PDF ends with Legacy, my workflow will break when Legacy is terminated. And thus I will need to find some sort of alternative to Evernote for the front-end data capture in my PKM System. 

I love the new Evernote for its handling of what is within Evernote. Evernote has been key to my workflow because it is by far the best webpage capture tool on the market (as best I can tell). It is also a phenomenal note-taking tool for Zoom meetings as I can readily capture screenshots while typing in notes. In both of these cases, it's a great tool for the front-end of my PKM system -- the operating core of which is in Obsidian. The only thing I go back to Legacy Evernote for is to produce PDFs of the notes.

Please reassure us that we will be able to create fully functional PDFs from the new version of Evernote going forward. Until I hear this to be true, I must prepare my alternative tool sets and methods for the possibility of the gap that Evernote would leave me to deal with if the PDF functionality I require is not incorporated in the new version.

Thanks!

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I'm not sure why there is the change in the Window's version of the app, but to add to this conversation, I"m not able to replicate this behavior change in the Mac version of the app (when I go to print a note and "Save as PDF", it creates a full PDF in both Legacy and v10). So, I"m hopeful this means it will be supported functionality in Windows as well. I can see how you need this to work and it is odd that it doesn't. Hoping other Windows fluent users can give you some options and/or the team here can confirm it will work in v10 at some point. Seems odd to me that it doesn't. 

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Hi.  I'm confused.  You're saying that these outputs are an

22 minutes ago, Kim Korn said:

image of the Evernote note. They are not highlightable, comment-able, or searchable.

- that might be a function of the PDF printer,  rather than Evernote.  If your note is already text,  it actually requires more work to convert it to an image - a 'non-searchable' note - than it does simply to generate a text copy.  The image is less efficient too - the file sizes will be larger.  Which PDF services did you use to output these notes?

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I used the Nuance PDF printer from the new version of Evernote. I do not know that the resulting PDF is in fact an image, but it is not highlightable nor annotatable. I tried Wondershare PDFElement with the same result. I also briefly tried the paid version of Acrobat and it did not work.

I saved the same note using Legacy and it came out just fine -- IF you use the File/Print to PDF command. It does not work IF you use the File/Print/(then select a PDF printer). 

Using the Nuance PDF printer from Word produces a fully functional PDF document. 

So, I do not think the issue is in Nuance PDF or any other printer. I think Evernote, Legacy or Evernote New sends bad input to any PDF printer through the regular print command, at least for the Windows version of Evernote.

 

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In Windows, the Print function seems to be a simple dump of the data to the printer queue. The result is a document with cutting off at margins - especially at the top/bottom of pages. Most pages end up with a half line of text at the bottom of the page and the bottom half line of the text at the top of the next page. It isn't consistent and depends somewhat upon the note content.  I've attached an example couple of pages from a note.  My view is that printing of notes in Windows is entirely unstatisfactory.  It is one of the functions that I have to revert to legacy for.

Notes - Evernote.pdf

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@agsteele I downloaded your file and I notice you also cannot highlight text nor annotate either. Same result as me. Thanks for confirming.

Attached is a EN Note I printed via the Nuance PDF printer. Deceptively good looking, with the exception of the sliced line of text on the first page. AND also, the text is not selectable, highlightable, nor annotatable. 

Pfizer on Developing a Vaccine in Record Time - HBR Nuance.pdf

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@agsteele Just opened the document you posted in PDF Expert.

It is build from many frames, showing blue in the first picture. When I double click on a frame to get at the text, it converts itself into a gibberish of characters (second frame).

Conclusion: The print function is complex and probably needs a complete rebuild to work properly with a page layout.

13193271-6D15-46FF-992A-C7B94D414036.thumb.png.fa62e580bea2b70c99fc35efd342b55b.png
 

6C3E4CEB-1DA5-42A0-A088-49CB32FD141D.thumb.png.df8af14c08619e27c9d8f64da153d010.png

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@Kim Korn When I opened the nuance pdf, it did not allow to select anything. Probably it is just one big picture. It is not correct at the page breaks either, and it has a scroll bar at the side, which makes no sense with a printed document.

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The problem with PDFs is that the 'printer' creates the text inside in multiple editable blocks depending upon how it was laid out in the original document. I could take a block of absolutely plain text and still end up with a line at the bottom of the page which is divided into top of the line on one page and the bottom of the line of text at the top of the next page.  If I print to a piece of paper (when did I last do that???) I get the same result. The EN v10 print process is completely dysfunctional for me on Windows 10 20H2 - I suspect that is true for all but YMMV.

@Kim Korn I'm not sure that the inability to select text in a PDF is as consistent as you were hoping.  I use Adobe Acrobat Pro and am able to open PDFs from inside Evernote 10 and fully select text, copy and paste from the PDF to elsewhere etc.

I opened the PDF you provided and I can see that you have the same issue at the bottom/top of pages. I could not, initially select any text BUT that was easily fixed by telling Acrobat to perform a text recognition. So my guess is that somehow EN v10 is dumping the text to the PDF printer without doing a text recognition when we print to it. It seems similar for me with Acrobat. But given that I don't use Nuance I can't do more than guess :( Is there a setting in Nuance to force text recognition when you print to it? I believe that EN legacy uses the FoxIt PDF viewer so if you use the save to PDF option it is using FoxIt to create the PDF and that does the text recognition when the PDF is created.

Legacy is an entirely superior place to create PDFs/print documents.

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Interesting update... I got v10.12.6 and was just trying to prinbt a further test and Evernote says that printing isn't working quite right yet, was I sure I wanted to proceed... So perhaps something is in hand. ;)

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1 hour ago, agsteele said:

Interesting update... I got v10.12.6 and was just trying to print a further test and Evernote says that printing isn't working quite right yet, was I sure I wanted to proceed... So perhaps something is in hand. ;)

I sure hope so!

Thanks so much for your insights regarding PDF. The more I learn, the more I realize there is ever-more I do not yet understand. : )

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@agsteele With Nuance PDF software I was able to convert the "image-like" PDF of mine and convert it to text. Actually, it converted it to Word, then I saved the Word docx as a PDF -- and the resulting PDF is fully functional. Thanks for pointing me in this direction. All this will work in a pinch, but hardly makes for an efficient workflow.

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45 minutes ago, Kim Korn said:

@agsteele With Nuance PDF software I was able to convert the "image-like" PDF of mine and convert it to text. Actually, it converted it to Word, then I saved the Word docx as a PDF -- and the resulting PDF is fully functional. Thanks for pointing me in this direction. All this will work in a pinch, but hardly makes for an efficient workflow.

Definitely not efficient. In Acrobat Pro (I have an elderly version XI) I can go direct to Text Recognition (View|Tools|Text Recognition or via the Tools button with a mouse) and set off the process. Once each page of the document is scanned it becomes machine readable. That's definitely less hassle than the process you seem to have to follow.  Perhaps an alternative PDF program might be better for you. Acrobat is too costly for me these days but I'd certainly try FoxIt Phantom as an alternative.

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To OCR quickly and cheap from my experience the best way is to rescan the document using an app on the smartphone.

One setup on my iPhone is an app called QuickScan, which is free and has a build in OCR capability. Personally I prefer ScannerPro,  but it is not free.

On the desktop when I scan with my ix500, the result is OCRed as well with the integrated Abby Fine Reader.

The Abby SW that came with the scanner only converts files made by the scanner. It is possible to manipulate the metadata in a way to make it work on other files as well (which is not covered by the license).

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3 hours ago, PinkElephant said:

To OCR quickly and cheap from my experience the best way is to rescan the document using an app on the smartphone.

I think the issue is that a note printed from Evernote 10 to PDF is not being saved with its text recognisable to the PDF viewer.  It isn't a question of being able to OCR an external document but why printing from EN 10 doesn't have its text automatically recognised in the PDF program (as was the case with the legacy).

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Probably because printing does the job somehow - to me it does not look like really elaborate, more as some premade routines clinched together to produce output - even if the intermediate document is pretty broken.

The scanning comment came more from a view that often the print dialogue can be used to create a machine legible pdf - which seems to be not the case with EN.

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I very much support Kim Korn's original post that .pdf creation by Evernote 10 on Windows is completely unsavory. I have the same results as Kim and others by using the printer "Microsoft Print to PDF." Kim was quite clear and forthcoming with the problem description and the resulting impact. 

Simply put, Evernote 10 for Windows removed the "Print to .pdf" option as well as the highly valued "Print Preview" option that also generated a .pdf. Both functions need to be restored.

It is wrong to receive the answer "It works on the Mac," and direct users to "find other options" for Kim. (Stacey)

It is wrong to turn this issue into "It may be the Nuance" print function. (others)

It is wrong to suggest that the solution is to find/use an app that will OCR scan the Evernote-generated ".pdf." (others)

Please take this problem seriously and fix it, not deflect it to be one that Evernote user's should handle by switching to the Mac, by using other print functions, and/or by adding steps to the work process that worked well using Evernote 6 for Windows.

Sorry if my tone seems harsh. I am following this topic because I have similar concerns as Kim. It is quite distressing that the topic has quickly drifted away from fixing a problem for users and instead blaming the user and other tools for not being able to overcome this difficulty that Evernote 10 has caused.

 

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2 hours ago, DougInNC said:

It is wrong

Hi.  You may not be aware that this forum is -mostly- supported by other users,  not Evernote staff;  and if their comment is that "it works",  then that's their real-world experience - not a dismissal.  We're not Support and if you have a specific issue then it's best reported to them when you may be able to help resolve the problem.

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@DougInNC Thank you so much for your clarifying post! I was getting a bit weirded out by the appearance of the lack of acknowledgement, concern, and/or focus on what I consider to be a serious issue with at least Evernote V10 for Windows. Evernote works so well for so many things, but V10s lack of effective PDF processing is more than a mere annoyance. 

With that said, @agsteele did teach me some things about PDFs (or is it PDF'ing?) that will serve me well.

Thanks for the comments, ideas, and support.

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21 hours ago, gazumped said:

Hi.  You may not be aware that this forum is -mostly- supported by other users,  not Evernote staff;  and if their comment is that "it works",  then that's their real-world experience - not a dismissal.  We're not Support and if you have a specific issue then it's best reported to them when you may be able to help resolve the problem.

I appreciate you saying this @gazumped. Nicely stated and it has helped me to calm down after reading @DougInNCcomments.

@DougInNCI find tone not only "harsh" (as you say), but also offensive. It shows a lack of awareness (and simple kindness) to the effort that users are offering here in the community, and I doubt also that it is at all motivating to staff members who have to power to evolve the platform. @Kim Korn request was perfectly stated, and his responses cordial and helpful. Also, I believe both of your concerns are valid. And, I agree it should be fixed.

The additional details provided in my response weren't dismissive – they were details that, in my experience, will help the Evernote team understand the extent of the problem. This seems like a productive path to resolution. In contrast, your comment has succeed in making others angry, and not aligned with you. Your personal value judgement of "wrongness" directed to specific users is completely unhelpful. We can certainly disagree, but your opinion isn't fact. And, in my opinion, your tone discourages helpful participation by other members – which ultimately, is not positive for the overall community, or the evolution of the software.

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On 4/29/2021 at 9:35 AM, Stacey said:

I'm not sure why there is the change in the Window's version of the app, but to add to this conversation, I"m not able to replicate this behavior change in the Mac version of the app (when I go to print a note and "Save as PDF", it creates a full PDF in both Legacy and v10). So, I"m hopeful this means it will be supported functionality in Windows as well. I can see how you need this to work and it is odd that it doesn't. Hoping other Windows fluent users can give you some options and/or the team here can confirm it will work in v10 at some point. Seems odd to me that it doesn't. 

Are your links clickable @Stacey? Was just in another thread where the flow of Print>Save to PDF on Mac isn't preserving the links in the conversion to PDF in v10. Legacy is working like it should. I'm running Big Sur and the other user who brought up the issue is on Catalina so it doesn't seem like an OS problem.

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37 minutes ago, Stacey said:

@Sayre AmbrosioI can check, but can you clarify what kind of links? Internal links? Links to web URL's (I'm guessing this?). 

It's any link in the PDF, Internet, web links. I tested it with a note that has EN web and internal app links, web links in the body of the note for reference, links to Notion, Goodreads, et cetera. In v10 the actual ability click and navigate those is stripped. Legacy is good though.

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17 hours ago, Sayre Ambrosio said:

It's any link in the PDF, Internet, web links. I tested it with a note that has EN web and internal app links, web links in the body of the note for reference, links to Notion, Goodreads, et cetera. In v10 the actual ability click and navigate those is stripped. Legacy is good though.

@Sayre AmbrosioI tested the "Save to PDF" option from the print note dialogue box on both Legacy and v10 (Mac). The note has a web link and an EN internal note link in it. The web link works in both, and the internal EN note link works in neither. So, it's the same for me for these note link types.

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The arrival of v10.13 has provided a workaround for the PDF creation issue. It is now possible to export a note as an HTML document. Open that in your favourite web browser and print to PDF. Long winded and definitely not a good user experience but is is a way around.

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