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Evernote hobbled to only open 20 notes at once

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For the last three or five years I have used the Legacy Evernote app, because the current one is broken and dysfunctional in so many ways. 

However, now the Legacy app doesn't work either after the Ventura upgrade. So I need to use the current version.

One of the big differences is that in the Legacy version I could open as many Evernote notes as I wanted (it might be hundreds). 

In the current Evernote app I am strictly limited to 20, which is at least 100 less than I need. 

How can I get the current version of Evernote to work (i.e. open many more than 20 notes at once)?


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Hi.  You may have to get used to the limitations of the new application - I don't have an effective work-around for 20+ notes open at the same time,  other than using the installed app as well as the the Web app will give you a limited increase...

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gazumped, maybe. But I can't think of any good business reason to artificially restrict people to only having 20 notes open at once, other than perhaps as a crutch to mask Evernote performance issues - in which case it should at least be a user-editable preference because different computers will have different computing power and different memory and therefore a different capacity to have more notes open. In any case, the restriction was not there in earlier versions of Evernote.

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7 hours ago, lmackinnon said:

the restriction was not there in earlier versions of Evernote.

There may not have been a decision as such - maybe someone had to pick a number and just chose that one... remember we weren't allowed to select more than 40 notes for a while,  then it went up to 100,  and should be higher.  Just to be clear - I wasn't defending the situation or saying it won't change,  but realistically - what you see is what you have to work with. 

Developers do read the Forums,  but you might want to contact Support or use the feedback option where it's available to you, so they're informed sooner rather than later that this is an issue.

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No one had to pick a number. The previous versions of Evernote up to an including the Legacy one all allowed unlimited notes to be open (i.e. no restriction). Someone at Evernote consciously decided to hobble it, and my request is to un-hobble it. 

I contacted support before I posted here. After I observed that the developers have rarely implemented anything I suggested, and they further noted that developers will not talk to customers, specifically the below, they recommended I post the issues here:

"Our developers’ team can’t reach out to customers directly, but I’ve forwarded your feedback to the appropriate team to see your concerns are addressed better from here
In the meantime, I would highly highly encourage you to register and discuss this matter on Evernote's Forums."

The emphasis in bold / italic was from Evernote.

This is the first issue I posted here subsequent to that advice.

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On 4/14/2023 at 6:51 PM, lmackinnon said:

How can I get the current version of Evernote to work (i.e. open many more than 20 notes at once)?

Here you can see that I've set mine to 22 (because I didn't want to test 100)...


You can change it to whatever number you want by changing a configuration setting in this file located here:

 ~/Library/Application Support/Evernote/config.json


Edited by Boot17
Added clarifying text
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20 minutes ago, lmackinnon said:

No one had to pick a number. The previous versions of Evernote up to an including the Legacy one all allowed unlimited notes to be open

You may have missed the memo that all previous versions of Evernote were written in different source codes applicable to the various operating systems to which they applied.  A few years ago Evernote decided to adopt a third-party package called "Electron" which provides a 'wrapper' for a single application to adapt it to operate in all current systems.  Instead of maintaining several different versions of the software,  they now maintain only one.  However Electron has its own limitations and until Evernote staff learn how to get around them - or get Electron to adapt their system to permit the requested extensions - they have to operate within some boundaries.  This may be one of them.

28 minutes ago, lmackinnon said:

they further noted that developers will not talk to customers

I did not intend to imply any criticism of your posting here.  Since you did not bother to mention in your original post that you had already contacted Support,  I did not realise that you had raised this issue.  

In general:  I'm still not clear whether you're a new v10 user and have previously been able to open more than 20 notes at once in v10,  or whether you recently converted from Legacy where this is possible.

> If you have previously been able to open more than 20 notes in v10,  I'd recommend that you go back to support and point out this is a recent bug that needs to be fixed.

> If you're a former Legacy user,  you should be aware that it's possible to install a working version of Legacy alongside v10,  though that older version is no longer supported and may have or develop its own interesting quirks over time.

> In either case you may wish to start a Feature Request thread in the Forum where other users can vote for an increase in this limit - with enough votes,  an higher limit may be prioritised over other planned feature requests.


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So I utilize "Open in New Window" all day, every day and I'm a big fan which is why I posted a request/idea for some ways that I think would improve it for at least me:

I also used a BTT shortcut to open a note in a new window from the editor: 


But I've never encountered that 20 limit before... I didn't even know there was a limit!

On one end of the spectrum we have people that don't even know that you can open a note in a new window or, if they do, get lost with too many windows after a couple (and they don't know about Cmd-Tilde or Ctrl-DownArrow on MacOS or how to use them).

And then on the other end of the spectrum... users that like to open 100+ (!?) notes in their own new window. 😃 

If I were a betting person, I'd say that less than 0.001% of Evernote users ever open more than 10 Evernote notes in new windows at once, so I'd guess that that end of the spectrum seems like an extreme outlier case.

11 hours ago, lmackinnon said:

But I can't think of any good business reason to artificially restrict people to only having 20 notes open at once, other than perhaps as a crutch to mask Evernote performance issues

I suspect that's exactly the reason (or at least the high majority of the reason) for having the limit. The same as the limit as selecting 50 (and now 100) notes max at the same time.

Version 10 Evernote new note windows are definitely more memory (and CPU?) intensive than Legacy new note windows.

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To edit the config.json was my approach as well, and it works - sort of.

@Boot17 Hey, 22 notes instead of 20, not much more than a proof of concept. So 100 would be nice, I thought. Set, bang, open. OK, my Mac got sluggish for quite a while. It was not CPU, it was RAM that was in short supply. The windows occupy between 120MB and 300 MB each. This means my 16GB of RAM were consumed, and I think it started swapping to SSD. Which still is very fast, but noticeable.

So I think the answer has some aspects:

a) It is quite simply possible to lift the 20 windows limit

b) It works, but makes window management a time consuming task

c) there is a penalty to be paid, and once you have dedicated all available RAM, the penalty in slowing down the whole system is significant

Personally I never have an urge to open more than a handful of notes as any time. So as a proof of concept, yes, the limit of 20 is artificial, and yes, it is there to protect users to overwhelm their system while opening windows without closing others. 20 means that roughly 3-6GB of RAM will be used if utilized - most systems will still handle this without a larger issue.

It was for 30 months a non-issue in the forum. So I think the limit of 20 is for practically all users without relevance. And the few who want to exceed it better go upgrading their RAM before they start to edit their config.json file.

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@gazumped, I contacted support around the 20 note limit around March 12 (when I took the screenshot above). I separately contacted support around a week ago pointing out that the Evernote developers address a surprisingly low portion of improvement / bug requests that I have submitted over the years (I have been with Evernote since the early 2000s), and could they please do something about that.

I stuck with Evernote Legacy as long as I could - and I would still be with it except that the latest major OS X upgrade (I think it was Ventura) broke the legacy version - every time I made a window smaller for some reason I couldn't make it bigger again. That became unusable, so now I am trying to make the current version work for me. 

Apart from the 20 notes open limit which is my major practical frustration, another major frustration is the lack of a context menu for links. In Legacy I could right-click / control-click on a link and get options like "open note in new window" and "open note in new tab." I used that extensively in Legacy because I have highly interlinked notes, but it's not there in the current version. Yes I found key combination hacks that kind of work around this, but still there should be a working fully functioning context menu. The context menu was the major reason I stuck with Legacy for so many years rather than use the new version. 

These are both core features from my point of view for Evernote usability and, one would think, relatively simple fixes. 

@Boot17 and PinkElephant, I understand that having lots of notes open has a potential performance impact. My old Mac Pro desktop I used for over a decade had 32GB of RAM, my new Mac Studio has 64GB of RAM. Part of my reason for this choice was exactly so that I could have lots of notes open in Evernote and lots of tabs open in my browser. 

A key point to me is that hobbling Evernote to address performance issues should be relative to the computing power of the machine. If I have 8 or 4 more times RAM than someone else and faster processors, maybe it comfortably handles 8 or 4 times as many open notes (from experience I don't think it's linear, I think it ramps up earlier and flattens out later). Also, part of Evernote's - and Apple's - job is to improve this efficiency and performance so that it's not an issue and people can have more notes open more easily. Plus Moore's law should in principle make this problem go away year by year.

There's a simple solution for the developers if it is a performance issue - make the number of notes I can open a user preference setting. Maybe make the default 20 if that's what they want to do, but let the user edit it to anything up to 250, or whatever they think is a reasonable maximum for a top performing computer with maximum RAM based on todays computing power. 

Am I using Evernote differently than others? For sure. I'd probably, if asked, call myself a power user. I implemented a kind of zettelkasten within Evernote (google for it if you don't know but are curious what a zettelkasten is). I have a Ph.D., I work in the knowledge economy and do extensive research, I read around 80 or 90 non-fiction books a year (again, that's an outlier - Gallup tells us that the percentage of college graduates - bigger readers - who read more than 10 books a year is just 35 and last I checked over 50 would be in the top 10% and 80 or 90 is well under the top 1%). I have over 6,000 notes in Evernote which, to be honest I have no idea whether that's big or small, but the difference in my notes is that a lot of it is analysis rather than just clipping an article (I currently tend to put articles into raindrop.io instead unless they are directly related to my research). I use particular features like tags, links and shortcuts a LOT.

If I am a power user, and I probably am, I would think I'd be exactly the kind of person that Evernote developers would want to pay the most attention to, to work out what matters at the cutting edge of using their product productively. 

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@Boot17, thanks for the config file idea. I'll hold back on implementing it unless advised by Evernote staff to do so because I wouldn't want to inadvertently muck up something in a tool I use extensively. It's great though for making the point that this is likely an easy fix for the developers. Thank you for the share!

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You can modify the json file, no problem. Just write a copy with an .OLD extension to it, that will be ignored by the app. If you make an editing mistake, erase the new .json, rename the .OLD copy back, and you are back in business.

I used to tweak it to go beyond the old maximum selection of notes for notes actions (like tagging or merging). Just be warned it can be overwritten any time by an update of the app. Then the tweaking will stop, and you have to modify it again.

But that's the only problem I found in 2 years of adapting the system there. Who can handle a basic text editor can handle this „preference“ setting.

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Thanks PinkElephant. :)

For the purposes of this thread, clearly it's a workaround for addressing the issue. I will likely try it out shortly.

I'd like to hear a perspective from Evernote staff, but if I don't hear back from them or other solutions I'll mark @Boot17's and your suggestion as a solution. Much appreciated. 

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1. My limit was set to 20 rather than 22 (see image)

2. Changing the config file to set the limit to 100 seems to remove the problem for now. I'll monitor performance and see if I think there's a level of notes being open that it's worth limiting it to (although just restarting Evernote tends to refresh the RAM usage and remove the problem). 

Thanks everyone for your help. 

I still think it's worth Evernote formally making this a user preference setting rather than having everyone alter their config files, so I'll leave it open for a day or two to see if any Evernote staff chip in around the merits of or issues with that, then I'll mark the workaround as the solution. :)


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@Boot17, re the keyboard combo for opening a new note, I use CTRL-CMD (control command) which works for me. Option-Click opens a link in the main note window.

I'd prefer to open it using the context menu (right-click or command-click on the link and then choose an option "open note in new window") but that's not available in the current Evernote (but it is in Legacy). So that might be one to add to your list! :)

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2 hours ago, lmackinnon said:

1. My limit was set to 20 rather than 22 (see image)

Yes - mine was set to 20 as well -- that is most likely what everybody's is set to. I was just showing that you could manually set it to be different and where it was at.

2 hours ago, lmackinnon said:

@Boot17, re the keyboard combo for opening a new note, I use CTRL-CMD (control command) which works for me. Option-Click opens a link in the main note window.

? Ctrl-Cmd doesn't do anything by itself. Do you mean Ctrl-Click to get the popup context menu and then Cmd-Click on a link to another note? I do both those too, but you have to use the mouse for that. You can also double-click the note in the note list and you can often right-click (same as Ctrl-Click) in different areas (shortcut, recent notes, note list, etc) and select 'Open in New Window'.

However, if you are typing in a note in the main window and you think "hey - I want to open this in its own Window now." -- how do you do that without using the mouse... with just a keyboard shortcut? There is only one way that I know how using built-in Evernote shortcuts: Press Cmd-| (pipe) to set focus back to the note list (if it's there -- sometimes it doesn't show) and then press Cmd-Enter. The Better Touch Tool key-combo works every time in this situation and it's just one shortcut vs two.

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@Boot17, I posted a screenshot and instructions in your thread. 


1. Hover over the note link with the cursor

2. Press the Command key

3. With the Command key still held down, LEFT-click the note link.

The note opens in a new window.

On Mac OS X Ventura, Evernote 10.55 desktop.

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Boot17, re "However, if you are typing in a note in the main window and you think "hey - I want to open this in its own Window now." -- how do you do that without using the mouse... with just a keyboard shortcut?" - to be honest I don't feel that one's a problem for me. If it's in the main window, and I'm editing it, it is by default the topmost note in the list if I have the notes ordered by most recently edited, so I just double click on it in the notes list. I know this is using the mouse, but that's not a problem for me. I get your point that it would be a convenience to have a keyboard combo for it, like Command-O ("O" for "open"). 

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@gazumped, thanks. For me it's a bit of a function of time. If I have say 40 or 80 notes open, the Mac OS X is happy with it. However over time (weeks or a month or two) the app "builds up" and uses more memory. So does my browser for browser tabs. Ultimately the only way to get this memory back is to restart the apps or restart the computer. 

So I think it' largely goes back to some kind of memory management issue in Apple OS X, with apps constantly leaking memory - even if the information the memory is holding is static and unchanging. But I'm not an Apple systems engineer and don't have their data or insights.

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Thanks everyone. I didn't hear anyone from Evernote staff chip in so I went ahead and marked @Boot17's approach of modifying the config file as the solution.

If Evernote staff read this later, it would be great of you could:

1. Explain this open-notes limitation and its solution to your support staff, so that they could have given me and other people like me effective support when the issue is raised (I raised it twice and neither support person had a workable answer) 

2. Modify your preferences panel so that the number of notes Evernote allows open is a preference setting within the application, rather than needing people to know to and implement finding and changing the config file.

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