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CharlesHo

mac Is it time to jump ship and board S.S. Onenote ?

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My introduction to Evernote is like so many others...I got a Macbook Pro and realized Onenote is not native to OSX so I searched for the best Mac equivalent, Evernote. I've used Evernote for quite some time now and have yet to look back and hardly remember what it was like to use Onenote and even forgot about its existence all together as Evernote has made me a very satisfied customer.

 

However, recently Microsoft released a fully native Onenote client in the App Store. I downloaded it to check it out to see how it changed and I was immediately reminded of the massive differences between Evernote and Onenote. Onenote has a well built canvas style layout where one may write anywhere they want in their notes, as opposed to writing exactly how one would in just a text document, strictly vertical as we see in Evernote. Onenote also has a highly customizable organization system with notebooks that have tabs for subjects and tabs that have pages for chapters and pages that have subpages for sections (I write this in the context of taking notes in classes but the benefit is the same in all applications). That may sound confusing but you can use it all or to whatever level of complexity and thoroughness you want. 

 

Now that I'm done lauding over how great Onenote is I want it to be understood that I say this because I WANT EVERNOTE TO BE EVEN BETTER! So I pose the question to the Evernote staff that in light of this new development with Onenote being more aggressive in encroaching upon your customer base and thus undoubtedly creating pressure for you to step up your game to make huge improvements before you start to lose too many of your customers to the Onenote brand, what is your plan in addressing these striking inferiorities that the Evernote team could indeed correct but has yet to do so? Specifically I ask this in terms of what are two of the most apparent differences, and in many people's opinions inferiorities on Evernote's part, those being a canvas layout for the notetaking experience and a more elaborate organization system of the likes that we see in Onenote.

 

Will these issues never be addressed? Is it time for me to board the S.S. Onenote (PLEASE SAY NO..)?

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At least one thing you've mentioned, the organization system with tabs, I don't view as a win for OneNote. I find Evernote's tagging based organizational structure far superior. As I understand it, that is a deliberate choice on Evernote's part, not an issue to be fixed. But, different people like different things. I've tried OneNote and was baffled and disappointed. I can't see any reason I'd need it. On the other hand, a number of people here use both systems. I don't see this a a zero sum situation. There seems to be room for both, especially as they seem to each have a different focus. But, for myself, I very much hope that Evernote does not try to become more like OneNote. 

 

Best of luck. 

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I have a similar regard for Evernote. It is a very useful product in the hands of a not so great company. They are great marketers, not necessarily great developers. Good luck getting through to them - they are stubborn as mules when it comes to delivering outdated and clumsy UIs. Apparently they have an entrenched group of people that just cannot comprehend what a good user experience can be, it's been that way for years and unlikely to change soon. You are correct - it is OK but could be SOOOO much better. At this point they are practically begging OneNote to add just a few more key features, and the mass exit begins. You can't beat the price of OneNote either!  Competition - it's a wonderful thing. Even though I hate MS, I have zero loyalty to Evernote because they have done nothing to earn it, and I would abandon ship in a second if the OneNote UI matures just a little more - i.e. thumbnail view and searching note images by default (right now you must "authorize" every pic to be searched which is very dumb).

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At least one thing you've mentioned, the organization system with tabs, I don't view as a win for OneNote. I find Evernote's tagging based organizational structure far superior. As I understand it, that is a deliberate choice on Evernote's part, not an issue to be fixed. But, different people like different things. I've tried OneNote and was baffled and disappointed. I can't see any reason I'd need it. On the other hand, a number of people here use both systems. I don't see this a a zero sum situation. But, for myself, I very much hope that Evernote does not try to become more like OneNote. 

 

Best of luck. 

I agree. After learning to move beyond folders, I don't want to go back. Tagging is superior, IMO.

 

Enhanced note editing would be nice, but not a deal breaker for me. Lots of other things to work on to improve EN that I'd rather see done first.

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Not Evernote staff, but I was very much looking forward to the OneNote release for Mac as I'd planned to use it for project mapping and Evernote for support material. Once ON for Mac was released I downloaded and ran it through the ringer, and here's what I ran into.

  1. It syncs no settings. Your note contents stay the same but the Tags, settings, etc. are not synced. 
  2. No local note storage. It's OneDrive or bust.
  3. The web clipper is atrociously bad. It takes a screenshot of the page and that's it. No different options for how to save the content, no options to choose where to store it, no editing content before it's clipped... And on Retina, the screenshot is something out of a B horror film. Barely legible text.
  4. The mobile app is very, very slow, and much more limited in features. You can't even tag on mobile. 
  5. You have to use the Insert > Image method to add images to the canvas. You can't drag and drop.

And even more, but I won't go on. Those are the biggies, really. Now, I mention this for two reasons: 1 ) I think this shows OneNote isn't even close to competing against Evernote, and 2 ) I think it shows that OneNote, at least at this point, isn't trying to be. I think the apps are tackling the "Save everything" mantra in two very different ways. Evernote's more about saving it quickly, easily, from anywhere, and in such a way that it's easy to find it again. I find that OneNote feels like it's encouraging its users to interact with the content more. I'm thinking desk drawer (OneNote) versus filing cabinet (Evernote). You can fit a whole lot more inside a filing cabinet than a desk drawer, but it's more convenient to have frequently interacted with content in the desk drawer.

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  1.  
  2. No local note storage. It's OneDrive or bust.

Are you sure about that? I thought I read somewhere that you could have local-only notes in OneNote.

 

That would be a deal killer for me. Between hackers and governments (e.g., NSA), there's no way I'd be comfortable with putting everything up online. I've got titles and personal ID info in local storage. Putting that online is begging for trouble.

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I have never understood why people think EN & ON are competition.  Sure, there is some overlap.  But IMO, ON is good for some things & EN is good for others.  I use both.  I use ON occasionally.  I use Evernote pretty much every hour I'm on a computer or device.  IMO, Onenote is just to big/bulky/bloated to store birthdays, addresses, bills, what ink cartridges my printers use, cheat sheets for code snippets, settings & procedures for tasks I do for work (IE something I normally only do once a year...I keep detailed notes of the procedures as a cheat sheet for the next year), etc.  So no, I don't see myself abandoning Evernote any time soon.

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I have never understood why people think EN & ON are competition.  Sure, there is some overlap.  But IMO, ON is good for some things & EN is good for others.  I use both.  I use ON occasionally.  I use Evernote pretty much every hour I'm on a computer or device.  IMO, Onenote is just to big/bulky/bloated to store birthdays, addresses, bills, what ink cartridges my printers use, cheat sheets for code snippets, settings & procedures for tasks I do for work (IE something I normally only do once a year...I keep detailed notes of the procedures as a cheat sheet for the next year), etc.  So no, I don't see myself abandoning Evernote any time soon.

I get why people view EN and ON (and Keep) as competition. They all offer, in varying degrees, a solution to the problem of information overload - i.e., the external brain concept - remembering things for you that your human brain cannot possibly hope to remember. But remembering is not just about storage - retrieval is integral to this, so it makes sense for people to want to have one place to go to for retrieval.

 

5 years from now, I don't want to have to remember which app I stored a note in - that's a big part of why I went to EN in the first place - got sick of remembering if I had that bit of info stored in RTM or in a text file or a Word file (and which folder did I save the file in?) or on paper, etc.

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I get why people view EN and ON (and Keep) as competition. They all offer, in varying degrees, a solution to the problem of information overload - i.e., the external brain concept - remembering things for you that your human brain cannot possibly hope to remember. But remembering is not just about storage - retrieval is integral to this, so it makes sense for people to want to have one place to go to for retrieval.

5 years from now, I don't want to have to remember which app I stored a note in - that's a big part of why I went to EN in the first place - got sick of remembering if I had that bit of info stored in RTM or in a text file or a Word file (and which folder did I save the file in?) or on paper, etc.

Exactly right! I like EN and do agree OneNote is not necessarily in competition. The whole reason I signed up in the first place was that I *needed* a place able to store all types of digital in a fashion that was retrievable.

Yes, I would love to be able to store anything, retrieve and fully *interact* with any file from within in ONE program. But as far as I know, that technology doesn't even exist (yet). So for now, I'm happy to have an easy way to store all types of digital data in one program, even if it means I have to work through other software to properly view, edit and print it. Discs are great, but easy to lose or break and USB sticks/SSD memory cards are even easier to lose. Plus they all seem to become obsolete within a few years.

Edit: I am *not* say don't use back-up copies. I'm referring to Evernote on the whole, as exactly what it's advertised to be - a cloud based, electronic storage bin for ALL types of digital media.

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Onenote has a well built canvas style layout where one may write anywhere they want in their notes, as opposed to writing exactly how one would in just a text document, strictly vertical as we see in Evernote. 

 

For me, this is one of the great strengths in EN. Plain text and attachments. Onenote's "canvas" style feels clumsy and cluttered, and it takes away focus from the content. If EN ever changes that to be "more like" Onenote, I would have to find an alternative.

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I have never understood why people think EN & ON are competition.  Sure, there is some overlap.  But IMO, ON is good for some things & EN is good for others.  I use both.  I use ON occasionally.  I use Evernote pretty much every hour I'm on a computer or device.  IMO, Onenote is just to big/bulky/bloated to store birthdays, addresses, bills, what ink cartridges my printers use, cheat sheets for code snippets, settings & procedures for tasks I do for work (IE something I normally only do once a year...I keep detailed notes of the procedures as a cheat sheet for the next year), etc.  So no, I don't see myself abandoning Evernote any time soon.

I get why people view EN and ON (and Keep) as competition. They all offer, in varying degrees, a solution to the problem of information overload - i.e., the external brain concept - remembering things for you that your human brain cannot possibly hope to remember. But remembering is not just about storage - retrieval is integral to this, so it makes sense for people to want to have one place to go to for retrieval.

 

5 years from now, I don't want to have to remember which app I stored a note in - that's a big part of why I went to EN in the first place - got sick of remembering if I had that bit of info stored in RTM or in a text file or a Word file (and which folder did I save the file in?) or on paper, etc.

 

 

 

But...I don't have to remember where I stored something.  Well, ok, I put my passwords in my password manager.  If I have a detailed write up in Onenote, I will often make a note in Evernote to look in Onenote.  But I have many notes in Evernote that let me know what I did with something.  This is not even restricted to software.  I have a tag "where I put something" so I can remind myself where I physically put something, if I think I may not remember it.  And when I get rid of things, I often take a picture on my phone & send to Evernote.  That way, if I am looking for something a year from now, I can remind myself if I may have donated/trashed it.  After all, that's what I use Evernote for!

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  1.  
  2. No local note storage. It's OneDrive or bust.

Are you sure about that? I thought I read somewhere that you could have local-only notes in OneNote.

 

That would be a deal killer for me. Between hackers and governments (e.g., NSA), there's no way I'd be comfortable with putting everything up online. I've got titles and personal ID info in local storage. Putting that online is begging for trouble.

 

Yes I am. Office 365 OneNote lets you save local files, but the free, cross-platform version does not. Mac users have no option to save locally at this point, nor anyone using the free OneNote. You can download and see for yourself, unfortunately. Major bummer. Though, Microsoft has said they're working on an Office 365 version of OneNote with more advanced features, so I'm holding out for that. I'd easily pay $10/mo for software that lets me sketch stuff out next to text notes like OneNote. Of course, Evernote could just incorporate Ink into the Mac version... ahem... 

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The tag system in Evernote is a great idea, but it is missing an intuitive hierarchical interface as well as a very quick way to actually look at the contents of the notes. As it stands now the tag system is organized like folders on a desktop, you have to double click each one to see whats inside then double click again to get to the individual notes you want, at which point the interface is entirely recreated just to show you what you clicked as if they assume you're not trying to quickly peruse your contents but somehow know exactly where you want to go with no room for error. This seems highly flawed to me, tags are an amazing idea but their presentation is enough to drive me mad and ruins their entire experience. Like someone said in this thread, thumbnails may be a great solution to this but I don't know if I want to see a miniature window of my notes as opposed to something larger that I can quickly read without needing to go away from the tags section of Evernote. Once again I find myself complaining about Evernote's concept of an interface. There is so many amazing ideas in the software that are just either poorly executed or not fully realized. Someone needs to step back and objectively look to see what they have right now and what are all the little things that can be done to, unquestionably, make Evernote the far superior product. It is so close! But right now its kind of an open question.

 

Really hate dogging on Evernote so much as I truly do love the company. The actual Evernote program aside, the clipping utility that comes with Evernote as well as the browser extensions for clipping are absolutely unequaled right now and their is very very little room for improvement on those features and I suspect it will still be the case that Evernote is the best in this regard for a long time. 

 

P.S. My suggestion for fixing the tag system to address my concerns would be to allow INDIVIDUAL NOTE BUTTONS to be shown in the tag menu interface. Right now it stops at the respective group. You click the group, much like a folder, to see the individual notes inside of it. I suggest going one step farther by not stopping at the group but allowing us to click that same little down arrow on the right side of the tag in the tag menu to see the individual notes inside of it. And in taking a very clever idea from OSX where you can hit the space bar on literally any file, folder, image, etc. and get a blown up quick view of its contents faster than it would be to even open the file, this exact same thing should also be done in Evernote! Once the individual note is selected in your note hierarchy that you created in the tags menu, just hit the space bar! Doing so would get a large scale (larger than a thumbnail concept) of the notes faster than it would be to even open the note in the first place. 

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The tag system in Evernote is a great idea, but it is missing an intuitive hierarchical interface as well as a very quick way to actually look at the contents of the notes. As it stands now the tag system is organized like folders on a desktop, you have to double click each one to see whats inside then double click again to get to the individual notes you want, at which point the interface is entirely recreated just to show you what you clicked as if they assume you're not trying to quickly peruse your contents but somehow know exactly where you want to go with no room for error. 

I don't follow. What exactly are you trying to do? Browse your notes? What purpose does double clicking (as opposed to single clicking) serve?

 

Have you tried nesting tags?

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The tag system in Evernote is a great idea, but it is missing an intuitive hierarchical interface as well as a very quick way to actually look at the contents of the notes. As it stands now the tag system is organized like folders on a desktop, you have to double click each one to see whats inside then double click again to get to the individual notes you want, at which point the interface is entirely recreated just to show you what you clicked as if they assume you're not trying to quickly peruse your contents but somehow know exactly where you want to go with no room for error. 

I don't follow. What exactly are you trying to do? Browse your notes? What purpose does double clicking (as opposed to single clicking) serve?

 

Have you tried nesting tags?

 

Yes, in this case the tags are indeed nested. Sorry, yes the desire is to offer a quick way to see notes in a system organized in a way that is customized to the individual, something that only this tag system has the potential to allow. Creating hierarchical organization systems in Evernote is actually very easy but where it completely falls apart is the hierarchy stops at just the groups and not the individual notes themselves. As for my double clicking, at least on OSX, when you get to the group just before you see the individual notes that it's comprised of you have to double click that group to get to the list of individual notes, which happens to completely take you out of the tags interface and into the notes interface.

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Yes, in this case the tags are indeed nested. Sorry, yes the desire is to offer a quick way to see notes in a system organized in a way that is customized to the individual, something that only this tag system has the potential to allow. Creating hierarchical organization systems in Evernote is actually very easy but where it completely falls apart is the hierarchy stops at just the groups and not the individual notes themselves. As for my double clicking, at least on OSX, when you get to the group just before you see the individual notes that it's comprised of you have to double click that group to get to the list of individual notes, which happens to completely take you out of the tags interface and into the notes interface.

If notes could have only one tag, then this would be feasible (though perhaps unwieldy). But they don't; notes can have more than one tag, and if you were to maintain a fully populated tree of all notes contained in all of their tags (or even a demand-driven partially populated tree), that might be problematic and confusing. But in all Evernote clients that I know of, there's a note list, and when you click on a tag in the tag tree, the note list shows you those notes (possibly subject to other search criteria).

The fact of the matter is that tags are not containers; they're labels that you stick on notes. Sure, you *can* use them to organize hierarchically, but just because notes aren't presented in the same tree as their organizing tags (hey, they don't appear in the same UI tree as their notebooks, either) doesn't mean that the everything "completely falls apart" for everyone. Indeed, this user interface model is common, certainly every Windows user is familiar with the Windows Explorer folders-on-the-left-files-on-the-right schema, one which supports, yes, an actual hierarchical system, in what is arguably a fairly successful user interface, and one that a lot of people are familiar with.

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The tag system in Evernote is a great idea, but it is missing an intuitive hierarchical interface as well as a very quick way to actually look at the contents of the notes. As it stands now the tag system is organized like folders on a desktop, you have to double click each one to see whats inside then double click again to get to the individual notes you want, at which point the interface is entirely recreated just to show you what you clicked as if they assume you're not trying to quickly peruse your contents but somehow know exactly where you want to go with no room for error. This seems highly flawed to me, tags are an amazing idea but their presentation is enough to drive me mad and ruins their entire experience. Like someone said in this thread, thumbnails may be a great solution to this but I don't know if I want to see a miniature window of my notes as opposed to something larger that I can quickly read without needing to go away from the tags section of Evernote. Once again I find myself complaining about Evernote's concept of an interface. There is so many amazing ideas in the software that are just either poorly executed or not fully realized. Someone needs to step back and objectively look to see what they have right now and what are all the little things that can be done to, unquestionably, make Evernote the far superior product. It is so close! But right now its kind of an open question.

 

Really hate dogging on Evernote so much as I truly do love the company. The actual Evernote program aside, the clipping utility that comes with Evernote as well as the browser extensions for clipping are absolutely unequaled right now and their is very very little room for improvement on those features and I suspect it will still be the case that Evernote is the best in this regard for a long time. 

 

P.S. My suggestion for fixing the tag system to address my concerns would be to allow INDIVIDUAL NOTE BUTTONS to be shown in the tag menu interface. Right now it stops at the respective group. You click the group, much like a folder, to see the individual notes inside of it. I suggest going one step farther by not stopping at the group but allowing us to click that same little down arrow on the right side of the tag in the tag menu to see the individual notes inside of it. And in taking a very clever idea from OSX where you can hit the space bar on literally any file, folder, image, etc. and get a blown up quick view of its contents faster than it would be to even open the file, this exact same thing should also be done in Evernote! Once the individual note is selected in your note hierarchy that you created in the tags menu, just hit the space bar! Doing so would get a large scale (larger than a thumbnail concept) of the notes faster than it would be to even open the note in the first place. 

Viewing notes under their respective tags would be disastrous for those of us with large note libraries. Absolutely disastrous. 

 

But even disregarding that, I fail to see how this saves any time from the current setup. All that's different is that instead of navigating notes in the note list once you're viewing the tag you desire, you view them in the sidebar, right? To me that seems a step backward. At least in the note list you get note previews. The current setup of EN actually functions pretty much exactly the way you request via the OSX Quick Look. Instead of hitting space on a note, you simply click it. The note opens up in the Note Preview pane and voila!

 

I have to agree with Jefito in that, while Evernote's UI could use some tweaking, it's overall look and layout is probably the most popular software content layout of all time. Sidebar, List, Preview Pane. Outlook, most email clients, and a very large clump of task management software all follow this model, and it seems to really work. Sure, there's always room for improvement (I'm crossing my fingers for the ability to set note list layout per notebook vs. over all of Evernote, myself), but overall it really seems to work. I have 4k notes in my EN and I can easily and quickly hone in on exactly what I'm looking for. YMMV of course, but that's my 2 cents.

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The tag system in Evernote is a great idea, but it is missing an intuitive hierarchical interface

In my opinion, there is no such thing as an "intuitive hierachical interface". That's why I love Evernote.
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Yes, in this case the tags are indeed nested. Sorry, yes the desire is to offer a quick way to see notes in a system organized in a way that is customized to the individual, something that only this tag system has the potential to allow. Creating hierarchical organization systems in Evernote is actually very easy but where it completely falls apart is the hierarchy stops at just the groups and not the individual notes themselves. As for my double clicking, at least on OSX, when you get to the group just before you see the individual notes that it's comprised of you have to double click that group to get to the list of individual notes, which happens to completely take you out of the tags interface and into the notes interface.

If notes could have only one tag, then this would be feasible (though perhaps unwieldy). But they don't; notes can have more than one tag, and if you were to maintain a fully populated tree of all notes contained in all of their tags (or even a demand-driven partially populated tree), that might be problematic and confusing. But in all Evernote clients that I know of, there's a note list, and when you click on a tag in the tag tree, the note list shows you those notes (possibly subject to other search criteria).

The fact of the matter is that tags are not containers; they're labels that you stick on notes. Sure, you *can* use them to organize hierarchically, but just because notes aren't presented in the same tree as their organizing tags (hey, they don't appear in the same UI tree as their notebooks, either) doesn't mean that the everything "completely falls apart" for everyone. Indeed, this user interface model is common, certainly every Windows user is familiar with the Windows Explorer folders-on-the-left-files-on-the-right schema, one which supports, yes, an actual hierarchical system, in what is arguably a fairly successful user interface, and one that a lot of people are familiar with.

 

    And containers are not tags, so why can a tag contained within another tag show me only associated tags and not what the tags are actually given to (the notes). I see the tag system as a list of titles, titles given to notes. Many notes have many different titles, but in the end the tag system is nothing more than a list of these titles unless you want to completely leave the tags interface and peruse what gives those titles substance in a totally different interface(the notes interface). Looking at how nice and organized my tags are is great but it is the absolute antithesis of a fluid interaction with a interface when I have to switch from one interface (the tags menu) to another (the notes menu) and then back again. OSX uses tags too. For argument sake, tag 50 items and put each of those 50 tagged items into their own unique tag group in EN and see how fast you can individually look at each note. This process would involve starting at the tag interface, opening a tag group, double clicking a tag, viewing the note within, hitting the back button in the top left, closing the previously opened tag group, opening another, repeating the process. 50 times... Then tag 50 text documents on your Mac and give each item its own unique tag in addition to that and see how fast you can individually look at each one. This entire process involves two buttons, neither of which is clicking of the mouse. The space bar and the arrow keys. The notes are never actually opened but I still get to look inside each one. Which is faster? The crux of this comparison is that the entire time I am viewing the individual items tagged in OSX I never once leave the tags interface. While on Evernote I do. 50 times. 

    The point is while going in and out of the notes menu and tags menu seems like a task of little consequence in terms of time, when your notes become highly extensive this unnoticeable inconvenience seems a lot more noticeable. I believe someone above references the Onenote application as a desk drawer and Evernote as a filing cabinet. Well how does the navigational experience change when your filing cabinet actually has several hundred individual notes in it.

 

 

The tag system in Evernote is a great idea, but it is missing an intuitive hierarchical interface as well as a very quick way to actually look at the contents of the notes. As it stands now the tag system is organized like folders on a desktop, you have to double click each one to see whats inside then double click again to get to the individual notes you want, at which point the interface is entirely recreated just to show you what you clicked as if they assume you're not trying to quickly peruse your contents but somehow know exactly where you want to go with no room for error. This seems highly flawed to me, tags are an amazing idea but their presentation is enough to drive me mad and ruins their entire experience. Like someone said in this thread, thumbnails may be a great solution to this but I don't know if I want to see a miniature window of my notes as opposed to something larger that I can quickly read without needing to go away from the tags section of Evernote. Once again I find myself complaining about Evernote's concept of an interface. There is so many amazing ideas in the software that are just either poorly executed or not fully realized. Someone needs to step back and objectively look to see what they have right now and what are all the little things that can be done to, unquestionably, make Evernote the far superior product. It is so close! But right now its kind of an open question.

 

Really hate dogging on Evernote so much as I truly do love the company. The actual Evernote program aside, the clipping utility that comes with Evernote as well as the browser extensions for clipping are absolutely unequaled right now and their is very very little room for improvement on those features and I suspect it will still be the case that Evernote is the best in this regard for a long time. 

 

P.S. My suggestion for fixing the tag system to address my concerns would be to allow INDIVIDUAL NOTE BUTTONS to be shown in the tag menu interface. Right now it stops at the respective group. You click the group, much like a folder, to see the individual notes inside of it. I suggest going one step farther by not stopping at the group but allowing us to click that same little down arrow on the right side of the tag in the tag menu to see the individual notes inside of it. And in taking a very clever idea from OSX where you can hit the space bar on literally any file, folder, image, etc. and get a blown up quick view of its contents faster than it would be to even open the file, this exact same thing should also be done in Evernote! Once the individual note is selected in your note hierarchy that you created in the tags menu, just hit the space bar! Doing so would get a large scale (larger than a thumbnail concept) of the notes faster than it would be to even open the note in the first place. 

Viewing notes under their respective tags would be disastrous for those of us with large note libraries. Absolutely disastrous. 

 

But even disregarding that, I fail to see how this saves any time from the current setup. All that's different is that instead of navigating notes in the note list once you're viewing the tag you desire, you view them in the sidebar, right? To me that seems a step backward. At least in the note list you get note previews. The current setup of EN actually functions pretty much exactly the way you request via the OSX Quick Look. Instead of hitting space on a note, you simply click it. The note opens up in the Note Preview pane and voila!

 

I have to agree with Jefito in that, while Evernote's UI could use some tweaking, it's overall look and layout is probably the most popular software content layout of all time. Sidebar, List, Preview Pane. Outlook, most email clients, and a very large clump of task management software all follow this model, and it seems to really work. Sure, there's always room for improvement (I'm crossing my fingers for the ability to set note list layout per notebook vs. over all of Evernote, myself), but overall it really seems to work. I have 4k notes in my EN and I can easily and quickly hone in on exactly what I'm looking for. YMMV of course, but that's my 2 cents.

 

For experiment's sake, I created 100 tags in Evernote. Then I randomly put many of those tags within many others in an effort to make the 100 tag hierarchy as complex as I can. It was very easy to navigate the resulting hierarchy. Granted it would of been even easier if there was some color coding system associated with the tags as opposed to the tride and true ubiquitously gray Evernote user interface. I suspect the interaction would be the same if it were 200, 400, etc. tags. So what if 100 of those tags were not tags at all but actual buttons associated with individual notes? I do not understand how a tag interface that seems to behave just as well independent of its size would all of a sudden be too complex if some of those tags were actually notes instead. If we think that the addition of individual notes into the tag interface is a level of complexity that can't be intuitive to the user then this also becomes a constraint on the level of complexity of just the tags themselves.

 

 

The tag system in Evernote is a great idea, but it is missing an intuitive hierarchical interface

In my opinion, there is no such thing as an "intuitive hierachical interface". That's why I love Evernote.

 

    Because you think there is no such thing as an intuitive hierarchical interface is why you love Evernote? Well, I don't really know what to say to that except that while it may be believed that it doesn't exist that does not mean the need or demand for one doesn't exist. The iphone didn't exist at one time but there was a need for one. Evernote didn't exist but there was a need for it. Onenote didn't exist but there was a need for it. Needs and demands motivate innovation. For those that do not innovate fall victim to obscurity. I know for a fact your opinion, as I understand it, is not Evernote's business model(for the most part) so I can't see them accepting this as an unchangeable reality of their own software.

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Something everyone should be aware of is the major flaw with Evernote's hierarchical tag structure.

When user-A tries to share their notebook with user-B, the tag hierarchy collapses and creates a mess of unrelated tags for user-B.

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  And containers are not tags, so why can a tag contained within another tag show me only associated tags and not what the tags are actually given to (the notes). I see the tag system as a list of titles, titles given to notes. Many notes have many different titles, but in the end the tag system is nothing more than a list of these titles unless you want to completely leave the tags interface and peruse what gives those titles substance in a totally different interface(the notes interface). Looking at how nice and organized my tags are is great but it is the absolute antithesis of a fluid interaction with a interface when I have to switch from one interface (the tags menu) to another (the notes menu) and then back again. OSX uses tags too. For argument sake, tag 50 items and put each of those 50 tagged items into their own unique tag group in EN and see how fast you can individually look at each note. This process would involve starting at the tag interface, opening a tag group, double clicking a tag, viewing the note within, hitting the back button in the top left, closing the previously opened tag group, opening another, repeating the process. 50 times... Then tag 50 text documents on your Mac and give each item its own unique tag in addition to that and see how fast you can individually look at each one. This entire process involves two buttons, neither of which is clicking of the mouse. The space bar and the arrow keys. The notes are never actually opened but I still get to look inside each one. Which is faster. The crux of this comparison is that the entire time I am viewing the individual items tagged in OSX I never once leave the tags interface. While on Evernote I do. 50 times. 

    The point is while going in and out of the notes menu and tags menu seems like a task of little consequence in terms of time, when your notes become highly extensive this unnoticeable inconvenience seems a lot more noticeable. I believe someone above references the Onenote application as a desk drawer and Evernote as a filing cabinet. Well how does the navigational experience change when your filing cabinet actually has several hundred individual notes in it.

 

 

Tags do not equate to titles. As Jeff has pointed out, tags are adjectives.  A note can have only one title.  But a note can have many adjectives.  IMO, the limiting thing about a true hierarchy is (and this is another one of Jeff's examples) how to file a red ball.  Do you put it under toys?  Red things?  Round things?  Rubber things?  In a traditional hierarchy like a disk drive, you have to either pick one thing or make a bunch of copies of the file & put it in all of them.  With tags, you can apply all those tags to a single note. 

 

I'm honestly not following what you're talking about with the navigation system or why you find it so difficult to retrieve your notes.  It may be that you are overtagging.  I tend to rely upon stacks, notebooks, tags, keywords & descriptive titles for my notes.  I have a lot of notes (over 63,000 in my main account) & probably only about 1/3 of my notes have any tags at all.  Of those that have tags, most have only one tag & rarely do they ever have more than three.  And yet I have very little problem finding the ones I'm looking for.  In fact, most of my searches start from "all notes" rather than a specific notebook.  Because the Evernote search engine & search grammar is that good.

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 Because you think there is no such thing as an intuitive hierarchical interface is why you love Evernote? Well, I don't really know what to say to that except that while it may be believed that it doesn't exist that does not mean the need or demand for one doesn't exist. The iphone didn't exist at one time but there was a need for one. Evernote didn't exist but there was a need for it. Onenote didn't exist but there was a need for it. Needs and demands motivate innovation. For those that do not innovate fall victim to obscurity. I know for a fact your opinion, as I understand it, is not Evernote's business model(for the most part) so I can't see them accepting this as an unchangeable reality of their own software.

 

 

One of many reasons, actually. You seem to be implying that I'm suggesting that Evernote stay with some sort of outmoded, useless organizational philosophy. In fact, what I'm saying is that Evernote has made a deliberate choice to eschew a hierarchical system (largely) in preference for something more flexible and that I agree with them. I think it's quite clear that Evernote is aware that some people don't agree with them. It's not possible to please everyone, so, Evernote is pleasing itself. So far, it seems to be a strategy thats working for them. 

 

Best of luck. 

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I'm curious, it's obviously me against everyone else, but I do see everyone's point and to some extent I agree with all of you and I wonder if there is a simple compromise. While I speak on two issues that continuously shows in forums, reviews, and articles as reasons people are shied away from the Evernote app and to something more conducive to their style there is also the equally large, if not larger, group of EN users that like the way the interface currently is and want nothing to change. May I propose that the individual notes do not appear in the tag hierarchy at all, keeping it the exact same way it is shown now, but instead allow for the same list of individual notes that we see in the normal notes interface to become an option to be shown in the tag interface. I'm of course talking about the list of individual notes that appears at the top of the window(or the side depending on your selected option) to also appear in the tags interface as an option. This way, when you click any tag the list at the top of the window is populated with the notes associated with the selected tag. Furthermore, might I also implore that a quick view method comes with this, such as the spacebar quick view that OSX uses as we've discussed.

 

So far from what everyone has said about their concerns, this would simultaneously give both groups everything they want without compromising either style of navigating their note organizational system. 

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I'm curious, it's obviously me against everyone else, but I do see everyone's point and to some extent I agree with all of you and I wonder if there is a simple compromise. While I speak on two issues that continuously shows in forums, reviews, and articles as reasons people are shied away from the Evernote app and to something more conducive to their style there is also the equally large, if not larger, group of EN users that like the way the interface currently is and want nothing to change. May I propose that the individual notes do not appear in the tag hierarchy at all, keeping it the exact same way it is shown now, but instead allow for the same list of individual notes that we see in the normal notes interface to become an option to be shown in the tag interface. I'm of course talking about the list of individual notes that appears at the top of the window(or the side depending on your selected option) to also appear in the tags interface as an option. This way, when you click any tag the list at the top of the window is populated with the notes associated with the selected tag. Furthermore, might I also implore that a quick view method comes with this, such as the spacebar quick view that OSX uses as we've discussed.

 

So far from what everyone has said about their concerns, this would simultaneously give both groups everything they want without compromising either style of navigating their note organizational system.

I want to make it clear that suggestions are welcome here, and though some folks might disagree with yours, none of us are Evernote employees, not all of us are software developers, or UI experts, or whatever; I can tell you that Evernote staff do appreciate feature requests, suggestions etc. (and they read every post). Beyond that, it's just users expressing their opinions. Part of this is the desire to have people use Evernote effectively. It's not always easy for new users to tell what methods work well with Evernote, and sometimes a nudge in one or another direction can unlock a different user experience for some of them. And sometimes not.

But hey, it's your Evernote experience, not mine, and somethings not working for you, and maybe I don't know the best way for you to use it (maybe there is no best way; there are certainly people who don't jibe with the Evernote thing). So the best thing we can do is usually to tell people how the Evernote of today works (because whatever changes may come to Evernote are unknown to us outsiders), and suggest ways to approach certain situations. That's why I try to stress how the Evernote architecture works, its components and their principles and how they work together conceptually. That's the foundation, and beyond that, there are a number of ways to approach certain scenarios, each with its own pros and cons. So that's why I sometimes harp on ideas like "tags are not containers" and "tags are not titles", because although you can force-fit Evernote into using them that way, that tends to limit what you can really do with Evernote.

But again, it's your Evernote. Good luck.

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I'm curious, it's obviously me against everyone else, but I do see everyone's point and to some extent I agree with all of you and I wonder if there is a simple compromise. While I speak on two issues that continuously shows in forums, reviews, and articles as reasons people are shied away from the Evernote app and to something more conducive to their style there is also the equally large, if not larger, group of EN users that like the way the interface currently is and want nothing to change. May I propose that the individual notes do not appear in the tag hierarchy at all, keeping it the exact same way it is shown now, but instead allow for the same list of individual notes that we see in the normal notes interface to become an option to be shown in the tag interface. I'm of course talking about the list of individual notes that appears at the top of the window(or the side depending on your selected option) to also appear in the tags interface as an option. This way, when you click any tag the list at the top of the window is populated with the notes associated with the selected tag. Furthermore, might I also implore that a quick view method comes with this, such as the spacebar quick view that OSX uses as we've discussed.

 

So far from what everyone has said about their concerns, this would simultaneously give both groups everything they want without compromising either style of navigating their note organizational system.

You're in the Tag view, aren't you? I think I finally understand where you're going, but let me propose a different Evernote setup you can already do that seems to accomplish what you desire.

There is more than one view for seeing your content in Evernote. If I understand you correctly, you're navigating via this view: 

 

ygXzSja9Nq-2000x2000.jpeg

 

Which is fine, but you're right, not ideal for browsing content. What I would suggest is setting Evernote up like this:

 

OHEIGUeJyK-2000x2000.jpeg

 

Using this view, with the tags in a hierarchical vertical list in the sidebar vs. just viewing the Tags, you can navigate them as deeply nested as needed, and once the ideal tag is clicked on, you get all of the notes with that tag applied. In the image I selected my british-library tag to show all of the public domain images I've saved from the British Library's Flickr. If I wanted, I could easily click any other tag and my notes would rearrange accordingly.

 

This seems to be what you're looking for? If so, either right-click the Tags header in the sidebar and click "Show Tags List" or something similar (on Mac, but I don't have mine right now to verify). If on Windows, I think it's set up this way by default (at least, I can't find the Settings for it). If not, I'm sorry I just filled the feed with images, heh. But this lets you hierarchically navigate your tags while easly displaying the notes for each tag you view, without having to choose between seeing your Tags list or your Note content.

 

Hope this helps!

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I'm curious, it's obviously me against everyone else, but I do see everyone's point and to some extent I agree with all of you and I wonder if there is a simple compromise. While I speak on two issues that continuously shows in forums, reviews, and articles as reasons people are shied away from the Evernote app and to something more conducive to their style there is also the equally large, if not larger, group of EN users that like the way the interface currently is and want nothing to change. May I propose that the individual notes do not appear in the tag hierarchy at all, keeping it the exact same way it is shown now, but instead allow for the same list of individual notes that we see in the normal notes interface to become an option to be shown in the tag interface. I'm of course talking about the list of individual notes that appears at the top of the window(or the side depending on your selected option) to also appear in the tags interface as an option. This way, when you click any tag the list at the top of the window is populated with the notes associated with the selected tag. Furthermore, might I also implore that a quick view method comes with this, such as the spacebar quick view that OSX uses as we've discussed.

 

So far from what everyone has said about their concerns, this would simultaneously give both groups everything they want without compromising either style of navigating their note organizational system.

You're in the Tag view, aren't you? I think I finally understand where you're going, but let me propose a different Evernote setup you can already do that seems to accomplish what you desire.

There is more than one view for seeing your content in Evernote. If I understand you correctly, you're navigating via this view: 

Oooohhhh. If that's the case, I finally understand the OP's comments about the tag interface. LOL, I was so confused as to what he was going on about!

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There is more than one view for seeing your content in Evernote. If I understand you correctly, you're navigating via this view:

I agree with Tavor, if chirmer is right, then I finally understand what CharlesHo is saying. (Because I was also confused about why he was having such a problem.) It never occurred to me he may be looking at the tags/notebooks & not looking at a list, snippet or card view (at least that's what they're called in the Windows client.)

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Oooohhhh. If that's the case, I finally understand the OP's comments about the tag interface. LOL, I was so confused as to what he was going on about!

 

I agree with Tavor, if chirmer is right, then I finally understand what CharlesHo is saying. (Because I was also confused about why he was having such a problem.) It never occurred to me he may be looking at the tags/notebooks & not looking at a list, snippet or card view (at least that's what they're called in the Windows client.)

I only thought of it because it's the second post I've seen lately that seemed to follow this same pattern of primarily navigating via the Notebook or Tag view and not the standard set of views. Everything the OP was saying sounded like another language until I connected the two threads :D I hope this is what the OP is talking about, at least, because I think it'll solve the problem nicely :)

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All I have to say is...WOW! Yes, this is exactly what I was wanting! This works perfectly for me, jeez, I didn't even know this was a possible setup. Well, from my 2 item list of rants (canvas style writing and a more intuitive navigation) this definitely shows Evernote has all ready perfected at least one of them. And I could probably live without the other lol. THANKS!

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I'm going to go tagging crazy on my notes today and make this a perfectly ordered system of notes. This is definitely cause for me to drop Onenote and stay loyal to the EN app. 

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All I have to say is...WOW! Yes, this is exactly what I was wanting! This works perfectly for me, jeez, I didn't even know this was a possible setup. Well, from my 2 item list of rants (canvas style writing and a more intuitive navigation) this definitely shows Evernote has all ready perfected at least one of them. And I could probably live without the other lol. THANKS!

And now that you see what we're all looking at, you'll understand why nesting tags allows for additional visual organization if you desire.

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All I have to say is...WOW! Yes, this is exactly what I was wanting! This works perfectly for me, jeez, I didn't even know this was a possible setup. Well, from my 2 item list of rants (canvas style writing and a more intuitive navigation) this definitely shows Evernote has all ready perfected at least one of them. And I could probably live without the other lol. THANKS!

Woohoo! I'm glad it's what you were looking for :)

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After using evernote for a while, I recently decided to switch to Zimilate (www.zimilate.com).  You can organize collections hierarchically and with tags, which is a big plus for me.  I’ve  found the interface to be cleaner and easier to use across all my devices, especially since Zimilate creates thumbnails of everything you save - really nice for web pages.  Worth checking out IMHO for the hierarchical organization alone.


 


Evernote was also frustrating because I read a lot on my phone and iPad, and evernote only saved the link.  That means there’s no full text search, and if the page disappears or changes you’re out of luck.  When you email a link to Zimilate from your browser or an app, it actually saves the entire webpage, including all the assets.  You can save web pages, images, files, and create notes, which is pretty standard, and their desktop web clipper is great. 


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After using evernote for a while, I recently decided to switch to Zimilate (www.zimilate.com).  You can organize collections hierarchically and with tags, which is a big plus for me.  I’ve  found the interface to be cleaner and easier to use across all my devices, especially since Zimilate creates thumbnails of everything you save - really nice for web pages.  Worth checking out IMHO for the hierarchical organization alone.

 

Evernote was also frustrating because I read a lot on my phone and iPad, and evernote only saved the link.  That means there’s no full text search, and if the page disappears or changes you’re out of luck.  When you email a link to Zimilate from your browser or an app, it actually saves the entire webpage, including all the assets.  You can save web pages, images, files, and create notes, which is pretty standard, and their desktop web clipper is great.

Well, interesting, but Zimilate is in beta, and has one of those annoying web sites that looks nice but has relatively little actual information. What OSes does it support? I see Mac and iOS in the video, neither of which I use. Can you create content in Zimilate? Hard to tell. This bit about saving a "pixel-perfect" copy of a web page; well, ok, but can it filter out stuff I don't want to see? Can I capture a selection from a web site? How about the desktop; can it do screen caps? Organization? Well, there is a hierarchical folder, er, "sphere" organization, but couldn't tell much from there on (hierarchical folders aren't a killer feature for me anyways). How does search work?

All in all, Zimilate is a big wait-and-see for me, much as Springpad once was. Not interested enough to sign up for the beta. Glad that it works for you, though.

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Evernote was also frustrating because I read a lot on my phone and iPad, and evernote only saved the link.  That means there’s no full text search, and if the page disappears or changes you’re out of luck.  When you email a link to Zimilate from your browser or an app, it actually saves the entire webpage, including all the assets.  You can save web pages, images, files, and create notes, which is pretty standard, and their desktop web clipper is great. 

 

 

If you open a link in Evernote on an iPad or iPhone, you can then save the entire web page to Evernote. I do this regularly with links I've sent into Evernote from other sources. Obviously, if I clip web pages when I'm at my computer, I can save full web pages to Evernote. 

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After using evernote for a while, I recently decided to switch to Zimilate (www.zimilate.com).  You can organize collections hierarchically and with tags, which is a big plus for me.  I’ve  found the interface to be cleaner and easier to use across all my devices, especially since Zimilate creates thumbnails of everything you save - really nice for web pages.  Worth checking out IMHO for the hierarchical organization alone.

 

Evernote was also frustrating because I read a lot on my phone and iPad, and evernote only saved the link.  That means there’s no full text search, and if the page disappears or changes you’re out of luck.  When you email a link to Zimilate from your browser or an app, it actually saves the entire webpage, including all the assets.  You can save web pages, images, files, and create notes, which is pretty standard, and their desktop web clipper is great. 

For visual people Zimilate is perfect because it stores the content of whole chosen web pages, it has a very practical tag system and a fast modern comfortable interface. It is in beta version yet, many required features will come in the future. It is similar to Memit, Keeeb, Trello, Kippt and Pinterest and its the best of these. It has some common features with Evernote but I think it is an other kind of service. You can also store your personal notes in it kept hidden from others and share public notes with all Zimilate members or even collaborate with friends. Pinterest is extremely huge and popular but comparing to Zimilate the latest can store your documents, photos, personal notes, the other content curation services are not bad but are not so comfortable, friendly. One can use Evernote to store personal notes and use Zimilate to store all research material, Youtube videos and not only (it supports the playback from inside the service interface).

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This thread is fascinating. 

 

Not a single person in this thread actually even attempted to answer CharlesHo's question. You all immediately responded to his inquiry with your own opinions on what CharlesHo wants as a user-experience and how this 'doesn't make any sense' to you, implying that it is wrong in some way.

 

The answer to your question, CharlesHo: I don't know. I don't know if EN is going to enhance the UX of Evernote so that different people can organize and access their notes the way they want to access them. I hope they do, but I wouldn't hold your breath.

 

A good company builds a product for it's users. If the user wants a different user-experience, then the company must consider it. They're not wrong. They are different and deserve attention. The potential for EN is absolutely huge but right now you must fit the user-experience they have created for you. If this system of organization and retrieval is not intuitive for you then, unfortunately, it might not be the right product.

 

Cheers,

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This thread is fascinating. 

 

Not a single person in this thread actually even attempted to answer CharlesHo's question.

 

Did you read the entire thread?  To this bystander it appears Charles' questions were answered, at least he seemed very happy once he understood what he was doing wrong.

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This thread is fascinating. 

 

Not a single person in this thread actually even attempted to answer CharlesHo's question. You all immediately responded to his inquiry with your own opinions on what CharlesHo wants as a user-experience and how this 'doesn't make any sense' to you, implying that it is wrong in some way.

 

The answer to your question, CharlesHo: I don't know. I don't know if EN is going to enhance the UX of Evernote so that different people can organize and access their notes the way they want to access them. I hope they do, but I wouldn't hold your breath.

 

A good company builds a product for it's users. If the user wants a different user-experience, then the company must consider it. They're not wrong. They are different and deserve attention. The potential for EN is absolutely huge but right now you must fit the user-experience they have created for you. If this system of organization and retrieval is not intuitive for you then, unfortunately, it might not be the right product.

 

Cheers,

I think that you totally missed this: https://discussion.evernote.com/topic/55926-is-it-time-to-jump-ship-and-board-ss-onenote/?p=270060. And this: https://discussion.evernote.com/topic/55926-is-it-time-to-jump-ship-and-board-ss-onenote/?p=270061Essentially what happened is that Charles didn't understand that at least a part of what he was asking for was already available, and there was some misunderstanding around the fact that he was missing that piece of the puzzle until chirmer figured it all out.

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Back on topic with the OP.  I've tried ON on a three or four different occasions and always come back to EN.  I've used notebooks, I've used really good titles, I've used tags, I've used tags and really good titles, I've used the inbox and archived everything.  I'm still with evernote and still using tags, an inbox, decent titles, and an archive.  I can find just about anything I need in a few seconds.  I couldn't do that with ON.

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