Can someone recommend an Evernote alternative?

I’m looking for potential alternatives to Evernote, my current choice for taking notes.

The note-taking application needs the following:

  • Desktop application (Windows7) with local storage of notes
  • Cloud sync (can be self-hosted if needs be)
  • Browser accessible notes
  • Android App

Why am I investigating alternatives? I’ve been finding myself less satisfied with Evernote’s performance over the last while: I frequently find Evernote is maxing out one of my CPU cores; the changes from 3.0x to 3.5x were poor in a lot of ways and introduced the need for extra actions to achieve the same tasks; the destruction of most usefulness of the screen capture tool; and the android app is extremely dissatisfying (for example I often find that searches yield no results unless I’m searching for a specific tag, and that Android app taken notes either don’t sync or take an incredibly long time to do so).

Also, to be honest Evernote has a host of functions that I just don’t need. My note taking tends to be plain text, with very very occasional embedding of images. I don’t need handwriting recognition, I don’t really need full web page embeds, I just need a fast, eminently searchable set of text notes.

In addition, whilst I’m  all for a decent rate of application updates, Evernote 3.5 has them with such a frequency that I often find when I need to make a note I’ve got Evernote bugging me to update. Not only this but I just noticed that Evernote was using up 471.8Mb by storing every single update.exe, as demonstrated by the image below.

Evernote storing all app updates

As you can see each update necessitates a complete application download (would they not save a fortune on bandwidth by implementing a patch system rather than a complete application download?), and these application updates have slowly increased from 35Mb to 40Mb.

So if you’re an Evernote user and you’re wondering why your main drive is running short on space, just navigate to (on Windows 7 at least) C:\Users\~username\AppData\Local\Evernote\Evernote\Updates and empty it out.

If you’d like to do some more investigation into disk usage check out this handy application, Foldersize, which visualises disk usage for you.


  • Frederick Frost

    The only ever note alternative I am aware of is called springpad. I believe this is currently only web only. I still prefer ever note.

  • Hi,

    Try Shelfster, it's still in beta but if you sign up your email on the web address you will receive an invite.



  • @Frederick Thanks for the suggestion. Web only is definitely a no-go for the time being. The fact that I'm currently living in Cambodia means I can't be guaranteed a net connection at all times and I definitely want local store of all notes which then syncs to web – also just for purposes of speed.

    @Noemi Thanks for the suggestion, I'll sign up for a beta invite now. Do you guys have an Android app in the pipeline?

  • Oh, @Noemi – is the desktop 'client' just a tool for clipping/cropping and sending to the web account? Or does it actually allow browsing/storage of notes locally/offline.

  • @Jeff Thanks for the comment. I've signed up to have a look and will keep an eye on the blog to hear news of an Android App. Desktop app is definitely high in my requirements list though. Do you have a publicly viewable roadmap? Cheers for dropping by!

  • Hi – I'm a co-founder of Springpad <a href="http://(” target=”_blank”>( and wanted to let you know that while we don't currently have a desktop app (it's on our roadmap), we are launching an Android app within the next couple of weeks. It will have offline access to all your "stuff" as does our iPhone app. We also sync in the cloud between web and all mobile app versions.

    If you do check it out, we welcome input and feedback.

    • AK

      It seems to be mobile and web only. That’s a big no.

      • Yeah, I don’t think SpringPad have any plans to develop desktop applications. They may have offline access via a browser extension but not sure.

        I’m still on Evernote as I never really found anything that really matched my requirements.

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  • Hi,

    We are in development with the mobile version, which you will be able to use on your Android. Our concept is to have the desktop tool as a collector, but we welcome any feedback you can provide. We are still in beta so we are open to all suggestions.



  • I'm dismayed to hear that Evernote 3.5 maxes out one's CPU as well. I'm still on EN 3.1 because 3.5 still doesn't have a "Find" feature in the Tabs pane which I need (this is slated to come out first week of June).

    Evernote 3.1 maxes out my one CPU core every time I do ANYTHING in Evernote – add a note, add a tag, make a tiny change to a note. It's so bad I have the Task Manager icon permanently in my system tray so I can see when I can carry on, because every action in Evernote brings it to a standstill for anywhere up to thirty seconds. This is an utter nightmare since I've been using it for years before it got so bad, and my whole life and work is in Evernote (some 14,000 notes), so I'm using it all day long, and switching to something else is not really a possibility.

    The CEO of Evernote personally promised me that upgrading to Evernote 3.5 would solve this, so it's worrying to hear that you're still getting this (and you're not alone:

  • MK

    How about writing them in text files, and do text search using "search in folder" function in most text editor like Notepad++. And sync them all in Dropbox 😀

    But eh, web-accessibility is going to be a bit hard for that. Unless you want to download the text files from Dropbox >_>

    • Could also be difficult to use with Android. I'm sure something will crop up soon enough. I'd love to have something self-installable, and potentially I could utilise TomBoy if I was to write a specific app for it. I think you can sync TomBoy to your own server using LDAP. Not sure whether it has any web interface option though…

  • @MK Hmm, weird that our comment timings were completely off there. Must edit that so the comment is in the right place.

    Evernote has just released a much needed update to their Android app which has solved the issues I was having with search and appears to have much improved note upload (although I haven't tested on EDGE network yet).

    They also have mentioned that they're working on offline storage for Android. If they can streamline their desktop app a bit so I don't get so many CPU max-outs, I may not need to look for an alternative (but will be keeping an eye on shelfster and springpadit to see what their desktop applications are like if and when they come out).

  • You can try Simplenote if you works on text mainly. There are two desktop apps which can sync with it online.

    I am searching the alternative too. Simplenote has many features I like such as internal linking which evernote doesn't have. The only pity is it doesn't support multi notebooks, or local databases.

    • I've played around with Simplenote a bit and it's certainly wonderfully straightforward and most importantly lightweight.

      Through ResophNotes or a couple of other note taking apps that sync with SimpleNote you can have local storage too. Details here: Last time I tested it out it worked well, but I think the tags may not have been syncing to the local app I had, meaning I couldn't group items by tag locally or search for them. Must test it out again, if that's working now I could likely keep all my notes sorted with about 20 tags and just reuse them to find items easily.

  • Mo Bitar

    Check out Standard Notes. Easy to use, encrypted, and available on almost every platform.