Alternote: An Alternative to Evernote for Mac

Alternote App IconAlternote is an Evernote client–yes! an Evernote client does exist–for Mac. If you use Evernote and have any level of dissatisfaction, especially with its layout, you should consider Alternote. It may not be a fully suitable replacement for Evernote, though. I explain why in my review below.

 

The Basics

 

As with Evernote, Alternote gives you three panes: the sidebar, the Notes pane, and the editor window with Note content. You can hide the sidebar to have two panes, or go into distraction-free mode, where you simply view the note you’re writing in.

There are some nice font options, as well as the option to get into a visually pleasing Night Mode:

 

Alternote Layout

 

This makes Alternote a much more appealing app for writing on a Mac. If you use Evernote to organize substantial amounts of text (i.e., more than just Web links), you’ll appreciate the look and feel of Alternote.

 

Evaluation

 

You can successfully drag a file or image into a Note in Alternote. What does not work in Alternote is dragging a PDF, for example, into the app to make it its own Note. I hope a future update adds this feature, as I consider it to be somewhat basic Evernote functionality.

Starred NotesYou cannot create Notebook Shortcuts in the left sidebar–which is another big part of how I use Evernote. You can star certain Notes for easy access—and can just drag the Notes into the sidebar to do it–but not Notebooks.

This means Notebooks—especially the few you use most—are a little trickier to navigate in Alternote. You can scroll down the sidebar list, of course, or—what may be quicker—access them via a drop-down menu.

Alternote feels lighter than Evernote, for which I appreciate it, but it’s not necessarily faster or higher-performing. I had expected it would be. On the other hand, if you’re using the Basic Evernote level, you won’t get bombarded in Alternote with a steady stream of upgrade ads!

One nice touch in Alternote is that you can selectively sync your Evernote content.

Alternote SyncThat said, automatic sync maxes out at every 15 minutes in Alternote, which will not be automatic *enough* for some. I was worried when I was writing this review (in Alternote!) and it crashed without having finished a sync. (Alternote is pretty good but still a little buggy on El Cap.) Fortunately my text was still there in Alternote, but I was eager to force a manual sync after that. I’d had some initial sync misses with my initial setup, which a revision had fixed, so hopefully Alternote will sort all this out soon. I haven’t lost any data, however, so you’re safe in using it, for the most part.

The greatest asset in Alternote is its more uncluttered interface, which makes it better than Evernote for just plain writing. If Alternote would improve its sync issues, overall speed, and add other bits of core Evernote functionality, it could easily become your go-to app for managing Evernote.

An Alternote iOS app is in the works and slated for Spring 2016. Get it in the Mac App Store here, and check out the Alternote site here. If you don’t have an Evernote account, I recommend it; learn more here.

 


 

Thanks to the people at Alternote for the app download for the purposes of review.

Now You Have to Pay to Email to Evernote, But Here’s a Workaround (EverMail)

Evermail

One of Evernote‘s best features is being able to email notes directly into Evernote. They give you an email address, and if you get an email that you want to file away for reference, you can send it right to Evernote. (You can even, if you word your subject line correctly, tag it and put it in a specific notebook.)

However, Evernote recently announced that you’d have to sign up for one of their paid plans if you wanted to keep your heretofore free email address. It’s not a huge sum, but I don’t plan to upgrade–I just don’t need the larger upload storage space at this point, which also comes with the paid upgrade.

Enter EverMail.

The Mac Mail plug-in from ChungwaSoft was available long before Evernote changed their pricing structure, and I used it regularly then. Now it’s an essential part of my workflow.

Here’s how it works.

 

1. I get an email, the contents of which I want to file in Evernote.

 

An email about the Septuagint. What could be better?
An email about the Septuagint. What could be better?

 

Look again at the image above–at the top right you’ll see the Evernote elephant icon. That’s because I have EverMail installed in my Mac Mail app.

 

2. I click the EverMail icon, which gives me three options.

 

2_Create a Note

 

3a. I choose “Create quick note,” which I can select with mouse/trackpad or via keyboard shortcut.

 

4_Quick Save

 

I can quickly save my email to any notebook. The shot above doesn’t show it, but I now have it set up to default to my “Inbox” notebook in Evernote.

 

3b. I select “Create note” to further customize my email/note before sending to Evernote.

 

3_Edit Note

 

From here I can not only select the desired Notebook and tags, I can set a reminder, adjust the Note title, add my own notes to the link I’m saving, and even include email attachments so they save to Evernote, too.

This is actually even an improvement on emailing to Evernote, because now I don’t have to remember the right subject line syntax for adding tags and sending to a proper Notebook. I can do everything from within Mac Mail and not even have to open Evernote.

Once you install EverMail, you’ll see it in your Mail toolbar:

 

Mail Menu Bar

 

And here are the settings–EverMail puts itself right into your Mac Mail Preferences:

 

Settings

 

I mentioned free earlier. EverMail is not free, but at $13.95, you’ve got yourself a permanent email-to-Evernote solution that you don’t have to keep paying for each month.

Setup and use have both been exceedingly easy. I’m a big fan of the app. Check it out here.

 


 

Thanks to the good people of ChungwaSoft for giving me a download of EverMail for review purposes.

File Under: I Can’t Believe a Phone Can Do This

I can hardly believe the technology on a little iPhone exists to do this, but this is now how I am going to take and process meeting notes from here on out.

I have an app (Drafts 4) that has a downloadable action I found at their Web Action Directory.

Let me show you what it can do:

 

Drafts to EN and OF 1

 

Drafts to EN and OF 2

 

This means I simply open the Drafts app (which is quite aesthetically pleasing, and fast, too) and take meeting notes there…including marking action steps with the checkbox keyboard shortcut key (!).

Then I tap the action above, and all my meeting notes are saved as an Evernote note, with all the checkboxes I made automatically converting to OmniFocus tasks.

Many, many thanks to Agile Tortoise for the awesome app and to @rosscatrow for the action above to install into Drafts 4. A good step forward in my ongoing quest to stay organized.

My New External Brain: Evernote

Evernote Icon

 

I’ve finally seen what all the Evernote fuss is about: It’s more impressive than almost any other productivity app I’ve used, and a basic account is free.

The company claims a lot for its app:

Evernote makes modern life more manageable by letting you easily collect and find everything that matters. From work notes and to-do lists to recipe collections and travel plans, add everything to Evernote to help you get organized without the effort.

But it’s so easy to access from any other app on any device, and so well-organized that it really can help you remember (or, rather, access) everything.

For example, do you want to file away the information in an email in a safe place, but not lose it among hundreds of email folders? Email it to your custom-created Evernote address, and it automatically files in your default notebook.

Do you want to make a simple shopping list with check marks and tap them as you go? Evernote can do that.

Do you have a bill you need to pay, and want to remind yourself of that unfortunate reality, but also have the relevant info at hand? Just take a picture of your bill with Evernote, add in a few comments, and it all saves in one place. You can even set a time-basd reminder to a note.

EvernoteAre you trying to make sense out of that stack of recipe notecards, and want to have it all in one easily accessible location for next time you cook? You can take photos of everything and file it in a “Recipes” notebook in Evernote. You can even tag your recipes with primary ingredients or nutritional details, so that pulling up your “Protein” tags gives you some good ideas for dinner.

There are at least a dozen more ways I’m using Evernote now every day to organize myself. I highly recommend it.

If you want to try it, you can register for free here. Going to that link also gives you and me both a free month of Premium, which adds some nice features like (get ready): keyword searching the three pages of text you just photographed from your favorite textbook. Yes, Evernote can do that.

But you don’t really need Premium to get a lot of utility out of it. It’s free, no strings attached.

It’s not perfect, of course. But I have yet to run into a limitation for the many ways I’ve already put it to use. Check it out and see what you think.