Switching From Evernote to Joplin

Updated on in Productivity
Tags: Evernote Joplin Notes Synchronization

I have been using Evernote for almost a decade now. I really like it’s ability to search for text within attached pictures and PDF scans. I have been on the free plan for most of the time (with the exception when I was living in Argentina and the subscription was super cheap and started importing all my previous notes).

Over the years Evernote has been cutting back the features in the free plan little by little. In the most recent cuts they have limited the free plan to only one notebook. I could have lived with that limitation as I mostly managed/organize my notes via tags. The problem was that I already had 2 notenooks and the app did not allow me to consolidate both into one notebook without throwing an error. Because of this I was not able to add more notes or reorganize my notes to fit the new requirements, making Evernote completely unusable for me.

Based on this I made myself on the hunt for an alternative. I have essentially 3 main uses cases for my notes:

  1. To keep track of various documents (e.g., receipt, leases, etc)

  2. Use it as a repository of webpages/articles I found useful and want to preserve for later reference. For this a webclipper is very useful but not necessary.

  3. Take various notes (e.g., recipes, travel notes, etc)

Obviously I would like a mechanism to import my existing Evernote notes (looking at you Microsoft OneNote). I also like to have a mobile client as I use my phone as my “scanner” for my documents and be able to access them on the road. After some searching I found Joplin. Not only is it checking off all my main needs but it was also open source and free.


Joplin is an open source tool for managing notes. It has a similar feature set to Evernote albeit different in some aspects. It is not a perfect match/

Here are some of things I like about Joplin:

While Joplin is great here are some drawbacks I found:

Cloud provider

You do not need to have cloud synchronization enabled to use Joplin. You can use it completely offline. But being able to sync or backup your notes automatically is quit handy. Here are some of the options Joplin provides:

How to Switch

Switching from Evernote to Joplin is pretty straight forward. Here are the steps.

  1. Export your notes from Evernote into enex archives.

    • Right click on the notebook you want to export:
    • Select the ENEX file format and leave all attributes enabled
    • Click export and select a location to store the data
  2. Download and install Joplin. The installation method will vary based on your operating system. If you use OSX and homebrew then you can just install it like any other homebrew app.

  3. Enable encryption. This is optional but highly recommended.

    • Go to Settings > Synchronization > Encryption and press enable encryption
    • Set your password
  4. Import Evernote backup

    • Go to File > Import > ENEX (XXX). You can either import the notes in HTML format or have them converted into MarkDown. The best choice will depend on your notes.
    • Select the previously exported ENEX file.
  5. Setup remote synchronization. This is optional

    • Go to Settings > Synchronization and select the cloud storage option of your choice:
    • Follow the setup instructions. The will vary based on the specific cloud provides but usually will involves you granting access to Joplin in one form or the other.
  6. Install client on Phone (and or other devices you want)

    • You can download the client for your choice of phone from the corresponding app store
    • Once installed and before you enable synchronization, change the attachment download behaviour to auto or manual. This will only download the core notes but not all the data element it references (e.g., Images, PDFs, etc). This will save a lot of local storage (especially useful on a phone)
    • After that you can enable synchronization. Follow the steps it needs to authenticate the app. Once this is done the app should automatically detect the remote notes and prompt you for the password.