An update on Evernote, after about a decade part 2


Evernote is great. = an anecdote. The plural of anecdote is “data” and purpose of this article is to analyze the data on my Evernote journey, out loud and share the impressions of value in use over time.

Member since May 2008 (119 calendar months), but did not start adding notes to Evernote until July 2009 when I listened to the passage of GETTING THINGS DONE covered in the previous post. So I’ve been an active user of Evernote for 105 months of the 119 months I’ve had an Evernote subscription. After my “Aha! I should use Evernote as my reference fling system!” I broke my 14 month string of zero captured notes. Here is a raw time series:

Here are the data by month. October to February is moving time (5 times in 10 years) where I scan like crazy to recycle paper and avoid moving atoms. Bits are lighter. 

Notes By Month
Month Max of EverNotes/Mo Average of EverNotes/Mo Count of Mon
Jan 542 260 10
Feb 906 243 10
Mar 381 192 10
Apr 369 167 10
May 600 187 11
Jun 458 152 11
Jul 637 186 11
Aug 464 174 11
Sep 364 149 11
Oct 1,260 382 11
Nov 808 206 11
Dec 1,173 487 11

In earlier years, before Evernote went to a 10 GB upload limit per month, I could scan more documents than I could upload in a month. So for 2011 I was waiting until the end of the month, then uploading as many documents as I could. Evernote for a while then, allowed me to buy more uploading capacity, and I did that several times.

Notes By Year
Year Max of EverNotes/Mo Average of EverNotes/Mo Count of Mon
2009 464 147 12
2010 1,090 139 12
2011 1,260 328 12
2012 1,177 291 12
2013 238 128 12
2014 906 316 12
2015 222 150 12
2016 808 260 12
2017 1,012 284 12
2018 440 382 12

Avg. Notes By Month and Year
EverNotes/Mo Year
Mon 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Jan 68 542 276 165 113 132 238 370 440
Feb 61 71 110 88 906 216 219 194 323
Mar 53 381 184 117 179 154 255 216
Apr 27 65 118 100 369 208 154 298
May 46 37 120 132 600 138 132 290
Jun 31 68 109 167 458 124 118 140
Jul 165 20 98 637 165 139 142 149 155
Aug 464 15 50 311 94 222 57 120 234
Sep 36 18 137 174 100 364 130 242 143
Oct 10 25 1,260 1,177 238 228 157 160 183
Nov 127 212 56 163 81 127 116 808 167
Dec 80 1,090 1,173 111 84 91 222 522 1,012

How to track how many notes you have by Month in Evernote. Expand this image:

Trick #1 is to set the Evernote client to “Snippet view” so that you see the monthly note totals, and Trick #2, is to type “created:YYYYMMDD” in the search dialog. Evernote will then show you all the notes since the date you entered. So to find all the notes since 20100101 (the example above) you type in created:20100101 and then look at the top of the notes list, for the count for the month. I regenerated the notes count from scratch for this post (long ago I could count by hand!) 10 years is 120 data points. Easy.

  • Three “I likes” for Evernote:
    • The web clipper add in for web browser is great, the single most important thing for new Evernote users to do, is to install WebClipper.
      • But web clipper does not always work. Internet formats are ever changing and WebClipper is always a little behind. But web clipper alone makes Evernote worth the investment.
    • Evernote allows reference files to be wherever you have a computer.
    • I love using OneNote and Evernote together. This drives my friends a Microsoft a little crazy, but I don’t see Evernote and OneNote as competitors.
  • Three “I wishes” for Evernote:
    • Evernote had an imaginative simulated note metaphor.
      • If you’ve seen the HP Sprout demo videos on Youtube, they have an interface for graphics that is projector/touchpad based:

and I wish that Evernote had this kind of interface to manipulate notes

  • Three “I wishes” continued:
    • Evernote had a cross between data validation, and hard drive defrag.
      • I’m almost 100% PDFs stored in Evernote, and it *feels* to me after using Evernote after a decade, that PDFs have a tendency to multiply like rabbits. Cloned rabbits. Multiple copies over time.
      • I have lost notes, and figured out that the notes were lost a few times over the past 10 years (the “shepherd’s pie recipe debacle of 2015”), but mostly, I just have to trust Evernote.
    • For high quality Android clients
      • Evernote is worth having on a phone so you can capture picture notes. But don’t try any heavy lifting.
      • On Kindle Fires of recent vintage, Evernote android app is un-useful. Kindle Fires just do not have the storage capacity (even with a 128 GB memory card) or CPU speed to manage Evernote.


2015 ends, Top 10 RestartGTD arguments for 2016


Desk before and after GTD


Introduction: (

2015 is ending. Tool options for “how” to Get Things Done continue to eclipse my capacity to integrate them year to year. So I will continue to argue:

  1. OneNote and Evernote are complements, not substitutes.
    1. Evernote is THE REFERENCE FILING SYSTEM for the rest of us. Use Evernote Web Clipper to capture your browsing into Evernote, or iX500 scan into Evernote, and … DONE … PAPERLESS + find any note in 15 seconds.
      1. *Note* Evernote, the company, has begun pruning the non-filing system aspects of itself after having quality and other “spreading itself too thin” problems.
    2. OneNote is THE PROCESSING PLACE for the rest of us. When you have an *explosive* next action (i.e., that project that just landed on you by instant message), put it into OneNote and then use the outlining and image pasting to turn a multi-step next action, into a project plan, all on one page.
      1. Microsoft *appears* to remain behind OneNote. Microsoft does not “get” what Evernote does (reference filing) and so OneNote continues to miss one key component of a dominant design (reference filing) to replace Evernote. So use them together, you’ll be happier than with either alone.
    3. The twain never meet.
      1. Capture to Evernote if the answer to “Will there ever be a next action?” is maybe or yes.
      2. Process next action into a project plan in OneNote.
    4. Simple really. (#ThankYouRaleighMuns)
  2. That Evernote’s defects in losing notes, are more than overcome by Evernote’s utility as a document manager for reference files.
    1. *Sigh* as I say this Evernote has lost our family’s recipe for Shepherd’s Pie for Christmas 2015. Fortunately, I have emailed this recipe so I, this once, have recovered the data and put it back into Evernote. Twice. 2011_01_08_12_24_37_pdf_pdf
    2. Defect: Customer Service
      And I too, have been misunderstood by Evernote’s support “geniuses” who like car sales people can’t hear the loud “creek” in your new car after you are off the lot. Customer service people at Evernote do not even have brain resptors for:

      1. The user I’m talking to is knowledgeable about Evernote.
      2. There is a real problem.
        But despite this, after beating my head on the Evernote customer service wall (Andy), Evernote the product *miraculously* started recognizing the 2,000 previously unindexed notes. Perhaps reflecting on conversations after the email gets pissy, does take place at Evernote.
        ***With customer service, you can only tie or lose.*** This was a tie, which means victory!!!
    3. Defect: Security
      I would strongly prefer that Evernote run on my air-gapped Synology NAS at home. And the NAS has a note app. But, with 16,986 notes in Evernote, I’m a bit past being able to migrate. If only because I’m somehow certain that I’ll lose notes in the process.

      1. AmIwrong? Suggest alternatives in the comments below!!!
    4. Defect: Interviewing
      Just for fun, I would like to *note* that I had a job interview with Evernote 2 years ago. And I’m sure that a TWILIGHT ZONE episode could be made out of being interviewed by someone who understood their product vastly less than a thunder-lizard fanboi product fanatic with a low-rated blog.
  3. That the Evernote “false pretender” substitutes:
      are a step backwards from having a REFERENCE FILING SYSTEM in the GTD sense. And WORSE they (a) either mix reference filing with processing next actions, or (b) they baffle your brains by focusing on outlines, and simultaneously leave you without a real reference filing system, assuming you have everything you need.
  4. That Evernote dumping Evernote Clearly (which has been displaced by Evernote Web Clipper) is bad.
    1. Why? Because:
      1. I find that I have to have BOTH Web Clipper and Clearly, to reliably be able to capture web pages. Clipper/Clearly don’t do the same thing. The should, but they don’t. So I’m going to have to capture HTML in 2016 to get all the data I need. Ug.
      2. Evernote by allowing parallel competitive products (web clipper and clearly), and then killing the “losers” off, is shaking the jello of customer confidence. I recently listened to an end user berate Microsoft for doing the same thing. Evernote may want to be the Microsoft of notes. But it is a “unicorn” and desperately needs to be the Southwest Airlines of notes. Focus. Focus. Focus.
      3. I like Evernote Clearly. I used it first. We are Borg.
  5. And Evernote dumping Skitch for Windows (same link as Clearly above) is bad.
    1. Highlighting the “afterthought product management” which in Latin is spelled “E-v-e-r-n-o-t-e”
  6. The first three chapters of GTD is all that a human brain can process in one year.
    1. I taught GTD to 200+ MBAs and even a fanboi unemployed person can’t implement chapters 4-13 of the first edition in one go.
    2. I’ve heard that only 17% of attendees to GTD seminars can implement the system. Getting GTD going is a volatile mix of ambition and disappointment. If you get too ambitious, you will be disappointed. And that can add up.
    3. If you don’t swing for the fences, and “take the walk” of getting reference filing going (Evernote, have I mentioned Evernote yet?), clearing your desk (mind=desk like water), and implementing 1-idea-1-piece of paper, next actions, and call it good. Your GTD survival rate will be 100%.
  7. Uneeda 27″ > 1080p monitor. C’mon, you work at a computer for a living. Why not invest in 2x the productivity? Cost = $300. That’s what, like a 1 hr/day payback?
    1. Personally I use el-cheapo refurbished dual-link DVI monitors (warning dual link is a pain) that Cost $200 (now, … but the price is lower at some times) and then get an Apple Mini MB571Z/A DisplayPort to Dual-Link DVI Adapter, which makes the total cost $280. 20% savings!
    2. But … I’ve seen the el-cheapo monitors for as little as $100. My boss got me 2 for work, $150 for the first one, and $100 for the second. Stalk and save.
    3. *Note* your status-oriented computing colleagues will accuse you of being happy with “crap” monitors if you follow this path. I find however, that “crap” gets my things done just as fast as $600 monitors would. :-)
  8. Uneeda 2nd 27″ monitor. Don’t argue. Just implement. Thank me later.
  9. Uneeda monitor arm to convert your (desk + monitors) from a giant monitor stand, back into a desk.
  10. We lived through 2015, we should declare victory, and gird ourselves for disciplined optimism in 2016.

Best Regards,

Bill Meade [email protected]

What is Evernote Clearly?


Clearly it is … not all that clear … what Clearly is …

Evernote has a web page at: that shows you how Clearly works and what you can do with it.


Given that Web Clipper exists … why does Clearly exist? And do I really need Clearly?

Q. Why does clearly exist?

A. I don’t know.

I *speculate* however, that there is a technology industry programming story novella behind why Clearly exists in parallel to Web Clipper. So, here we go …

In the big inning, was Web Clipper. Evernote *intuitively* understood that they needed an on ramp from the internet. So Web Clipper was developed. I *hypothesize* that Evernote whipped the slaves (in as much as Evernote can whip slaves who the company pays to have employee houses cleaned twice a month) to get Web Clipper done quickly.

This is not that big a deal except, creating Web Clipper created a team with a common bond of being whipped slaves (who have their houses cleaned for free). Programmers anywhere in near approximation to the word TEAM require me to point out the mother of all knowledge-worker-team books PEOPLEWARE by DeMarco and Lister. Because software teams are special, awesome, and if they release a product, powerful in nerd culture.

Then someone not on the Web Clipper team had an idea of making a “more pure” tool to bridge from the internet into user databases.


No. I do not have any leaked proprietary information Evernote. I’ve just seen this happen many times, at so many companies, that the finger prints of this kind of bifurcating product effort, do not even belong to the individual perpetrators. They belong to class events.

For example, I worked for a general manager at HP who built a high performance team around his product. The high performance team got their product (a not-HP3000) to out-perform the HP3000.




So, in our novella, the *insiders* are the Web Clipp-istas. And, the outsiders are the Clearly-purists. Once you have true outsiders within a company’s software ecology, you have evolved a new species of team that defines itself in being “not” the defacto internet-to-Evernote team. The result of two software teams doing similar but-politically-separate things is …


Source: Cafe Press Your Team Sucks

For example … IBM’s “black” team (DeMarco & Lister Kindle Book L1849 Chapter 19). A gelled team inside IBM that delighted in making other software teams cry.

Think of the Web Clip-istas as Bill Clinton, and the Clearly-purists as the Republican party. As the republican party develops TRUE differentiation, Bill Clinton would shift to “the middle” and suck out the differentiation’s soul like a dementor … 

Source: PrestigeDetail.Ca

So, now we know the ecology of two teams running in parallel inside Evernote, why does Clearly exist? Well … initially, it was because Clearly did something that Web Clipper did not do (stripping out useless screen elements). Today, however, Clearly exists as the reading-R&D function for the Web Clipper team.

Wait, what?

Web Clipper has moved to incorporate the functionality developed by the Clearly team. So now with clearly you have A LOT OF OPTIONS (see red arrows) about what to capture …


… and, Clearly, has few options.  When you use Clearly, it is cleaner than using Web Clipper because Clearly takes you right into the “simplified article” view (2nd red arrow above). Usually this works. Sometimes not. When “simplified article” does not work, Web Clipper is head and shoulders above Clearly in functionality.

So, Web Clipper by having Clearly’s “back” is the superset of functionality. And clearly, is the cutting edge.

Back to the question: And do I really need Clearly?

The simple answer is “no.” All a GTD person needs is Evernote Web Clipper. Evernote Clearly though awesome, though powerful, though it be ahead of Web Clipper, is the product of the marginalized software team.

Web Clipper in its myriad options (red arrows in image above) has more capabilities than Clearly. More to learn in the short run, but more simplicity in the long run because you only have to learn one tool.

Web Clipper folk, time to find something more cutting edge to do at! Web Clipper’s product manager is the “Bill Clinton of Evernote” and resistance is futile. Bill will assimilate you.

Bottom Line for GTD people:

Install Evernote Web Clipper, and ignore Evernote Clearly.

bill meade