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Why I Converted All of My Note-Taking Needs to Standard Notes

17 May 2024 11:43 AM | Anonymous

Here is an article that is not about any of the "normal" topics of this newsletter: genealogy, history, current affairs, DNA, and related topics. But it is about a program that I use daily and I decided to share it with my readers.

I created an Evernote account years ago, and I currently have hundreds of notes saved there covering a wide range of subjects. I save information about hundreds of websites (including URLs) that I may need to consult at a later time, articles (especially draft articles) for my genealogy newsletter, the names and email addresses of dozens of people in case I need to contact them later, details about all of my insurance policies, prescription drugs that I take, information about past meals at various restaurants and coffee shops across the globe that I may need to consult again (usually when I'm craving a good meal), credit card numbers, airline tickets, hotel reservations, and a host of other items that I might need to remember at some point in the future. Evernote allows voice note recording and picture capture from cameras on compatible devices in addition to keyboard input of textual notes. 

To put it briefly, Evernote has taken over as my go-to app for everything I might need to remember in the future. However, there are certain issues with Evernote.

I don't recall the exact date of my sign-up, but it was a long time ago. Evernote was free to use and saved notes online, on the cloud, accessible from any of my computers running Windows, Macintosh, and other operating systems. Back then, I wasn't too worried about security.

Different "restrictions" were applied over time. Initially, Evernote soon could only be used on two separate computers (unless a premium edition was purchased). The service has seen multiple instances of lost consumer data over the years, including some of my data. Evernote said on March 2, 2013, that hackers had broken into their network and were able to obtain user data, including hashed passwords, email addresses, and usernames. It was requested of all users to change their passwords. Evernote revealed changes to its privacy policy in December 2016, which sparked rumors that under certain circumstances, the policy may permit access to user content by Evernote staff members. Evernote expressed regret for the issues raised, said the policy will not be put into effect, and said that staff members would not have access to users' content unless the users specifically requested it. Nonetheless, Evernote staff members can now access your data. Periodically, online hackers have also been able to access the notes that Evernote subscribers claim to be private.

Evernote substantially decreased its free plan (to a maximum of 50 editable notes) on December 20, 2023, and the restriction went into effect that same day.

Bending Spoons purchased Evernote in November 2022. Since then, I haven't noticed any other upgrades or adjustments to its offerings, to be honest.

Here I sit, using a pricey service that occasionally trims its offers but never lowers its cost. I set out to find better services.

I tried Microsoft OneNote first. Fortunately, OneNote was and I believe still is a totally free program. However, I quickly discovered that it was not cross-platform. When I originally started exploring for alternatives, it wanted to only run on Microsoft PCs because it was a Microsoft product. OneNote for Mac was later released by Microsoft; I checked it out but it seemed like a trimmed-down version of the Windows program. Microsoft never made a version for Linux, which is what I required. I didn't stop searching for a worthy substitute.

I then tried Joplin, a well-liked Evernote substitute for Windows, Android, Mac, and iPhone. According to reports, it is the most widely used free and open-source substitute for Evernote. Even though there is a somewhat awkward Terminal version that can be used on Linux, no Linux app was available when I really wanted to move to Joplin. I thus continued to search.

I eventually came into Standard Notes at I didn't like it right away. The software lacks many of the features seen in other apps and seems to still be in its early stages of development. But as time passed, I found myself returning again and time again to Standard Notes.

First of all, Standard Notes is an open-source, free product (more on that later). It is compatible with Linux, Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, and the web (see I believed I had arrived to nirvana. But I was going to be let down very soon.

An independent business based on the principles of ethical data practices and sustainable software development creates and distributes Standard Notes. Prominent security researchers have independently audited the code, which is fully transparent.

It is said that end-to-end AES-256 encryption is used by the application. This implies that under no circumstances can anybody else read your notes except you. Your data is encrypted every time it is transmitted to the server. Both when it is "at rest" within the server and when it is traveling between you and the server, it is always encrypted.

One feature that I really like is the capability that allows Standard Notes to create backups and email them to you daily in encrypted form. That really brought me joy

Speaking of servers, you can store the data for Standard Notes on almost any server or cloud-based file service that you can access. Additionally, it can save your data on any disk drive that is attached to your computer. Nevertheless, this restricts the ability to share data with other machines, though it is still possible just more difficult.

The fact that Standard Notes' free edition only stores notes in basic ASCII text format—simple, devoid of bold, italics, colors, or even clickable URLs—is my main complaint about the program. Moreover, with comparable limitations and without any images or other graphics. Indeed, those features are accessible for an additional fee of $90 or $120 per year (in US dollars) if you want to pay for productivity or professional skills. For more information, visit

What a waste of "free" software!

I continued to use Standard Notes' free edition. Since I'm a geek and can copy and paste URLs into a web browser, I felt that the application's many advantages outweighed the drawbacks and I could live with just text notes. Although I regret not having more images and visuals, I was willing to accept the software's deficiency in exchange for its free nature.

I was wrong.

After a few weeks of putting up with Standard Notes and all of its limitations, I took out my credit card and registered for the Professional version, which costs $120 annually. (For further information, visit I am now a much happier, if poorer, Standard Notes user.

To those who are interested in giving Standard Notes a try, my advice would be to "Try it and see if it works for you." After all, even though the free version is restricted to text notes only, it is accessible for a no cost. What do you stand to lose?

But be advised that Standard Notes appears rather dated. That is to say, it lacks bells and whistles and resembles programs from 20 or more years ago. I am accustomed to utilizing old-fashioned computer software because I have been doing it for over 50 years. But you may like it or not.

Regardless, visit to obtain and utilize Standard Notes or to learn more about it.


  • 17 May 2024 9:56 PM | Anonymous
    Standard Notes has recently announced it is joining forces (by acquisition) with Proton. Thus link on their blog may help ( As a ProtonMail user, I also got notice from them.

    Might be a plus for all who value privacy.

    Thanks for your newsletter. I get more from your non-genealogy posts, on a week to week basis. They are worth the subscription price.
    Link  •  Reply
  • 20 May 2024 7:23 AM | Anonymous
    This interests me. Were you able to find a way to move your Evernote Notes over to Standard Notes?
    Link  •  Reply
    • 20 May 2024 7:46 AM | Anonymous
      ---> Were you able to find a way to move your Evernote Notes over to Standard Notes?

      Not easily. I only moved them one-at-a-time by copying a note in Evernote and then copying it to Standard Notes by old-fashioned copy-and-paste.

      It anyone knows of a better way, I would love to know about it.
      Link  •  Reply

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