Notion vs Evernote: Which is King?

I’ve tried a lot of note-taking applications, but I still find myself returning to Evernote. Not even Notion could win me over.

Evernote just feels more polished — I’m not sure whether it’s because I’ve been using it for what feels like a lifetime, but the process of opening it up and taking a note feels natural and seamless. It’s also more secure; I have no worries about storing semi-sensitive information in it, thanks to tools like two-factor authentication and passcode protection. You can even encrypt text within a note, requiring an additional password to see what’s under the cover. Plus, staff don’t have access to your data.

As an iPhone and iPad user, I’m also a huge fan of the Evernote widget. Having the option to create a note and upload a photograph, from the lock screen, without having to unlock the device and find and open the application makes it feel so natural. There are a lot more steps required to do the same on Notion. You need to open it up, track down the individual page, then find where you want to create the note. Evernote makes it easy to create in a hurry, while the idea is still fresh in your mind.

But that’s just scratching the surface. Evernote offers several other features, albeit to Premium members, that Notion doesn’t bring to the table, including but not limited to the option to save notes for offline access, annotate PDFs without having to download additional software and best of all search for specific text within Word documents and PDFs. The membership, which costs $8 per month, also lets you upload up to 10GB in files per month with a 200MB maximum note size.

Sure, Notion doesn’t have such strict limitations on uploads. Free users can upload as many files as they want, but there’s a cap of 5MB per file, while paid subscribers can upload as much as they want, with no restrictions on file size. But that doesn’t matter. I’m not saying Evernote is the best all-round workspace software. I’m saying it’s the best note-taking application. Most people shouldn’t need to attach more than 200MB in a note — enough space for a handful of documents, receipts or business cards.

Evernote + Moleskine = Life

One of my favorite things about Evernote is the Moleskine Evernote Smart Notebook. For those who haven’t heard of it, it’s a traditional analog Moleskine that once paired with the Moleskine Pen+ can digitize all of your freehand notes in real time. But I don’t use it for that. Instead, I take advanced of Evernote’s Page camera feature to capture the pages of my notebook and store them in Evernote. It’s a bit more manual, but it’s cheaper than paying out for the whole Moleskine smart setup.

So why use the Moleskine Evernote Smart Notebook to do this and not a regular notebook? Well, the Moleskine Evernote Smart Notebook features unique Evernote-ruled pages with dotted lines designed to ensure a clean image when digitally capturing the smart phone. Once imported, you can search for your handwritten notes by keyword (i.e. text on the page), tag or notebook. Best of all, each Evernote Smart Notebook comes with three months of Evernote Premium for free.

Ease of Use is Key

What I’m trying to say is nothing compares to Evernote when you’re wanting to create a quick note while you’re out in the trenches. For me, it serves as an inbox for anything I need to store or remember before I sit down to organize it, and inevitably store a copy in Notion, every once in a while. I can’t see this workflow changing until Notion levels up its existing application or releases a dedicated, purpose-built version for note-taking, and that won’t happen anytime soon.

Of course, Evernote is just one of the many Notion alternatives out there. If you’re keen to move away from Notion, for whatever reason, we recommend pairing Evernote with a Kanban-based project management tool like Trello to stay organized. This way, you have a dedicated note-taking application and a standalone solution for building lists and breaking down projects. Although, if it’s a simple to-do list you’re after, you can do this inside Evernote thanks to its checkbox feature.

Don’t Forget Customization

When it comes to customization, there’s no beating Notion. The sheer level of flexibility you have is out of this world. You can form relationships between different pieces of content, and there’s no shortage of Notion templates that’ll help you find inspiration. While there are Evernote templates out there, there’s nowhere near the same selection as what’s on offer for Notion, and that’s because Evernote doesn’t have the same feature set: It does one thing, and one thing well: Lets you take notes.

The Verdict

If it’s note-taking you’re after, Evernote sits at the the head of the table, ruling the roost. Notion, with its limited skillset when it comes to taking notes, can’t compete with Evernote — which lets you save notes for offline access, encrypt entire notes or individual blocks of text, annotate PDFs without having to use aftermarket software, and search for text within Word documents and PDFs to name but a few features. But for everything else, like building an entire productivity suite, Notion is king.

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