Evernote restricts free users to 50 notes. Time for open-source alternatives?


Evernote, the popular note-taking app, has recently announced a significant update that will affect its free users. From December 4, 2023, Evernote imposed a maximum limit of 50 notes for free accounts. This change aims to encourage users to be more mindful of their content and rethink their note organization strategies. But who knows how long this limit will last?

Evernote changes its free tier limits to 50 notes
Evernote’s upgrade notice to restrict free users to 50 notes starting December 4, 2023

This update may prompt users to reconsider their relationship with Evernote. Imposing limitations might push some users to explore alternative note-taking apps that better align with their needs and preferences.

Evernote’s decision to limit free users to 50 notes reflects a shift in their approach towards providing a limited free plan while encouraging users to consider paid options for additional functionality. Bending Spoons acquired Evernote in November 2022 and it claims this limit is below the usage for most free users. In response to this potential shift, Evernote acknowledges some customers may feel compelled to explore other options.

Already Over the limit?

Let’s get this over with before we move on to alternatives. For existing free users who currently have over 50 notes, Evernote offers a solution. The notes will stay as they are and you can edit and update them. However, you will not be able to create any new notes or notebooks. You can export notes and consolidate multiple notebooks under the limit to add additional notes. As it stands your notes will not be deleted, allowing users to preserve their data before changing ship. This provides some relief for longtime users who have accumulated a substantial amount of content and need more time to evaluate their options.

Alternatives to Evernote

Some users may feel frustrated by the imposed restrictions. For those who heavily rely on note taking, there are many alternatives, freemium or open source.

If you need to get off Evernote right away, freemium services Notion, Microsoft OneNote, and Zoho Notebook are among the noteworthy alternatives. They offer different features and functionalities that may resonate with users seeking a change. However, these are still companies that may change their plans in the future.

Open source and self-hosted

There are several self-hosted open-source alternatives to Evernote for note-taking and organization. You host these yourself and naturally control all the data. You don’t have to fear some unforeseen limitations that companies may force on you. Some of the popular options include:

1. Joplin

Joplin is a cross-platform, hybrid-hosted Evernote replacement that can users can host on various online storage services like NextCloud, WebDAV, and several others. It offers a WYSIWYG editor, client-side encryption, and versioning for notebooks. Joplin is available for Linux, Mac, Windows, Android, and iOS.

2. Standard Notes

Standard Notes is an end-to-end encrypted, open-source note-taking app with its own advantages compared to Evernote. We can expand its features with extensions, and it has a freemium model.

3. Obsidian

Obsidian is a powerful note-taking tool that focuses on linking your notes together, creating a knowledge graph of your ideas. The tool supports markdown. We can also integrate it with Git repositories for version control.

Previous changes from Evernote

While the recent change in December 2023 is the most significant, here are some notable changes from years ago:

2016: Evernote introduced monthly upload limits for free users, ranging from 60MB to 100MB depending on the device. This aimed to curb excessive storage usage by some free users.

2018: The monthly upload limit for free users dropped to 60MB for all devices. This further reinforced the emphasis on Evernote’s freemium model, encouraging users to upgrade for increased storage.

2020: They removed the upload limits, but they restricted free users to accessing only 2 devices with their accounts. This limitation aimed to manage server load and bandwidth costs associated with free accounts.

For some users, this update from Evernote is an opportunity for users to reflect on their note-taking habits or explore alternative solutions that better align with their evolving needs. Evernote was the app I used when I was in college and it helped me tremendously. But I moved away when they imposed a 2 device limit. Their desktop app was a great companion for a broke student.

As users navigate through this update, it is important to remember that the essence of note-taking lies in capturing and organizing information effectively. Some people might be happy with 50 note limits. Whether with Evernote or another app, the goal remains unchanged – to create a system that empowers users to capture ideas, stay organized, and enhance productivity in their daily lives.

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