Evernote vs Apple Notes: Does Apple’s Update Finally Make it a Worthy Competitor?

George Tinari

For a very long time, if you asked someone which app was better for note-taking between Evernote and Apple Notes, the answer was obvious: Evernote. Evernote has been the leading note-taker online for several years now because of its wide range of tools, ease of use and ability to sync with just about every device you use.

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The new Apple Notes gives Evernote a run for its money | Vdovichenko Denis/Shutterstock.com

Meanwhile, Apple’s own Notes app has barely got any attention at all. It emerged in 2007 on the first iPhone as a basic note-taking application about as useful as a digital sticky note. For years, it didn’t stray from that basic, uninspired app. But with iOS 9, Notes became significantly more powerful with intuitive rich text editing tools, bullets, check lists, support for photos, videos and link previews and an attachment gallery. Plus, it’s accessible on many devices, like Evernote, thanks to iCloud.

So, with this recent overhaul, is it finally okay to abandon your third-party notetaker in favor of Apple Notes?

Apple Notes is More Convenient

One of the best features Apple Notes has is the sheer convenience of automatically being there. If you already own an iPhone, iPad or Mac, you have immediate access to the Notes app. It comes preinstalled on all these devices and it’s one less account to have to create since it uses your existing iCloud account.

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It syncs impeccably across all your devices too. Unlike with Evernote, there is no need to constantly tap the Sync button to make sure everything gets sent up to the cloud. In fact, Apple Notes doesn’t even have a sync button because everything is automatically updated all the time.

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Apple Notes is also just a faster app to use. If you need to jot down a few thoughts and paste in a link, Notes is immediately responsive from the moment you open the app and you won’t have to navigate between notebooks or tags to get to where you need to be. It’s a much faster app for taking notes on the fly.

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With iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan, Notes is vastly more capable as well. It allows for various types of attachments: photos, videos, sketches, maps, websites, audio and documents. Yes, you can even add sketches that you draw directly in the app. Evernote again loses points for the inconvenience of having to use a separate app, Skitch, to import doodles and drawings.

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Like Evernote, you can also organize your notes into folders. The only downside to this is that the iCloud.com Notes web app doesn’t seem to support folders yet, so online you’ll have to view all or nothing for now. All other devices support folders though.

Evernote is More Powerful

Despite the ease of use and overall drastic improvements to Apple Notes, Evernote is still significantly more powerful. It’s really night and day.

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On top of being able to do pretty much everything that Apple Notes can do, Evernote lets you add tags to your notes, reminders, share notes online with a public or private link, merge notes or switch notebooks, scan photos and analyze the text in them… the list goes on and on.

Tip: You can also display notes in presentation mode and collaborate with friends or team members, but these features and some others require a paid subscription to Evernote Premium. To learn about that, definitely check out Guiding Tech’s Evernote guide.

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Notes themselves also have editing options for alignment, paragraph tabs, webcam recordings within the app and font selection. Plus Evernote’s powerful search feature lets you search through all your notes, individual notebooks, tags, time and dates and more. Evernote is a serious productivity powerhouse.

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Though the app is slower to use than Apple Notes and all around less convenient, one handy feature called Shortcuts lets you pin frequently used notes and notebooks so they’re accessible without having to browse through everything. Props for that, Evernote.

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Finally, it’s also worth noting (appropriately, while we’re on the topic of notes) that Evernote is available for iOS and Android. And even Windows Phone. And Windows 8. And Windows 10. If you’re someone that switches between platforms frequently or wants to be protected for the future, know that Apple Notes is only accessible within the Apple ecosystem. Evernote is everywhere.

Winner: Evernote

Remember the various editions of Windows 7 that catered to specific groups of users? Well Apple Notes is to Evernote what Windows 7 Home Basic was to Windows 7 Ultimate. If you’re deep in the Apple ecosystem of owning an iPhone and Mac and don’t need anything too extreme, Notes is likely sufficient.

If you need anything close to better organization, more customization or sharing and collaboration tools, it’s still a no brainer: Evernote is the way to go. Also, if you’re note-taking for professional reasons rather than personal ones, Evernote is again the clear choice.

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George Tinari

Written By

George Tinari

George Tinari has written about technology for over seven years: guides, how-tos, news, reviews and more. He's usually sitting in front of his laptop, eating, listening to music or singing along loudly to said music. You can also follow him on Twitter @gtinari if you need more complaints and sarcasm in your timeline.