Here’s What You Should Use Instead of Sketchy Evernote [UPDATED]

Popular note taking app, Evernote, updated its privacy policy with a small, but potentially terrifying caveat: all your notes are open to reading by human employees. This news is a great reason to avoid Evernote.


Starting on January 23, 2017, Evernote says the shift to machine learning means the service will collect data and then adjust and offer you services based on how you use Evernote. New reliance on machine learning technologies to improve the service means that “human review is simply unavoidable” in order to “make sure that our machine learning technologies are working correctly.”

You can opt out of offering your data to machines when using the service, but—and this is a big but—human Evernote employees can still read your notes. For journalists especially, the new policy provides a good reason leave the service behind altogether. However, we have a few alternatives. Keep in mind, however, these services still reserve the right to hand over your data to government official if they think you’re doing something illegal.


Free, relatively easy to use, and syncs across multiple devices, Dropbox is best for storing notes you’ve created elsewhere. Its interface can be annoying, but Dropbox offers better privacy options and there’s no chance of losing data to syncing errors, a persistent problem with Evernote.


Simplenote is an easy, free option that’s great if you’re not doing anything too complicated. The app is best for personal lists. It syncs across devices easily and has both desktop and mobile versions,* but doesn’t allow for extensive collaboration beyond simply sharing your pre-made lists.



The priciest option ($30/month), Quip is best for workplace collaboration, built to handle chat, easy sharing, as well as editing of notes and spreadsheets. It also offers unlimited storage and syncs up with password management services like Okta and OneLogin. Quip also has a handy audit system to show who made what changes to documents, just in case a coworker tries to blame a crucial typo or misplaced comma on someone else.



Originally created to edit and brainstorm job postings, Textio is a great collaborative service that lets you create teams who can join in on documents, with Textio’s artificially intelligent software pinging and autocorrecting your shared work. It’s best in a professional system, especially given the somewhat arduous process of adding and logging in multiple team members.



Hackpad is basically a fancy Google Doc with improved sharing, auditing, and embedding options. The company was recently acquired by Dropbox, and it’s also not too much of a hassle to use solo—if you opt for the condensed, free version. Collaborating with others costs an extra $2 per extra user, and the app is available on both desktop and mobile.


And regardless of which service you use, take the advice of our friends at Lifehacker:


Update: 12/16/16 5pm ET: Evernote reached out to announce they’re canceling some of the planned Privacy Policy changes and directed us to an updated blogpost from Head of Communications, Greg Chiemingo. Part of the update reads:

“...we will make machine learning technologies available to our users, but no employees will be reading note content as part of this process unless users opt in. We will invite Evernote customers to help us build a better product by joining the program.”


When we asked if that means users who opt in to machine learning are automatically opting in to employee review, Chiemingo responded, “Those details are still being figured out and they will be clarified before the new privacy policy goes into effect.”

* Correction: Simplenote has a desktop version. H/t Travis Kelleher and David Le Page.


Of course I have pages. I had pages five years ago. How anyone can believe I don’t defies belief.


son of a motherless goat (PSA: wash your hooves)

No mention of OneNote?