Evernote and DEVONthink

You wouldn’t know it from the state of my office, but I like to organize things. I’ve been looking for a good way to organize electronic files: bookmarks and saved web pages that I might want to refer to later for research or writing help, mostly, but also things like blog drafts, posts I want to comment on or share, lists of potential birthday gifts, and so on.

Evernote seems like the obvious solution to this, and the latest updates for Mac and for iOS are very pretty, but I’ve never been happy with its poor management of plain text files or with having to pay for offline access to my notes on my iPod.

I’ve been using DEVONthink for a couple months and it’s been doing a stellar job.

  • plain text files don’t get extra blank lines when I copy and paste
  • it never tells me I’m not allowed to edit something on mobile/offline that I expected to be able to edit
  • text content of frequently edited documents like my blog schedule or list of books I want to read doesn’t randomly duplicate itself
  • if I read something in Instapaper that I want to blog about or just file away, I can send it to the appropriate Instapaper folder and DEVONthink will import it from the RSS feed.
  • I can organize things with folders, tags, and separate databases (with their own tagging systems)

The drawbacks I’ve run across so far are

  • I can’t tell it to sync anything in a certain folder or with a specified tag. I have to “replicate” each individual item to a special folder. There have been a few times when I be wanted to work on something at lunch but forgot to sync it.
  • it’s not free, though neither is Evernote if I want it to be useful
  • it’s not pretty or nice to use. It’s the dishcloth to Evernote’s hand-embroidered tea towel. But if you want to wipe the counters, the dishcloth is more useful.

I’m keeping my Evernote account–it’s very nice for collecting recipes–but nearly everything I currently have in it is moving to DEVONthink.

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