Software

How to ditch Evernote and move to Google Drive

Andy Wolber explains how he replaced Evernote with Google Keep and Google Drive.

Evernote to Google Drive
Image: Andy Wolber

Over the years, I've accumulated nearly 2,000 notes in Evernote. My notes contained small bits of information: server settings, checklists for projects, and notes from discussions. Some notes included photos (mostly of equipment at a client site) or PDF files (such as meeting materials). I always liked that I could access Evernote from most of the major platforms, including Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and the web.

I also rely on Google Apps. When I want to write a document, build a budget, or create slides, I turn to Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, respectively. With Evernote, I access these Google Apps from both major mobile platforms—Android and iOS—and the web.

Lately, I've been working to reduce the number of apps I use. Companies and school systems do this, too. Fewer apps mean fewer places to monitor security and fewer logins to manage. Searches become simpler, too, with more data stored in fewer locations.

When I reviewed my apps and habits this fall, I realized that Google's tools allow me to capture and store the notes and data I need. I no longer needed Evernote. Here are the key changes I made to make the switch.

1. Google Keep to capture notes

Google Keep replaces the "note" function of Evernote for me. With Keep, I can capture a quick note, create a short list, or record a voice memo. The app works on Android and iOS devices, plus in any browser.

I can set a reminder attached to each note, which can be triggered by time (like an alarm) or by location. For example, I might set a reminder to discuss a topic the next time I visit a client's office.

Each note can be shared, too. I can add another person (with their email address) to allow both of us access to the note. That's handy for shared task lists. When I share a note, everyone with access has the ability to edit.

On both Android and the web, I can turn a note into a Google Doc. I simply open the note, select the menu, then choose "Copy to Google Doc." The contents of the note open in a new Google Doc. Note: As of September 2015, Keep for iOS doesn't offer this option. Instead, select text, copy, then paste the contents into a new Google Doc (Figure A).

Figure A

Figure A
Image: Andy Wolber

You can add a time or place reminder to any Google Keep note. And, as shown on Android, you can copy the note to a Google Doc.

2. Google Drive to save pages and documents

Google Drive also replaces the "store for reference" function of Evernote for me. I save info from web pages with the "Save to Google Drive" Chrome browser extension. The extension options allow me to save a web page as an image, HTML file, or Google Doc. I typically leave it set to save as a Google Document, so I can easily search and select text later.

On mobile devices, I save web content in PDF format with the Chrome browser (for Android or iOS). Chrome on iOS offers the feature from the share menu (Figure B). On Android, I use the Google Cloud Print app, which enables a print-to-PDF feature. Both Evernote and Google Drive search recognize text in PDFs.

Figure B

Figure B
Image: Andy Wolber

Save web pages to Google Drive from Chrome on the web, Android, or iOS.

I also scan and store documents to Google Drive. On Android, I use the Google Drive app to photograph document pages, then I upload them as a PDF to Google Drive (see my earlier article, "Scan-to-Google Drive" for details). To do this on iOS, use a third-party app, such as Scanner Pro by Readdle.

Migrate data

I used a paid web service, Cloud HQ, to move my Evernote apps to Google Drive (Figure C). I paid a one-month subscription that cost $21 (USD), then I configured the service to sync everything from Evernote to a single, new "Evernote" folder that I created on Google Drive. All of my content synced, as either a PDF file or an image. The sync took less than a day.

Figure C

Figure C
Image: Andy Wolber

Sync or migrate Evernote data to Google Drive with the CloudHQ.com paid web service.

What's different

The switch does come with some changes. Evernote operates on an "everything in a notebook" model, while Google Drive provides a more traditional "files and folders" framework. And Evernote search looks through all notes, whereas search works separately for Google Drive and Google Keep. Evernote's business features, such as Work Chat and Presentation Mode, are easily equaled or exceeded by Google's Hangouts for messaging and meetings.

Evernote remains an excellent tool, but one that I no longer need. Instead, Google Keep, Chrome, and Drive meet my needs. I'm also pleased to have one less place to look for data.

Do you use both Evernote and Google Apps? Are you certain you need both? If so, why?

Also see

About Andy Wolber

Andy Wolber helps people understand and leverage technology for social impact. He resides in Ann Arbor, MI with his wife, Liz, and daughter, Katie.

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