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Ask HN: Evernote alternatives for research?
62 points by Spooky23 on Jan 31, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 49 comments
I do alot of research for both product/market evaluation and general interest type stuff. Evernote's tagging features have served me well for a long time and make it easy for me to find stuff.

Their web-clipper is also an amazing tool that is super-useful, but not essential.

I'm getting involved in a project where the nature of some of the data I'll be handling is such that I can't host it with Evernote. So I need an alternative.

I use mostly Mac/iPhone. I don't like OneNote. Would prefer desktop software, but I'm fine with something with a server requirement. Open source is preferred.

For academic research, I find https://www.zotero.org/ useful. AGPLv3 license, good integration with web browsers, and good sync. It has tagging and custom notes although I prefer using folders and a separate note taking app.

Zotero is good. I've also used http://mendeley.com/, which is a good alternative to Zotero.

If going this route I'd also recommend checking out my brother's reference management tool Paperpile http://paperpile.com [0]

It's kind of like Gmail for your papers—keyboard shortcuts, fancy Google Docs integrations, auto-downloading etc. He spent a couple of years after finishing his PhD to make his dream reference management tool with a couple of friends.

[0]: I also voiceovered the video on the homepage. A Redditor noted my natural voice is too cartoon-y for the subject matter which I found hilarious, and have since accepted.

It wasn't super clear from the page, but can I easily annotate PDF's from my iPad and use the summary of the annotations on my PC?

Sorry I missed this yesterday! They have a pretty amazing PDF annotator https://paperpile.com/features/pdf-annotator but not sure how it looks on an iPad.

Here they suggest that using iAnnotate synced with Google Drive files works like a charm: http://forum.paperpile.com/t/tip-sync-with-goodreader-on-ipa...

Try CopyCopy. We do bookmarking and article saving but more broadly let you keep anything for later just by copying it (using normal copy and paste). So we handle not just web articles, but any information that's copyable in any app! See https://www.copycopy.com/

If our homepage isn't clear enough, check out https://www.copycopy.com/product (excuse the unfinished wording on that page as it's not live yet).

You can go to https://www.copycopy.com/account and turn on experimental features which will enable tags (called "labels"). From our webapp https://www.copycopy.com/clips you can search clips, or filter them by label.

Oh, and we're quietly releasing our Mac OSX app tomorrow.

You need a working live demo. Can't bring myself to signup just to try.

You're right, and thanks for the feedback.

We thought animations would be good enough but people do like to see the real live thing. Here's a live demo, albeit one with rather poor sound and editing: https://vimeo.com/140990404. Password is "disrupt".

Former Evernote user here. I use http://tiddlywiki.com/ and its quite amazing. Self-hosted, small, fast, tons of features, superb tagging support. There is no mobile app, I use Dropbox and view it in Safari. Highly recommended!

Another vote for Tiddlywiki. It support tags, search, easy authoring, export to static html or plain text, hosting on a server or on your hd. All in a single file. There is Tiddlyclip plugin to clip pieces of text to your notes.


You may need to explain more about your work flow and data types.

Like if you were preparing a paper (you presumably aren't) Zotero is a super cool set of tools for citation and bibliography management.

If you are doing data science, Ipython for python and RCloud for R.

Command line geek? Both vim and Emacs have relevant tools.

A lot of code and large data files? A git repo and git annex may be what you are looking for.

There's a lot of PDF files, clippings from websites or applications, reports from databases, as well as plain text.

A big part of my workflow is annotation of the source data and tagging it with various categories.

Honestly, my perfect tool would probably be OneNote's engine with evernote's tagging bolted on.

I haven't used it myself, but Yojimbo from the makers of BBEdit is worth a look based on your criteria.


Zotero Standalone may work then. There is also https://github.com/twostairs/paperwork which has tag and search support.

I'd go plain text with org-mode, if you are willing to learn a bit of Emacs.

Plain text has the advantage of being completely open to scripting. So it can satisfy any requirements you have down the road. Also easy to version control, etc.

Org-mode supports an immense amount of things already, including tags and it derives from an outline mode so it's great for note taking.

I use Quiver a bunch http://happenapps.com/#quiver

Thank you for mentioning this app! I've been searching for a great native note-taking app with support for code-formatting and rich text (not just markdown), and Quiver is fantastic! Clean UI, completely configurable UI via CSS, blazing fast, and the full screen presentation mode is awesome! And for only $10, it's a steal!

I know! I could not live without it at this point. It's funny how one guy (he's actually on HN https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8683597) can totally own a niche and blow Evernote and OneNote and all the other note taking apps out of the water.

Simplenote has tags, a desktop and iOS app, and a "good enough" feature set.


For better and worse it's not cloud-based, but check out DevonThink: http://www.devontechnologies.com/products/devonthink/overvie...

+1. For me, and I have used orgmode, onenote, and evernote and for me, there is nothing better.

To be honest, I use plain old email. If you have a decent client (I use Thunderbird) you can put any text, links, images etc in there. Searching is built-in. Tagging isn't quite as good but there are ways around it.

I then use procmail for putting into the right folder.

It has worked really well for me.

Eaglefiler might be an interesting alternative. Closed source, OS X only, but actively developed, and from a one-person shop. http://c-command.com/eaglefiler/

Orgmode is really good for this kind of stuff.

i second org-mode, criteria mentioned in request is available on org-mode. the only negative note to be mentioned is that it has steep learning curve

orgmode is suitable for reproducible search. There is a thesis written on it. http://www.jstatsoft.org/article/view/v046i03

I'm also curious as to Evernote alternatives. One of the features they cut a while back is the ability to have nested notebooks and notes, a feature I loved dearly, but was cut several versions ago. I know some people who are still on the very first versions of Evernote due to this feature. There are other features that try to compensate for this (tags, keywords, etc), but I'm looking for genuine hierarchy of notes.

My main intention is for cataloguing, studying, and understanding many deeper contexts in religious studies.

Try Microsoft One Note. You may find the following useful: - track history of edits made to a page - easy to insert images, videos etc. - search works decent - do complex sums etc inline without loading calculator or Excel - Quite handy to write math equations.

We are just launching myorb.com which is the excel of information sharing. You can upload any type of content files, bookmarks, links and pretty much anything else. Info goes into separate spaces where you can invite collaborators and then communicate with Chat, Email and Notes. It does what Evernote does but with a lot of other services which are currently in separate products. We are a web application and hence available on any device with a browser. I can give you a full demo as your use case is basically what we are aiming to provide.

github + jupyter notebooks is what I use for my research notes... can put links and pictures and shit in it.

I don't think that does what I need, but it's amazing. I'll spend an afternoon with it someday!

It's worth looking at AirStory - http://www.airstory.co I like their web clipper more than Evernote's.

Not sure I'd put professional data into a site that requires you to request an a beta invite.

I made Trunk as an Evernote alternative. It's open-source and web-based, using Markdown to store notes. It might be too simple for your needs however.

You can try it at http://trytrunk.com/ or get the source at https://github.com/timdavies/trunk

> I don't like OneNote.

It might help to be a little more specific here.

OneNote is powerful, but it's way of organizing things just doesn't work for me. I end up with a sprawl that I can't find anything in.

Also, the web application is very poor on features. You can't even make a search in all your notes. This renders it useless to me.

You can try out Cubeit - You can collect all type of information into Collections which is similar to tagging. But its only on mobile for now.https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.gridants.c...

It would depend on the requirements. There are several Open Source programs, some will index locally, some won't. There are also evernote tools for command line such as GeekNote.

Oddly, if its public. I have had clients use a wiki; or even Wordpress. (has mobile sharing app)...


It's the best info organizer (for my style at least) that I know of, though (so far) less feature-rich than many products. I hope the About page at that link explains the present and future well.

I have been using NationalVelocity on Desktop + Simplenote on iPhone and I couldn't be happier about it.

If you don't like your research to be in the cloud, take a look on the open source desktop app of http://tagspaces.org

I am doing lots of PDF reading and highlighting what's important. Using this tool to extract the highlights later when I need to summarize my highlights:


Evernote has always supported offline /local notebooks without the cloud. You lose some features such as OCR, but the search feature works otherwise. Is there some reason that won't work?

I am incredibly happy with Google Keep. Set it up like a Chrome desktop application and you can tap into all the awesomeness of Drive also. It's very simple, syncs with your phone app, etc.

Try out Workflowy. Browser based, iPhone app. Crazy fast and super structured. I'm in the midst of shifting from Evernote and doubt that I'll ever look back.

Tinderbox and DEVONthink.

try dscout.com - refreshing take on user research.

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