Evernote vs DEVONthink In-Depth Comparison

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Comparison between Evernote and DEVONthink

DEVONthink and Evernote are all good software for manage notes, but they are different in the design pattern and the way to use it.

This article will compare these two pieces of software in several ways, to help you choose the right one for you.

Synchronization

Evernote syncs all data by default, it is a service rather than a piece of software. Many features of Evernote must rely on server end, such as OCR.

In 2016, Evernote even planned to change the privacy terms to allow their employees to read users’ data to make sure the deep learning models are working normally. However, the plan was canceled under strong opposing voice.

To be frankly, Evernote’s sync feature is good, it is simple, stable, fast. But I won’t recommend you save privacy information in Evernote.

DEVONthink doesn’t sync data by default, if want to sync data, you have to experience a series of complicated steps.

Winner of this round: Evernote

Note Formats

Evernote only supports one format: note. It looks like RTFD rich text, in fact it’s ENML file. Even though Evernote supports video, PDF, audio, voice as the note content, and any file format as an attachment, all files must link to a note.

DEVONthink can create a wide variety of files as notes: plain text, rich text, formatted notes, HTML, Markdown, bookmarks, and more.

What’s more, DEVONthink supports PDF, WebArchive even MS Word, Pages formats, all files stored in DEVONthink can benefit the advanced features, such as search, word analysis, automatic grouping and so on.

Winner of this round: DEVONthink

Data Storage

Evernote and DEVONthink are all useful for a variety of purposes, like credit card bills archiving, emails archiving, academic research, knowledge management, book notes management, etc. DEVONthink supports multiple databases, and Evernote can only use one database.

Evernote’s data files are encrypted, hidden, and private.

DEVONthink’s data fits with the macOS Finder system.

The benefits of multiple databases are:

Suppose that I don’t want to see my credit card bills when I’m doing academic research. DEVONthink’s See Also and the default search feature both only retrieve files from current database, and using multiple databases is a good way to distinguish different scenarios.

Multiple databases also increase the flexibility of management. For example, if I find that a database is growing fast that it takes up too much space, I can move it to NAS under the same LAN without any loss.

Winner of this round: DEVONthink

Smart Recommendation

Evernote’s Context will recommend three related notes based on the current notes, which can even be retrieved from Lifehacker, Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch and other media to display relevant content.

The DEVONthink AI is actually two functions:

  • Recommend appropriate places to store files based on their contents (Auto Group and Classify);
  • Find other files associated with the currently open file in database (See Also).

In terms of the actual usage, when there are enough files, the result of Auto Group is surprisingly good. It is hard to believe that this function comes from an app with only over 20 megabytes. See Also works well when a large number of academic documents are indexed and stored.

Winner of this round: Evernote

Note Links

Right-click on a note in Evernote and select Copy Note Link we can copy the note Link and jump between different notes. If the Note is shared, the link is valid among members. If hold Option and right click on the note, select Copy Classic Link, we can Copy the URL Scheme links. But we can’t get links for the attachments.

DEVONthink has similar Copy Item Link feature, besides notes, photos, bookmarks, PPT can all generate Item Link. For PDF files, you can even make a Page Link!

For situations where file attachments are not supported, such as Things, Calendar, you can store the files in DEVONthink and link them to these apps.

Evernote and DEVONthink both generate tables Of Content.

Winner of this round: DEVONthink

Automation

Evernote’s support for Apple Script is poor compared to DEVONthink’s. Checking Dictionary with Script Editor we can find that all the functions of Evernote, except Standard Suite, operate on “note” basis, such as searching, tagging, importing, and exporting.

DEVONthink includes five components: Text Suite, DEVONthink Pro Suite, Extended Text Suite, and OCR Commands Suite. DEVONthink Pro Suite covers actions such as manipulating notes, manipulating databases, etc. The Extended Text Suite covers most of the required actions to manipulate the Text in your notes.

Winner of this round: DEVONthink

OCR (Optical character recognition)

Both Evernote Premium and DEVONthink Pro Office have OCR capabilities, but there are differences.

In Evernote, the characters in PDF and images stored in Evernote can be searched but cannot be copied.

While selecting “convert to searchable PDF” from DEVONthink creates a new document with text that can be searched and copied.

Winner of this round: DEVONthink

Price

Evernote Premium costs $96 per year and Business $180 per year. It’s a subscription plan with a free basic account, but limits two devices and 60MB of upload traffic per month.

DEVONthink Pro is $80, and DEVONthink Office is $150. There is no limit on the number of devices a person can use.

DEVONthink to Go costs $15. There is an $8 in-app purchase which can unlock the features such as selective synchronization, PDF annotations, and more.

Winner of this round: DRAW (If you have very limited needs for notes management, you can use Evernote for free. But DEVONthink costs less if you use for over 2 years.)

Note Versions Control

Evernote supports detailed historical versions control.

In DEVONthink we can only use other tools to achieve the same goal, such as using the Keyboard Maestro to periodically run scripts that copy the entire database or a file to a location.

Winner of this round: Evernote

Webpage Clippings

Similar to the synchronization mechanism, Evernote’s web clipping tool has simple logic, while DEVONthink’s web clipping tool is much more complex, but is more flexible than Evernote’s once you figure out what each option does.

Winner of this round: DEVONthink

Documentation

Most problems encountered in using Evernote basically need to be solved by searching posts in its community.

DEVONthink is well documented. But the Evernote community is so active that it’s easy to identify with problems and get official attention. And DEVONthink has almost no community.

Winner of this round: DRAW

 EvernoteDEVONthink
Synchronization
Note Formats
Data Storage
Smart Recommendation
Note Links
Automation
OCR
Price
Note Versions Control
Webpage Clippings
Documentation

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