I love Dropbox. I have used it since 2009 and have been a paying customer for 2 years, and intent do be for many years to come. One thing that it can’t do that well is easily take notes on my phone. Sure, I could edit a .txt file, but it doesn’t allow for that much flexibility and it’s not really designed for that.
As a result, I thought I’d give Evernote a go. I really like the concept. I really like the back end implementation. What I don’t like is the editor on the desktop. Below is a list of annoyances I have found with it. Before reading them, know they are small things. But to be honest, I didn’t realise how much the small things affected my workflow, but these small things have really hindered how much I’ve been able to enjoy using Evernote.
- No real tabs. Pressing tab will enter 5 spaces if I have no text selected. If I want to remove or change a tab I need to backspace 5 times.
- Inconsistent tabs. If I highlight the whole line or multiple lines and press tab, it will indent the line(s) selected. This isn’t a tab (and neither is 5 spaces.)
- Hard to remove indents. As above, tabbing whilst having multiple lines selected or a whole line selected will indent. If I want to remove an indent, I need to select the whole line again and shift-tab. I should be able to select the beginning of the line and shift-tab or backspace. Neither of these work (in fact shift tab adds a fake tab as listed in the first point.) Think how Word works – Word works well.
- No styles. If I want a heading I need to change the font size. I like the idea of separating style and data (think CSS or LaTeX.) I want to be able to specify a heading style, and work if I ever copy the text over to Word. In word, I can turn a line I just typed to a title very easily with a shortcut (I don’t even need to select the text.)
- Tables are a nighmare. The width of cells/columns can’t be adjusted, and they adjust automatically. This sometimes puts you in a really bad situation where one column barely has any room. It’s absolutely awful to work with. (see screenshot at the top of the post.)
- Won’t turn asterisk to bullet point. I haven’t been able to find a way to start bullet points without using my mouse (you know, a short cut.) In Word, if you start a line with an asterisk and press enter it will start a bullet point list for you. I haven’t been able to find a shortcut for this in Evernote.
- Hard to find shortcuts or no shortcuts. Shortcuts may exist, but I haven’t been able to easily find them. I shouldn’t have to do a web search to find what shortcuts are, but as per the previous point, I did do a search and still haven’t found it. Maybe I’m not looking hard enough, but the thing is, I shouldn’t have to look hard. There’s no tooltips for button functions in the toolbar or shortcuts listed in the menus (there are some, but there are plenty of functions without shortcuts.)
Some of these may be because I’m spoilt by Word, but to be honest, Microsoft has done a very good job with Word and has set the bar for WYSIWYG formatting. I feel most things in Word is intuitive – this could be bias because I’m so used to word, but even after really trying to re-learn how to use Evernote, I could never work as efficiently. I can’t afford to be distracted having to use the mouse in a lecture. I’m also not against a learning curve – I’ve had to learn how to use LaTeX this year. That said, LaTeX isn’t WYSIWYG, so I wasn’t ever trying to use it the way I use Word (in fact, as a programmer, I feel LaTeX gives me full control and does what I want – most of the time.) Evernote I do try and use like Word. Maybe I shouldn’t be trying that, but I just can’t live without my shortcuts.
Overall, I do like Evernote. I like the concept and I like the mobile app. The things I’ve listed may only apply to me. There may actually be solutions for them, but those solutions aren’t obvious (and a good design should make them obvious for anyone with a basic understanding of computers – at least tool tips for shortcuts!) I really hope these improve as I do want to use Evernote as I like the idea of editing notes easily on my phone, but these issues I’ve come across really affect the usability (for me at least) and slow me down immensely.