Evernote to Notes

Update: iOS 9.3 adds support for importing Evernote data into Notes by long-pressing on Evernote Export files.

Apple dramatically improved its Notes app with iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan last fall thanks to enhanced photo support, new formatting tools, URL snippets, a share extension, and an iCloud Drive backend to keep it all in sync. So much so that people have actually been moving from Evernote to Apple Notes and not looking back, but there hasn’t been a simple way to make the leap until now. Included in the OS X 10.11.4 software update is a new option in the Notes app that makes migrating content from Evernote to Apple Notes a very simple process. Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

  • A Mac running OS X 10.11.4, it’s currently in beta although there’s a public beta version available as well, this will likely be available to everyone next month
  • Evernote for Mac, you can download it for free from the Mac App Store
  • Notes on your Mac, this is pre-installed, just make sure you’re signed in with your iCloud account and using iCloud Drive for the full experience

Note: Migration doesn’t work yet on iPhones and iPads. You’ll need a Mac to do the heavy lifting, then your migrated notes will sync across all platforms including the web. With that in mind, let’s get started.

Install Evernote for Mac from the Mac App Store if you haven’t already. You can download it here.

Evernote Mac App Store

Log in to Evernote, but first click the ‘Sign in’ option as ‘Create an account’ deceptively defaults on launch.

Evernote Mac

Let all your notes sync in (you’ll know they’re finished loading in when the spinner next to your email address in the top left stops spinning), then look around and decide which notes you want to migrate. By default, you view all your notes across different notebooks together.

Evernote notes

To migrate everything all at once, click ‘Edit’ at the top of your screen while you’re in Evernote, then click ‘Select All’ to pick all of your entries for exporting. This makes bulk migration easier, but Evernote includes some notes of their own from time to time (which might be why people are migrating) so you might want to be more selective. If you’re like me and just have a few entries, you can hold the Command (⌘) key and click each note individually.

Evernote Mac

Optionally, you can view your notes in separate collections by clicking the ‘Notebooks’ section on the left side. This lets you choose which collections you want to export. However, you can only select one notebook at a time.

Evernote Notebooks

Once you’ve chosen which notes or notebooks to export, the export process is very easy. While you’re in Evernote, click ‘File’ at the top of your screen, then click the ‘Export Notes…’ option.

Evernote Export

Next you’ll see a menu with a few options like what you want to name your Evernote export file, where you want to save it, and which file type it will use. The default ‘My Notes’ filename is fine, I chose Desktop as the save location to make finding it later easier, and we’ll use the ‘Evernote XML Format (.enex)’ for this.

Evernote file

Once you hit ‘Save’ and see the ‘Export complete.’ dialog, click ‘OK’ and verify that you now have a file on your desktop or wherever you picked to save it called ‘My Notes.enex’.

Evernote export file

Now you’re finished with Evernote and can close the app. Next, launch Notes and click ‘File’ at the top of your screen, then click the ‘Import Notes…’ option. Remember, this requires OS X 10.11.4 or later.

Notes import

This will bring up a new window that lets you select the .enex file we exported earlier. Choose the ‘My Notes.enex’ file, then click the ‘Import’ button to start the importing process. You may see a prompt with a warning that your notes “may look different in Notes”, then select ‘Import Notes’ to go forward. Remember, your data is still in Evernote at this point if anything goes wrong.

Notes import

Finally, Notes will migrate your data in and file your notes from Evernote into a nearly created Imported Notes folder. Look around and make sure everything looks correct, then you can move your migrated notes into their own folders if you prefer.

Notes migrated

And that’s it! For me, the only data I had left in Evernote was from the defunct Evernote Food app where I briefly journaled my favorite meals, but I hadn’t bothered to try more complicated migration methods in the past. The new import option on OS X 10.11.4 makes migrating notes from Evernote to Apple Notes much simpler than previous workarounds, and all of the dates and formatting for my entries remained intact.

Ideally, a similar migration on iPhones and iPads would help even more users make the switch, but this new method works effectively for users with access to a Mac and iCloud pushes the data to Notes on iOS and the web as well.

If you’re completely satisfied with Apple Notes and no longer need Evernote, you can even delete your data there, deactivate your account, and request that your email be removed from their system for good using these instructions.

The software update also adds password-protected notes to the Apple Notes app on OS X and iOS, with Touch ID devices even having the option to use the fingerprint sensor to unlock entries. Currently in developer and public betas, these new features will likely be available to all users next month.

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About the Author


Zac covers Apple news, hosts the 9to5Mac Happy Hour podcast, and created SpaceExplored.com.