The Future of Writing in Evernote

Posted by Jeremy Brand Yuan on 22 Sep 2015

Posted by Jeremy Brand Yuan on 22 Sep 2015

For the better part of the last two years, we’ve been undertaking a massive infrastructure project in Evernote. The fruits of this work will open up the path to some of your most frequently requested features, and we’re genuinely excited about that. Now that we’re on the road with progress to demonstrate, it’s a good time to tell you more and invite the curious to try it out.

Join the Mac and Windows beta >

Evernote’s core text editing experience was designed around a framework that was optimized for the platform you were typing on; the Windows editor was purpose-built for Windows, the Mac editor for the Mac platform, and so on.

We had an early vision of mobile’s implications on productivity, and highly platform-specific development was the fastest way to address that mobile future, which arrived quicker than we’d even imagined. In the face of rapidly interconnected devices, this framework generally held together well, but it wasn’t completely seamless.

Sometimes notes written on one platform viewed and edited on another would format strangely. Bullets and numbered lists would be slightly off. By and large though, it was fine.

But at Evernote, we don’t strive for fine. We craft our service not just to be great on any single platform, but to be stellar across many. As fluidly as you switch between your devices throughout the day, so too should Evernote.

That’s why we decided to tear out the old pipes and rebuild them entirely.

What it’s entailed—the many months and technical intricacies required to build one common Evernote editing experience—is beyond the scope of this blog, but what’s important is what this will mean for the Evernote experience to come.

It gives our engineers the ability to address your most popular note editing suggestions. Bulleted lists and pasted content will become sharper. Image and table handling will be amazing. Basic markdown will be a reality. Beyond the fundamentals, it’ll open up new possibilities for what a note is and how you use and share it.

With each iteration, we’ll improve the note editing experience and won’t rest until we are the best way to type words into a computer or phone. That’s our mission.

And even though it represents major steps for the product, if we’ve done our job right, you’ll barely notice anything’s changed.

Except, that is, if you look for it. Starting this week, the early morsels of progress will be built into our desktop betas. We’ll provide you with more details soon, but in the meantime we’d like to invite you to join our Mac and Windows beta programs and contribute the feedback that will make the note editing experience great.

Now that the infrastructure to support it is beginning to be put in place, tell us what note editing magic you’d like to see from Evernote. The future of the note is upon us. Join us in making it real.


A word on Beta software
Beta software is not final, which means that using it comes with some risks. These can range from unpredictable behavior to crashing. If you’re not comfortable using beta software, we recommend waiting a bit for the general update to go live.


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90 Comments RSS

  • Kruno

    Just our of random curiosity, what would be the benefit of keeping this a secret from millions of users who are asking for any, I repeat any kind of information about this for the last several years? If you were working on it, even if it takes you two years to do it, don’t you think saying something to the users would make sense? Just curious, you know?

    • Gray

      I agree, and would add that this blog says very little of any substance while using a lot of words.

      • matthew

        Yes I agree

    • Jeremy Brand Yuan

      Kruno, I hear you, and invite you to join us in the discussion:

  • J Dubbs

    I hope you guys go back to focusing on being an “external brain”. Being a “workspace”, you are not going to win the battle against Office, Google Docs, Apple iWorks, etc.

    You built a great “note” taking platform. Having your “external brain” across platforms and with you all the time makes sense and is very useful.

    I pay the premium price to have Evernote be my external brain. Focus on that and leave the “workspace” stuff behind.

    • Jeremy Brand Yuan

      Thank you for the feedback, J Dubbs.

      • Michael

        A agree. I pay for premium in order to better utilize the note taking service. I have never had an occasion to use the presentation mode.

        Related to growth, I am most excited about the ability to seamlessly incorporate handwriting into my notes. Being able to replace my pen & paper with Evernote (on a MS Surface Book) is what I’m waiting for. This is whats stopping me, so far, from switching to Apple Notes.

        Looking forward to this new version. Thanks.

  • Julien

    All I want to know is: will you finally introduce a “dark theme/mode” for people who need to write at night, in poorly lit rooms or with eye problems? That’s the only feature I really need to get back to Evernote, and it’s a deal breaker. I am sure you realize that eye strain from staring for long periods at a completely white background with black text is a real issue for millions of customers. No wonder alternative Evernote clients like Alternote, with a nice dark theme, have been gaining ground.

    • Jeremy Brand Yuan

      I will happily forward this request onto the editor team

      • Julien

        Thank you.

    • Fitz

      +1 Must have.

    • Fitz

      Thanks for the tip on Alternote. Will have to try that out until Evernote fixes this. Not sure why this is so hard.

    • Horacio

      On Windows, Mac, iOS and I don’t know in Android you can actually invert the screen colors. I do it when I write in Evernote and it feels really nice.

  • Jake

    You’ve worked for two years on this project, and we’ll barely notice anything’s changed? So then… how would that be unlike the previous years?

    • Jeremy Brand Yuan

      Jake, I encourage you to join the beta and stay abreast of the progress.

    • Ronald Pottol

      Well, there is improving the existing thing, for which, yeah, you’d expect to see many changes over the past two years, and there is having the courage to realize you are doing it wrong (and the many changes iOS and Android have had since 2007), and rework everything. That has to run behind the scenes, until it is ready to completely replace what you have. Not easy, not a safe choice from a development perspective, but given how mobile has changed (I started with Evernote when I had a Sideckick, before iOS and Android were products), the basics of how the app thinks about things really needed to change, unless they got unbelievably lucky with their early choices. Glad to see it!

  • Giacomo Lawrance

    I’ve singed up, but where can I download the new beta?

    • Jeremy Brand Yuan

      Thank you for signing up! We’ll get back to you as soon as we can

  • Owen

    Would you be sure to add red underlined misspelled words to Evernote iOS? Misspelled words underline in red on the Mac, but I use Evernote now about 90% iOS and a small feature like this is important, especially for my presentations. Keep up the great work!

  • KCee

    I personally, like the fact that Evernote is advancing to be more than just a place to jot simple reminder notes. It never stopped being an “external brain” application. The idea that it can be a full-on workspace is a good feature that (I believe) many will take advantage of once it is fully fleshed out. The good thing is, Evernote is versatile enough to support both approaches.

    • The Future of Writing in Evernote

      Excellent points, Kcee. I agree that Evernote can (and does) function as a good writing platform as well as an ‘external brain.” I like the changes the development team has made to the Web version, and I look forward to more functionality and an even better interface.

      I second other commenters’ suggestions to include a dark theme and spell check.

    • Will

      If evernote is going to be a workstation then it needs to, at the least, actually be able to embed excel like microsoft onenote can and be able to reliably function as a drive for coduments. I like evernote and am a premium subscriber because it’s core functions were great. I actually like the idea of evernote moving to also be able to fucntion as a full workstation. However, of late, evernote has just been a bloated monster that is highly crash prone. I am at this point actively moving towards transitioning towards Microsoft’s Office 360. Onenote is much less elegent that evernote but at least it seems dependable.

  • Kristen

    Happy Evernote user here, and pleased to see these changes coming. Keep up the great work!

    One question: when, oh when, will Penultimate come to the iPhone? The larger iPhones would seem to lend themselves well to a handwriting app.

    • Jeremy Brand Yuan

      Thanks Kristen! We’ve heard the request for Penultimate on the iPhone before and we’ll definitely consider it

      • Fitz

        Handwriting is nice and all but I’d place the priority on this way below improvements to basic editing like better bullets, tables, background colors and annotation.

  • S. J. Pajonas

    Does this mean that the web versions will also display properly? I want to stop using Google Docs entirely, but every time I put large pieces of text into an Evernote note and share it, it displays weird. I hope you’ll give the web sharing version a good once-over as well.

    • Andy

      I agree that google docs definitely has a leg up in many ways. Regarding the formatting, have you tried to “simplify formatting”? I use that feature a lot as Evernote doesn’t handle formatting well when I cut and paste. On a Mac the keyboard shortcut is Command Shift F.

      You can also customize what the default formatting is so you can have control over what happens when you simplify formatting. That option is also under the Format dropdown on a Mac menu.

  • David

    Ouestion. How do I get to see my existing pages on Penultimate which I can no longer open, looks like a giant stuff up to me

  • Nathan Jones

    Cautiously optimistic. Changes that we almost don’t notice, improving cross-platform consistency? Awesome. Just hoping that the UI for the Windows and Mac apps doesn’t change so extensively that I lose my trusted workhorse. (In other words, don’t let them go the same way Evernote for Web went. Sure, it looks good, and it fits a niche, but it’s lousy for working with and rapidly switching between different notes.)

  • Stephen C

    Finally! This has really been the only thing that I don’t like about Evernote — the formatting has always bothered me ever since I first signed up.

    I notice the post says “Basic markdown will be a reality.” Do you know how far this will go? I am a *huge* fan of Markdown, and if Evernote gains true Markdown support I will no longer need to use a separate app for long-form writing and can truly put all my notes in Evernote.

    If you plan on having a “Markdown mode”, make sure that the note does not allow other kinds of formatting while in the mode. If the formatting is actually based on Markdown instead of ENML, that would be even better.

    • Guido Pettinari

      Hi, you can get extended Markdown support in Evernote with a service I discovered recently, I love it, it also has references, MultiMarkdown and automatic TOC generation. I doubt that the “basic markdown” support promised by Evernote will ever match what has to offer.

  • Jaime


    I know it is kind of a sensitive matter but I have to ask. All these re-organization of the code will eventually help to bring Evernote to Linux? I am a premium user who is not happy having to access Evernote web every time I need to access my notes. Is there any plans regarding this? It is kind of frustrating seing the same conversation for years and not seing Evernote react in any way.

    • Doug

      I’d love to see Linux support, too! (But I’ve pretty much given up hope).

    • Rafael Guimarães

      I have the exact same frustration. As a premium user I keep using third-party solutions to use evernote on Linux. 🙁

  • Mark Tenney

    A solid way to store code snippets would be great.

    • Nathan Jeffery

      That is a solid idea.

    • Jesse

      This is exactly my dilemma. “Note-taking” for me is basically a bunch of snippets with comments so I’ve been craving: dark theme, disabled word-wrap, Linux support, and syntax highlighting. That would make the perfect Evernote for me. Too bad every one of those things has been totally ignored. I guess Evernote has little interest in the IT sector. Too much market share just uses it to clip recipes and memes.

  • Anna

    I honestly expected to see something here about split view for iOS 9. This is something that is very important. Yet I find absolutely nothing about it on your site?

    • Jeremy Brand Yuan

      Hi Anna, the iOS9 post can be found here:

  • Andrew

    Word count would be nice.

    • Nathan Jeffery

      And estimated reading time(for drafting posts/articles)

  • Bart Warrot

    Pleaaaase implement a zoom function!

    • Jeremy Brand Yuan

      Submit it as beta feedback!

  • dimas

    It will be great if you implement Find&Replace in the Mac OS X version finally!

    • Jeremy Brand Yuan

      Great feedback! Consider submitting it through the beta

  • dimas

    … And note duplication!

  • Tone

    The latest iOS version has broken using encrypted content within notes to keep passwords secure.

    You used to be able to temporarily decrypt and then select within the decrypted text. But that isn’t possible anymore.

    Why would you need to select? Because keeping only a single copy of your password encrypted leaves you vulnerable to accidentally changing it and then being unable to tell how to fix it. By encrypting the same password on three separate lines it used to be easy enough to select the middle line while checking that all three passwords matched.

    • Tone

      Spoke too quickly. Perhaps it’s the 3D touch thing, but it is still possible to select within temporarily decrypted text. Still figuring out how to do it reliably 🙂

  • Kristen

    Thanks so much for the reply, Jeremy!

  • Mike

    does this mean that we’ll get better editing and font control across all platforms?

    • Jeremy Brand Yuan

      Submit it as beta feedback and the right people will see your request!

  • Jot

    What about introducing a landscape mode when writing a note for Windows Phone version ?? This is more helpful in editing texts (or make it even possible) than some bullets and dots

    • Jeremy Brand Yuan

      Jot, are you on the Windows Phone beta? If not, consider joining, your feedback will be funneled directly to the appropriate PM

  • Scott

    Is there going to be a way to highlight text in Evernote? Instapaper does a great job with this but unfortunately when I send Instapaper articles to Evernote with highlights they disappear. If Evernote did a better job pulling articles from the web and various apps AND leg you highlight relevant text that would allow me to skip the Instapaper leg entirely.

  • Sam

    Please, just give us Markdown support.

    • Michael

      Love the avatar.

  • Rob

    I know there have been complaints about the text editing experience in Evernote forums for years… (I’ve “joined the discussion” over two years ago – it never got anywhere). You’re underselling the frustration it was to work with bullets & lists in Evernote. It has been discouraging to see such issues with the core fundamentals go un-addressed while the product got more complex with unnecessary features and accessories. As a premium subscriber, I really hope you guys focus back on being excellent at: note collecting, note writing, note lookup / review, organizing and sharing.

  • Kelsi

    As an academic writer, I’d love to see a better annotation experience for PDFs. I store all my research in evernote, but I usually have to annotate elsewhere and then import back in because the interface isn’t well-suited for annotating pdfs.

    In particular I would love the option to add notes to pdfs (a la Preview) in Evernote itself. Even a less “bubbly” font to mark on pdfs would be a grand start!

    • gert

      Hear, hear, especially the remark about the ‘less bubbly font’. I also find the markup childish looking.

  • Branislav

    I’d like the option of resizing the images inside Evernote in Windows.

    • Branislav

      Changing the color of the spreadsheets would be nice as well.

    • Austin

      That’s now available with the latest Evernote Beta.

  • Emanuele

    But is it in roadmap to release this thing out of beta soon or “sometimes” ?

  • derlinzer

    After all these years, Evernote promised working Spotlight indexing and search in OS X but never got it right. Instead crap like Chat that no one asked for was introduced. I cancelled Premium some time ago and the recent improvements in Apple’s own Notes app, i see no reason to further consider Evernote for notes.

  • Dave

    Using Evernote for any length of time is like buying a new house and slowly becoming aware of its shoddy construction. I’m not holding my breath while waiting for improvements.

  • Tony

    Need to be able to:

    1 – edit notes simultaneously with other users like you can in Google Docs.

    2 – comment on specific elements of a note that others can reply to with the commenting history remaining part of the note – not a part of a separate chat interface that quickly gets buried.

    3 – Make notes read only or comment only

    4 – Have a minute-by-minute audit trail or note history clearly documenting who made what changes and a way to restore old versions if needed. The current history and restore function in notes is very weak.

    5 – Receive a push notification when someone has edited or trashed a note that you have created so you can make sure that things are still as they should be.

  • Fitz

    Two things:

    1. Please please allow us to change the background color to something other than blinding white – text color would be nice too! How bout an option that matches the “dark” setting on the interface.

    2. Make tables so they are more like those in word — resizable, editable, fixed OR adjustable width columns. Right now they are so impossible to work with I don’t use them.

  • Jeff Bowen

    Has this shipped yet or is it still in beta?

  • sweetjian

    Please support markdown. It’s a good way to make my note clean and tidy.

  • Matt

    As others have said, I hope you’re focusing on great note-taking instead of workspace add-ons? While you’re trying to be a Microsoft-esque Swiss Army knife productivity tool, other note-taking apps are eclipsing you – even OneNote. I hope the Markdown is solid, plus a choice of color themes, and keyboard shortcuts for menu items, like changing fonts.

  • Rick

    I’ve always had trouble with copying and pasting Linux commands or code snippets from Evernote. Sometimes new lines are being pasted behind the commands, or other weird stuff happens. Will this be fixed with this new editor? Do you have an ETA for the this? I think I might return to Evernote when it does.

  • Ron

    The join the beta program form does not seem to work after supplying name and country and ticking the box, pressing next does not do anything

    • Fernando

      Same thing here: impossible to download the beta. Dealing with Evernote is becoming more and more frustrating.

      • lgevorkova

        Hang tight. The issue will be fixed shortly. Thanks for your patience!

    • lgevorkova

      Hi, Ron! We’re looking into this issue and it should be fixed shortly. Thanks for your patience.

  • Mark Kauffman

    I’ve been a premium Evernote user for years. I use a Windows system, a Mac, and an Android phone. I like the idea of by editing being cross platform. I’m also a software engineer and developer for a large corporation. Two things I hate. The first is when the software ‘does things for me’ that I didn’t ask it to. This is especially true when typing an acronym or intentional mis-spelling or mis-use of language. Do – let me know that it looks incorrect. Don’t auto change what I write and make it painful to get what I want. The second, current, problem with Evernote is when I copy text from Outlook 2016 on a Mac and paste it into Evernote on a Mac the text size and style gets all messed up. If you can fix that, I’ll be eternally grateful. Or, maybe it’s the other way around.

  • Dante Teo

    Waiting for fully support markdown……

    • Jamie

      Waiting for markdown support as well.

  • Stijn

    Is this Markdown syntax in anyway available yet?

  • Peter

    Any updates on Markdown support?

  • Lad

    Any update on the Markdown front? I’ve been using 3rd party tools the past year or so but it just doesn’t feel as robust as having native support at all.

  • Henrik

    This article is from 2015, are there any updates on when we will get markdown support in the evernote editor

    • Andreas

      Any news on Markdown? (please?)

      • Alex

        I’m waiting for markdown either… Right now have to user marxico for that

  • Selfboot

    But when can we use Markdown? One year have already passed.

  • Justyn

    It’s 2017, we really need some information on when we can properly use markdown in Evernote without clunky addons, please.

    There are various Evernote alternatives out there that have fewer features but support markdown natively and are increasingly tempting to me…

    • Andreas Jacobsen

      Yes, the editor seriously needs an update. Tools like marxico shouldn’t exists, since it should be IN evernote.

  • DE

    Please vote here:

  • Pedr Browne

    After getting more and more frustrated at Evernote’s lack of Markdown support, I’ve been using Gitbook for a lot of my note-taking and although it isn’t a complete alternative, I find myself using Evernote less and less. To a point where I’ve cancelled my Pro subscription.

    • DE