Visualized: Evernote vs Springpad – is it really a competition? 5


“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

For so many of you that follow my blog, becoming more productive is like caffeine for our brains.  The desire to be more productive motivates us.  It drives us.  Performing at work and life at peak productivity levels is our passion.  We long to find the right app on our computers, iPhones, Androids, iPads, and other tablets to help make that happen.  Our goal: know what we need to do and with whom, whenever and wherever we are in work and at home. And it’s come down to this: Springpad and Evernote.  You’ve all read my posts: but for you newbees, a brief recap: I fell in love with Evernote. I chastised Springpad. Then, like a regretful teenager who dumped his girlfriend and wants a second chance, I saw the shiny &; new Springpad and repented.  I even went head-over-heels like a GTD Ninja in Springpad.  But then again, showing how weak and pathetic I am, Evernote comes out with their shiny & new.  Oh, how fickle can one productivity geek get? The audacity of it all!!  And so, on Twitter and on my posts, I get this question from so many of you: Which is it now – Springpad or Evernote?


The reality is that they are two different products with many similarities. They appeal to different target audiences with the same end game in mind.  Even Jeff Janer, co-founder of Springpad wrote that once on Quora.  He’s not really trying to compete against Evernote – but now, with Evernote’s latest kung-fu moves (Android update, New web interface, social media sharing, and desktop redux), there’s so many striking similarities. Both apps, I believe have their place with a specific segment in the note-taking-remember-everything space.  Evernote has been pushing educational, photographer & visual arts, musicians use cases in a big way.  Springpad has been really amping up their usefulness when shopping, cookingsharing bookmarks, and of course, it’s overall usefulness in sharing notes with the world.


There’s definitely a cross-over market for both sets of people as well.  I’m the perfect example. Evernote is really for business and Springpad is for everything else in my life.  I use Evernote in business meetings, jotting down notes on client calls, storing customer literature pieces, presentations, managing expenses, and anything else that you can think of that requires stuffing digital files into this online repository for work.  I love the OCR & advanced search capabilities, nested notebooks & tags.  Springpad has its home for me for being able to “semantically detecting what you’re saving and structuring the data so that we can use the meta data to add relevant information and useful offers to help you save time and money.”, which include my recipes, shopping lists, todo’s, and bookmarks.  I love The Board for the ability to visualize and brainstorm projects.  Can you accomplish all of the above? Well, sort of.  That’s the reason I sincerely don’t believe one will dominate the next.


Well, I thought of no better way to illustrate the differences than with a … well, an illustration!  So, like any good 7-year old would, let’s draw!


Below are comments from my WordPress blog 
that didn’t transfer over:

  1. Bobby Travis April 21, 2011 at 1:24 am
    Damn, Daniel! That is one hell of a detailed list… Very nicely done!
    And I agree that the two services are targeting different segments of the market, but with all of the changes in both lately, it will be interesting to see if it comes to blows. Competition is fantastic for end users!


    • Thanks, Bobby!! Really – that means a lot!! I really do keep getting that question and I thought it was about time I figured out a way to visualize the differences. So, all that time on airplanes and in hotels I think has really paid off! :) I agree though – competition is fantastic for end users! Wait, speaking of which … where’s Catch Notes?? ;-P
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      • Hi Bobby and Daniel! Thank you both for your quality sites on GTD and related apps! I LOVE the Sliderocket GTD presentation which is the perfect, fast brush up on GTD fundamentals!
        After testing about 12 iPhone note apps then using and loving only Evernote for a year I recently tried Springpad. It was luxurious and well thought out but I dumped it immediately due to it’s predetermined formats and too many buttons. In Evernote I create my own GTD formats or go purely free form. As long as an impatient data dump is tagged during processing it becomes useful. However Evernote adding social network buttons to my pro account is an unwelcome annoyance for me.
        *shakes fist (lovingly) at Phil Libin*
        Regarding Catch Notes, I am hard testing Catch right now on web and iPhone. Even with it’s audio and photo support, Catch is so bone-simple and relaxing to use that it’s actually causing me to consider running away from the distractions of feature-rich, button-dense note apps as I would run from a burning building. Catch is really fast, light and stable on both web and iPhone though twitchy in non-HTML 5 Internet Explorer. The stark, almost-a-blank-sheet-of-paper look is easy on my eyes and brain which helps me focus and truly fly through my GTD process. Mobile search is nearly instantaneous and requires no query syntax that I’m aware of. Mobile sync has been quick and flawless so far. Mobile editing feels solid and relaxed as opposed to EN mobile’s clunky auto-sync. Currently Catch is all tag based which is exciting to me since it encourages total mastery of tags. Can I live without built in folder and notebook hierarchy? Maybe. I hope so. We’ll find out. Impressive that even a free Catch Notes account is default HTTPS with a higher monthly upload limit than Evernote.
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      • Thanks so much for the awesome feedback and I’m so glad it has helped you!!
        So here’s my two cents on Catch notes: I think it’s okay. In fact, the head developers and marketing team of Catch called me to participate in a conference call designed to help make the product better. I really appreciated the invitation and told them what I thought they were doing well, some challenges I saw in their app, and what would help differentiate them from the rest.
        The idea of in-note tagging is clever, but doesn’t work for me. If I wanted to share my notes with clients or colleagues, they’re going to wonder why the note #looks #something #like #this. It’s not Twitter – it’s a note taking app. Tags can be added after, not in the note itself.
        I’m also not a fan of the lack of organization with the tags, lack of folders or a nested structure, and – to each their own – but I really do like the searching syntax of Evernote – something Springpad is integrating more and more.
        That all said, I would love to be convinced otherwise. What do you think?
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  1. For now, I’m doing the contrary: Evernote for bookmarks and Springpad for work, where the board helps me visualize my upcoming tasks.
    But well, my Springpad “Work” notebook is not crowded anyway as I’m deleting items as soon as I complete them.
    Also, about tags, I use them a bit in Springpad. But in Evernote, apart from a GTD setup, they just feel redundant. In Evernote, search just works and there is no need for thousands of tags when 90% of those appear as plain words in documents anyway.
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    • Gregory – thanks so much for your kind reply. I like your approach. I completely agree with you on Springpad’s Board. It’s a wonderful way to visualize your tasks, and many projects. It’s like a virtual white board that you can actually touch and move things around!
      I agree, in part, with you about Evernote’s searching and tags. Here’s the reason I still like to tag things though: I may not mention the word “elephant” in let’s say an e-mail I’m sending to Evernote from Outlook. Yet, I may talk about its long, flappy ears, large ivory tusts, and beautiful big brown eyes and yet never mention the word elephant. For something like that (forgive the odd example), tagging would be helpful.
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  2. Daniel,
    Thanks to you for the follow up :)
    Yeah I guess it’s all about our very own use cases. Using Evernote mainly for bookmarking, and mainly for bookmarking programming related stuff, tags are no more that useful; I would have to tag everything “programming” and be done. For example, would I bookmark a page about optimizations, or SIMD instruction sets, tagging with “optimization” or “simd” would just be duplicating a keyword already part of the text.
    Sometimes, I end up adding few sub tags under “programming” so that I can still use tags as quick filters, but a tag list of more than 1000 tags (which I used to have) is just unusable.
    All in all, it depends on what we use Evernote for. Tags were introduced by Delicious (at least for me), but if Delicious had the same powerful search capabilities Evernote has, the tag hype would never have happened imho.
    In Springpad, the story is different. I only have a “Work” notebook filled up with upcoming tasks. There is no such thing as multitasking so the list of actual projects I’m involved in is limited. And that’s what I’m using tags for: tagging tasks with project names.
    Finally, it sounds like we’re talking about the obvious but I’m sure people would land here after having searched for “oh no, too many Evernote tags” and such queries :)
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    • You’re funny, Greg – yep, I’ve done that Google search myself!!! Yes, it completely depends on the individual’s use case. Tags a great concept. I wrote a post about best practices in using tags to get things done a few months back. Tags are now used in everything. For example, in the legal industry, when lawyers review documents produced in a case, they rely on tags to quickly find relevant documents pertinent to either proving or defending their case. Funny to think how far we’ve come in just 10 years!
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  3. This comment is from Markus on Androidforums.com. I thought this would be helpful for everyone.
    Wow, excellent stuff. I really WANT to use Springpad but never really knew how to separate the two. I collect everything in Evernote (“Remember Everything”) because I’m a packrat and knowing I have something and tagging it and locating it easily. But there is something about Springpad I really want to love. I’ve not looked at it in awhile, and didn’t want to use both because I thought it would be redundant, and I’d always have to think about, well, does this need to be an ENote item, or a SPad item. They each have their pros and cons, and being a graphic designer and a brand manager, Springpad is much more aesthetically pleasing. But that’s not enough to make a decision! I’m willing to try both and love your suggestions on how to use each one for different things. Your chart is comprehensive, thanks for that…more later!
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  4. Thanks for the reference above. I’ve been getting reacquainted with Springpad. And, like the first time I really devoted time to Evernote, I simply don’t know where to start. I want to take some of my Evernote stacks that are more work, design and photography related, as well as travel clippings and wines and beers, simply because of the more visual nature that Springpad offers. Then, using EN just for more technical and record-keeping.
    I’ll be interested in checking back here and seeing how everyone uses both! Nice work.
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  5. Don’t you just hate it when you get caught between the rock and a hard place. I have the same dilemma with Springpad and Evernote as I do with Dropbox and SugarSync and end up using both.
    I tend to use Evernote for serious web research, the heavyweight stuff and Springpad for every day use. Once I got my mindset to accept this dual use it has tended to fall pretty much into place.
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  6. tim Morrison April 25, 2011 at 2:50 pm
    Regarding searching notes via google search. I take it you mean on the desktop. On the mobile android app you CAN search your notes visit the system universal search.
    Tim
    Always enjoy your productivity posts as I’ve struggling hard to learn these tools effectively.
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    • Tim – What a great point! Holy cow – I really never knew that, Tim! I just configured that option on my HTC Incredible. That’s really awesome!!! I just configured it to search Evernote, Springpad, Dropbox, and Yelp. Thanks so much, Tim, for pointing that out to me. I have a new toy now!! :) Cheers!
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  7. tim Morrison April 25, 2011 at 4:52 pm
    Your welcome Dan.
    Makes access really nice.
    Hey, I am not the motor moron my notes make me out to be Lol,btw!
    Its the damn ‘corrective’ mechanism on my mobile keyboard which changes things and I’m too busy typing and sending to catch it!
    Must disable.
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  8. Thank you a lot for all these informative posts and comments!
    I’m reguraly switching between productivity apps cause none of them is perfect and doing all that I want (hint, I can help an app developer make the most killer app ever if interested ;-) .
    I also tried focusing on springpad for daily notes, thoughts and collecting information that can easily be categorised to any of the built in options.
    I recently went back to using evernote for web clipping (bookmarking) instead of springpad (and sometimes even instead of the faboulus xmarks) due to it’s fantastic feature to clip a whole webpage, that can then be viewed through all the evernote apps. This is a unique feature that springpad doesn’t have and saves me a lot of hassle when I just want a quick look into the content of a certain page, withou actually switching to it.
    Btw, Zoho have something similar with their Notebook option, but unfortunately they are nit developing it and it is still quite sluggish and not so smooth.
    The issue is that as much as it appears to be a good idea to split our note taking between 2 apps (or more…), in reality I find it silly to wonder “hmmm where did I write that? In Evernote? Springpad? AwesomeNote? ToDo?”.
    With bookmarks it works for me to split the work between saving a specific web page I’d like to refer to/read later (evernote) and saving a link for a the whole website as I know I’d like to visit it again (xmarks).
    With notes I don’t feel like I should spread around to much… It supposed to save me time after all right?
    Lastly I’m curious, how do people use evernote/springpad for tasks? After all they don’t sync nicely to a calendar… And there are no sub-tasks like with ToDo/PocketInformant
    Oh, and one last thing I forgot to mention, that really got me using evernote again, is the sync with awesomenote! It is also a way to view offline specific notes from evernote (or full a webpage… hint hint) without having to pay membership…
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    • @Tomeran – terrific feedback! I think I can help you here on a couple of points:
      RE: Bookmarks
      I completely agree that it’s fantastic to view an entire page in Evernote’s native application without having to exit out in order to view the whole page in a browser. You can also take it another step further though. You can streamline your apps and get rid of Xmarks by still using Evernote to just clip the URL. Take a look at my screenshot
      Not only is it easy to save just the URL, but you can obviously add tags and any text about why that bookmark is important!
      RE: Streamlining Apps
      It does help our brains a bit to know we’re centralizing information, right? That’s why I think the apps appeal to specific target markets. I really don’t think that the person who falls in love with Evernote will really be the same target for Springpad. In fact, I think that the more people really invest mental energy and time into understanding both apps, they’ll see that as well. I think if you begin getting agita with switching back and forth between apps, then stay with one. It sounds to me like your preference is Evernote – make it work. Remain consistent. Make it a part of your workflow.
      RE: Tasks
      This is a hot topic for sure!! I’m all about having one tool to do everything. It sure does make it easier. That said, having the right tool for the right job makes so much more sense. I use Evernote for everything but my calendar and to-dos. If you’re using AwesomeNote, I know you can integrate your to-do’s with your Evernote files. If that works for you, I say do it! If not, I highly recommend using Producteev or even Nozbe as it integrates with Evernote. For me, Producteev is simple, easy to understand, and I use the same tagging cadence as I do in Evernote so it’s easy to keep it altogether (i.e., tag:Project X).
      I sure hope this helps and don’t be shy about asking any other quetions!
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  9. Tim Morrison May 20, 2011 at 5:26 pm
    Hey Guys
    Regarding clipping whole pages………
    Springpad DOES do this but takes one extra step: you have to copy the whole article….but that’s it…don’t even have to paste…
    Once you then simply clip the page, what you copied is transferred in it’s entirety to the clip…pics, urls etc..
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  10. Hi Daniel
    Thanks for the comparison. I started off with Evernote with my HTC Desire HD and later when I found out about Springpad via Chrome, I love it except that it doesnt have Colour Font editing in Springpad and in Springpad I can’t read preview of each note like Evernote.
    Just curious, can Springpad folks read my notes? I had recently installed the extension, it seem (via some forums) that they can read what we clip, bookmarked… can they really read our notes and whatever we clipped? Our worst if they can even read what we don’t clip, but they have access to all our browsing history including banking, our personal sites etc? Just concern that P&C info leaks out. Thanks
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  11. Hey Carmen – No, Springpad folks cannot read your notes. We also cannot access your browsing/clipping history. If you are concerned about the author of any extension being able to do this, I suggest opening an Incognito window in Chrome to do your banking, etc.
    If you have any other concerns, feel free to get in touch by sending us a note atfeedback@springpartners.com
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  12. Very interesting and informative stuff Daniel. I have recently started using SP and think it has a lot of potential but has a fair way to go yet. I also think Ubernote has a lot going for it.
    I am curious though. Your comparison says that Notebooks can be shared in SP. How do you do that ?
    Peter Wills
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  13. Hi again Daniel
    Further to my last post I have posted a number of queries on SP’s forum and have had some answers but there seems to be a lot of genuine and desirable features which are often requested but not being given the consideration they deserve. To me this will only relegate SP to just another notebook app when it could be so much more.
    I believe there is potential and a need for an app that can do everything …… takes notes, clips, records tasks and events and even serve as an annotating tool. All the apps out there in this category do some things but not all. If they could be combined into one app, and I believe they can, the developers would be on a long term winner.
    Just my thoughts!
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    • Peter,
      Thanks so much for the great insight and comments. I tend to agree with you on many of your thoughts.
      First, as it relates to sharing notes versus a whole notebook, I couldn’t agree more. In fact, for both work and for other ventures I’m working on, I use Evernote to collaborate on my thoughts, how the projects are coming along, sort by tag, and even use it to share internal presentations. Its far easier to so in that way. What is missing of course is some form of an alerts system whereby the sharee is notified that a new note has been added.
      I go back though to my original thinking on these two apps and will reiterate that everyone is different, and for many, Springpad hits the mark for their specific needs.
      I also think an all-in-one solution would be nice, but here are my two cents. I get this all the time in my day job: everyone clamors for that one solution as well. The one tool that can do everything they need at every step of the way. Almost like a magic pill hat will cure all their woes and troubles and make their lives better. The problem with this idea though is that you get developers trying to create an app that does a thousand things and the reality is that only a couple are actually done well. The features tend to be confusing, overwhelming, or at worst, it will do a sub-par job of integrating major functions.
      The same can be said about Evernote and Springpad. I want an app that I can be used to do the very specific job of taking notes and integrate some cool functions tied to that specific purpose. In other words, a very specific and narrowly tailored app that does a damn good job at its specific function it touts to do is exactly what I need! An all in one is a nice to have, but I would rather one solid app does an outstanding job all the time!
      What do you think?
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      • Hi Daniel
        Thank you for your prompt reply.
        I acknowledge that what suits one user in an app may not suit another user. This will usually be in terms of features but can also be in the way a program or application functions so it is not necessarily just a matter of features but how a particular app may implement a feature.
        For example, I find Springpad’s process of getting a note or clipping saved a bit too convoluted in terms of the number of steps involved. I mentioned this in one of my posts on the Springpad forum.
        I still think that there is a place and a need for an app that comes much closer than any current individual online notebook does in being a genuine all in one application for notes, tasks, events, clippings, documents and files.
        I looked seriously at Evernote several years ago and did use it briefly before putting it aside and adopting RTM and Google Notebook (not sure if it was in that order or not). I liked the ability of RTM to integrate with Twitter and email for reminder notifications, although it is not strictly intended as a note taking/information storing app. At that time though I did not like the capacity restriction in the free version of Evernote although this has now been raised.
        I have also looked at other apps such as Hi Task, Todoist and Toodledo to name a few. Of these Toodledo came closest to being what I was looking for but still didn’t do everything I wanted.
        The one I have used by far the most to date is Google Notebook and that is still the case. I loved its simplicity of use with the Firefox extension and the speed and ease with which I could save information. Whilst it too lacked some features I found it met my needs more so than any of the others.
        Even with updates of Firefox breaking the Google Notebook extension it was possible to edit the extension’s script to maintain use through later versions of Firefox. How long this continues to be viable remains to be seen and is not something the average user wants to have to mess around with anyway.
        Having said that, the Google Notebook Bookmarklet functions in a fairly similar way and whilst not being as seamless or elegant as the extension it achieves exactly the same result. There is even a K-Meleon version of the bookmarklet for those who like the speed and lean resource usage of that browser, myself included. It works in exactly the same way as the Google Bookmarklet.
        There is much to like in Springpad however at the moment I feel it is lacking the polish that would give it mass market appeal and really shake the tree of Evernote however if the developers do not pay attention to user requests and start focusing more on the core requirements and functionality required in such an app rather than the nifty extras that it provides I feel it will not achieve the success it deserves to.
        One other application which I have not seen mentioned a great deal is Ubernote. I have used this extensively as well over the past year or two and like it a lot however it too has its limitations and shortcomings. However it is fast and easy to use and for me deserves a place in the top three.
        I know exactly what you are saying about the all in one scenario. I currently work in a Business Management Software support role and the software in question attempts to provide a complete all in one solution for medium to large scale Building and Engineering firms across Australia.
        It is constantly evolving and developing with an in house team of programmers and consultants and whilst it is a long way from being considered an all in one solution from the broader perspective it can be so depending on the particular set of criteria used to define what constitutes an all in one application.
        On the subject of Google Notebook again I believe that it is still a viable option in a lot of cases as it functions very well. The downside obviously is the discontinuation of support and basically the desertion of it by Google, something which I fail to understand.
        I know that at any time Google could pull the plug on it completely and leave users stranded in terms of having no access to their data or any means of retrieving it. I do believe that Google would not do so without prior warning however the risk is there. To that end I regularly backup my Google Notebook so in the event of the worst case scenario I still have my data.
        In the meantime I will continue to use Google Notebook but will closely follow developments at Evernote, Springpad and Ubernote.
        Sorry for such a long post.
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      • @Peter – no worries about the long post at all! I love reading all of the comments and together we’re all learning about how to get things done a little bit quicker, faster, and easier. I’m glad to hear that Google Notebook is working for you. I always did like the simplicity of it all, but I wonder – like you – when they will finally pull the plug! If you ever do decide to make the switch over to Evernote from Google Notebook, there is a way that Evernote allows for such an import. Cheers!
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  14. Daniel, further to the sharing of a Notebook, this question was asked on Springpad here:-
    The answer was that only if a Notebook is made public. To me that is not really sharing. I want to be able to share a Notebook with a friend or a work colleague and no one else and that is what is not available in Springpad yet.
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  15. @Daniel,
    1. re: “All in one apps = confusing, overwhelming” (page bottom) I couldn’t agree more! David Allen emphasizes to his audience in his presentation to Google employees (Youtube Google channel) that no fantasy app designed to do GTD FOR the user would be truly viable. As far as in-app reminders I would also rather utilize my calendar separately from my files.
    2. re: Catch – I also agree with you Daniel about #catch #tags looking inappropriate if you were to send a note to a business associate also it’s visually distracting. Maybe a tag box if Catch developers insist on keeping tags in notes and Catch won’t let you add “@” in a tag as many of us do in GTD for contextual task lists. I was attracted to Catch for it’s simplicity and easy note editing experience on my iPhone but will enthusiastically stay with Evernote for my heavy stuff. Perhaps tags could work for someone that’s clever enough and that could let go of hierarchy? Not me, I’m not nearly clever enough. I think Catch would be cool if they were known as the company that refuses to become complex. I wouldn’t say Catch is in the same league as Evernote or Springpad but maybe it should stay that way. Just a quick, clean and easy syncing note app. I do wonder what their plans are though.
    The real MAGIC comes from applying the GTD system.
    After decades of feeling overwhelmed by my information and my workflow I actually broke out in tears of relief this morning knowing that as I digitize and process my unbelievably massive paper Inbox into Evernote on weekends and evenings I am closing my open loops, meeting my agreements with myself and with others and I’m comfortably acting on my tasks, moving forward.
    Thanks again Daniel for launching/hosting this enriching thread.
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    • @Evernut – I can’t thank you enough for your very insightful & honest comments. It really is a very cathartic moment when you realize you can find mental clarity around how you organize your life – both at home & at work. It’s my pleasure and it’s great to see all the enthusiasm related to this topic!
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      • I’m glad to participate!
        Well now, after my report to Catch they have updated to enable use of @ when wanting to create a tag. However #@Computer does not actually become an active tag, just plain text. Heh heh.
        Hey Daniel, I see that you have written elsewhere about Evernote’s new note linking. This new linking feature adds significant muscle to Evernote in the productivity app wars.
        Pasting a note link to a calendar event has vast implications beyond Todo notifications!:
        *Create lists of loved ones’ favorite flowers, places, food, color in Evernote then paste a link in your calendar to their birthdate. :)
        *Where to meet your ride contact when your plane lands with photo of their face.
        *Profile info on person you will meet with. (business card, family’s names)
        If you lay the foundation, calendar events can be a search tag!
        Linked notes is kind of like the beginning of mindmapping in Evernote, eh?
        What I love about Evernote is the ability to create and tailor my own templates and structure (or lack thereof) rather than adapt to an app designer’s static template.
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      • @Evernut – I love your ideas and your enthusiasm!!! And, I’m inspired by the plethora of ideas you just came up with so much so that I think my head is dizzy! … but … I ran into a snag. Well, actually, a fewof them. I’m hoping you can help here!!
        1. In Google Calendar, when you paste the note link, it does not become an active hyperlink like it does in Google Calendar. It didn’t matter where I put it – it just wouldn’t create a hyperlink for me.
        2. I tried the same thing in Outlook, and it wouldn’t take. I know they talked about the active hyperlinking in their blog, but it wouldn’t seem to take.
        3. I also attempted to see what would happen on my Android phone with the hyperlink to see if it would launch Evernote. Same thing with the calendar. Also, when I went to click on the link in Astrid and also Task List Pro on my phone, no dice. I pulled up the web app on my phone, clicked on the link and it said there was no program to launch.
        4. Just to be fair, I tried this with Springpad as well. If I create a new note, the copy/paste works just as it should – and it opens Evernote!! When I create a new task and a new calendar event, the copy/paste function only works when I create a new note. It will not work in the description. And, check this out – it DOES work on the mobile device correctly!!! That’s pretty cool … but one has to wonder why it is that they would want to create a link from Springpad to Evernote!! :)
        Anyway, let me know if I’ve done something incorrectly here with the calendar, as I’d love to see that work for me! Thanks!
        So … for some reason, Producteev is super awesome that it has the link which is great
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  16. Finally! An up to date comparison!
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    • @Augusto – I know!! So many people were asking me, so I figured it was about time to take matters into my own hands! I’m glad you found it helpful. Tell me, Augusto, which one are you using more and how??
      Thanks again for the great feedback!
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  17. Thanks a lot for writing this up. I use Linux at home and after some frustrating attempts at Evernote, Springpad has been an absolute godsend. I realize 98% of people use Mac/Windows but several of the features you point out in Evernote’s favor don’t exist for Linux, most notably the desktop application and Outlook sync.
    For me, Springpad’s web-only approach is actually a huge benefit. I will never have to worry about them dropping Linux support or some application update breaking WINE compatibility.
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    • @Adam – thanks so much for the great comments and pointing out an important distinction for the loyal (and smart) Linux users!
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  18. ARRRGG! Sorry Dan! I only opened the Goo Cal event on my iPhone and it opened Evernote iOS then I got excited and posted here. My results are the same as yours today with computer access to Goo Cal resulting in a string of plain text. Still useful on mobile anyway but we like everything to work everywhere, right? And I have no idea how or why your other apps do open Evernote. I considered testing 30 Boxes for calendar note link implementation then chose to call it a day and be grateful for all the other web tools I have.
    I did get fancy in Evernote last night adding some note links. I insist that my GTD contextual actions lists stay ultra-clean or I’ll resist using them. So, I added a subtle link to each important entry:
    @Calls
    Phil re: Band Business <–info note title as the link
    “Band Business” is a separate Project Support note containing a song list, questions, suggestions, other band business plus I can take more notes here keeping my @Calls list battle-ready.
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    • @Evernut – No worries!! I’m hoping that is something they fix soon though! What are you using for your GTD apps by the way? Thanks again for all the great comments!!
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      • You’re welcome Dan and glad to return!
        Though many people on Google forums request Calendar hyperlinks, only Labs can enable hyperlinks and only from Cal to Docs. No forum responses from Google.
        My GTD apps?
        All of my GTD management is done with Evernote and Google Calendar.
        All other apps are for capture/collect and they all funnel to Evernote Inbox.
        iPhone capture apps:
        FastEver – Instant Evernote text input for those several “Oh yeah!” moments each day.
        Camera
        Genius Scan – Simplest PDF creation for iPhone.
        bubbl.us for instant free mindmapping on the web.
        Fujitsu Scansnap 1100s – Give me a break! What an incredible boost upward in fun and convenience over a clunky flatbed scanner! Scansnap even does nicely with old family photos and those cursed flimsy receipts.
        I’ve learned from listening to free podcasts on Davidco.com that David Allen uses:
        Paper (real paper)
        Lotus Notes
        eProductivity (a Lotus Notes plug-in specifically designed for GTD)
        Cheers!
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  19. Update on Evernote note linking.
    Hi Daniel, note linking in Evernote is a total bust for me because I edit my lists ferociously on iPhone and come to find out those note links are considered to be rich text by iOS so I can either append the note to protect the link (useless if I’m removing a completed action) or edit the note which vaporizes a note link although web hyperlinks are preserved during editing text body on iPhone. Solution? Thoughtful tagging to bring up Projects List with each singular contextual Next Actions list.
    I am reading your other posts but my comment seemed most relevant here. :)
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  20. Hey Daniel!
    Your review is refreshingly detailed and makes quite compelling arguments on behalf of both Evernote and Springpad. The time you took to put this together is very much appreciated. I now wish that I had seen your post before I jumped in and admittedly became an Evernote user myself. I tried SpringPad after the fact, but just couldn’t get accustomed to using it. Perhaps that’s just due to the psychological “switching cost” inherent in trying something new.
    The categories that you compared above are tremendously specific and in sum cover a very broad range of features/needs. If I may ask: What core abilities/features do you think are the most critically important or would you like to see in an information management/productivity application?
    I actually work for a company called Zukmo (www.zukmo.com) and we’re building a free, completely cloud-based information management app, eventually with all the bells and whistles. We already have a huge range of features and our app is still only alpha, meaning that we’re quite flexible in our design/features/specs/experience. We would absolutely love to hear what someone with your level of exposure to the productivity/information management space has to say in response to the above question so that we can integrate it into our future releases.
    Also, though I know it may not be possible (you’re surely quite busy, yourself!), if you could find time to actually check Zukmo out and tell us what we could do better, we’d be honored! If you can, feel free to email me directly, or to just include it in your reply!
    Thanks once again for this great post, Daniel!
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    • @Kieran – thanks so much for your very insightful comments! To answer your question:
      What core abilities/features do you think are the most critically important or would you like to see in an information management/productivity application?
      I think the most important thing for me is the ability to be able to quickly be able to take the stuff that I’ve collected, quickly be able to process it, and organize it, so that I can actually do more with everything I’ve organized.
      Basically, if it’s going to take me more than 30 seconds to understand how a tool would work within my workflow … well, it’s lost already! I hope that helps and good luck with your site!
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  21. Did I see notifications checked on the springpad column? I did see affiliates, but I think it’s an additional shot over evernote’s bow. You can take an object, such as a purchase you wish to make or an activit/event and have springpad remind you when the price goes down orif the window to participate in an event is closing.
    In response, the Evernote chrome extension does allow you to create an Evernote when creating a google calendar event, but I feel this workflow is backwards-you typically want to clip something first and then be reminded of it before you loose the opportunity.
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  22. Signed up with Catch.com developed some quick opinions at first sight:
    #tag is just too loosy goosy for me. I already have problems typing in my tags when I mail in an Evernote or zootool bookmark. Here’s the thing: if you consider alternate spellings (theatre and theater), easy misspellings (and unintended autocorrections), singular and plural (bookmark or bookmarks), and your chosen formatting and capitalization (#tips and tricks, # Tips and Tricks, tipsTricks, TipsAndTricks, etc) you’ve a good chance of ending up with orphaned tags and a sprawling list of hard to search notes. I’ve requested from all the big players to consider on their desktop versions a floating window, (like the keyword window in the old iPhoto) so tags need not be spelled out or dragged onto each time. I believe the windows en software has preserved this feature.
    My other major issue with the tagging craze is that it’s not taken to any logical advantage. First, in other cases, it creates coordination issues where delicious actually created community. I could use community tags in delicious to find commonality and to catalog bookmarks in a more comprehensive way. You don’t get this with a personal (and often spurious) open-ended tag list.
    But more than this, only rudimentary benefits, such as searching, filtering, sorting, can be gained from the tagging implementation of these services. You can’t create a meet-up group fe example to “follow” or host activity at a hashtag. You can’t create actions associated to a tag to run scripts or bridge your stuff to other services. #justMet doesn’t “catch” activity on your account and automatically send a greeting with contact information to the name in a new note entry, for example (like hashable.com). The technology for tagging as it stands is like having a cashier in front of you make up a price for everything because they can take the liberty of making up their own codes.
    If there’re any other issues it’s that this really isn’t a tasklist service, or I’d seriously play with it in order to see it’s potential as a Superfocus or autofocus 1 system. I do believe there’s an iPhone task app that uses online tags as well; maybe they should pair up, but with decisions on sync support, subscription services, and iOS 5 due this fall, I ain’t going there just yet.
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  23. Wow! this is a very detailed review. I was a Springpad fan all the way, but after reading this I may have to seriously investigate Evernote. I like the fact my child can use Evernote in class. I love your compare and contrast chart. Kudos!
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  24. Except OCR feature, SpringPad wins for me. I really don’t care about a lot of X in front of SpringPad (as I don’t need those features anyway). Thanks for such great post. I have NEVER had such a detailed resource for making my decision on something :)
    Cheers.
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About Daniel Gold

Daniel Gold is a productivity coach, keynote speaker, author, and podcaster. He is most well known for his eBooks, Evernote: The Unofficial Guide to Capturing Everything and Getting Things Done, Simplify your Life with Springpad, and Make it Happen: How to Write, Publish, and Sell Your eBook. Daniel is also the co-host of the GTD® Virtual Study Group podcast.

  • Phil

    Hey Daniel,
    I’m reading quite a lot of stuff related to GTD and Evernote these days and I try to get started.

    As I almost decided to go with gCal and Evernote I found your springpad-article – and as I’m loving pretty GUIs, I thought I could try this one instead…

    Your comparison is a great help, thanks for this. At a closer look at springpad I feel like I could be missing some features like the nestet categorys or tags and the powerful search of EN.

    Also the benefit of syncing to gCal is no real benefit in my eyes, because it syncs only events (which can’t be set via Androi-App) AND all events go into the same (springpad-)calendar, so my different calendars for work, sports, concerts etc. would be kind of useless…

    As I’m totaly new to the setup, I can’t really tell if these are important ones for implementing GTD… does any “pro-GTD-ler” have tipps on this?

    Thanks a lot! Phil

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07921859081225785732 Daniel Gold

    Phil – thanks so much for the wonderful and thoughtful comments! If you haven’t had a chance to take a look at my eBook on Evernote & GTD, this might be very helpful for you as well as you are just getting started with your setup!

    Also, with respect to Springpad – I’ll say this: there’s a lot of really, really fun & exciting things happening over there and this post will have to be updated in a big way very soon! Keep on the lookout on my blog and my site!

    Please feel free to ping me if you have or need any other pointers!!

    Cheers!
    Daniel

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00735516545254895958 asurveyer

    Hi Daniel,
    Great posts. Have tried several tools over the years. Have essentialPIM and have been waiting forever for them to make an app for it. Am leaning towards using Springpad.
    Let me ask you in reference to Evernote and Springpad. Do they both have the ability to import/export from other programs? For example, if I started with Springpad and decided to jump to Evernote, what’s involved there? Or vice versus? In our web connected world, I want all my options open so that I’m not stuck if I have to move my data.
    Thanks for your great blog.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07921859081225785732 Daniel Gold

    @asurveyer – Thanks so much for the really great feedback! It’s very much appreciated and welcomed! You’ve asked a really great question!! The answer is … not really! :) You can forward your notes with each of the apps’ “secret” e-mail address, but even that has some messy formatting issues.

    What I would say is this: ask yourself an important question – what few things must absolutely go right in order for me to be successful in being more productive and organized. What roadblocks did I have with essentialPIM that I want either app to solve? What is a must have versus a “nice” to have?

    How you answer these questions will probably answer your question about which app to go with for your organization. I’d also start small – first add a few tasks and a few notes and see how it feels before going to deep.

    Chances are, answering the questions I posed above, will definitely guide you in the right direction! I sure hope that helps!

    Cheers,
    Daniel

  • Grace McCarter

    This needs an update. SP doesn’t have offline for desktop anymore(which really sucks). I dunno what else has changed. :)