Over the years, I’ve used Evernote as my primary storage for reference material in my Getting Things Done (GTD) productivity system.

However, each new release of the “official” Evernote client seems to move away from a productivity app. It gets “prettier”, slower and less functional on each release.

Soap box aside, I’ve decided to put out feelers for what it would take to create a streamlined Evernote app for Mac – similar to the current one, but with an improved / streamlined User Interface.

According to David Allen (the creator of Getting Things Done), all you need to do for maximum productivity is to manage lists (paraphrased, of course). So that’s what this app would focus on: not pretty HTML, or card stacks, or “shortcuts”, but the ability to see and access all your “stuff” in place.

Here’s a short list of what I would like the new app to look like:

New Evernote Client for Mac

This project is to create a mockup of an alternative UI for Evernote, and should include most of the functionality of the current client, especially when it comes to notes and lists of notes. The major changes here have to do with the way lists of notebooks are handled.

I am looking for a new Evernote client for Mac. Evernote started out being an incredible product, and I want a client that goes back to those roots. Most of the features I am looking for were in version 3/4(?) but have since been replaced.

I will be discussing features compared to the current version client version (version 5.0.7) for Mac.

The client is focused on speed, stability and usability which means a limited feature set.

To see what I’m looking for:

Select View | List View.

Under View | Sidebar Select ONLY Notes, NoteBook and Tags.

This is the only view to be implemented. Snippet View, Card View, Expanded Card View; Atlas; Trunk; Shortcuts will not be implemented.

The Shortcut feature removed entirely – having the shortcuts scroll the sidebar when you’re trying to tag items or move notebooks is beyond annoying.

The “Notebooks” view is not bad, but is not necessary to implement (all notebook management can handle from the left sidebar). If it is implemented, the icons need to be in the menu / toolbar and not in the sidebar (we reserve the left-hand sidebar for Notebooks and Tags, ONLY – I want that extra inch or so of screen real-estate back)

Data API

The Evernote API could be abstracted in such a way that it’s pluggable, so people can choose to connect to alternative services in addition to Evernote. Think of the “Factory” pattern.

New Features

In search: Search will work as a filter. Placing a word in the search box constrains the search. Selecting a notebook also constrains the search, as does (one or more) tags. Selecting multiple notebooks should search within each of those notebooks.

Try this in the current client:

1) Select a notebook
2) Type in a keyword, for example, “test”
3) Now, from the left hand side, select a new notebook

In the current version of Evernote, your search is lost.

In this version, the search should be repeated against the notebook just chosen. Similarly, searching tags should work the same way: click a tag, the search is performed constrained by that tag. In future versions, this can be expanded, but needs more thought (shift+click adds constraint tag, ctrl+click adds an additional tag “or”, etc)

Color Scheme:

– We need at least two color schemes (or “themes”) for the app. The current one is fine, we need an alternate for a high contrast reverse (similar to the current sidebar) for both the list and the note section. Specifically white text on a dark background, to ease eye strain.

Tags: A list of tags takes up too much space.

* Tags can be grouped, similar to “Stacks”. Hovering over a “tag stack” would open the underlying tags, allowing for a click (to get to the list or perform a search) and
* Tags should show in a smaller font than notebooks
* An option allows tags to display as many as possible per line, much like a “tag cloud” This will make it easier to fit many 10’s of tags on the screen.


Right click on a notebook, “hide notebook” (or if hidden, unhide notebook). Menu item / toolbar to “show all notebooks”. Possibly even choose not to sync notebooks that are hidden, as you can with Dropbox. In this way, closed projects could be “hidden”, but available if necessary. The “hack” way of doing this today is to create an a stack for archived notebooks. The downside of that method is that you lose the information about which stack the notebook was originally in. Renaming can help.

An even cooler feature would be a way to create one or more “view groups” that would hide specific notebooks. In that way, I could define my context, say “weekly review”, or “project X” and only the notebooks that apply to that context would display. Maybe think this through a little more?


The current functionality of the notes and list views are pretty much ok. For my uses, the sharing (post to facebook, etc) aren’t necessary.

Speed and stability are critical. The app needs to feel snappy, not have any waiting circles, it can’t crash and lose work, and sync needs to be robust. It needs to be as slim as reasonably possible. This most likely means a native Objective C Mac application.

An iPad version, that gets rid of cards for the more usable list view, as defined above, makes sense as well.

There’s more that could be done, for example, the NixNote (was NeverNote) app has some excellent additional features, including encryption: NixNote Unique Features

What’s the next action? I think we’re in an exploratory stage that warrants discussion. Does anyone else see the above client as a worthy project? What other features could be removed to make the client even more streamlined? What need to be added? Should we look for ways to get the app built?

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