12 Best Open Source Evernote Alternatives 2021

Evernote is a popular note-taking tool. You can use it to write down notes, create spreadsheets, track your schedule, track your workout history, monitor your budget, and more.

Since Evernote is a cross-platform tool, you can install it on any of your devices and sync your notes between devices.

While Evernote is a great tool, it is not open source. It does have a free version, which lacks some of the paid version’s features, but it’s still not open source — you can’t view or customize the source code to fit your needs.

You also are not fully in control of your privacy. Evernote only uses industry-standard encryption, not end-to-end encryption.

Evernote also does not have native Markdown support; you need to use a third-party tool like EverTool to use Markdown in Evernote. Markdown is a popular markup language that allows you to format text documents.

Finally, although Evernote does have a free plan, it has many limitations, such as:

  • Only 60 MB of upload space per month
  • No offline mode in mobile
  • Limit of two devices per account

Fortunately, however, there are many excellent open source note-taking tools out there. If you have been searching for an open source Evernote alternative, you’re in luck!

Today, I will show you the 12 best Evernote alternatives that are free and open source. I will include apps that work on:

  • Windows
  • Mac
  • Linux
  • Android
  • iOS
  • On the web
  • As a browser extension

Let’s get into it.

The 12 Best Open Source Evernote Alternatives

1. Joplin

Joplin is one of the most well-known open source note-taking applications. It is entirely free to use and available for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, and as a Chrome or Firefox extension.

It has native Markdown format support, unlike Evernote. Also, unlike Evernote, it doesn’t limit how many devices you can have or how much upload space you can have for free.

If you have been using Evernote until now and want to transition to an open source alternative, but you don’t want to lose your notes, Joplin is perfect for you. You’ll need to export your notes from Evernote in an .enex file format and then import them to Joplin.

You won’t lose any formatting when transferring your notes to Joplin. They will automatically be converted into Markdown format. Also, you will keep images, attachments, and metadata (such as times and dates).

Since Joplin uses Markdown, you can use Markdown plugins. The exception is if you are using the Rich Text editor.

You can sync your notes as plain text files with a storage service like OneDrive, Nextcloud, or Dropbox.

Since Joplin uses end-to-end encryption, your notes are safe. You can also go back and view your note history to make revisions.

Evernote doesn’t use end-to-end encryption, only transport encryption. The difference is that the server has access to the data with transport encryption, and it is only protected in transit.

With end-to-end encryption, the server has zero access to your data, so you don’t have to worry about Joplin’s servers getting hacked and your notes being leaked. Joplin also can’t give over your notes to any government entity, as they have no access to your notes themselves.

The web clipper, which is available as an extension on Chrome and Firefox browsers, allows you to clip and save screenshots or web pages while browsing the web. You will need the desktop application installed as well, so the web clipper can save the notes to your account.

Links to download the application on different operating systems are available on the homepage.

2. Standard Notes

Standard Notes is an excellent Evernote alternative that is free and open source. It has a web application, which means you can start taking notes on any device, without downloading anything, by simply visiting the online web application.

In addition to the web app, there are apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS devices.

The free version is simple, but it works. It allows you to write simple text-based notes that sync across the web and any devices you have downloaded the app to.

You don’t need to create an account to write a simple note, unlike with Evernote.

However, if you want to save your data, back it up, and sync it across your devices, you will need to register for a free account.

Your notes will be protected with end-to-end encryption. Once you create an account, you can protect them with a password. You will also be able to back up your data, download the backup, or export a backup.

I do want to point out that since Standard Notes uses a high level of encryption, there is no password reset option. If you forget your password, Standard Notes won’t be able to reset it for you, so choose a password you will remember forever.

Standard Notes has superior encryption to Evernote. Your data is safer.

The free version is pretty bare bones. You can write simple text notes, without any formatting, but you can switch between two fonts and use the built-in spell checker.

See this screenshot of an example of how a note would look like on Standard Notes. I used the Lorem Ipsum text as a placeholder (my browser’s spell checker automatically underlined most words in red, but just ignore that):

The premium version is not open source and offers additional options. It allows you to do things such as:

  • Upload your files to Dropbox or Google Drive
  • Use Rich Text, Markdown, and other formatting options
  • Apply different themes to your interface
  • Undo your revisions with no history limits
  • And more

You can learn more here.

All in all, Standard Notes is a good option for simple text-based notes that are private and secure.

3. Simplenote

Simplenote is a free, open source app available for Windows, Linux, Mac, Android, and iOS. It uses Markdown, unlike Evernote, and it doesn’t limit how many devices you can install it on.

Here are some cool Simplenote features:

  • All notes are synced across all your devices in real time, automatically.
  • Notes are backed up and saved automatically.
  • Share notes with friends or colleagues, or publish them online.
  • Categorize notes with tags to find them quickly.

4. Zim

Zim is a pretty interesting open source Evernote alternative. It takes note-taking to a whole new level in the form of a personal wiki.

Instead of just creating disconnected notes, why not create an entire Wiki-style notebook on your desktop, with pages linking to other pages and the ability to organize notes in a tree structure?

Imagine a personal Wikipedia just for your personal notes to organize your life, work schedule, and more. You can link to a note from anywhere in another note.

While Evernote introduced internal linking between notes, Zim is better for creating a personal wiki as that is what it was designed for; it is also open source and entirely free to use, with no upload limits per month.

All notes are saved as plain text but in a Wiki-style structure. That means you can access those notes from any plain text editor app, without having to rely on Zim. You can also export your notes into HTML format if you want to publish them on your website.

Of course, Zim isn’t just for personal notes. You can use it for presentations, articles, school projects, or anything else.

Zim comes with a wide range of free plugins that will help you enhance your productivity. The plugins let you do things like:

5. Paperwork

Paperwork, also known as Paperwork Cloud, is a free and open source alternative to Evernote. What makes it unique is that it is a self-hosted option, which means that although you are storing your notes in the cloud, you have full control over them.

One of the reasons you might want an open source alternative to Evernote is to have more control over your notes and privacy. While Evernote allows you to protect your notes with a password, you still have to rely on Evernote to keep your information safe.

Evernote doesn’t offer a self-hosted option.

With Paperwork, not only do you get the benefit of cloud hosting, but you also get complete control.

Why might you want that? You might be:

  • A journalist who is criticizing or investigating your government and you don’t want to place your information in the hands of a corporation
  • A freedom activist
  • Someone who is working with confidential information
  • Someone who simply values their online privacy and security and doesn’t trust corporations like Evernote

Remember, since Paperwork is open source, you can scrutinize the source code for any errors, bugs, or vulnerabilities.

Paperwork is under development, so you need to have some technical knowledge to get it to work. You should understand HTTP proxies and how Docker and DNS work.

Again, you need some technical/coding/programming knowledge to get this to work, so it’s not for everyone. It’s for hardcore privacy enthusiasts.

There is an active community chat where you can discuss the tool, which you can view here.

6. QOwnNotes

QOwnNotes is a free and open source Evernote alternative for plain text note taking. It offers NextCloud integration (you can also use it with OwnNotes).

The NextCloud and OwnNotes integrations allow you to work on your notes online and sync them across all your devices. Evernote doesn’t integrate with NextCloud.

Here are some other cool features it offers:

  • Import notes from Evernote when transitioning to QOwnNotes.
  • Use the spell checker to fix your spelling mistakes.
  • Use the browser extension to copy text or screenshots or to manage your bookmarks.
  • Insert pictures that are on your mobile phone into your notes using the web application.
  • Set the theme to dark for easier nighttime viewing.
  • Use it in more than 60 different languages, including popular ones like Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, English, Dutch, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, and many more.

Keep in mind that the web app is only for uploading images from a mobile device to your notes stored on the desktop application. It’s not for writing notes online.

No images will be stored on the server when using the web app. The images you send will be transport encrypted, and you will need to enter your security token in the web application on your mobile phone so that it matches with the token on your desktop app.

7. WizNote

WizNote is a cool web, desktop, and mobile app you can use to save notes and share them with friends or colleagues.

It’s more than just a personal note-taking app. You can insert images, format your posts using Markdown formatting, and even add voice recordings.

Here are some ways WizNote is superior to Evernote:

  • Group sharing is possible for free, while Evernote requires you to sign up for Evernote Business.
  • The max limit per note is 30 MB as opposed to Evernote’s limit of 25 MB per note.
  • You can use WizNote on an unlimited number of devices for free.
  • You can host WizNote on your own server using Docker! Self-hosting is impossible on Evernote.

Team collaboration is one of WizNote’s strong points. You can @ someone or leave a comment on a note.

Another cool thing about WizNote is that you can organize your notes into folders and categorize them with tags.

You will need to sign in to create a new team account. You can keep your personal notes separate from your group notes.

There is also a message section where you can view new notifications.

In addition to the web app, downloads are available for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS devices.

While WizNote is a Chinese-based app, it has documentation and instructions in English, so anyone can use it.

8. Zettlr

Zettlr is a free, open source alternative to Evernote. It is available for a wide range of operating systems, including Homebrew, Chocolatey, and Arch Linux.

It features a Markdown editor, allowing you to create bullet lists and otherwise format your notes. Evernote doesn’t have native support for Markdown.

You can work on simple notes or advanced projects. Many educators and students use Zettlr.

Here are some cool features offered by Zettlr:

  • Organize your notes with tags.
  • Assign colors to your tags to quickly visualize your different categories.
  • Use the heatmap search to quickly find your notes.
  • Use the free themes, including dark mode, to customize the interface.
  • Customize elements in themes or design your own theme with CSS.

9. VNote

VNote is a simple but effective open source alternative to Evernote for writing plain text notes. You can create an unlimited number of folders, add attachments, and choose from different themes and styles.

Here are some other cool features VNote has:

  • Markdown support (unlike Evernote)
  • Line numbers in the editor
  • Open multiple tabs at once
  • Use split window view
  • Use shortcuts to get things done quicker

VNote is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux computers. It is entirely free and open source, unlike Evernote.

There is a great community behind it, consisting of a lot of programmers who use the tool. You can see the repository on GitHub or chat with other members of the community on Slack or Telegram.

While you can use the tool for any reason, it is especially great for programming notes.

A premium version is in the works, but it has not yet been released. It won’t be open source anyway.

The premium version will be called VNoteX. You can join the online community if you are interested in getting updates about its release.

10. Cryptee

Cryptee is an encrypted platform for taking notes, writing documents, storing images, and more. Made in Europe, privacy is a top concern of Cryptee, and they don’t have access to your information — only you do.

Cryptee uses AES-256 encryption to encrypt all of your photos, documents, and notes. It is based in Estonia and offers the entire platform as a free and open source service.

That makes Cryptee superior to Evernote in terms of privacy. I will explain more about how Cryptee has superior security and privacy soon.

Cryptee is available on Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome OS (Chromebook), iOS, and Android devices. It is a progressive web app, so you can install it on any device straight from your browser.

Here are some of the cool features that Cryptee offers for those using it to create and store notes or documents:

  • Use Markdown for formatting
  • Sync across all devices
  • Use offline
  • Interlink documents and notes
  • Insert checkboxes and tables to create to-do lists and more
  • Use ghost folders to hide your documents (Evernote doesn’t have this feature!)
  • Reference PDFs and books for side by side viewing
  • Docx file support
  • Add a table of contents to notes or documents

You can transition from Evernote to Cryptee easily, as Cryptee supports importing Evernote notes.

So, what makes Cryptee so secure? Here are just some of the ways Cryptee protects your data:

  • The only person who can see your documents and photos is you. Cryptee does not have access to them since they are encrypted.
  • Cryptee uses a strong level of encryption that computers can not crack (it would take millions of years for a computer to crack it with automated attacks).
  • You don’t have to give away your details when signing up. You don’t even need an email address to sign up. You can sign up simply with a username and password, without connecting your email address. For Evernote, you need an email address.
  • Remember, Cryptee is a progressive web app. You don’t have to actually download an app to your computer. You just use it from your browser. That means nobody will know if you are using Cryptee or not, as there will not be a Cryptee app in your app folder.
  • Remember the ghost feature? It allows you to hide certain folders from view. So, even if somebody holds you up by gunpoint and asks you to open your Cryptee account and reveal your data, your most precious data can remain hidden in the ghost folders, which won’t be visible. They will never know you have additional folders.
  • It is open source. Nothing is hidden. You can scrutinize the source code for privacy or security vulnerabilities.

Why would you want to use Cryptee to take notes or write documents? You might be concerned about the government cracking down on you, such as if you are a journalist or a free speech activist.

Since you don’t need to connect an email address to sign up, the government will never know you have an account, and they will never be able to extract the personal notes or messages you saved.

Even if they force you to open up Cryptee in front of them, you are protected with the ghost feature (you have plausible deniability; they may suspect you have ghost folders if they know how Cryptee works, but they will not be able to prove it).

Estonia is not a party to the main security data sharing agreement between major countries (known as Fourteen Eyes). Even if they were, Cryptee could never be forced to give over your data, because even Cryptee can not see it.

Alternatively, you may simply want to keep some data extremely private. For example, you might want to use Cryptee to store your crypto wallet’s private keys or restoration phrase.

Since the data is encrypted, nobody will be able to get to your crypto keys. And, since Cryptee does not need to be connected to your email address, nobody will be able to figure out which username to use or if you use Cryptee at all.

In fact, Cryptee is a good place for storing all of your passwords (of course, you’ll have to remember the password to Cryptee itself; think of it as a password manager).

Do keep in mind that you only get 100 MB of free storage space for your notes.

11. Notepad

Notepad is a free and open source alternative to Evernote for Android devices. It is available for download on F-Droid.

You can either install the APK version on your phone or run it on an F-Droid client. Download and install the F-Droid client first. It is the more secure option, as installing APK files from the web always comes with certain risks.

Notepad is a very simple app. You can create either plain text notes or use Markdown or the Rich Text editor to create formatted notes.

When writing a note, the application will save your draft automatically, so you won’t lose your work. You can share text from the Notepad app to other apps and vice versa.

Notepad requires zero permissions, so you won’t have to worry about permissions and privacy concerns. Evernote does require several permissions.

It also does not have any ads. It is entirely open source, with the source code available on GitHub.

You need an Android 4.0 or up to use Notepad. Since Android 4.0, also called Android Ice Cream Sandwich, was released around a decade ago in 2011, almost all Android phones will support Notepad.

In fact, Notepad is a good app if you have an older Android phone. You will need an Android 5.0 or higher to use Markdown, however.

The latest version of Notepad, as of this writing, was released at the beginning of 2021.

12. Orgzly

Orgzly is another open source app for Android, available on F-Droid. It allows you to create simple plain text notes.

Orgzly is entirely free and open source, unlike Evernote.

Here are some cool features Orgzly offers:

  • Organize notes with sub notes
  • Assign priority levels to notes
  • Add tags to notes
  • Create to-do tasks
  • Set deadlines for tasks and create a schedule for them

All notes are saved in Org-mode file format. Org-mode is an open source desktop application for saving notes.

The latest version of Orgzly was released at the beginning of July 2020, as of this writing. Keep in mind that Orgzly requires several permissions, such as the ability to view network connections.

Wrapping It Up: What Is The Best Open Source Evernote Alternative?

I recommend sticking with Joplin, as it’s well known, has been around for a long time, works well, uses end-to-end encryption, and has excellent features.

It is also available on all devices, including Android phones and tablets, and it has a great community of developers that contribute regularly.

Author: Tom ClaytonTom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing. Tom has been a full-time internet marketer for two decades now, earning millions of dollars while living life on his own terms. Along the way, he’s also coached thousands of other people to success.
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