Monday, July 11, 2016

What Evernote's Policy Changes Mean to Me

I love Evernote.

Granted, sometimes I will admit I occasionally may use it as a dumping ground for things I am sure I will "get to later" only to forget to ever get around to them. But when I recall seeing something somewhere, chances are I have stashed it in my Evernote account. Over the last couple of years, I have managed to cram quite a bit of stuff in there, which formed the basis for my panic over the note that I received earlier this week around Evernote's change in policy to limit free users to two devices.

After reading more about the changes, though, I decided that the change will not particularly impact me as much as I originally thought. Still, my routine must change a little, as yours might, so here is a go-forward plan that you can feel free to adapt for your own use.

Conform To The Guidelines

I do not really have a choice but to conform to the new policy at first. Luckily, Evernote has given some adjustment time, which I am using to implement this plan.

The actual change for me as a basic user really boils down to only installing the actual Evernote app on two devices. Considering I primarily use it for blog ideas, marketing concepts and articles, and reading material, my home computer has to be one of those two devices. The other one has to be my phone. While I find typing extensively on my phone much more difficult than one of my other computers might be, the portability makes the choice for me. I almost always have my phone on me (unless I am in the pool), so whatever note I need to take whenever and wherever I might be, I will likely be able to access that device to do it.

Which leaves me to uninstall the app from the remaining devices I have (tablet and additional PCs). Once I do that, I should be in compliance with the new policy. Not only do you have to uninstall the app, though, but you need to revoke access to Evernote from those devices.

If you don't know how to do that, log into Evernote Web, then click your account in the bottom left corner and select Settings. Once you click on Devices, you have the option to Revoke Access to any of your devices that you choose to remove.

Continue to Use Extension Apps

My biggest panic went something like this: "But what if I am at work and I stumble across an article that I want to read about marketing or leadership or something, and I need to flag it so I can read it at home or on my phone later? Will I have to pick up my phone and then re-find the article and then save it there to Evernote?"

Luckily, there seems to be an easy answer to this. I already use Evernote Web Clipper to save articles to Evernote whenever I stumble across them on the web. Per Evernote's Device Guidelines, Web Clipper is not considered a device, so I can keep it installed across all of my Chrome browsers.

Breathe a sigh of relief.

My largest panic attack about these changes has subsided, and now I can explore a few other "what if" scenarios and move along.

Embrace Evernote Web

Apparently, not only does Web Clipper not count as a device, neither does utilizing Evernote via the web on any device. While I generally find the app much more functional than its web counterpart, the web version does support all of the functionality that I need. As a result, I can still utilize the web version on any computer or device where I don't have the app installed.

In this age of apps and mobility, switching to a web-only version seems like a regression of sorts. However, since this access will only back up the primary access and use of the extension applications, then it becomes more palatable.

Start Paying

Depending on how my plans work out, I may have to start paying for Evernote usage. All in all, that's not a bad option. I love the app, and I would consider the $35 per year a reasonable price for its usage. I am still a dinosaur, of sorts, though, in that I would rather pay perpetual license costs rather than subscription-based costs, though I understand that forms the foundation of the low-cost entry market and is likely the future of the software business.

As I continue along, the time may come for me to upgrade my Evernote plan. My hesitation in doing that right away is not the annual fee but rather the idea that an ongoing commitment year after year hides behind the initial purchase.

Find Other Options

As onorous as it might seem, if Evernote continues to change its policies, the possibility exists that I might need to find another option. Luckily, I've got Microsoft's OneNote as a potential substitute, though currently I use that for different purposes.

Still, part of any plan going forward has to acknowledge that Evernote may have a change in situation that results in additional, potentially more stringent, changes to their terms of service and pricing plans. I cannot fault them for reacting to their market and making whatever changes that they need to in order to survive as a company, but for continuity on my side, it serves as a wake up call that I may not always be able to rely on a third party to provide a service that I use on a regular basis. It has happened before - back when Yahoo bought Astrid and shut it down it took me months to find a suitable task management replacement.


Evernote's latest changes, though initially panic-inducing, turn out to not have much of an effect on the way that I utilize the application. I will have to make some adjustments to fall into compliance with the new policy, but overall, it won't change the way that I use the app on a daily basis.

That said, it still serves as a reminder to not be too dependent on third party software or companies for anything that I need or my business needs. Contingency plans have to be in place for every dependency, and honestly, I only have a few truly established.

What third parties do you depend on as a business? What is your contingency plan if it shuts down? The risk always exists that those things outside your control may go sideways, so how much do you depend on them continuing their current course? I'd love to hear your thoughts and start a dialogue, so feel free to drop me an email with your ideas. Or join the mailing list and we can continue the conversation on even more topics.