Evernote synchronisation


I get a lot of requests asking for “Evernote synchronisation”. Given that I don’t use Evernote myself, I have no idea what would be involved and what user expectations would be in this regard. Evernote have an API and a developers’ forum (all very cool, I must say), but I have looked at the API docs and it looks as though I may need to do a degree in computer science just to get through them (remember I’m a self-taught hack who taught myself to program just so I could have Scrivener…). So, before I make a tit of myself on the Evernote developer forum, if you are one of the users who have asked for Evernote synchronisation, could you please reply to this thread and describe exactly what you mean by that. That is, explain to me how Evernote works, how you use it, and how you think Scrivener .scriv packages could possibly sync with Evernote - from an end-user point of view, of course. How do you see yourself using the programs together, etc?

I hasten to add that I very much doubt that this will make it into 2.0 as it looks like a big job and there is plenty left to do, but if you give me a better idea of what you actually want then I may be able to put it on the schedule for a possible post-2.0 update, or at least better understand what can and cannot be done.

Thanks and all the best,

I am not an Evernote user myself (don’t much like putting vital notes where I can only get to them with Net access), but if Evernote has “folders” or categories, and the API lets you select such a folder or category (probably called “tags”) to keep up to date, rather than the entire repository, it would seem to me that the best solution for Scrivener would be to have a menu option near the SimpleText service that lets you attach the project to a set of tags or folders on the Evernote server. The Scrivener would create a Binder folder (or a top-secret as yet to be discussed alternate method of organising) that houses these notes. This way a project can collect notes on the Evernote server about that project and nothing else. Of course, if the user wanted a broader scope, they could select a top-level folder or a bunch of tags. I’m speaking abstractly here, as I’m not really aware of Evernote’s capabilities.

Basically Evernote is a web-clipping application that allows you to select a web-page or part of a web-page and ‘clip’ it so that it is stored forever online - kind of like an online scrap book - so that you can go back to it time and time again.

As an example, I write sci-fi, so I keep a close watch on technology blogs and sites and if I come across any interesting articles about space travel, medical breakthroughs, nanotechnology, robotics, artificial life etc. then I can ‘clip’ them and save them to my Evernote account and then, when I’m trawling for ideas or information or doing research I can go back to the account and re-read stuff there at my leisure. It allows me to group stuff and do other nifty things to organise the clips but what would be really cool would be to sync my Evernote folders with Scrivener so that I can see those ‘clips’ inside of Scrivener.

I’m in the UK and happy to discuss more/show you how it works if you want to contact me.

Alternatively, an online Scrivener account that works like Evernote and syncs with my software…??

I think you can also scan in other items like photos, maps, business cards, and add other files from word processors…and if using Mac, which I don’t, you can send your LiveScribe (digital pen) files to Evernote as well–all can be organized in binders.

OH! This would be amazing. I use both Evernote and Scrivener heavily on a daily basis, and will start taking notes re: synchronisation ideas.


While I think some of the previous posts make a good start to explain what Evernote is all about, I don’t really feel any of them does the software real justice (sorry!), as it is quite a versatile service.

Indeed, Evernote has a web-clipper, but it serves as an information capturing service in a much broader sense. Evernote has clients for Mac, Windows, and the major smartphone platforms, as well as having a web interface, and all information is synchronised across all devices connected to your Evernote account. You can even add stuff to your Evernote notebook via an Evernote email address dedicated to your own account.

As mentioned earlier in this forum you can indeed clip web pages directly into Evernote, and you can also add normal rich text notes. Where this service really excels is as when it comes to multimedia. I can dictate a voice note on my iPhone that gets synced to my account (and thus automatically to my Mac), and I can take photos with the phone as well (or my iSight for that matter) that gets synced as well. Now, Evernote has OCR built in that recognises text (even handwriting!) in images, so all text in photos taken in Evenote are searchable. Photos taken with the iPhone are also geotagged, so you can later find your notes by location.

With the ability to add tasks to your notes, tagging and sharing them online, this is quite a useful tool. For me it works as a sort of inbox, where I can add stuff that I come across on the go, whether being a poster or just a brilliant idea that I have to record before I forget about it again. Evernote offers, by the way, free accounts (as well as the software), which gives you 40MB monthly upload. Premium accounts gives you quite a few advantages, including an add-free workspace, 500MB upload, and SSL encryption.

Curio has made use of the Evernote API, and has made a kind of import panel inside the application (part of the “shelf”). You logon to your Evernote account in Curio, and you can then search among your Evernote entries and drag the ones you want to use into your Idea Space (images are still searchable in Curio). I think the implementation is quite good, but you might come up with something that’s even better, Keith. After all, you created the most superb Mac application out there! :slight_smile:

Just wanted to add, that despite my previous post looking like an advertisement for Evernote, I’m not affiliated with the company in any way – just a happy user! I would love to see Scrivener integrate into Evernote, as I think it would work as a perfect capturing front end to Scrivener. Writeroom/Simpletext is a good beginning with its web interface and iPhone client, but it lacks the searching/tagging capabilites as well as multimedia note taking methods. Inspiration rarely comes to me when I’m sitting at my desk, so being able to capture my great ideas when I’m out and about and then seamlessly importing them to my Scrivener projects would be absolutely fantastic.

Thanks for the explanation and ideas. How does Curio’s approach, or a seamless way of importing into Scrivener by having Scrivener somehow hook up with Evernote, offer advantages over just dragging the information from Evernote into Scrivener? This is what I’m unclear on; from most of the requests I get about Evernote integration, I got the impression users wanted some way of using Evernote to sync whole projects.

P.S. I should clarify that Evernote integration won’t be coming with 2.0 (unless it turned out to be trivial, but looking through the Evernote API docs just left me with a headache :slight_smile: ) - I’m just gathering information so I can think about it after 2.0 is out there.

First of all, I think the Evernote integration into Scrivener would bypass a major flaw in the Evernote Mac client: that drag-and-drop of Evernote notes onto other Mac applications is poorly supported. By using a model similar to that of Curio, you log on to your Evernote account with your Evernote credentials inside Curio, and all content (if I’m correct) is displayed directly from your web account. This way, you don’t need to have the Evernote client running; in fact, it doesn’t even have to be installed on your machine!

By having a small panel (in the inspector, perhaps?), one could find and import Evernote voice, picture and text notes directly from within Scrivener (maintaining the image OCR). Evernote could become sort of a research repository always available at your fingertips. I know DEVONthink does a much better job as a repository of this kind, but unfortunately I don’t see DEVONthink expanding to mobile platforms (such as the iPhone) with built-in cloud syncing.

I can see from the forums that requests for an iPhone app pops up once in a while, and I see that you’re not crazy about making an iPhone Scrivener client, Keith. I really understand why you’re not interested in making an iPhone app, and to be honest I think the pros of being able to read/edit (I would never actually write my thesis on the phone!) my projects are not worth the hassle of having to sync projects back and forth between the Mac and the iPhone. Where the iPhone can really shine is as a capturing device, and I think Evernote is the best solution out there. Having Evernote as an integrated capturing front-end to Scrivener sounds like a brilliant idea to me.

Zengobi, the developer of Curio, has published a short video about their integration with Evernote:


It doesn’t really show much, but as I’m not a Curio user myself (and my trial licence expired a long time ago) I can’t really post any screenshots. Perhaps there is a user of Curio out there who could provide a few screenshots?

If you have a paid Evernote account, you can sync all types of files (I’m not sure if that includes OS X file packages), but personally I don’t see the great advantage of using Evernote for this purpose, compared to other solutions.

The implementation that I envision would entail my Evernote content appearing as a folder (and subfolders) within the research folder. The contents of these folders, of course, would either be “live” or regularly sync’d…and that would be the real beauty of having it truly integrated into the Scrivener environment.

I agree that I don’t see much use in putting Scrivener projects onto Evernote…the real play is integrating Evernote content into one’s writing research.


I’m not among the requesters, but I’d love to see the two apps work together, so I’ll give this a try.

In a nutshell, Evernote is good for

(a) no-hassle capture of web pages, scans, voice memos, photos, whatever. Any tag I created becomes a suggestion, so I don’t have to remember the tags. And text in pdfs and even photos is OCR’d on their servers and becomes searchable, etc. I don’t have to administer folders or make decisions about how to treat an item unless I want to.

(b) centralization – my EN database holds photos, recipes, voice notes, things I have written, things I have captured from other files, pdfs, web archives. I don’t have to move among different apps and different folders to gather information.

(c) backup – notes are on my computer, their server, and (if I choose) on my phone.

How I use it: I enter or capture notes, either on computer or phone, and always tag each one. Don’t bother with putting them in different ``notebooks’’ (though EN does permit this).

Why not use Scrivener’s own fine tools? Because Scrivener research is attached to a specific project, and in the course of an afternoon I might take note of a recipe, an address, directions to a place, an article I might need for something I might write, and two items I’m going to use right away. EN saves me the stress of moving from project to project and application to application.

What Scrivener integration would mean:

  1. Evernote notebooks visible/accessible in the Scrivener binder, and vice versa. This would have to be global, so it’s probably hard. Ie, I would want to access any EN note from any Scrivener project.

  2. Evernote tags = Scrivener keywords with automatic synchronization of changes on both ends. In fact, I wish I could have a single database shared by Evernote, Bookends, Devonthink and Scrivener. I waste way too much time now wondering why I don’t see notes to a pdf in App # 1 before I realize they were stored in a different copy in App # 3. I move from one app to the other because I want to use different functions. Not different data and metadata.

  3. Scrivener structures transferable to Evernote. Ie, I’d like to be able to take research from Evernote, move different chunks of it around in Scrivener, and then have those movements reflected in Evernote when I go back to researching with EN.

Easier said than done! Scrivener’s metaphor is the distinct project, different from the last. Evernote’s is the universal database, consistent no matter what you’re doing. Seems like a big difference.

Wouldn’t blame you then for passing on this. But, as ever, appreciate your open mind.

Hope this helps.

Best wishes,



I just wanted to add my voice to the Evernote discussion.
I use both Scrivener and Evernote and consider them to be, together with Mail and Firefox, my most used and valued applications.
I don’t know how E and S could be made compatible but, in a few words, this is how I use both:

  • Evernote is my “inbox”. Anything I find interesting (clippings, pictures, recommendations, adresses, sound bits, etc…) I clip into Evernote. But, most importantly, whenever I write something spontaneous, on the go or simply just as I think of it, it lands in Evernote.

  • Scrivener I use when I decide to “work” on a writing/screenplay project. It’s a more formal approach. I open the program and start thinking… Most of the time I feel it will help me or make sense to fish those pieces of writing that occurred spontaneously in Evernote (I have it on my iPhone and on any computer I use with internet access) so I look for them one by one and, since Evernote does not allow to just take a note and pull it onto the symbol of another programm so it is opened there, I perform a Scrivener clipping and gather my writing into the Scrivener project in that way.

I don’t tag the notes in Evernote (yet- I may try this feature out in the future) but I arrange them in “Notebooks” and it would indeed by nice if it were possible to have some of these Notebooks (basically they are folders) appear in Scrivener.
In my case, the Notebooks I named “Journal” (diary type notes), “Notes” (writing project notes, random writing, etc…) and “Clippings about writing” (in which many of the useful tips I find on Litterature and Latte’s forums land!) would be a standard feature of any open Scrivener project for me…

I add that, in my particular case, it wouldn’t be necessary to either be able to modify these files in Scrivener or, if so, to have the changes reflected (synched) with Evernote. On the contrary, I like to keep the integrity of the first drafts, and be able to go back to them as document in time.

I hope this helps a bit.
Greetings and thanks for a wonderful application,

From the previous posts it appears to me that there is a consensus that Evernote is widely used as a capturing tool for quick writings on the go, voice/picture notes, web clippings…all stuff that has already been mentioned.

While this doesn’t sound like a completely unreasonable way of integrating Evernote with Scrivener, I’m afraid that you could easily run the risk of overloading your Scrivener project with unnecessary information. An Evernote power user with maybe 500, 1000 or 5000 notes would have a lot of stuff to juggle with in your Scrivener binder. I think having a simple interface to find exactly the notes you want to include, along with a solid search functionality would be a far better and simpler solution, I would think.

I have previously mentioned Curio’s approach to the Evernote integration, and everyone interested in seeing how they have carried out this integration can download a free 60-trial at zengobi.com to check it out. This is to my knowledge the only other research tool on the Mac that integrates with Evernote, so it might useful to have a look at.

I see what you mean, but there are two potential problems to this: 1) I’m not sure if this is supported by the Evernote API, and 2) what if I add a text note from Evernote, drag it into my draft folder to work on it as a document and merge it with another text note from Evernote that I had previously added to my Draft folder. My suspicion is that organisation in Evernote may get messy, and that important data may get lost.

Perhaps the Evernote interface in Scrivener could mark notes with a checkbox or something to show that that specific note has already been added to your current Scrivener project?

Hope all this made any sense!

I apologize in advance for cluttering a multi-dimensional thread with linear thinking, but…

I don’t want (for example) all my Evernote folders synchronized with all my Scrivener projects. I don’t even want some of them synchronized.

When I am writing, I try to focus on writing. If I need outside information, I stop writing and look for that information, the go back to writing. Call it multi-tasking at a (primitive) sequential level.

If, for instance, I want to include background information on Joseph Conrad, why not open an EN folder labelled “Conrad” or “Britsh Writers” to find a useful bit, then use the Services menu to copy it back into the Sc file?

Or I could second

But honestly, speaking for a few old-fashioned hacks (or am I the only one?), I not only don’t need instantaneous universal access to latest-updated versions of every piece of data I have ever taken note of, I don’t want it. That way lies chaos, the antithesis of organization.


Point taken about avoiding overload in a Scrivener binder.

Maybe I’ve come at this from the wrong direction. Perhaps the best way to integrate the two apps is for Scrivener projects to appear automatically in Evernote, rather than for EN material to somehow appear in Scrivener binders.

You’re right that I don’t necessarily want to see 300 notes about global warming when I’m writing in Scrivener. But when I am wandering around in the subject in EN, it might be nice to be able to assign a note to a precise place in a Scriv outline or folder without having to switch apps, select, drag, etc. That would be a form of integration analogous to Scrivener’s interface with Bookends, which is pretty handy.

My point wasn’t that I want to be able to find everything all the time but that I wish I didn’t have to duplicate the same data for different functions. When I access a pdf in Scrivener it’s because I want to quote a bit of it in my writing; in Bookends it’s because I need to be able to cite it when formal citations are necessary; in Evernote it’s because that was the easiest way of putting that pdf in my computer, tracking where it came from, and reminding myself why I captured it; in Devonthink it’s because I want to be able to see how that pdf relates to other material, in ways which may not be obvious to me. OTOH if the pdf is open in Skim, it’s because I want to read it and annotate it easily.

Different functions. But it’s the SAME PDF. So I wish I could have one copy of it, accessed by all these great apps. Instead I have the EN copy that I captured and the Skim copy that I annotated and another copy in Bookends’ attachment folder in case I need to see it while using BE. Kind of exasperating. Things that break down the walls – like the ability to open a pdf in Evernote, annotate it in Skim, and have the EN version reflect those changes – are welcome.

That, broadly, is why people want integration among apps. Even though someone always points out that the same functions can be had without integration. Which is true, but beside the point. We could also write our books with sticks on wet clay, but that’s not a good reason to toss the computer out the window.

Have you so many different project going simultaneously that, were you to snap an excerpt back into SCR through the Services menu, you would not be able easily to assign it, once you left EN and went back into Scr?

It’s an honest question. Perhaps you do. I find it difficult to keep more than three balls in the air at once. (I once managed five, but found that, beyond children’s parties, it was a rather useless skill.)

Which gets to one of my underlying points: how necessary – indeed, how valuable – is this recently-discovered power to seamlessly and instantly synchronize and coordinate and parallelize and comparatively scrutinize every item in our oceans of data?

It is not beside the point. It is the point.

Can anyone say “technological imperative?”


Yes. Doesn’t everyone? I guess not, but I am surprised to learn it.

If you don’t want this power, why do you write on a computer? What other advantage does it have over paper, except this ability you deem unnecessary? Not a rhetorical question, I’m really curious.

If you don’t have automatic access to information then you have to think about how it’s been filed and catalogued. That leads to organization, the death of creativity.


Computers were useful for writers long before they routinely had terabyte hard drives and connections to the Internet. Scrivener would be a powerful writing tool even if it had no data import capabilities whatsoever. The outliner/corkboard/editor combination alone would be worth the price of admission.

There’s also a difference between “automatic access to information” and “instantly scrutinizing every item.” Often, I am quite happy to sit in a cafe with a laptop and an empty Scrivener project, knowing that all my research data is safely at home when I’m ready to refer to it. In fact, I’ve found that carrying everything around like a snail with its shell on its back can be equally hazardous to creativity.


After some more thought (and some refinements in my use of Scrivener, inspired by the very interesting thread of screenshots of different layouts) I wish I had kept my answer much simpler:

The kind of real-world integration that would help my work would be the ability to extend Scrivener searches into other apps without having to open those apps and re-issue the search criteria. Evernote would be a prime candidate, but so would Bookends and DevonThink. Ie, after setting it in prefs, my Scrivener Search options (phrase, all words, any words etc) also include “Search in Evernote” or “Search in Both Scrivener and EN” or perhaps “Search in All Integrated Apps.”

This would be a slight extension of what’s already possible by doing “Search in Spotlight” from Scrivener. The difference is that this would allow for more tightly defined searches (all words, any word, etc) and keep the focus on the writing app and helper apps chosen by me. It’s a way to avoid Spotlight’s "search mission creep,’’ aka “jeez, I didn’t know I had referred to this subject in an email in 2001, and I wonder what ever happened to the guy I sent it to” and “hmm, this old app still has files on my disk, I should delete them” etc etc.

Getting material FROM Evernote into Scrivener is already easy enough with Scrivener services.

Aside from note-taking and tagging, Evernote’s other appeal is backup and access. Perhaps that aspect could be integrated into Scrivener too? Ie a backup option that says “Send Project to Evernote” or “Sync Project With Evernote” which automatically sends/updates the project as folders with each Scrivener note becoming an EN note. The key point here isn’t about Evernote per se but about integration with cloud-based services that would let them preserve the structure of a project while backing it up and syncing changes made to particular rtf files. Same ability would be nice to have with Dropbox, for ex.

Sorry my earlier part on this thread detoured into more impractical and philosophical concerns.



I’m not a programmer, but I suspect this is outside Scrivener’s scope. It’s really up to the developers of Evernote/Bookends/DevonThink whether to provide a search service for their files. For Keith to build hooks into third-party programs that don’t already provide them would be a pretty monumental task, akin to rewriting Spotlight from the ground up.