Secure and comfy note taking

My choice currently boils down to:

  • Using Standardnotes with the free Rich Markdown Editor as a note taking app.

    • I bought their 5 year extended plan in order to get a decent html editor for my notes imported from Evernote.
    • For dark mode I use the official Midnight Theme. A similar free theme is Overcast.
    • Unfortunately both extended html editors have severe bugs for lists.
    • Their support replied to my post and told me they are working on them.
    • I decided to keep the extended subscription in spite the annoying bugs to make the most of it and support their vision.
  • Using Evernote as a repository for Webclips.

    • Insecure but comfortable and while my link collection allows third parties to profile me, they do not know every detail of my private thoughts.
    • I obviously would prefer to have this in Standard Notes but understand their conservative approach to new features, so I’ll wait.
  • I will definitely consider Cryptee for secure document & photo storage.

    • While I found them as a note taking service, their super-friendly support explained they are a faster and secure competition to Googledocs and icloud than to standard notes.
    • Comparing them with standard notes is like comparing apples and oranges. It works but they are different.
    • Note taking works well too, just not as fast and quick as on Standardnotes.

Why I chose this way? I share my experiences below.


I was tired of Evernote.

Yes, it worked well. But it was not secure.

For some time I was happy with the local feature.

A local notebook was private after all .

But then they discontinued this feature.

My Odyssee began. I thought it would be so much easier to find a secure and comfy way of note taking.

I was wrong.

I found it very hard to find something that is as universal as Evernote but secure.

I scoured the net and found some candidates. This is what I experienced with them from A-Z:

Cryptee

  • Very nice design.
  • Clever web-centric approach.
  • An encrypted cloud service with web-only access but full deniability.
  • Probably the safest approach to online secure storage on the net.
  • Search does not find in text references due to encryption. Search only searches headlines and tags.
  • Bug: Line breaks in bulleted list are not aligned properly. Text is aligned with the bullet instead of other text.
  • Bug: The import from Evernote on MacOs was buggy. iNotes could import the same .enex file but is not safe.
  • Third and forth level bullet points are extremely large and impair legibility.
  • A click on documents always prompts reentering the encryption key.
  • A bit slow to use for note taking, since encryption is done in the browser.
  • Encryption key needs to be reentered frequently.
  • Likely a great solution for secure document storage that are not notes.
  • A bit like a secure online hard drive.

Joplin

  • Can be a free Evernote replacement on one machine. Impressive.
  • Great job by the programmer. He did what usually only a team can do.
  • Encrypted syncing is horrible on MacOS 10.14. I had no finished sync after three! days.
  • Issue resolution quite complex for non-techies.
  • Without encryption no more secure than Evernote unless you host all data on your own servers.
  • No financially stable revenue model. So I have to assume that it gets discontinued at some point.
  • I might switch to Joplin for web clips if I do not mind syncing.

Standard Notes

  • Great philosophy with focus on longevity and security.
  • Promising financial sustainability through viable financing concept and subscription motivation.
  • Extremely basic free features. Luckily there are free extensions around.
  • Great blogging feature.
  • Great sync and accessibility.
  • Unfortunately the current extensions (v3.5.18) can be buggy. Some issues I encountered:
    • General
    • List for indent on the mobile app can exceed screen on Laptop but not on external monitor - alternatively it overlays over the first line of the note text
    • Batch editing is cumbersome. I still found no way to batch assign or change tags.
    • Quick tags top bar does not expand to two lines once there are more tags than space for one line
    • Editors don’t work offline on mobile. This really destroys usability for mobile notes in html.
    • Plain editor
    • Text formatting does not change all marked text
    • Lists cannot be indented with Tab / and Shift + Tab
    • List cannot be formatted as blocks
    • Images cannot be integrated from uploads comfortably
    • Lists cannot be indented as a block
    • Markdown Pro Editor
    • Does not show formatting of bullet point - looks ugly
    • Bold Editor
    • Text in Lists cannot be formatted easily. It stays Courier in spite of marking it all and choosing Helvetica.

Turtle

  • Great idea, since it is focussed on encrypted team collaboration.
  • Did not like the old school interface and lack of offline accessibility.
  • Still in beta mode.
  • Seems like it might not live to see the next 5 years. But I’ll might keep revisiting.
  • Unfortunately still no iOS App, although still promised for 2019.
  • Did not test further since I want iPhone sync.

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