The step by step process I used to migrate from Evernote to Joplin on two laptops, one phone, and a tablet.
Then choose the
ENEX format option and click
I saved all of these exports to the same folder just in case I made mistakes with the import, but it all went pretty smoothly.
Once you have all the ENEX files you ever wanted, it’s time to import them into Joplin. Go to
ENEX - Evernote Export File (as Markdown) and choose one of the ENEX files you exported from Evernote.
This will create a notebook in Joplin with the same name as the notebook in Evernote with all the notes. And, yes, you will have to do each one separately. I kept worrying I’d accidentally select the HTML instead of the Markdown option.
Don’t worry right now if you had everything organized in stacks in Evernote and now your notebooks are spread all around. We can fix that later because you know what’s better than stacks? Infinitely nested notebooks.
Joplin has a decent web clipper. I haven’t had any issues with it, but it does take a two-step process to setup. First install the clipper in your browser:
Then go to
Settings in Joplin:
And click on
Enable Web Clipper Service:
The Joplin Web Clipper gives you quite a few options and will remember the last notebook you used for the next clip:
This process is not as smooth as some apps that just let you click a button and then another button and maybe another buttons. Open
Settings again and go to
I am syncing my notebooks with Dropbox and if you are using Dropbox, Joplin Cloud, or OneDrive, click on
Open Sync Wizard and choose your service:
You can also sync to NextCloud, WebDAV, S3 or Joplin Server by choosing the option from the
Synchronization target dropdown:
If you choose Dropbox like me, selecting Dropbox from the wizard will take you here. Click on the Dropbox link:
Clicking that link will take you to the web to authorize Joplin access to Dropbox:
Once you click
Allow you will be given a code to paste back into the form in Joplin:
Once you click
Submityou will be able to sync to Dropbox. You can choose the
Syncronization interval from the dropdown in settings. Five minutes is the minimum and 24 hours is the maximum. You can also choose to disable automatic synchronization if you would rather do it manually.
I have both an Android phone and an iPad Pro. Why? Because I hate iPhones and will never get one, but for reading when you have thousands of ebooks nothing beats the iPad and I liked the pen, the 1 TB of storage, and the battery that lasts me for a week of reading without charging.
There is really nothing special here.
Configuration page, choose your
Depending on your phone and the amount of notes you have, synchronization could take a while and there could be some issues, because, well, they’re phones and they’re stupid, but I will address those in the next section.
There are always issues with any type of migration, but after I learned more about Joplin, most of the issues ended up being minor. Some were not real issues at all and I will get to those in the next section.
locks folder in my
Dropbox/Apps/Joplin folder, which is where it was syncing and deleting every json file in it. The first time I made a backup of the Joplin folder, but it worked, so after that I just deleted the files again if it happened.
0a84f642d4fa8f2f3b2b789be20a1eb6. Take this string and search the
.resources folder in the folder you sync Joplin to. For me it was
Dropbox/Apps/Joplin. I found the file with the same string and deleted it and syncing went fine after that.
I also had some issues with how Joplin does things, but can work around them:
When I decided it was time to switch, I had figured I had settled, but was ready. The Joplin UI is pretty basic and didn’t have much features, but I didn’t care. It turns out, I didn’t do enough research. Here are some things I discovered as I started using it that made things better.
I will be referring to some Joplin plugins which you can find listed here. To install them, just find them on the site, then go to
Settings > Plugins and search for them by name and click the
Install button and then restart to enable it:
I full-screened Joplin and the editable area stayed the same size. I finally tracked it down to
Settings > General > Appearance and the
Editor maximum width setting which is set to 600 by default. I set it
0 so that it takes all the screen space it is given.
You don’t. You just create notebooks that can be nested infinitely as far as I can tell. Just drag and drop them around.
You can. You just need to add the plugin. Without it, you get a split screen view with the markdown on one side and the rendered file on the other. I hate that. The Rich Markdown plugin will solve that problem.
Right click on the notebook and choose
Edit. In the menu that pops up, you can change the name of the notebook, but you can also choose an emoji or select an image file from your local file system as an icon for that folder. I found this by accident editing a notebook name.
You can set a few settings with the default theme:
But you can also find themes for Joplin on the plugin site. Each will have it’s own settings. I found I liked the macOs theme the best.
This is a weird one, but when I installed the Note Tabs plugin and the Favorites plugin, they both caused the UI to go psychotic. I have deactivated Favorites. Not really sure how to use it, but I wanted the ability to open multiple notes at the same time which the Note Tabs plugin supposedly gave me.
The only problem was the tabs were on the right and were the size of the editor itself. I reactivated the Favorites plugin for an example:
The key is to go to
View > Change application layout:
Once you click that, you will get this:
Now, I am not going to say this part is easy. It is sort of like solving a Rubik’s Cube or one of those sliding picture puzzle things. I am not even sure how to tell you how to do it, but here are some tips:
Loading.... It never showed except in this mode. So I just ignored them.
I went back and forth. I wasn’t sure if I was going to use Joplin for this or Obsidian, but like I said, I just didn’t want to dump random things everywhere in Obsidian. I do some journaling and freewriting there, but I didn’t want it to become a junk drawer. But I needed a junk drawer, a holding and vetting area, so Joplin was it.
It turns out you can export Joplin notebooks directly into Obsidian in one step where they become a folder. Just right click on the notebook and choose
Export > MD - Markdown + Front Matter.
This will turn the markdown files into a version that Obsidian can use, so when the file menu comes up, just choose where you want to put the folder in your Obsidian vault and done. But there is one caveat. If the the notebook you choose is nested, it will export the folder structure down to the folder you want like this:
This might be what you want in some cases, but it is good to know beforehand. So if you just want the one folder without the folders above it, just drag it to the root in Joplin and then export.
Doing this migration made me rethink some things. I don’t want to do something like this again. I don’t want to keep storing endless things unless I will use them. I have a habit of that:
I have tried Getting Things Done. That was way too much crap. I tried Zen to Done. It was a little better. Then I learned to stop trying to fit myself into systems and build a system around my quirks and using the concepts of those systems as needed if not the rigid structure.
This turned into a legal pad with three lists on it that I recreate weekly:
This is not for my day job stuff. This is for the rest. The day job should provide you with tools you need and be kept completely separate. Don’t mix them. I write it manually every Sunday because that is my review and it takes work, so I don’t overload myself. I have the gap list. I don’t need to. And one side of one page is the rule, with the lists in the four corners.
But I’ve decided that is not enough review. I’ve added a new list called “Weekly Review” which includes:
It wasn’t until recently that I have learned to throw the proclamations of gurus out and just find a way that works for me, not just with this.
It started with writing. Every book on writing I read became “the way I need to do it”…for at least 20 years. The authors of most of these books make you think that and think you are a failure when you can’t do it. Then someone told me again that there is as many methods of writing as there are writers and each writer uses different methods for different purposes and it finally stuck. Now I see books that claim to teach me “the only way” to do a thing as an option, just another tool I can try and throw out or adjust when it doesn’t work for me.
It’s the best thing I have ever done or learned.
This seems like a lot, but it took me less than a couple of hours in the end and if I would have stopped babysitting the sync process and just moved forward, it may have taken less time. I am happy with the change. I feel like the change made me get rid of old junk and get serious about using Joplin and Obsidian together as tools rather than digital junk drawers that I would get to eventually.
The switch is not for everyone, but I like the fact that all my notes are all in same format or at least I can move files from app to the other with a couple of clicks and if all else fails, I have all my files backed up in a readable format.
And I plan on writing some articles on Obsidian. I just have much more to say about it and it is likely to be a whole new category on my blog. And I am still learning what I can do with it.