Summer is a good time to catch up on those organizational tasks that never seem to get done while there are more pressing things to do. One of these tasks, put off for too long, was a complete migration of my notes on the cloud. I used to use Evernote a lot, particularly since switching to an Android smartphone, as it was a convenient way to keep track of things in a way that remains available when I’m offline. Problem is, I have stopped using this service, moving instead to a combination of Google Keep (for todo lists etc) and Docs (for longer notes, articles I want to keep, etc). So instead of letting my old notes rot in digital oblivion, I finally migrated all my old material from Evernote and cleaned up my account.
I am writing about this because it was not completely straightforward. Let’s start at the beginning. First thing I need to do was to export all notes from Evernote.
- Now the only way to export notes is from the desktop application. As I’m primarily a Linux user, I didn’t have this installed, working always from the web app on my desktop. So the first order of business involved the installation of the desktop app on a Windows VM.
- Once I signed in on the desktop app I let it sync all notes. Beyond that, creating a backup of the notes proved very simple – it’s just a matter of selecting all notes (click on the “All Notes” button and then Ctrl-A) and then choosing Export from the context menu.
- There’s a number of possible formats: I saved my notes as Evernote XML (as an archival format and in the off chance I ever need to load them back) and also a multi-page HTML (to facilitate conversion and upload to Google Drive).
Now I wanted the notes as separate documents on Google Drive, ideally in an editable format (i.e. as a Google Doc each). It turns out there’s a fairly straight forward way of doing this as a two-step process:
- Using LibreOffice to convert the HTML documents to Word documents. This can be done very simply on the command line:
lowriter --convert-as doc *.html
In some cases this did not work, and I had to cut/paste manually from the HTML document (opened in Firefox) to a new LibreOffice document. Otherwise it made short work of the conversions, images and all.
- Uploading the Word documents to Google Drive, with the “Convert uploaded files to Google Docs editor format” setting checked on Drive.
- Again here some documents did not play ball. In these cases (happened only once to me) I had to copy/paste from LibreOffice to a new Google Doc on my web browser.
Once I was done with all this I was about to delete my Evernote account, where I found out that you can only deactivate an account, meaning the notes remain there and even I couldn’t reopen an account with the same email address. What an idiotic methodology. Instead I simply deleted all my notes (again this had to be done with the desktop app) and emptied the trash. I left my account there, in case I ever want to use it again.