If I Could Make One Change to Evernote for iPad

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Evernote for iPad

Evernote is a superb app / service. I use it very heavily on my Mac and regularly on the iPad and iPhone. It has been promoted as a sort of ‘second brain’ where everything can be stored (text notes, images, audio notes etc) and found easily when needed.

I use the app along those lines – it’s a great place to store information and it’s available just about everywhere – Mac, Windows, Android, iOS, in a browser etc. The iOS apps are frequently updated and continually adding good new features and connections to other apps. It has even started to improve recently in its one weakest area – the editing interface on the iPad and iPhone.

But …

There’s still one ‘feature’ of the app that I find hugely annoying. When you tap to open an individual note you cannot just tap in the text area and begin typing. You first have to tap on the pencil icon on the app’s bottom bar. This just strikes me as a pointless waste of time. If I tap to select a note it should be completely obvious that I want to edit it – select text, add new text to it. Yes, it’s only a single extra tap but if you use the app often this becomes a big nuisance, and I just don’t see the point of it at all. Every other notes and writing app I’ve ever used on the iPad lets you tap directly in the writing area and get going right away.

It just feels dumb to have this needless extra tap and an inability to jump straight into a note like you can in every other app of this kind.

I’m sure we have some Evernote users here. What do you think on this? Would you like to see this changed in a future update?


Patrick Jordan

Founder and Editor in Chief of iPad Insight. Husband, father to a lovely daughter, Commander of the Armies of the North, dog lover (especially Labs), Austinite, former Londoner, IT consultant, huge sports nut, iPad and mobile tech blogger, mobile apps junkie.

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19 thoughts on “If I Could Make One Change to Evernote for iPad”

  1. Yes, the pencil is kind of annoying. But what I really miss in evernote for the iPad, is the web clipper (witch I use a lot in the Chrome when I’m in my laptop).

  2. Good point. In the Mac Evernote app, you can edit a note just by clicking in the note window. I suspect this behavior is a holdover from the iPhone Evernote app, where it kinda makes more sense. (On iPhone I want a definite distinction between reading a note and editing it; if edit was always on, I would probably make irreparable changes just form randomly touching the screen.)

    Could be worse, though. I also use the Evernote web interface from a PC at work. Not only do I have to click an “edit” button, but I also have to remember to make my note full screen first — otherwise I can only edit the left half of my note (there’s no horizontal scroll).

  3. If I understand the development API correctly, it’s because Evernote’s notes are in Rich Text or HTML natively, and iOS does not provide a built in rich text or HTML editor, so you have to resort to plain text. Evernote would have decided that showing plain text (ie, a monospaced font, like Courier) would make the note look awful (and different from your original), so you have to switch to edit mode where you then edit in plain text. This allows you to view your content using the rich text renderer (which I believe is Safari), so that you can view your note in all its Rich Text/HTML glory, but not edit it as such.

    So then the question, why do other apps like OmniOutliner and Pages allow rich text editing? Because they built an entire engine to handle exactly that, while Evernote’s content is clipped from various sources: stuff you type in, or stuff clipped from the web, so it’s not in a completely native format that Evernote can control easily (at least, not on the iPad anyway) and it would mean they would need to write an entire HTML editing library (and for which it might be a violation of iOS terms, because then it becomes a development tool; if you notice, there are no other HTML editors that work in anything except raw text.)

    1. Thanks for the rundown Steve. I didn’t realize this was such daunting task. I have to say though, I much prefer working with the plain text apps with cleaner, simpler UIs and the ability to jump straight in and write. I’d trade the RTF features for that in a second.

  4. Couldnt agree more! In fact, with me it’s never an extra key-press, it’s about five before I realize it’s not the screen failing to respond!

    That said, i love Evernote and it’s as important to me now as my brain! :)

  5. That pencil icon has always really irritated me.

    At the very least there could be an option to be permanently in ‘edit’ mode, even if that meant accepting a default to plain text notes.

    The vile icon infests Android EverNote too, though not the Windows implementation.

  6. Wow! Talk about first world problems. Go donate money to a charity where people have real problems.

    1. My deepest apologies to all those readers who come to a site that’s single-focused on the iPad for coverage of complex third world sort of issues.

  7. Actually, I like being able to access a note and not automatically edit it. I use Evernote a lot with several attachments inside each note. I need to be able to see the attachment, but not edit the note. My main usage is on a wifi only iPad 2 and if I accidentally hit the edit button, I cannot then access the attachments until Evernote syncs again. (and yes, I have it set to offline notebooks)

  8. Sorry, but I have an opposing viewpoint. I am a new user, and have some notes where I keep data I don’t want to lose. I want to be able to copy info out of evernote to paste elsewhere. So I touch the words and select to copy. I don’t want to always edit every time I touch the note.

    If I want to edit, I am happy to have a positive step like selecting the pencil first. Otherwise, I might select, cut and delete the note and then it’s gone, at least for a free user.

  9. The pencil is so very annoying. It’s the same on my Blackberry as my iPad. First is view only then you have to click again to really get in there. Annoying.

  10. Just so everyone is aware, but the Evernote team went on the record saying that they would not be building their own editing engine for the iPad a while back on their podcast. It will use what Apple includes in iOS, which means we will continue to have separate view and edit modes for the foreseeable future.

    I am ok with the pen icon and separate modes. I just want ink support added to the iPad.

  11. For me it’s not a big deal, and I use it daily at college.
    Not every time I open a note I want to edit it, sometimes I just want to see its contents.
    I used to take notes on SimpleNote, and, sometimes while I was distracted, I touched the screen accidentally and the keyboard showed up, messing all my text.
    I think the pencil is a way to prevent this, at least for me.

  12. Excellent point. I’ve been using iA Writer as well. It would be awesome if Evernote could add some of their amazing keyboard tweaks to enhance the writing experience. Evernote is a great app and certainly has saved a few careers since its release. I’m a big fan. Thank you for the post.

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