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Apple Notes: A notable exception as I return to Evernote, tail between legs

 Evernote is the Swiss Army knife of notetakers. Looks like Apple Notes is missing out for now
Evernote is the Swiss Army knife of notetakers. Looks like Apple Notes is missing out for now

Twice in the past few months I’ve written about Apple Notes. First, I recounted how I had successful transferred all my Evernote files over to Notes and that all had gone well. Well, it went downhill from there. First I noticed some slowness in Notes. Then I realised that every time I opened the application on the iPhone there would be a delay of over a minute before I could start a new note or search for an existing item.

On the Mac it is possible to start entering a note almost immediately after opening the application, although it is not possible to search the database until sync finishes. Synchronisation seems just as slow as on the phone. Indeed, I noticed that when my MacBook has not been used for a few days the sync of Notes goes on for minutes, something that I find unacceptable.

The problem, presumably, was the size of my Evernote database. All told, there were nearly 2,900 items imported into Notes app. As I’ve discovered, this is a lot. David Sparks of MacSparky has written glowingly about Notes; in fact it was his recommendation that encouraged me to say goodbye (or, at least, bye-bye for now) to Evernote. I checked back and saw David had mentioned he had some 700 notes in his database, so I sent an email outlining my misfortunes. David says he has heard that Notes slows down after about 2,500 entires so he has added this to his report to Apple. 

It isn’t so much the synchronisation speed, if only it could operate in the background without locking the app. The main problem is in not being able to start typing a note immediately. By the time the new note screen opens I’ve forgotten what I was thinking about.

This has been festering now for a couple of weeks, so I was delighted to read that in the new iOS 9.3 there was an promising mention of “improvement to the Notes application”.

I was pretty confident that when I clicked on the iPhone’s Notes icon I would have super-speed synchronisation and would be able to read or add new notes in a trice. Sadly, this is not so. My 2,900 database of notes opens just as slowly as it did last week. The New Note button and search facility are dead until the sync routine has finished, usually about about a minute or so.

Notes is not fit for purpose and I am really surprised that Apple has not dealt with the problem. I cannot believe the problem is restricted to me; this is now less likely because the new installation of iOS 9.3 should have cleared any local issues.

My patience has worn thin and I have returned to Evernote, tail between my legs. Clearly at the moment Notes works best with a small number of items, perhaps up to 500 or 700, but isn’t capable of the heavy lifting job that Evernote tackles as a matter of routine. I will still keep an eye on Notes but for the time being it doesn’t work for me.


  1. The following may or may not be relevant but your story reminds me of this. All of my Apple devices are slowing up under the weight of apps and automatic updates etc and in addition they are trying to force me to use more iCloud space. I keep getting messages about buying more storage. Someone at Apple Central (the Core?) has decided that iCloud is the way to go and that ‘upsell’ is the strategy of the day. They would need to be careful ,however, that they don’t drive away customers with too much attempted upselling of services they don’t really want. As for the Cloud, how may of us really trust that in an era of ‘mega-hacks’ and ‘mega leaks’, Panama Papers etc ?

    I like Apple’s products, but I have as much loyalty to the Apple brand as they have to me. At the moment they are straining that loyalty.

    While I am on this tack, Adobe’s Creative Cloud Lightroom takes quite a bit of time to ‘load up’ every time I switch it on. If I were a working pro rather than just a reasonably happy amateur I would be more than a little annoyed. I had to switch to Creative Cloud when I got the Fuji X-Pro 2 as non of the ‘fixed’ versions contain the necessary software. In horse racing they say that bookie always wins. The same is true when it comes to software.


    • A lot of sense in that, William. To some extent the future of Apple is not in hardware but in its core services. It preserves customer loyalty and, since Apple buyers tend to be the more affluent, engenders fear of the unknown in changing to another system. The upsell is all part of this strategy but it is not necessarily a bad thing in the grand scheme of things since costs of storage are coming down all the time.

      In common with most people I am concerned about the prospect of data leakage and hacking, not because I am up to no good but because I don’t want my digital life to be compromised. Recent "ransom attacks" on Windows users are a case in point: Pay us or we will destroy your data.

      All we can do is put our faith in a company that a) charges for its services, therefore has a vested interest in security and b) has the reputation and experience to help keep us safe. Apple fits this description for the moment as far as I am concerned.

      • I echo William’s thoughts Mike…

        I hate clouds with a passion, they usually have mischief in mind.

        I am happy to use my own network and for stuff that I want to share, my old Lion based MacPro which sits under the dining room table does all that I need it to.

        The only data that I have in the cloud, is already owned by A. N. Other, in the form of email, which has long been easier to manage either as pop or imap rather than with one’s personal smtp server and associated services running from an internal server.

        So my iCloud usage is still next to nothing, a couple of megabytes I think?… I also share my calendar in this way, but that is tiny.

        I have just finished a seemingly endless session with Adobe, trying to get rid of all of their "creative cloud" nonsense… Which first infected my system when I was stupid enough to buy a copy of Lightroom half way through last year (for the OCOLOY)…

        …Anyway, following a refund, I tried to remove it then, and I thought that I had, until I again (perhaps greedily) attempted to use my Leica provided free copy of the same, and guess what?…

        The "creative cloud" re-CREATED itself all over my Mac, but didn’t function… it told me that it was expired.

        I am only now starting to calm down…

        The corporatist hijack of my PERSONAL computer was the sort of thing that I thought I had turned my back on, when I dumped Widows back in 2009.

        At least Apple seem to give one chance to ignore their cloud, Adobe seem to make it unavoidable.

        I call it "CREATIVE ACCOUNTING".

  2. Thank you for sharing. I am trying to export from Evernote to Notes now. Found that the Mac import did not work. Wrong fonts. Tables working on iMac but not on iPhone. Found a good workaround: Put the .enex file on iCloud drive, then do the import from iOS. Much better! But then… the sync is not working still. About 3000 notes. Then googling and found your answer. Considering giving up… but Notes would be my best choice if it worked. Wheel spinning and spinning for hours. Tried deleting all data both on phone and mac… hm…


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