Dropbox Paper vs Evernote: In-Depth Comparison of Note-Taking Apps

There are many note taking apps available in the market. Each app comes with its own set of features. Depending on your particular needs, it becomes important that you choose the one that meets your requirements rather than the popular option.


Take Evernote for example. It's the darling of Silicon Valley, or at least it was, and for a very long time, the go-to note-taking app for most people. With the number of platforms and browsers it supports, people have been using it as a filing cabinet, to clip web pages, and to take text and audio notes for ages now.

A recent turn of events has put a question mark over his future. This is where Dropbox Paper comes in. A new player in the market that promises to change things by offering a superior user experience, better API integration and a collaborative environment.

Let's see how they differ and what they have to offer.

1. Take notes

As the name suggests, Evernote was designed for taking notes – a safe place for your brain. Whatever pops into your head, whether it's thoughts, ideas, or a web page you just discovered, put it away and you can find it later. You start by creating a new note which you can then file under Notebooks. You can also add tags to each note to further categorize it.

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Paper allows you to do things differently. You create a document (note) and file it in folders. It works very much like Google Docs or your Windows folder system. It does not give you an overview of all the documents you have under different folders like Evernote. On the plus side, unlike Evernote which only lets you go two levels deep, you can create as many folders as you want within folders.

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2. Editing and formatting

Evernote supports basic text formatting like bold, italics, bulleted lists, checklists, and indentation. There is a healthy selection of fonts to choose from.

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Paper also lets you take text and image notes, but there's no way to record audio notes. With paper geared more towards easy collaboration, formatting options have never been a priority. You will only see the context toolbar when you select a piece of text. The options are limited, but cover the basics like bold, header, link, highlight, and lists. It's a good thing that the usual keyboard shortcuts for formatting work in a less cluttered user interface.

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Besides text, you can also edit images. As a blogger, I work with screenshots and images all day. This involves annotations, cropping, resizing, etc. Evernote supports image editing with Skitch, a popular image editor and one of the GT team favorites.

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Paper also doesn't support image editing, which means you'll have to rely on third-party apps or online image editors to get the job done.

Images and audio files aren't the only file types users have to work with. There are snippets, music files, YouTube videos, Spotify songs, SoundCloud tracks, and more. Paper is smart and instantly recognizes almost any file from any service provider. You can read/view/view/access these files in the Paper interface itself. Evernote lets you attach Google Drive app files, but that's about it.

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You need to listen to the song mentioned in the screenshot above. I bet you will love it.

Paper will help you interact with many file types directly in the document without having to leave it. Evernote lacks it.

Lastly, Paper also supports markdown and LaTex which is very popular among bloggers and tech writers. Paper can let you create a table of contents, which is a godsend for writers and bloggers like me who continually find themselves working with them.

Let's take a moment to discuss document scanning and OCR. Evernote is famous for this. You scan a document to turn it into an image, and it will appear as a note in your Evernote account. Not only that, but Evernote will also use OCR to scan the note and turn it into a searchable PDF document. I used it to scan all my medical documents and bills. My mom uses it to save recipes while my brother uses it to scan business cards.

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Dropbox Paper doesn't have in-app OCR or image scanning, but the native Dropbox app does. This means you'll need to use the Dropbox app to scan documents and turn them into PDF files and import them into Paper. It's not the best way to go, but it still works great.

3. Sharing and collaborating

Sharing notes on Evernote and documents on Paper works the same way. In Evernote, you must click the Share button to create a unique link that can then be shared via email or other means. You can control whether the recipient can also access the notebook or only the note, can edit or only view the note.

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Paper works the same way when you click the invite button to send an email invitation. You can control permissions, just like in Evernote.

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You can use view permission in the case of notes on which you are only looking for opinions and not necessarily entries. You can use edit permission when you need help completing the document/note or when working on the same project.

Sharing notes and documents is one thing, collaborating is another. This is where Dropbox Paper shines. Suppose you want to draw someone's attention to a particular file or paragraph. Just use the @mention (@name) command to notify. I can now create a task list and assign the individual task to different team members. Team members can then comment on them to express concerns or ask questions.

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Paper is also smart enough to remember all the changes you've made to the document so far. You can access older versions of the document at any time. This is useful when the app automatically makes changes without your approval and you want things to go back to how they were.

Then there is the possibility to comment and attribute different sections and elements of the document. A feature we've come to use and love in Google Docs and other Drive apps.

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Evernote, on the other hand, has a Work Chat feature which can be used to send messages to team members. More along the lines of Hangouts. This works fine, but outside of the note you're collaborating on.

4. Price and availability

Dropbox Paper is currently free and not part of the Dropbox cloud storage system. This may change in the future. Paper was designed as a web application, although it is also available on Android and iOS platforms. No browser extensions or desktop clients are available, which I found limiting.

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Evernote offers three different pricing plans to choose from, and each will provide you with additional features such as OCR and image/PDF search, version history, note presentation, note sharing in the enterprise, Google Suite and Office 365 Suite connectivity, etc.

Where Evernote really shines is the number of platforms it supports. There are apps for Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, iOS, and there's also a web clipper for Chrome and Firefox. This lets you work with your notes or create new ones almost anywhere with a single click.

Dropbox Paper vs. Evernote

Evernote is a note-taking app like no other. Sharing and collaborating seems like an afterthought here. It was designed to help you capture thoughts and web pages on every platform, app, and browser. This makes it more versatile.

Dropbox designed Paper to be a collaborative document editor where you can embed anything and work with anyone in real time. No need to leave the app every time you want to communicate with someone or interact with something.

In this way, Evernote and Paper are different, each sharing common ground with the other. You can choose to use both or one or the other depending on your needs.

Next up: With the future of Evernote in the wind, you might want to take a look at this in-depth comparison between Google Keep and Evernote to see if you can replace the latter with the former.