the usual
inconsistent at best
Upgrading an Ancient Evernote Archive

The last time I used Evernote on my Mac was Evernote 4.3.1 (circa 2012 I believe). I had accumulated over 5000 notes. In an act of supreme cleverness, instead of actually archiving those notes in the Evernote enex format, I just backed up my entire home directory, knowing that all my notes were safely stored somewhere in the ~/Library hierarchy.

When I finally got enough gumption on my new laptop to install Evernote, I found that the latest version could not read the native 4.3.1 format from the ~/Library hierarchy. Doom.

5000 notes.

So I made an entry in Wunderlist to someday take care of that and forgot about it. I realized that what I needed to do was to uninstall Evernote completely, find a version of Evernote that could still read this archive, and then export using Evernote’s export utility into an enex archive.

The problem is, I could not remember what version of Evernote I had been using. I felt like:

And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend. Legend became myth. And for two and a half thousand years, the ring passed out of all knowledge.

Today I found my gumption again (I love Wunderlist, by the way—big fan). And then I found this website: which has archives of Evernote for Mac going back to 4.0.2. I started with 4.0.2, in fact, and found that it didn’t work. 4.3.1 seemed to jog my memory a little. Here’s the exact technique:

  • install Evernote (your favorite version)

  • run it

  • exit it, including the Evernote Helper (the little elephant in the menu bar)

  • look in ~/Library/Application Support/Evernote/data and you will see a directory named with all numbers. Mine was 101370. That’s where Evernote will be putting your notebooks and notes.

  • rsync your old archive into this place:

      $ rsync -avHS --delete ~/backup/evernote/ ~/Library/Application\ Support/Evernote/data/101370/
  • run Evernote again and see all your notebooks and notes appear

If you choose the wrong Evernote version, close the app (including the Helper again), delete the app, delete the ~/Library/Application Support/Evernote directory. You may also delete the ~/Library/Preferences/com.evernote* directories and .plist files. There may also be cache files in ~/Library/Caches/Evernote. This is pretty much a full, start-over Evernote delete.

Pick another version and repeat this process.

Once you find the right version, export your notebooks (right-click the notebook and choose “Export Notes”). This will create an .enex file which you can use to import into a later version of Evernote.

Sadly, Evernote is not as cool as it once was. I’ll probably keep it around and browse my notes occasionally and maybe in another 5 years realize that I was better off letting go of my digital baggage in the first place.

Last modified on 2016-07-21