Evernote 5: Beauty Meets the Old Evernote Client

If you’ve read a few of my articles in Mac.Appstorm then you’ve probably seen how big of a fan I am of Evernote. It’s a wonderful service: not only does it let you create, organize, and share notes easily, but it also lets you keep everything synced up and accessible through many places, like their website, and the iOS, Android and Mac apps.

The Mac app has been around for some time now, and even though it gets continuous support and works just fine, it has been in need of a UI overhaul for a long time. Well, just a few days ago the Evernote team revealed a new update that will bring a complete re-do to the app, and just now we’ve had the opportunity to test out the beta version of the new Evernote 5. Let’s see what’s new!

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Evernote 5 Beta

Getting Started

Getting Started

As it isn’t still a finished product, the Evernote 5 beta isn’t yet readily available as a normal Evernote client update. To test it out, you need to do a little bit more work than with a normal update. First off, you need to have an Evernote client installed in your Mac and it can’t be the one from the App Store, it needs to be directly downloaded from Evernote’s site.



Once you have your working Evernote Mac client, you need to go into the settings of the app and check off a box that reads something like “Update to beta versions when available”, under the Software Update tab. Once this is done you’ll be prompted to update and you will get a warning message to remind you that as a beta release, you might encounter a few bugs with the app and you might even experience data corruption and loss of your notes. Since we’re pretty intrepid here at Appstorm, we just skipped that part and jumped ahead to the good stuff.

New Looks

Evernote 5

Evernote 5

The most noticeable new thing in Evernote 5 is definitely the new look of the app. While the old app was alright, it seemed a little plain and boring; there wasn’t much color to it and it just felt kind of old and out of place in a Mac environment, especially when we’ve seen new apps with amazing user interfaces, like Reeder.

Evernote 5 is noticeably better visually. Everything’s bigger, more colorful, easily accessible, and there have been a bunch of useless buttons that have been removed to make up for a cleaner, better looking client. The navigation is still based around a sidebar where the notes, notebooks, trunk and tags are accessible; and then there’s the main window where all the content is displayed.

New Features

The Evernote team has said that Evernote 5 contains “over 100 new features”, although as you might imagine, most of them are small details that are not as relevant as a few other standouts. Here are the most relevant new features that we found:

Smarter Search



The search toolbar has gotten a lot better, as it now is a lot smarter at predicting what you’re looking for, and I’ve also noticed it being a lot faster than the previous search in the old Evernote client. There are also a few tweaks that you can make to your search, like searching by creation dates or specific tag and notebooks.




Atlas is a new feature that can help you locate where your notes have been created, geographically. If you access the Atlas through the navigation sidebar, you’ll be shown a few maps where you can locate specific notes based on where you created them.




The “Trunk” is a new sort of “market” for Evernote. Here you can find apps, devices, gear and information related to Evernote. It’s pretty much a showcase for cool similar things to Evernote, like the Found app or the new Moleskine notebook designed specifically with Evernote in mind.

Better browsing



Evernote 5 makes it easier to browse through your notes. It has a lot more useful views and sorting options, like arranging notebooks by their note count or the most recently updated ones. There’s also a new compartment in the sidebar where you can create shortcuts to notes or notebooks by simply dragging them there. This same space holds a section that will keep track of your most recently created notes, so that they’re always as easily accessible as your shortcuts.

Shared Notebook Notifications

In the activity button located on the toolbar, you can get notified of any changes that happen to your shared notebooks. And although I couldn’t get it to work in the beta, the Evernote team says that Mountain Lion’s notifications should also work with the shared notebooks updates.


For such a huge and well-supported app, I am surprised it took Evernote so long to get to this stunningly beautiful and completely functional release. Pretty much every other week there seemed to be a new update for the old client, improving the usability and coming up with small new features, but a complete re-do of the user interface was more than needed.

Basically, with Evernote 5 you get all the great functionality of the old client along with a few cool new features and a completely new look and feel to the app. While the new features aren’t anything groundbreaking and they might even come across as a gimmick (like Atlas), they’re much appreciated and you might even find a few cool uses for them. And with the new look, Evernote finally feels like a modern Mac interface-friendly app instead of just plain text, lots of buttons and no color at all.

You can think of Evernote 5 as a long overdue visual overhaul to an already great and very functional app. But have you tried it out yourself? What do you think of it?


Evernote 5 is a long overdue visual overhaul to an already great and very functional app.



Add Yours
  • Che teatro di applicazione!

  • I’m not sure why all this excitement about Evernote. Has anyone looked at the app Notability? Not only a better filing system but you can take audio notes and you can even draw. Certainly I’ll check out the new version of Evernote and it is nice that they have a Mac version as well. (Notability does not yet have a Mac and may not ever have one). But I certainly don’t consider Evernote 10 out of 10 – far from that.

    • Notability isn’t quite the same thing as the Evernote we’re talking about here, as Notability is only an iPad app. We’re not really reviewing the Evernote service as a whole here, but only the new Evernote Mac app. Which, by the way, also supports audio notes and drawing with a stylus (via Bamboo Paper)

    • Can you run Notability on iPhone, Adroid phone, Win phone, Mac, Win, and online in browser? Does it have the same functionality? Absolutely no. Because you like the app, don’t push it here please.

  • Why would they move the notebook list out of the left sidebar and into a notebooks submenu? It now takes two clicks to access a notebook rather than one. People are just going to end up dragging all of their notebooks into the shortcuts section anyway because that’s how they are used to working with the app.
    Instead of doing that, they should have tried doing a horizontal notebook scroller at the top, so you always have one-click access to any notebook, not just your shortcuts.
    I dunno, from what I see here, I think I like the current version better. I guess I would need to play around with this to see if I like it first.

    • Try Notability – just what you’re seeking it seems to me.

      • Stephen, we’re talking about Mac apps here! (its “MAC”.appstorm you’r reading, not ipad.appstorm)

        You might want to post your comments about that iPad app somewhere over there, at ipad.appstorm.net.

        Also, check out the authors answer to your first post mentioning that iPad app.

        BTW, are you affiliated in any way?

    • Tim,
      Have you tried right clicking the “Notebooks” button? There’s an option there that lets you show a list of all your notebooks under the icon. Same with the tags!

      • It’s the only real way to work with this.

    • Very often, a design upgrade means that it will remove core functionality in order to streamline the design. However, I really don’t think this is one of those cases. I have been able to do everything that I do normally, while also appreciating how crisp the design is.

  • Actually there are quite a number of things that were in the previous version that have been eradicated in the new version and a lot of them, even just the simple back and forward buttons or being able to collapse or open notebook stacks were a basic part of everyday usage.
    Still trying to understand why these essential parts of the interface have been left out
    and personally having tried the new version, I rolled back to the previous version as soon as I could. Evernote 5, certainly pretty but form over function was taken a few unnecessary steps too far and I will not be upgrading until they bring them back.