Digital notebook showdown: Evernote v. Springpad

Digital notebook showdown: Evernote v. Springpad

Important announcement: As of June 25, 2014, Springpad is shutting down. Click for more information.

Storing and retrieving text, audio or picture notes is a breeze with both Evernote and Springpad. More people have heard of and use Evernote (10M users), but over several months I’ve shifted some content to Springpad (2M users). Evernote is a little slicker, but I’ve found it becomes the digital equivalent of my junk drawer with everything crammed in. I can only find items by search because I tag and categorize inconsistently. The way you add items to Springpad, how it looks up information for you and handles tasks sets it apart for certain uses.

Because I can add, retrieve and act on items in Springpad with less effort, it has become by tool of choice for short-term projects, idea boards, gift lists and products or places to try. Evernote has remained my long-term digital storage solution, allowing me to retrieve notes and documents long ago forgotten with an effortless search.

Whether you’re just now exploring using a digital notebook or are curious how Evernote and Springpad compare, the table below is for you. I’ve asterisked items that are the biggest differentiators. Please add comments if you have other opinions or further questions.


Category Feature Evernote Springpad Why the difference matters
How items are added Add items by type*

With two clicks when adding a new item, Springpad lets you designate what type of item it is from a task or reminder to a specific item like a restaurant, book or movie, which include helpful look up features. This makes finding information much easier v. needing to categorize/tag or rely on search.
When adding items, look-up by type*

If you add an item Springpad can look up on the web, it does so, which means you have more information at your fingertips with less work. Web look ups include places, books, music, movies, wine, recipes, etc.
When adding items, look-up by location

Makes adding places easier by looking up based on your location.
Add audio notes

Add picture items

Evernote also converts text in images, allowing you to search images, PDF’s, etc.
Add documents*

Evernote supports adding scanned docs, pdf files, etc, a feature Springpad should add.
Add items by barcode scan

Saves you time when adding items if you can simply scan a barcode with your phone. Great for creating a shopping list, remembering wines, etc.
Send email to create an item

Send email to create a task*

Efficiently create tasks from emails by forwarding to Springpad with task type and due date information added to the email.
Editing & Viewing
Markup items

View items in presentation mode

Task Management* Add items as tasks

Both need to add delegation and recurring task support though to be more full featured task managers.
Add date/time reminder to any item

Sharing Share items by email

Share items with others

I find that Springpad too often defaults to public view for new notebooks. It should default to private, so be careful when you create new notebooks.
Collaborate on items with others

Springpad lets you make notebooks public or invite others to curate or comment on content. Evernote allows you to invite other to view or edit notes or notebooks.
Organization Search items

Organize items into notebooks

 Evernote lets you nest notebooks.
Add tags to any item

Add a priority flag to any item

Evernote only lets you star an entire note.
Add a geo location tag to an item

Brainstorming Board

Say you’re designing a room, you can create a collage of pics, notes, etc.
Automatic syncing

Tools & Apps 3rd Party App & Device Integration


Very limited

You can use scanners or other apps or sites to add items to your notebooks.
Clip pages from web

iPhone App

iPad App

Android App

Offline Desktop App*

Take your info on the go without being dependent on an internet connection or access to a mobile device. [Springpad does support offline Chrome access.]
Security SSL (https) access
  Item or Text Encryption Evernote Premium users can encrypt selected text for additional protection of sensitive information.
Price Plans Freemium Free If you store lots of data, need offline access or a few other premium features, you’ll have to pay $45/yr for Evernote Premium.

Next step
: View Evernote’s Getting Started or Springpad’s Feature guide and sign-up to check them out. If you want to move from Evernote to Springpad, Springpad has a free import tool.
Last updated: 10/23/13
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  • Anonymous

    Great comparison!  Really nicely done, thank you!!!

    • Levi Smith

      Glad it was helpful!

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  • opt out

    you can upload documents as an attachment to notes etc. on springpad.

    • Levi Smith

      For the benefit of others, the difference then is that evernote lets you turn a compatible file (pdf, etc) into a note. Springpad treats files as attachments to a note or task. Evernote will also perform character recognition on files.


  • lio

    I stopped using Springpad after I lost notes on two occasions. In both cases, I accidentally stayed in edit mode on one device (iOS app or Chrome browser window) and then used Springpad on the other. So my recommendation is to never use Springpad on more than one device.

    Now I use the Simplenote app on my iPhone and nvAlt on my Mac and they have not eaten a single line of text in the 3 months that I’ve been using them.

    • Levi Smith

      Maybe katin @springpad can chime in as to whether that was a bug that’s been fixed.


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  • Rosjavi

    FYI, you can use Evertasks, is an application for iPad and iPhone to manage the tasks in evernote as a task manager. You can see more information in:

  • Jfdevinejr

    Thank you for your comparison, really appreciated. The new Social media spin has me more than a little concerned (admittedly all webbased data does). My concern regarding Evernote v Sprinpad is more of a bigger productivity question. How much time is spent in reviewing, then migrating to a different system, then developing competency? It seems (quite often) technology is wagging the productivity dog at the expense of efficiency. Your thoughts appreciated. Thanks

    • Levi Smith

      I think you raise a good point. Switching has a high cost, which is why I advocate using tools for different purposes, although that means you cannot take advocate of unified search. I still prefer Evernote as a digital filing cabinet for notes and scanned docs. I prefer SpringPad for tasks, creating idea boards and remembering movies, restaurants, etc. If you give up using one tool for everything, I think you get the best of all worlds albeit with the cost of having multiple sites or apps to search to find what you need sometimes.

    • matthew d lyons

      Bingo! I didn’t want to use two different apps for, seemingly, the same thing; but I have finally accepted that I use Evernote and Springpad for different purposes.

      I was all Springpad for a while, but moved over to Evernote last
      year. I like the integration of a large number of third-party services with Evernote. After being all-Evernote for a while, I realized that each services does certain things better than the other.

      Like you, I use Evernote for all of my digital filing cabinet, web clipping, and note-taking. I still find Springpad’s interface better suited for remembering books, movies, and, organizing trips (particularly with the new board layout). I also like that I can scan barcodes to add things to Springpad.

      I have been working with my wife to get organized with Evernote, especially because she has a LOT of paper. I have been pushing suggestions from Jamie Todd Rubin’s series on Going Paperless. She really likes the idea, but I notice that she still pops into Springpad for certain things because of the more appealing visual interface.

      For most people, I don’t think that you can go wrong with either service. In fact, I think the visual layout, and ability to add from pre-determined categories makes Springpad much easier to dive into. Evernote takes some getting used to, and I find that it’s much more of an app that requires building a habit of using than Springpad. However, if you are serious about taming the paper in your life, like the idea of scanning and marking up documents/pdfs, and have a lot of integrations with other apps and services…Evernote is the move.

  • David

    I have a question regarding the price comparison. Concerning Evernote, what would you consider storing a lot, enough to warrant paying the $45 a year?

    • Levi Smith

      Premium gets you 1 GB uploads/mo, so if you’re going to store a lot of high resolution photos or files larger than 50 mb, you would need premium. There are other premium benefits listed at that may be worth considering. Versioning, offline access and pdf search are particularly useful for me.

  • 808Me

    Any chance we can get you to update this? I’m newly considering SP v. E, and see that there was, at minimum, a SP update in April that some reviews had concerns about. Thank you.

    • Levi Smith

      Timing is good. Had this on the to-do list. Should be able to update it early next week.


    • Levi Smith

      Just finished updating the comparison chart. The Springpad April update was welcomed and included a refreshed design. For what it’s worth, I find that I use Evernote as my digital filing cabinet, for information or docs I may need to search in or retrieve someday. I use Springpad for short-term curation for projects, gift lists, idea boards, products or places to check out, etc.

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  • stella

    I was about to download springpad, but then took a look at its privacy policy. To my reading, spad can snoop on EVERYTHING you have, as well as track your whereabouts. Am I reading this correctly??? Do i have to put my life under surveillance in order to use this app.? Didn,t see any exceptions for private or public material… spad has the right to access everything about you???

    • Levi Smith

      Recognizing that I do not have any inside knowledge about their practices, the policy reads fairly standard to me for similar content apps. In short, they do not access your private content (v. personal information provided at registration) except in limited situations and anonymize most of the other information they collect while you use the product to improve the service, enable advertising, etc.


    • cici0905

      Stella, maybe you should check Evernote’s permissions. I think you will be unpleasantly surprised!

  • E. C. Chang

    I have decided to migrate away from Springpad for a couple of reasons. First, they don’t encrypt your data. That means nothing related to work, finances, identity, passwords, etc. should be stored there. Secondly, I *really* wanted to be able to use Spad as a writing platform, both professionally and personally. Professionally, I’m a scientist, and I like having a platform wherein I can stash scholarly journal articles, literature searches, project plans, and findings all in one place. Evernote wins hands down for that; Spad can’t handle PDFs. I was willing to keep that separate, though, if I could use Spad to write fiction, which I do for a hobby. I was particularly drawn to the Board functionality – what a great way to lay out scenes and chapters! But then I discovered that Spad’s mobile apps have ZERO support for RTF text. If you paste in from Word, or even just use their sort-of RTF editor through the web app, opening that file on a tablet or smartphone kills the formatting and inserts all kinds of html code in place of your punctuation marks. That’s a dealbreaker. I ruined a sizable chunk of a manuscript that way – took me forever to get it all straightened out. And anyway, you have about a 50/50 shot at getting your Boards to migrate well (or at all) from web to mobile, which makes that very attractive feature a lot less attractive.

    Spad handles calendaring, recipes, tasks, and the like better than Evernote by itself, but the EN ecosystem is well-populated enough to work around most of it, an inconvenience that is, in my opinion, more than counterbalanced by the sheer ease of integrating EN with a lot of other things (RSS readers, blogging, twitter, outlook, gmail, google calendar, etc.) once you have it installed. Here’s one good example: There’s an app called EasilyDo, and one of the things it’ll do for you is cherry-pick receipts from your email account, tag them, and funnel them automatically into Evernote. At the end of the year (tax time!), you can take all of those receipts, account for them in your taxes if applicable, and then merge them all in to a single document that you can save for your records. That’s some gorgeous functionality that Spad just can’t match, nor should you try to set up a workaround since it doesn’t encrypt your information in the first place.

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  • cici0905

    According to the chart, Springpad is missing only 3 characteristics, while Evernote lacks 9.

  • Etienne Douaze

    I agree that Evernote is not the most intuitive app on the market. But as long as Springpad has no document handling, offline viewing and desktop apps, it is a no-deal for me.

    • Levi Smith

      That’s definitely one of springpad’s biggest gaps and why I find myself using both. SpringPad suits me for more creative work and Evernote for retaining information.

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  • Carla

    Padlet has just released an import solution to Springpad users.

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