Since Evernote's decision to totally disregard user privacy and sentiment late last year (after years of being a loyal user and being rewarded with "improvements" like Work Chat), I've been desperately casting about for an alternative. I found Bear pretty quickly, but found myself crossing my fingers for some updates to Bear's Mac app (where I spend 90% of my note-taking):
After 7+ (!) years of using Evernote, I've built up five or so solidly populated notebooks that I like to keep separated.
But Bear's organization is based on arbitrary-tags-as-organization,
which is clever and modern and flexible until all you want to do is copy over a bunch of notes into a specific tag.
In December, Bear's solution was apparently to require me to add
#default to every note in my Default notebook
in order to group them together, without a way to preserve the original modification date.
... I really like seeing these glorious metadata telling me which thoughts were apparently worth jotting down in 2010 (and never touching again).
So. After much angsting (and a satisfactory-but-not-delightful fling with Apple Notes) the ability to batch-add tags by dragging notes onto an existing tag was was added in Bear 1.1. It's still a bit involved to import separate notebooks, keep them separated via corresponding Bear tags, and maintain modification dates, but it's possible. Without further ado, a workflow to check all of these boxes:
- Start with your various .enex files, one per notebook. We'll call your notebooks Alpha, Beta, and Gamma.
- Delete the placeholder Bear notes.
- Import the first notebook, Alpha. (It was important for me to check the "Exclude unintentional tags" checkbox—turns out I've got various unintended #'s hanging out in my notes from over the years.)
- Create a new note and name it something like "tagdump". Type
#_alpha(this will be your top-level tag for everything in the Alpha notebook).
- Drag all notes (since you've only imported content from your Alpha notebook) onto the
#_alphatag in the tag bar (magically populated based on its existence in your "tagdump" note.)
- Import the second notebook, Beta.
- Open up your "tagdump" note and add
#_beta(which will be, as you might guess, your top-level tag for everything coming from the Beta notebook).
- Click on "Notes" and search for "-
#_alpha". This'll turn up all notes that didn't come from the Alpha notebook.
- Drag all of those onto the new
#_betatag in the tag bar.
- Rinse and repeat, each time adding other known notebook names to the exclusion search query ("-
- Delete your "tagdump" file (should be easily findable by searching for "
#_beta", as no other files should be tagged with both).
It's a little janky, a little manual, and will be a hell of a lot more annoying if you have 50 notebooks instead of five, but it works! (Performance-wise, I generally selected batches of ~100 notes at a time to drag onto a tag; otherwise the app seemed to lock up for a long enough period of time I got nervous it'd frozen.)
In any case, thanks to the folks behind Bear! I know it's hard to think of new goals after being dubbed Mac App of the Year and getting a buttload of Evernote refugees as users, but here's to another (hopefully) 7+ years of my happy notetaking with your very private, very industrious bears!
We heard that Evernote’s employees by default can read your private notes now. Fortunately bears *can’t* read: they are the best keepers! 🐻 pic.twitter.com/pL6FRZuVoL— Bear App (@BearNotesApp) December 14, 2016
Let me know what you think on Twitter.