Evernote Replacement: ActionOutline

ActionOutlineOne of the most popular queries that brings searchers to JLog is Evernote. The sub-text is often ‘software like evernote’, which makes me wonder why anyone is looking for an Evernote replacement. I have my theories.

While this had me thinking about Evernote replacements, ActionOutline popped into my mind. I used to use the free version until I decided that having one notes program would be simpler and decided that would be EverNote 2. During the time I’ve been gone ActionOutline has updated to v.3.2, a long way from where I left it. It’s still as stable and useful as it ever was and even more so now with some new additions. If Evernote is not your thing, I can highly recommend ActionOutline.

If you’re looking for something portable, ActionOutline can handle this just fine as long as you have it installed on the different computers you’re using.

ActionOutline saves your work as outlines. Hence, the name. You can have just one outline or as many as you want, specify a folder to save them in and there’s your portability built in. All you need to do is carry the outlines on a flash-drive.

An outline is really just a file-tree that you create yourself with the content on the other side of the screen. It’s fast and easy and better, by far, than a text document or a word processor if you have a lot of notes and categories and want to some place to organize them. One of the things that’s been added is tabbed browsing, so you can have several outlines open at once and rifle through them. It doesn’t look all scrunched up like this but just to make the screenshot small enough to show you.



It creates hyperlinks automatically (very handy if you’ve ever used anything that doesn’t) and you can drag and drop local text files and open them from inside ActionOutline. I did not have luck dragging and dropping a large video file. It gave a warning about lack of memory and terminated the application. And it doesn’t handle local photos either. So, it’s good but not perfect.

Update: Version 3.4 now includes the option to add photos. Photos can be added from your computer or web browser by copy & paste or drag & drop. Huge improvement that moves this software up a serious notch.

It doesn’t have anything like Evernote’s clipper button, but copy and paste still works. So does drag and drop. Try highlighting text or images on the web and then dragging and dropping them into ActionOutline. It works fine. F5 will insert a date and time-stamp if you want it.

Give ActionOutline a try. It’s a worthy piece of software.

10 thoughts on “Evernote Replacement: ActionOutline

  1. Renee Zamora

    I’ve been using Treepad Plus for a long time now. It’s a pain to enter graphics so I usually don’t. It’s portable so you can run it off your flash drive. I’ve also been running it on Dropbox too. I was a happy Google Notebook user until they pulled the plug on development. Glad I hadn’t transferred everything off Treepad into it. The whole experience has kept me from adding stuff in the cloud. I imagine if I had an iPhone or iPad I might think differently.

    1. JL Post author

      I had a look at TreePad after you mentioned it the last time. I didn’t like the interface but I remember it being similar to ActionOutline in the division between the self-generated file-tree and the content.

      I use the portable version of EverNote 2 and have it installed in my Dropbox so it can sync to my laptop the rare times I use it. I could just as easily not have it in the Dropbox. I’m not out of my house often enough to want my notes web-based. I find the whole concept creepy anyway with anyone who wants it having access, although ‘they’ say it’s the direction personal computing is heading.

      There’s no end of places to put notes, really. I also have a calendar app (EssentialPIM) with a dedicated notes section. With the fairly sophisticated search capabilities we have we could, theoretically, live in utter chaos and still find what we’re looking for in a nano-second. It’s an appealing concept: computer-living without housekeeping.

      I haven’t either caught up to portable and wireless pads and pods (because I’d have to invest in bifocals and/or magnifiers first) and I’m sure that would change everything.

  2. Julian

    Possibly some of the Evernote replacement seekers are, like me, fed up with the latest Windows version (3.5) and/or the limitations of the Android version.

    The Windows one has become a monstrosity, needing well over 100 MB of RA M to hold about 100 text notes, it has problems on multiple-monitor machines and on notebooks it frequently dies horribly if you suspend and resume the machine. It also has strange font problems that mean notes from different minor versions of Evernote over the last few months end up with wildly different font sizes, rich text notes won’t sync to mobile devices and so on. If you’ve used the (very nice) OCR features, you can’t export the OCR’ed text if you export the note.

    The Android version fails on one very basic requirement — if you enter a note into it, and then walk through a door into an area with no network access, your thoughts will vanish until you are connected again. You can only use the app over the network and it has no local cache of notes. Utterly bizarre.

    1. JL Post author

      Thank-you for bringing us up-to-date. I tried it a few times and then gave up entirely. EN 2 is still wildly popular.

  3. Gene

    My reason for wanting Evernote replacement is the $45 /year cost. I’d rather pay a one time cost and forget it. Even though Evernote is a very useful program, the cost per year is in my opinion extreme.

    Must be something out there comparable?

  4. Shayne

    Here are the reasons for wanting to replace a fantastic piece of multiplatform software

    1. Poor audio quality recording
    2. No rich text formatting
    3. No word docs without subscription

    1. JL Post author

      I understand there have been many problems with EverNote since it left version 2. I don’t use the new-fangled version so there’s little I can say about it. The list you’ve made might be satisfied by the latest version of Microsoft OneNote which is integrated with mobile devices.


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