Standard Notes Reviews

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I tried Standard Notes because I am concerned with privacy and security matters. I am an Evernote user as well and I was looking for a more secure replacement.

I'm really satisfied with the end to end encryption and the general security model of Standard Notes.

I also really appreciate the simplicity and minimalism of the program even though it is becoming more and more clear during the regular use that is not a design choice made for usability but more to keep the software easy to maintain for the devs. The most annoying outcome of this choice is the very different user experience between the desktop and the mobile versions. For example using the advanced editor on the desktop app means that in the android app you will have a note with visible html tags. In the end the software experience feels more broken than simple.

In fact I ended up paying for a subscription basically to get rid of the painful red and white UI of the android app and only in second place for the extra features (which I will talk more about later on).

The episode that gave me more concerns:

I was trying the advanced editor on a existing note with some sensitive information (my bad, I know). I converted some text to bold and then to get it back to plain text quickly I pressed ctrl + z several times. Not only the mark up tags didn't completely get removed but the note information somehow disappeared without any chance to get it back (I still had to activate the note history extension).

After this episode my sense of reliability for Standard Notes dropped quite considerably. I think the note history extension should be installed by default or at least there is the need of some kind of reliability system to avoid accidentally losing data in the notes (an edit button might be useful as well even though it wouldn't have helped in my case).

Regarding some of the extensions and themes:

While using the folders extension the UI is broken so it is impossible to edit the tag because the interaction menu is not clickable. Even though I think that there is no real need of nested tags (especially when the system can't be clearly mirrored on the android app) the actual extension should work correctly.

While using a dark theme the notes background flashes with white when switching between notes. It is annoying.

The default color scheme of the app is a punch in the eyes and it feels like it has been done this way so you end up subscribing just to get rid of the offending red color (which is what I did at least).

A better UI color scheme for the android app should be done or at least one extra theme should be available for the free app.

Overall I have the perception of a really (passive) aggressive business model in many ways and as far as I have the will to help the devs of Standard Notes as a paying user I couldn't help but feeling a bit manipulated in my decision to get a paid subscription in a quite unfair way a few times during my first hours of using the software.

In this light I can't help but seeing also the way the software description is written on their website as dodgy: don't try to buy me with promises of "eternal life" and strong coding ethic when in the actual experience it is so easy to lose all the information on a note.

I'm not saying that the devs are greedy or have bad intentions, I understand their position as in the app business they have to compete with giant companies and this might be really unfair to them. But still my suggestion is to try and be more clear with their customers because the software it IS good and there is no need of marketing tricks to get people to subscribe in my opinion. Especially for a software oriented towards security and privacy a clearer and straightforward marketing strategy would be much more appreciated.

To the company:

I understand (and to some extent also appreciate) the bold effort to stand out (and the software probably deserve it as well) but please try to stay more conscious of the customers point of view, in the process.


Standard Notes is a valuable note taking app alternative for individuals concerned with privacy and security matters with a strip down user experience that feels overall more lacking than simple, though, and both design choices and a business model/marketing strategy that generate some concerns from a customer point of view. Nonetheless there is really good potential in the software and I encourage getting a paid subscription to support its development.


I forgot to update this thread, but a full response was posted on Reddit: Full text below:

Hey, thanks for the review :) Glad you give it a thorough go. It seems like your main concerns are with the "paid" version of the app, centering around the experience itself and the business model. This makes sense as there is not a lot to upset anyone with the core free version, which was kind of the goal ;)

As for the experience:

Yes, absolutely, all of this is done to make development easier. But that's not from laziness. It's actually much harder to do everything this way. Everything requires careful thought and runs in sandboxed environments. The reason we torture ourselves to do it this way is because it's better for the long run. Think about it like this: if we just bundled all of the functionality that we currently have in extensions into the core app, we would be no different from Evernote. In fact, we might even quickly become more bloated than Evernote. The core mission of SN has always been anti-bloat. And the great news is that while I've been experimenting and releasing new extensions regularly, the core app has hardly changed from the way it was one year ago. And that's a really good thing. As a developer, I would just love to not have to worry about this limiting extension architecture, and just bundle everything directly in the app. That would make both my life and your life much easier for the time being. But two years from now, the app would inevitably begin suffering and bloating, and eventually implode. What's the typical life expectancy of an indie software product today? Not that long. And there are reasons for that. I've been there before. And I'm now taking the 100 year outlook. And that requires a different sort of thinking and development architecture.

I appreciate how reasonable you are, so I realize you already understand this, but are understandably flustered by this weird model. The good news is that the extensions experience is always undergoing improvement. The next version I'm working on will make the experience a lot more fluid, comfortable, and even fun.

As for the business model:

Believe it or not, I was sort of happy to hear that you thought our business model was "aggressive", because the one thing I've heard from every business-savvy person before was that it's not aggressive enough. I think some history helps: the paid version of Standard Notes came several months after the core version was released. The core version had similar colors on mobile, similar interface on web, and similar website language. And all of that language was meant not to convince you to purchase, but to get you into our world of what we care about and what we're trying to do. After work on the paid product was released, the "marketing" copy was actually dumbed down, and not made more hyperbolic.

But, the disconnect seems to be that you believed our mission, but were set aback by some technical mishaps. This doesn't mean my goal was to deceive you—my mission and passion is still building a notes app that lasts. But this mission is always a work in progress. Even on year 99, it's a work in progress. 2018 is the beginning of year two :)

I'm the sole developer on this and it's a lot of work, but everything is coming together nicely. There are really exciting improvements slated for release this year. Software is a living breathing thing, and feedback like yours helps shape the future and helps improve the product. So I thank you once again for your thoughts. I hope that while you may be taken aback by some of your experiences, that you don't give up on our mission, and understand that, as difficult as it may be, and as hard as I may stumble, I'm always trying to do the right thing, both for the business and for the users.

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  • Both client and server are open sources (not like Simplenote where the only clients are open sources).
  • Support RTL languages (not like Simplenote, Laverna, Paperwork which they didn't support RTL).
  • Offer hosted plan (free and paid) so you can choose between hosting your instance or sign up on their server (not like Laverna, Paperwork where you have to implement and run your instance)
  • You can choose between several editors!
  • Support End-to-End encryption and extensions!
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Has everything I was looking for it a notes app - with the free version it syncs across all devices, which is all I need.
Ended up paying for the full version to get access to the various editors, but I was on the fence, the free version was almost perfect as is.
Either way I've been looking for this sort of app for a long time, was super glad to find it.
(this review was in no way endorsed by Standard Notes, unlike what is implied by the commenter on the "comments" tab. I did create an account just to leave this review, because after you purchase it asks if you would like to leave a review on, and I thought "yes, actually, I would".)

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  • The approach is right on my ideal framework
    It is a service that has huge potential
  • Open source to all things


  • Ui looks are great
  • All the easy to setup extensions (from themes to different editors)


  • it is a little uneasy for users who are not interested in cloud sync and encryption or just want partial

Bad/ What needs improved
*i understand its still in development, so just addressing some huge flaws from my pov apply to: Windows Client 2.10 Beta 7 build on 2/11/2018

  • tags can be duplicated, which is a huge no to me
  • some of the panes cannot be manually expanded
  • the ui of extensions (pro only) is slightly off the course * ( again this is beta)
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It's great that its open source and offers full encryption but it misses the mark. Needs to have a more familiar and workable UI like what Evernote and Joblin have. Also doesn't have a web clipper extension! If they're going to have a premium or freemium business model, they better at least have a web clipper. To me, that's an essential feature for any Evernote drop-in replacement and is the reason I'm choosing Joplin. BTW, Joplin offers many features for free which Standard Notes charges you for in their premium plan.

[Edited by CapR, September 26]

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Impressed with end to end encryption and focus on privacy and security. Love that it's available cross platform. So far syncing between different devices and Operating Systems is fast and smooth.

Simple but useful interface and option with the free version, but limited. Can't insert photos, for example. No HTML or other markdown options, it's pretty much just plain text. That's actually enough for a lot of users I think.

Will probably upgrade to paid version which has a surprising number of neat options. $40 a year seems a tad pricey if you only want 1 or 2 of the extras that come with the extended option.

Small niggles: resizing the app window doesn't properly resize text/fonts and cuts off text sometimes. A bit clumsy. 2 FA should be free, NOT only available as a paid option. We're talking about a basic security option here.

Nearly non-existent marketing for this company is the weak link here - lack of pushing your app or service, no matter how great it is, often means your eventual death.


Your advocacy is the best marketing we have :) Some comments about paid 2FA:

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Really only one working alternative for notes taking across various platforms. Besides encryption, it provides very good search across entire notes, your data is exportable. Mobile app lacks a bit of whistles and... but it has solid basic functionality and that's the most important. I've spent about a week comparing available solutions and my final choice was between Standard Notes VS iA Writer on Android (wonderful interface, I am crazy about it and I wish SN mobile app had the same markdown rendering, but iA Writer has no search option at all across notes folder) + QOwnNotes (good app, but lack of solid search engine, markdown rendering on desktop is somewhat limited) or Typora (nice app, but Folder Tree is sorted alphabetically only and no search across files in folder at all). My final decision was give Standard Notes a try and so far so good I'm happy with it. There's no perfection in this world but SN developer has attitude which as for me it seems to be right and correct as for secure and private note keeping software.

[Edited by sancho, October 09]

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I think this quote sums up why I love Standard Notes: "Perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away"

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Does client-side encryption, works on all platform, properly usable as a journal as well as for note taking. The Best.



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Very easy to use with automatic encryption.

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After extended and detailed research I realised that Standard Notes is the best fit for my needs, including for keeping my client notes/files truly private and protected; I work in psyche mentoring, counselling, psychology etc.

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Respectful of users with realistic financial plan

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Its Free and Open-Source Encrypted note taking application available in all the popular platforms.