True confession. About a year ago I began moving my notes from EssentialPIM to another app even though I have been an EPIM user and beta tester for 14 years — almost from the day it came out. The fling didn't last long, and I am committed to EPIM as my notes app once again. This is the story.

So Many Notes, Too Many Places

I teach adult classes and through the years have accumulated hundreds of notes. They were scattered across an EPIM database, another notes app, two Bible software programs and Word documents stored in folders on hard drives and flash drives. Trying to find anything from prior studies for a current project was nearly impossible. Worse, fear of losing something meant I had numerous backups and therefore lots of duplicates.

Last year I decided it was time to consolidate. I took an inventory and most of my notes were in EPIM, followed by Word documents. Regardless, I opted to consolidate into one of my Bible software programs because it would automatically link references to biblical passages and index them to come up in search results with other books in the library. My digital library and my own note taking would be all together at last.

Bringing Them Together

The program I chose has several modules for different types of notes and only one supports importing files. Unfortunately, they had to be in ican format, which apparently is used only by this program. That left me with copy and paste, which quickly became a numbing rhythm that went like this: Create a place for the new note in the target app, return to the original note and select all, copy, go to the target and paste. Create, select, copy, paste. Repeat until done.

The volume of notes made this daunting, and inconsistent appearance aggravated the task. Copied text doesn't always retain its formatting, which was especially pesky because I use tables and bullets extensively. I realized I would have to reformat many of my notes.

The Return to EssentialPIM

I quickly changed direction and decided on EssentialPIM as my notes app. These were factors.

Where they were. Many of my notes were already in EPIM and organized in trees, so consolidating there would have made sense from the beginning. But I had been enticed by features of other software, like automatic clipboard capturing, rulers that make setting tabs and margins easier, or indexing with other resources, and for this reason I had notes scattered everywhere.

What really matters? For me, it came down to where most of my notes were and which app does most of what I need. EPIM won on both counts. EPIM has a fairly robust text editor that supports basic font formatting and more advanced structures like tables and bullets. Beyond this, I can easily export to a word processor for more advanced editing.

Easy to find. Indexing my notes with other books is the feature that drove my decision to migrate to other software. But EPIM's database is fast and easily searched several ways. You can also cross-reference material with the Related Items feature.

Easy in, easy out. EPIM's import and export capability was decisive. Many of my notes were in documents in rich text format (RTF) or that I could quickly save as RTF, then import in bulk. No more copy and paste, and the import preserves the formatting. EPIM also has the option to organize the notes as you import them.

Getting information out can be just as important as putting it in. I read a precaution once that, when you are choosing software, keep in mind whether it gives you freedom to extract your information in various and generally universal formats, such as text, RTF, HTML or word documents. A program with proprietary formats shackles you. What happens if it becomes obsolete? Again, EPIM scores well, with exports to RTF, HTML, text, and DOCX.

For these reasons I have moved my notes to EPIM and am pleased to have my research and writing in one place, at last.

How about you? What keeps you using EssentialPIM? Tell us your story. We'd love to hear it.