How To Encrypt Evernote

How To Encrypt Evernote

Is your data secure in Evernote?

Evernote has a very detailed security page, and among other things they talk about how they encrypt your data in transit (when uploading and downloading) and they talk about how you can encrypt text within a note.

There is one notable exception: they don’t talk about encrypting the files you save in Evernote. This is because, at present time, data is stored in Evernote unencrypted.

Hopefully that will change someday, but at the time of writing you need to take matters into your own hands.

Encrypting Text Inside A Note

The “official” way to do encryption in Evernote is to simply encrypt any sensitive text in a note. This is easily done in the Evernote UI:

Step 1: Select the text you want to Encrypt.

Step 2: Right-click and choose Encrypt Selected Text.

Encrypt Evernote Text

Step 3: Make up a passphrase that you will later use to decrypt this text. Note: This phrase is never sent to Evernote’s servers, and they have no way of retrieving it for you. If you forget it, you are out of luck.

Evernote Encrypt Passphrase

Step 4: Your text will now show as encrypted in Evernote. To decrypt it, click it and enter your passphrase from Step 3.

Evernote Encrypt

Encrypt Documents Before Uploading Them To Evernote

As mentioned, Evernote doesn’t give you a way to encrypt your files. If you’re using Evernote for going paperless, this means that if you want your PDFs encrypted, you need to do it before uploading.

There are free tools on Mac and Windows to do this. On the Mac, you can use the included Preview application. On Windows, you can use PDF X-Change Viewer to do the job.

I describe how to do this in detail in my Paperless Security Guide.

One thing to note about this: if your PDFs are encrypted, this means that Evernote can not index them and therefore it cannot search the contents. It’s up to you whether you wish to trade off searchability for security.

Encrypting Your Evernote Database

In previous versions of this post, I described how to encrypt your local Evernote database on Mac (using a symlink to an encrypted sparse bundle) and Windows (using TrueCrypt). I personally do not do this anymore, as Evernote keeps changing how they store things.

There is an interesting-looking project called SafeRoom. It allows you to encrypt/decrypt notes in Evernote notebooks, including those with PDF attachments. There are even mobile apps.

Here is a thread on the Evernote forum about SafeRoom if you want to follow along with the project.

Do you have any other methods you use to encrypt Evernote? Let us know in the comments.

About the Author

Brooks Duncan helps individuals and small businesses go paperless. He's been an accountant, a software developer, a manager in a very large corporation, and has run DocumentSnap since 2008. You can find Brooks on Twitter at @documentsnap or @brooksduncan. Thanks for stopping by.

Leave a Reply 38 comments

Elizabeth Scott - September 7, 2016 Reply

When I want to open Evernote on my phone I have to put in my passcode. Can I arrange my mac lap top the same way so no one can open my evernote files without a passcode?

    Brooks Duncan
    Brooks Duncan - September 7, 2016 Reply

    I don’t believe there is a way to set a passcode on the Mac (I’m travelling so I can’t check). I know it’s been requested for a very long time!

Mary Lee - July 6, 2015 Reply

Saferoom will do a better job Actually encrypts notes, pdfs etc, but leaves title and tags un encrypted so you can search them. The mac download is free! They also have an ios app.

robert - July 2, 2014 Reply

You forgot to include the part where you make a new local notebook so it can’t be synced with the cloud

jesse - January 22, 2014 Reply

From this process, is your data just encrypted on your own machine but still not in the Evernote cloud right? The only option for encrypting on Evernote servers themselves would be to use their own encryption inside the note, correct?

    Brooks Duncan
    Brooks Duncan - January 24, 2014 Reply

    That’s right. You don’t have much control over what Evernote does on their end, other than encrypting the text in a note, or encrypting a PDF locally before adding it to a note.

      Jesse - January 24, 2014 Reply

      Ok thanks Brook for the info.

Evernote_useer - January 3, 2014 Reply

It is a sandbox protection thing at the OS level. You have to go one level deeper and then it will work in the AppStore version of Evernote:
ln -s /Volumes/DiskImage/EN/Data /Users/ZZZ/Library/Containers/com.evernote.Evernote/Data

dmosley - June 26, 2013 Reply

Try MacFort. It's a much easier (and more efficient) method for accomplishing the same thing.
http://www.madowsoft.com/how-to-encrypt-evernote-

dmosley - June 24, 2013 Reply

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Evernote 5.x+

I followed each of the steps above. Simple enough. I've created sym-links before. So, nothing technically new. However, THIS SEEMS TO NO LONGER WORK with the current version of Evernote (5.x).

NOTE: Evernote did update where it stores the database file. It's now stored here:

~/Library/Containers/com.evernote.Evernote

I made these changes in steps 11-16 above and still no luck.

Am I doing something wrong? Gonna do some Googling around.

    Joe - September 16, 2013 Reply

    you have to correct the Container.plist as well. Near the bottom of the file you'll find <Key> and <String> values that will be incorrect after moving the application.

Jeff H - August 4, 2012 Reply

For others coming to this post after Installing Evernote 3.3.0

Wanted to make you aware that the most recent update to the Mac Evernote application (version 3.3.0) has changed the location of the EN database mentioned above.

Instead of the using the folder ~/Library/Application Support/Evernote, it is now located at ~/Library/CoreData/com.evernote.Evernote.

The steps remain the same except to use this new com.evernote.Evernote location instead.

    Justin - December 19, 2012 Reply

    That saved me a lot of hunting!

Mr Ed - March 16, 2012 Reply

Anyone tried Datalocker from Appsense yet? Looks easy

Anbranin - January 4, 2012 Reply

I tried mounting the folder at different times. Actually, the first time I did all of this, I forgot to mount it. I started over.. then started over again, first mounting before I made the Symbolic link and then afterwards. WHen exactly should I mount my new drive?

Anbranin - January 3, 2012 Reply

Forgot to mention, there's never, ever any little arrow that indicates it's an alias or whatever.

    Brooks Duncan
    Brooks Duncan - January 4, 2012 Reply

    Hm, if there's no arrow it makes me think that there is something wrong with the Symbolic Link. This is possibly a dumb question, but when you made the symbolic link and when you are trying to access the folder, is the sparsebundle mounted (in other words, did you double click it and enter your password so that you have an, in this example, EVERNOTE drive showing in the Finder).

      Anbranin - January 4, 2012 Reply

      Know what? I got it to work. I can't say exactly what I did, but I do know I apparently created a good Symbolic Link yesterday, but it was placed in the wrong spot. So, I did everything over again today, then happened to see it, says it was created yesterday… I moved it into Application Support, and now it works.
      Of course, someone could still open Evernote on my computer and see everything that downloads from the servers, just not the local notes. I guess I just should put everything sensitive in local notes huh?

        Anbranin - January 4, 2012 Reply

        Never mind, Evernote won't even open if I don't have the disk mounted. It just says "file name invalid" and quits. Awesome! Sorry I comment so much. I tend to think by typing.

          Brooks Duncan
          Brooks Duncan - January 4, 2012 Reply

          Not a problem, I do the same!

Anbranin - January 3, 2012 Reply

Basically, I got it to say "file exists" by typing in different combinations of stuff, and I even got it to put Evernote in Application Support again. By this point, Evernote has synced with its online servers and forgotten I have local notes. I then need to delete all the evernote files, then put them back in, then restart evernote. I've created two different sparsebundles, I'm thinking of starting over entirely, but what is it about the terminal commands that aren't working for me? I typed in everything, then pressed enter. Even the spaces, the / and , the capital letters.. I did it so many times I'm positive it's correct. I am only very basically Unix Literate though, so the chance that I'm missing something is good.

Anbranin - January 3, 2012 Reply

@Yogi. How did you fix your problem? I am having the same thing happen. In terminal, it says "no such file or directory". Everything is in my evernote sparsebundle, deleted from application support…

Steve - December 21, 2011 Reply

I’ve done an entire disk encryption with my Mac Mini… so, not only is the Evernote DB encrypted, but everything else is, as well.

This, too, is an option.

    Brooks Duncan
    Brooks Duncan - December 21, 2011 Reply

    Great point Steve, thanks!

John Doe - April 16, 2011 Reply

Even though it's synced w/ the cloud, I'd suggest backing up the Evernote database before the procedure.

Yogi - February 26, 2011 Reply

finally got it!

    Brooks Duncan
    Brooks Duncan - February 26, 2011 Reply

    Great, glad to hear Yogi. Let me know if there was something I could make more clear.

Yogi - February 26, 2011 Reply

Ok, now I am getting a file that says Evernote with an arrow, but not a folder

Yogi - February 26, 2011 Reply

Hi, I'm getting an error when I type in the location in Terminal. It says no such file or directory. Where am I breaking down?

Gavin - January 19, 2011 Reply

Awesome! many thanks for the tip on moving the database and creating the symbolic link.
I've successfully moved my database an external drive (i.e. my external drive, not the company-supplied Macbook).
🙂 🙂

Carlos - December 29, 2010 Reply

Thanks. It really works fine. I am a switcher coming from Windows XP and I am really pleased with the enormous potential of MacOSX.

    Brooks Duncan
    Brooks Duncan - December 29, 2010 Reply

    Great Carlos and congratulations on making the switch! 🙂

Chris - November 13, 2010 Reply

All goes fine (I can see all my Evernote database files by following the alias) until I Iaunch Evernote, then it hangs and the beachball just keeps spinning so I have to switch off the machine and restart.

    Brooks Duncan
    Brooks Duncan - November 14, 2010 Reply

    Hi Chris, that's really strange. I wonder if a newer version of Evernote breaks these instructions (not sure why it would). When I get a chance I'll re-try it and see if it works for me.

John Wu - July 8, 2010 Reply

Don’t forget to also sym-link your cache files in /Users//Library/Caches/Metadata/com.evernote.Evernote or you could be leaving latent sensitive data unencrypted on your local drive.

@jammer(six) I keep a local notebook on my main workstation with the sensitive / critical data I cant have sync’ed to the cloud. When I take a note of similar nature on my mobile devices or from the web I move that note when I get back to my workstation so it doesnt remain on Evernote’s remote servers.

jammer(six) - April 28, 2010 Reply

Too bad your docs aren't encrypted on the Evernote servers… Yes, you can encrypt the text in notes, but not things like pdfs. Thus, if someone on their end wanted to take a peak, they could. 🙁

Acid - April 6, 2010 Reply

Espionage do the same but automatically if you open EN. But good starting point for writing a AppleScript 1. Open the sparsebundle 2. Open Evernote

Normanm4 - January 22, 2010 Reply

Good articles, thanks for the useful info…2 questions:

Why not just use truecrypt for mac as you did for windows yesterday? Or was this to point out the built in option in mac?

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