Automatically Importing Notability notes into Evernote

In this earlier post, I outline why Notability is my preferred app for taking hand-written notes on my iPad.

In concert with my handwritten notes, I’ve developed a paperless workflow that I use to automatically ((Well, as close to automatic as you can get–this process still requires opening Evernote in order to suck up the Notability notes)) import my Notability notes into Evernote.

I do this for a few reasons: the first is I use Evernote as my central repository for “keeping all my things” so it makes sense to be able to archive my notes in this way; secondly, as I am a premium Evernote user, the notes get OCR’d, so not only are they archived, but can appear as I search for items in Evernote ((It is worth noting that Evernote does a fairly poor job of OCR’ing my handwriting. In order to make the notes searchable, I always add a few keywords to the note using the typewriter tool in Notability or add a very descriptive title)).

So, based on this question from Jeff Aman, let me outline how I do this.

First, and perhaps the deal-breaker for some, you need to have a Windows install of Evernote. For some reason, only the Windows version has the “Import Folder” feature that I use to make this work.

This solution also requires linking Dropbox to your Notability app to automatically back-up your notes.

So, with your Dropbox account in hand and a Windows install of Evernote, here’s how to set things up.

1. First, in Notability, open up the app settings by selecting the gear in the lower right-hand side.

2. Now, selecting the “Auto-backup” option, ensure that Dropbox is linked to Notability (or go ahead and link it).

Notability and Dropbox

3. When you press the blue settings button to the right of the Dropbox setting (visible in the screen shot above), you are brought to Dropbox-specific configuration options. Notability notes need to be backed up into a separate, Notability-only Dropbox folder. Also you’ll want to ensure that the export file format is PDF.

Notability Dropbox folder

At this point, you should be successfully backing your notes up to Dropbox. Now what remains is importing these files into Evernote.

4. Opening up Evernote (in Windows), select the “Tools” drop-down menu. In that menu, you’re looking for the “Import Folders” option. Select it with a left-click.

Windows Import Folder

5. A new dialogue box will appear with an “Add…” button. You’ll select this button and then navigate to the synced Dropbox folder containing your Notability PDFs. You’ll have the option of selecting what Notebook new notes are imported and if you want to keep or delete the PDF files once imported. FWIW, I keep the PDFs. Click OK!

Evernote Windows Import FoldersWith this step done, whenever you launch Evernote, it will monitor the Import folder. If a new PDF from a Notability note has been added to the Dropbox folder through the auto-backup process, it will be imported into Evernote.

Now, the process isn’t entirely perfect–while Evernote has never missed a PDF, duplicate versions of the same note appear at times. I suspect this has to do with how Evernote monitors for new files in the Import Folder and how Notability manages the Dropbox back-ups: there can be times where an “old” note gets a new date and Evernote treats it as a new file. While not great, I’d prefer two of the same file rather than missing a file completely.