Evernote ENEX file format in depth

What is the ENEX File Format?

Have you ever come across ENEX files while using Evernote? ENEX, short for "Evernote Export," is the file format used when you export notes from Evernote. This is particularly useful if you're moving your notes to some Evernote alternative. These files include all the details of your notes — images, attachments, titles, tags, and timestamps for when the notes were created and last updated.

Why Use ENEX Files?

There are several reasons why exporting your notes to an ENEX file could be beneficial:

  • Migration: It allows you to transfer your notes into other applications smoothly.
  • Backup: ENEX files make it easy to store backups of your notes either offsite or through a backup service you manage.
  • Archiving: Keep older notes that you might need in the future but don't want to maintain in your active Evernote account.
  • Conversion: You can convert the ENEX files into different formats like PDF or Markdown for other uses.

Limitations of ENEX Files

While ENEX files are handy for exporting data from Evernote, they have some limitations:

  • Notebook Structure: ENEX files do not keep the original notebook structure. All notes are merged into one file without any organization.
  • Note Links: Links between notes in Evernote will not work once exported because the links depend on Evernote's internal structure.
  • Tag Hierarchy: Any hierarchical organization of tags in Evernote is not preserved, resulting in a flat list of tags.
  • Note History: The export does not include the version history of your notes, meaning any previous versions of notes are lost.

Detailed Structure of ENEX Files

ENEX files are based on XML and adhere to the Evernote Export Document Type Declaration.

You can find the full details of the specification on the Evernote website. However, keep in mind that the site describes the older version of the specification (version 3) used by the legacy versions of the app (version 6.x for Windows and 7.x for Mac). The latest EN version (10 and above) use version 4 of the specification.

The ENEX file format has evolved slightly over different versions of Evernote:

Evolution of ENEX File Specification

Here's a brief history of the changes in the ENEX specification:

  • Version 1 - Includes basic note elements such as title, content, creation and update dates, tags, note attributes, and resources.
  • Version 2 - Introduced attributes related to tasks.
  • Version 3 - Added attributes for reminders.
  • Version 4 - Enhanced the features for tasks and reminders, reflecting improvements in newer Evernote versions.

Converting ENEX Files to Other Formats

Transforming ENEX files into other formats can be a bit technical but here are some methods:

From ENEX to Markdown

There is a command-line utility that can convert ENEX files to Markdown. It is open-source and can be downloaded from GitHub. You can use it to convert Evernote notes to files that can be imported in other apps or used by some CMS system like Jekyll.

Another option to convert ENEX to MD is using Yarle. However it requires NodeJS, which can be more complicated for non-technical users.

From Markdown to MS Word, RTF, and PDF

Once your notes are in Markdown, you can convert them to MS Word, Rich Text Format, or PDF using the Pandoc converter.

Sample .enex file

If you're looking to see how ENEX files work or need a sample file for testing, you can download a sample ENEX file from the link below. This file contains a typical example of what you might find in an Evernote export, including note contents and associated metadata like titles and tags.

Download sample ENEX file


The ENEX file format is essential for Evernote users who need to back up or transfer their notes. Despite some drawbacks, it remains a valuable tool for managing, saving, and migrating your important information across different platforms.

For detailed guidance on migrating from Evernote using the ENEX format, please see our comprehensive Evernote Migration Guide.

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