Simplenote to Bear importer

With Bear 2 seemingly around the corner and the beta being great (though still very much a beta), I decided it was time to move from Simplenote.

Exporting from Simplenote gives you two things, neither of which is directly usable by Bear:

What I needed for Bear was a file for each note with correct creation and modification dates and tags at the end as hashtags. So I wrote a quick Python script that reads in the JSON file and — with some help from SetFile — outputs a file in the format I needed.

from subprocess import run
import os
import json
from datetime import datetime

# path to input JSON
in_path = os.path.join(os.environ['HOME'], 'Downloads/notes/source/notes.json')

# path to output directory. it must exist.
out_path = os.path.join(os.environ['HOME'], 'Downloads/for-bear')

# read the data
with open(in_path) as f:
note_data = json.load(f)

datetime_format = '%m/%d/%Y %H:%M:%S.%f'
def create_note_file(datum):
# the note text
content = datum['content']

# if there are tags, append them as space-separated hashtags at the end of the text
if 'tags' in datum:
tags_string = '\n\n'
tags_string += ' '.join(['#' + tag for tag in datum['tags']])
content += tags_string

# convert times to local timezone (Simplenote is in UTC) and format for SetFile
creation_date = datetime.fromisoformat(datum['creationDate']).astimezone()
creation_date_str = creation_date.strftime(datetime_format)

modification_date = datetime.fromisoformat(datum['lastModified']).astimezone()
modification_date_str = modification_date.strftime(datetime_format)

# write out the file
outfile_path = os.path.join(out_path, datum['id'] + '.md')
with open(outfile_path, 'w+') as outfile:

# set the creation and modification dates
run(['SetFile', '-d', creation_date_str, outfile_path])
run(['SetFile', '-m', modification_date_str, outfile_path])

# iterate through the notes
for note in note_data['activeNotes']:

Note: Using datetime.fromisoformat() with the date format Simplenote uses requires Python 3.11+.

After running the script, import them into Bear with these settings:

Possible improvements

It would be nice to \ escape all incidental hashtags, but it wouldn’t be trivial. For example, you shouldn’t escape # followed by a non-space character inside a Markdown `#code block`.

Here’s a Gist.