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evernote is awesomeWith all the hoopla surrounding Google Drive, and everyone going nuts over Dropbox, I think one other service is being sorely neglected – Evernote.  Our Evernote coverage has been rather sketchy of late, and I think that’s a shame because in my opinion, Evernote is one of the best services out there on the Internet.  It deserves to be appreciated more.

So to get our coverage going again (and as a buildup to an Evernote manual which I am about to begin writing for MakeUseOf Guides), here are some handy tips that I have picked up over the past 6 months or so, as I have become more and more addicted to the service. Especially because of its desktop software and web clipper which allows you to construct your own private scrapbook of links, images and files, all searchable and taggable. I don’t normally pay for premium services but I opened my wallet and upgraded my Evernote account (which is a big deal for a tight Scotsman like me).  The moths hiding inside my wallet were startled to see daylight.

evernote is awesome

Email Everything To Your Evernote Email Address

As we start to own multiple devices, things like maintaining an orderly list of articles you want to read or maintaining an organised set of bookmarks or photos you want to keep, becomes a bit more of a challenge. Sure, you could use Instapaper for your article list (which I also do. I am also a huge Instapaper fan) and you can use bookmark syncing services such as Xmarks for the bookmarks, but I am finding these days that it is just as easy to send it all directly to the Evernote account, tagged and categorised in its own notebook.  I have never been a big fan of Xmarks, especially when browser synchronising involves installing plugins. Like Erez, I prefer bookmarklets over plugins Stop Installing Browser Add-ons - For a Faster, Leaner Browser Use Bookmarklets Instead Stop Installing Browser Add-ons - For a Faster, Leaner Browser Use Bookmarklets Instead Read More .

If you own a smartphone or a tablet, a lot of apps offer you the chance to send their files and photos directly to your email.  But instead of having it sent to your normal email, have it sent directly to your Evernote email instead.  Have email newsletters sent to your Evernote account too.  When someone emails you photos, automatically forward them to Evernote.

why evernote is good

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When emailing something to your Evernote account, the subject line is where you specify the title of the note, the notebook the note should go to, as well as any tags you want to apply (in that order).  Just put the notebook name in front of a @ (so @makeuseof for anything to go into the MakeUseOf notebook, for example) and all tags need to have the hashtag before it (so #makeuseof ).  Note that the notebook needs to already exist in your Evernote account.  Evernote won’t create it for you automatically when the email arrives.

why evernote is good

You will find your Evernote email address in the account settings, under usage.  If you start getting spam with it, you can click a “reset” button in your account, and you will get a new email address instantly. Obviously, to minimise the amount of potential spam you might get, don’t broadcast your Evernote email address far and wide. Keep it to yourself as much as possible.

Simultaneous Search – Improve Your Google Search

why evernote is good

When you are searching for that elusive weblink on Google, the one you last saw several months previously, you may not be aware that the link is actually buried deep inside your Evernote account, because you put it there for safekeeping.  With Simultaneous Search, when searching Google for something, your Evernote account will also be searched, with the results shown at the top.

For this feature to be enabled, you need to have the Evernote Web Clipper installed for either Firefox or Chrome (one of the very few browser plugins I am willing to tolerate). Then go into the extension’s preferences and enable “simultaneous search“.  A browser restart will probably then be required.

Let Evernote Guide You To A Paperless Life

The fact is that these days, we get too much paper, and there’s really no need for it.  If only companies would solely embrace email and PDF files, and drastically cut back on paper correspondence to customers, we would all be better off – environmentally, financially and from a productivity point of view.  One classic example is my bank which charges me 3 Euros a month to have my bank statements printed out and posted to me – even though those same statements are available online as PDF files.

why evernote is so popular

Until companies finally learn, you can use Evernote to have all of your important printed correspondence filed, indexed and searchable, to cut down on the mountain of paper threatening to topple down on top of you.  If you have a smartphone, use a scanning app (iPhone users can use the excellent TurboScan, which was recently profiled by Tim TurboScan - Or Why Your Next Scanner Will Cost $1.99 [iPhone] TurboScan - Or Why Your Next Scanner Will Cost $1.99 [iPhone] I had a scanner once. It took up an enormous amount of my childhood desk space circa 1998, connected via parallel port and the quality-to-speed ratio was poor to say the least. It was the... Read More ) to take a picture of the document and then send it directly to Evernote via email.

But the best part is that Evernote has OCR scanning capabilities which means that every word on the scanned document is identified and made searchable.  So when finding that important tax document in the future, just enter relevant keywords into the Evernote search engine and up the letter pops.

You can also use the scanning principle to scan business cards and important receipts. Then shred the originals.  Again, the OCR technology kicks into play here and indexes every word on these scans for later easy searching.

Create Note Links For Easy Access Later

As well as the search engine and the OCR capabilities, there is another easy way to ensure that important notes can be easily found later.  In fact there are two ways to do it.  The first is to drag the note with your mouse up to the desktop software’s bar like so :

why evernote is so popular

The second is to create a “table of contents” in a new note. To do this, right-click on the note you want to link to and choose “copy note link“.  Then go to a new note and do CTRL-V (or right-click and “paste”).  The hyperlink to the note will then appear.

Here is a little MakeUseOf table of contents I made with some editorial notes I need for my job every day, which are stored in my Evernote account.

why evernote is so popular

What is great about note links is that they are not confined to Evernote. Paste them into sticky notes and Microsoft Word for example, and when clicked, the note in your Evernote account will pop up. Note links are perfect for projects where lots of research materials need to be used and you need some way to organise it all. Just drag it all into Evernote and then make a clickable table of contents.

Index Your Innermost Thoughts With Audio Notes

evernote is awesome

I hate hearing my voice as a recorded message but even so, I am gradually starting to like the idea of leaving audio notes.  Often when I am out and about, ideas strike but I don’t have pen and paper.  So the Evernote smartphone app (iOS | Android) is great because I can use the audio function to record a note with my phone and it will be sent straight to my Evernote account for indexing.  Since I am speaking it into a phone, I can also make it look like a phone call and people don’t look at me all weird because I am talking to myself.

When the audio message arrives in your Evernote account, there is a small integrated audio player which enables you to listen to your message without having to download it to your computer first. It’s a basic player (stop and start) but it gets the job done.

So these are 5 features off the top of my head which I think makes Evernote stand out from the rest of the pack.  Obviously there are a lot more but I will be saving those for the Evernote manual that I will begin writing anytime now (schedule permitting!).  Let us know in the comments if you use Evernote, and if so, which features you love (or hate, if any).

  1. Harish Jonnalagadda
    October 3, 2012 at 11:42 am

    Just starting to use Evernote! Thanks for the info!

  2. Deekshith Allamaneni
    October 2, 2012 at 6:35 am

    Evernote is indespensable. Thanks to makeuseof for letting me know such a great tool. I am using this from a fre months from now.

  3. Fabione72
    September 21, 2012 at 8:01 am

    Unfortunately Evernote is becoming more and more unusable on Android devices... I believe they miss they are missing the scope of this apps: to manage notes, that means also to retrive it quickly.
    OK, everybody love nice look-like, but not if you have to get mad awaiting plenty of time to be able to use the app on your phone.

    C'mon it' s just a note manager, How is possible that it lags much more the heavy graphical application, such as Google Earth (even if you have store just 10 short-text notes).

    The answer is quite simple:
    Having some SW development experience, I can say It's not a matter of obsolete mobile technology (that is what most of people think about it), it's just a matter of bad engineering.

    They are striving to remain on the top focusing on look-like, tuning it for latest builds and only on certain OS. (that is not compatible with their mission to be a world-wide cloud, multi-platform service)

    Probably they do not have latest market pictures...
    Android is the most sell smartphone OS in the world, most of them are using legacy builds, so... to bad for Evernote ;)

  4. Eric
    July 13, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    I have microsoft word 2008 on a mac. I have tried several times to paste an evernote link into the document but when I do & try to click on the link in the Word document, Word tells me it "can not open the specified file". Any suggestions ?

    • Mark O'Neill
      July 13, 2012 at 7:41 pm

      I don't have a Mac so I have no idea how the OS all works. But I will say that Evernote note links are not http which is what a normal link starts with. Instead it starts with evernote:///.

      So it is very possible that Word simply doesn't recognise that file format.

    • Dave
      August 21, 2012 at 12:24 am

      There areactually two different ways to get a "link" to a note in Evernote. If you just use the "copy note link" option, you're likely geting a link that only Evernote undestands. Not - sure, but I think so. The other way to get a link is in the Share popup sub menu. "Copy shared note URL to clipboard" will create a link that you ough to be able to put into any app (Microsoft or otherwise).

  5. Larry
    June 13, 2012 at 7:32 am

    Re: Let Evernote Guide You To A Paperless Life

    Instead of manually scanning my bills and such, I use the "FileThis Fetch" service.
    http://filethis.com/fetch/

    It gets a PDF copy of my bank statements, insurance paperwork, bills, financial statements and more and saves them in a folder in Evernote. The FileThis Fetch folder has a auto-generated sub-folder by each account name, e.g. Amazon, Chase PayPal, Verizon, etc. Inside each sub-folder are PDFs of my orders, statements, etc.

    They have a free 30 day trial. I was so pleased with the service I signed up for three years.

    Evernote Blog about it: http://goo.gl/lVjgf
    Evernote web page about it: http://goo.gl/M1ZJ9

    Check it out: http://filethis.com/fetch/

    • Tina
      June 16, 2012 at 6:29 pm

      Thank you for sharing your process, Larry! Sounds like you have it all figured out. I definitely have to look into digitizing more paper work.

  6. selin
    May 27, 2012 at 8:42 am

    tried to use evernote for a very long time. eventually gave up-- it's always too slow. would wholeheartedly recommend diigo instead

  7. Micah
    May 18, 2012 at 8:15 am

    Correct me if i'm wrong, but won't using evernote with insurance data (that OCR'ed Allianz paper) or other important things (NDA stuff etc), get you into major trouble in Germany? Cause data are transferred to the US where you (as a German company) can't make sure that every US-agency might have a look if the government thinks it suits their plans?

    • Mark O'Neill
      May 19, 2012 at 7:45 am

      Good point. I am not sure about the exact laws but personally I don't put anything really important into Evernote. That Allianz document you saw in the article was my home insurance and I really don't care if anyone sees that I have my television insured.

      But my pension policy on the other hand - I don't want anyone seeing that and so I would never scan that into Evernote. Some things are best left on paper and locked away.

  8. Gray
    May 16, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    Evernote has made it possible for me to get rid of loads of paperwork. Love it.

    • Mark O'Neill
      May 19, 2012 at 7:46 am

      Just be careful that it isn't something which you need to keep the original paper copy too!!

  9. Siyanda Mava
    May 16, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    Hi mark, I want to be able to bookmark URLs for later use and put them under different categories. I thought evernote had something like a web service where-by you can Synchronize what ever you have regardless of which devise you're using. Something like the opera browser.

    • Mark O'Neill
      May 17, 2012 at 7:42 am

      If you mean a service like XMarks, then no, they don't have a bookmark sync service. However, on their website, you can make Evernote notes and categorise them under, say, a "bookmarks" notebook. Then THAT will sync with say the desktop app, the smartphone app, the iPad app, etc (and vice versa).

      • Siyanda Mava
        May 23, 2012 at 4:36 am

        Yup, exactly what i'm talking about - thanx.

  10. gpvprasad
    May 14, 2012 at 8:45 am

    Evernote is another google+ or facebook or Twitter!

    • Mark O'Neill
      May 14, 2012 at 12:27 pm

      No it isn't because Evernote is not a social network. It is a private bookmarking / scrapbook app with the potential (if you are a premium customer) to share notebooks for online collaboration.

      But in no way is it a social network, so it isn't anything like Google+, Facebook or Twitter. Which is partly why I like it.

  11. Katrina
    May 13, 2012 at 6:23 am

    I love Evernote, but they're missing the highlight function! :( I love to use it for my school notes and it would really help. I tried to send feedback, but i can't find a direct email address.

    • Mark O'Neill
      May 14, 2012 at 7:43 am

      If you go here - http://evernote.com/contact/support/ - you can submit a ticket to Evernote. I've found the customer support staff to be extremely friendly and helpful.

  12. Mark Havas
    May 13, 2012 at 3:18 am

    I love Evernote and keep pretty much everything in there.
    One service that I love that works really well with Evernote is Ifttt.com.

    I can push just about anything into Evernote. My watch later YouTube videos have their own notebook. Anything with a particular label in gmail gets to Evernote.

    My favourite feature of Ifttt is the RSS>Evernote.

    I can get RSS feeds of all of the content from my favourite sites directly into an Evernote notebook. Makes keeping up with and archiving my favourite sites super easy!

    • Mark O'Neill
      May 14, 2012 at 7:44 am

      Yes, I use ifttt too to have all my favourite articles and Facebook photos sent to Evernote.

  13. Jessica Cam Wong
    May 13, 2012 at 2:49 am

    I LOVE Evernote! Never thought to email things (other than regular notes) in though, but that makes sense. And I use Boomerang as well!

  14. Chris Hoffman
    May 13, 2012 at 1:25 am

    I suppose everyone likes something different. This could be a list of reasons why I don't like Evernote -- just give me a minimal little text editor!

    Every time I've installed Evernote, I just found it way too overwhelming and cluttered.

    Ah well, different strokes for different folks and all that.

    • Daniel
      May 13, 2012 at 3:06 am

      That's actually kind of funny. To a large degree, I often find Evernote is *too* minimalistic for me, in terms of eye candy. Sure there are options across the top, but they're very small and you can also hide the notebook list if it's too much.
      Evernote is clearly made by people who are first and foremost programmers at heart. I've yet to encounter a developer who is any good at visuals in an app without having explicit instructions on what to do. It gets the job done very well, so I'm not too concerned, however.

      As a photographer, I use it to store client information, pricing information, product and business ideas, etc. I can't remember life without it.

    • Mark O'Neill
      May 14, 2012 at 12:29 pm

      Evernote is customisable in a lot of ways, so you can make it as minimal as you like (or pile on the features if you prefer to go the other way). As far as the desktop app is concerned, there's no "one-size-fits-all". Everyone can change it to suit their own needs.

      • Chris Hoffman
        May 14, 2012 at 11:10 pm

        Interesting. I'll try it again when I get annoyed with my current notes solution. It's going to need some heavy customization, though.

  15. Shawn Dreelin
    May 12, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    Another cool use of the email to Evernote feature is with Google+. Sometimes I come across a great post I want to save forever. I created a circle called "Evernote" and added my send to Evernote email to it. Then I just share the post with only that circle making sure I check the email to people not using Google+ option before hitting the share buttn. Then I have a permanent searchable post stored in Evernote.

    • Mark O'Neill
      May 14, 2012 at 12:30 pm

      That's a great idea. I never thought of that one! I'll be sure to try it out.

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