Springpad and Evernote are awesome file cabinets for storing and managing articles, recipes, products, and text clippings we want to save for later review. But an additional way to maximize these powerful notebooks is to make use of their collaborative sharing features.
These days, when it comes to working collaboratively on computer-related projects, notes, files and documents, doing so via email can become time-consuming, and even counterproductive. Both Springpad and Evernote allow users to share links to content in their notebook accounts, but more importantly users can share entire notebooks or folders.
These sharing features are great for personal family use, as well as for businesses and organizations needing a central location for sharing notes and documents.
If you’re new to Evernote, you can learn more about it by downloading Mark’s free Missing Guide On How To Use Evernote, and my recently published article which introduces the basic features of Springpad and how they compare to Evernote.
In terms of sharing individual notes and documents, both Springpad and Evernote allow you to quickly share URL links to selected content on Facebook and Twitter (Evernote also includes sharing to LinkedIn). But when working collaboratively, email sharing is especially useful because it reduces the need to copy and paste content to a separate email message. Both of these services will paste selected notes and other content into an email message for you. You don’t even have to open a separate mail client.
Even better, the resulting email from both services not only includes the shared content, but the layout of the emails look professional.
The more advanced form of sharing, however, is sharing entire notebooks with other Springpad or Evernote users.
Sharing Notebooks In Springpad
Though Springpad has not been around as long as Evernote, its sharing features are a little more advanced. Springpad is set up like Pinterest in that you can select to share your notebooks publicly with other users.
Publicly shared notebooks, and “new springs”, are also spotlighted and searchable within the site so users can follow them, and selectively add (“spring”) content from them to their own selected notebooks. This type of sharing can be very useful for teams and organization, or even small businesses who want to share content with clients and employees.
But another level of sharing notebooks in Springpad is to invite users to be contributors/collaborators of your selected notebooks. When one or more contributors accepts your invitation, your shared notebook shows up alongside the notebooks in their account, and changes made to shared notebooks get updated automatically. This type of sharing can be a powerful way to work collaboratively on projects, to share travel plans and documents with family members, or to build a shared bucket list of ideas.
Unlike Evernote, shared notebooks do not require a premium account – the feature is available for free to all users. You invite contributors to a notebook by clicking on the Settings gear button found on the front of a notebook’s preview icon, or the button to the left of an open notebook. In Settings you click on Contributors and send invitations to collaborators, who must also be Springpad users. Your notebook won’t show up in their account until they have approved your invitation.
A shared notebook will include the avatar photo of the member(s) contributing to it. Shared notebooks also include a comment Activity box for contributors. However, keep in mind that shared notebooks in Springpad automatically allow contributors to both read and edit content.
You are by default notified by email when a contributor adds or makes exchanges to a shared notebook. You can disable this notification in the Settings of your Springpad account.
Sharing Notebooks In Evernote
With Evernote, user notebooks can also be shared, but unlike Springpad, Evernote notebooks are not publicly posted for searching or browsing. You have to either invite other Evernote users to join your notebook to their account, or post a public link to one or more notebooks you want to share.
Ron’s Evernote Tips is an example of an Evernote notebook you can subscribe to. Shared Evernote notebooks will show up alongside your own notebooks, and they include a special icon on the top-right.
You will see new content added to a shared notebook as it’s updated, and the content of shared notebooks is also searchable.
In addition to the basic sharing features of Evernote I described above, you can also share links to your Evernote notebooks. Evernote users with a basic free account can only invite other users to view the contents of shared notebooks.
To share an Evernote notebook, you click on the Sharing button on the front of a notebook’s icon, and then select “Invite Individuals” or “Create a Public Link” in the drop-down window.
Note however, in order to allow other Evernote users to add and edit content in shared notebooks, you will need an Evernote premium account. Evernote does though provide a few more options at the premium level for sharing notebooks. You can select to allow invited contributors to either just View notes, View notes and activity, Modify notes, or Modify and invite others to a shared notebook.
If you are working with sensitive data, Evernote’s access sharing features will probably be of more use to you.
You can also select to have notebooks previewed (but not modified) without recipients logging into Evernote.
It is also useful to point out that Evernote recently started a special business platform that allows users to share and edit notebooks throughout their company.
Evernote and Springpad have powerful unique features that make them both very useful. However, it will be even better when each service adds the ability to assign timed reminders to selected notebooks, which is useful when working on projects with timelines. It’s also useful way to get notices about reviewing content added to selected notebooks.
Let us know what you think of the sharing features in Springpad and Evernote. Are there additional features you like to see added? Let us know.