20 Evernote Search Features You Should Be Using

Aaron Couch 30-03-2013

evernote search featureIt’s one thing to use Evernote, but it’s entirely another thing to master Evernote. If you’re new to Evernote, I don’t want to come across like it’s something complicated – it’s not, in fact, it’s the complete opposite. But there is a lot to Evernote 5 Cool Features That Prove Evernote Is Still A Kick-Ass Service With 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... Read More – more than most of its users probably don’t take advantage of.


In another article I wrote called Why You Should Be Using Evernote As Your Go-To Place For Remembering Everything Why You Should Be Using Evernote As Your Go-To Place For Remembering Everything Remember Everything. That’s the Evernote motto and that’s what it allows you to do best. If you aren't familiar yet with Evernote, you’re in for a real treat! If you have heard of it, but... Read More , I made the point that it is strong at two things, one being searching for your notes quickly and easily. This is a feature that I feel doesn’t get a lot of recognition very often.

My goal in this article is to help you understand the available Evernote search tools, so that you will find it even easier and more enjoyable to use, than it already is. And if you’re not a current Evernote user, to encourage you to take a look (or another look) at it. Note that these methods can be used in both desktop 5 Uses for the Evernote Desktop Clients [Windows and Mac] A couple of years ago, we had a post on the myriad uses for Evernote, which could well be an all-in-one second brain. With the advent of improvements on the desktop clients, there have been... Read More and web versions.

The Two Most Common Evernote Search Techniques

These two techniques are probably ones you are already using and are used in two completely opposite situations – when you know exactly what you’re looking for… and when you have a vague idea of what you’re looking for.

Scan Through Your Notes By Notebook Or Tag

This is probably the least advanced method there is, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. If you know exactly where you want to go, and have organized your notes effectively, simply going to the notebook or tag that the note is categorized by is a great option.

The left panel has a lot of great features actually. More specifically it has the Attributes section, which I encourage to look through, open up all those minimized menus and see what they’re hiding.


evernote search feature

Type a Search Term Into Evernote’s Search Box

The search box in Evernote is where all the magic happens. We’ll get to that magic in a bit, but first I want to acknowledge this as the most common way people search for something in Evernote. It works the same way like a search engine, so you already know how to use it.

Just start typing whatever you’re looking for and Evernote will begin narrowing down the results in real time. If you click a notebook or tag in the left sidebar first, your results will be restricted to just that notebook or tag.

NOTE: By default, the search automatically filters out common words like “a”, “and”, “the”, “these”, as well as others.

The default method will only display notes containing every word in your search query, but not necessarily in the same order as they are in the search box.

evernote search


Boolean Searching & Wildcards

Now we’re getting advanced. We’ll stay with using the search box, but instead of just typing in a search term, let’s spice it up a bit.

Use The + Or – To Include Or Exclude Certain Words

Use case: makeuseof -microsoft +google.

This will display all notes with the words makeuseof and google, but not microsoft.

evernote search


Note that these also work with other search operators, such as tag:, which we’ll cover later.

Example: –tag:apple will filter out any results that would have been tagged with apple.

Use * To “Read Your Mind” – A.K.A. The Wildcard Character

No this doesn’t really read your mind, but think of this tool like your best friend….who can always finish your sentences. The asterisk can be put at the end of anything and will give you the results of the search term before it. For instance, if you can remember how to spell a place, but remember part of it, type what you can remember and add the * at the end – Evernote will take care of the rest.

NOTE: This is especially helpful in cases where you’re searching for the base word, but want to include other variations of it, like plural forms.

Use case: kane*


In the example below, I’m looking for notes on K?ne?ohe Bay, but can only remember “Kane”.

evernote search

Basic & Useful Search Operators

In addition to the Boolean search techniques, there are some additional tricks that you can use and even combine with the methods previously mentioned.

Search Any Words With any:

If you want the least specific type of search, this is your solution. As stated before, by default Evernote Search filters out common words. If you want to include those words, any: will do that. This method works best if your search query is a question.

Use case: any: feeding snakes

This will bring any articles that contain either words feeding or snakes, unlike the default search method.

evernote search tips

Search An Exact Phrase With a ” At The Beginning

You might already use quotations to get an exact phrase. However, you may not have noticed that you only need one quotation [“] at the beginning of your phase.

Use case: ” feeding snakes

In this instance, I’m looking for any notes that have the words feeding snakes in that exact order, so I add a [“] before the words.

evernote search tips

Find Stuff Within a Specific Notebook With notebook:

You could use the first option mentioned in this article to scan through a notebook, but if you have a lot of notebooks, physically searching through them may not be the best way to quickly find what you’re looking for. Instead, go to your search box (like we’ve been doing) and type notebook:[notebook name].

Use case: notebook:resume

In this example I want to quickly access a notebook under the Professional stack, called Resume. It’s important that you don’t put a space between the colon [:] and the notebook name, otherwise you won’t be searching through the desired notebook, but instead for any notes with that term, which would in this case be resume.

evernote search tips

If you want to search a notebook containing two or more words in the name, you’ll need to add a quotation [“] between the colon [:] and the notebook name, but like before, you won’t have to add one at the end, although it won’t affect your results if you do.

Example: notebook:”business cards

20 Evernote Search Features You Should Be Using search notebook with multiple words in name

Search Within The Title Of a Note With intitle:

If you know a specific set of words in the title of a note that you’re looking for, this is a great method to use.

Use case: intitle:quote

20 Evernote Search Features You Should Be Using Intitle search

Search Within a Specific Tag With tag:

You probably know that tags are an excellent way to organize and categorize your notes. But do you know why? No, it’s not just to add an extra step to the note creation process. It’s for when you need to find them. But have you looked at the Tags from Notebooks menu in the left sidebar?

Scanning through that to find a tag would definitely not improve time efficiency and you might begin to wonder how using tags in Evernote is helpful. Well, wonder no more because using tags in Evernote is helpful, but you have to use them correctly and that comes down to how you search them.

Use case: tag:bicycling

20 Evernote Search Features You Should Be Using Tag search

Like previous examples, if you have a tag that contains multiple words, you will need to add a quotation [“] between the colon [:] and the tag name.

For instance, despite sending web articles to my Kindle Touch, I also like saving them in Evernote. So I clip them with the Web Clipper and tag them with read it later.

Example: tag:”read it later

20 Evernote Search Features You Should Be Using search tags with multiple words

Find a Note Based On a Certain Date With created:[datetime] Or updated:[datetime]

If you know the date a note was created or updated on or after, this is a nice search tool. To find a note based on or after a date, you must format it as YYYYMMDD.

Use case: created:20130113

This will find any notes created on January 13, 2013.

20 Evernote Search Features You Should Be Using Search date created

You are also able to search in relativity to the current day.

Use case: created:day-1 = yesterday and created:week-1 = one week ago.

The numbers can be anything and you can also use month and year in these instances as well.

20 Evernote Search Features You Should Be Using search date created relative to current date

To find notes based on when they were updated, use the updated: search operator, which works the exact same way.

Find Content Of a Specific Type Of Media (e.g. Audio, Image) With resource:

If you’re looking for, say, an image, you can specify and really narrow down your results quickly, unless you have a lot of images, in which case combining some other search operators would speed up the searching process.

Use case: resource:image/png

20 Evernote Search Features You Should Be Using resource search image

This will display notes only with images in the file format of .PNG if you want all images, add an asterisk [*], a.k.a. wildcard, at the end.

Example: resource:image/*

20 Evernote Search Features You Should Be Using Resource image

Find Notes Containing Your To-Do Lists With todo:

Use Evernote for your to do lists? Well then your life just got better. Evernote sadly isn’t that great for to do lists, but there is a great search operator you can use to find all your to do lists.

Use case: todo:true = notes with a checked checkbox. todo:false = notes with an unchecked checkbox. todo:* = all notes with checkboxes.

20 Evernote Search Features You Should Be Using Search to do lists

Also, in case you are wondering, the results for todo:true and todo:false don’t strictly show only notes with all checked or checked. There only needs to be one of either or to show up. In my own opinion, I kind of wish that wasn’t the case, so I personally recommend just using the asterisk [*] – it’s quicker and simpler.

NOTE: For Evernote to detect notes containing your to do lists, you must use checkboxes – bullet points won’t be detected.

Find Notes That Contain Encryption With encryption:

Encrypting sensitive or private data in your Evernote notes is an excellent feature. In fact, it’s kind of forgotten by many, myself included. If you’re looking for a specific note that you know has encrypted data, there is a really fast way to find it.

Use case: encryption:

Notice that this search operator doesn’t need any additional values. If you have a lot of notes with partial encryption, consider using additional search operators such as notebook: or intitle: to narrow your search.

20 Evernote Search Features You Should Be Using Encryption

Search Notes Containing Recognition Information With recoType:

First let me explain what “recognition information” is. It is information acquired through Evernote in the forms of handwriting, pictures, speech, etc. that can be detected through text. For instance, OCR technology in Evernote allows you to search text in images. Evernote can also do voice to text, as well as handwriting to text.

Use case: recoType:picture, recoType:handwritten, recoType:speech, recoType:printed, recoType:unknown

NOTE: according to a discussion on the Evernote forums, this search operator is likely useless as of now due to changes in how Evernote works. I, personally, don’t have all the knowledge to explain why or how though. Why didn’t I just leave it out completely then? I thought about it, but in the case that it does prove useful in the future, I left it in as a reference.

Find Notes Created At Or Around Co-Ordinates With latitude:, longitude:, & altitude:

Alright, so let’s be honest here – this one is pretty nerdy, but still interesting. If you use your Evernote on your mobile device or on a Mac a lot, the location that a note is created is likely being added to the note. It’s pretty nice actually, especially if you use Evernote for travelling purposes.

Use case: latitude:-97

20 Evernote Search Features You Should Be Using search by location

Again, this is probably not the best search operator to use, unless you really know your coordinates when you travel. And this is really only useful when you do travel because otherwise pretty much all your notes will have the same coordinates.

What is a better way to find something based on where a note was created? I’ll explain in the Combine Search Techniques section.

Save Your Searches

Moving on from the actual search operators, this is another tool that Evernote provides. If you find yourself searching the same thing over and over, why not save it?

To do this, expand the search options by click the arrow to the right of the search box. After you’ve typed in your desired search, click the magnifying glass with a plus sign over it. Name your search in the first field (this is solely for your use, so name it whatever you feel will make it easy to recognize). If your search is for some reason incorrect, you can check it in the bottom field in the window. Refer to the image below.

20 Evernote Search Features You Should Be Using Saving searches

Sort Your Results

If you’re wanting to improve your searching experience even more, choosing how your results are sorted and displayed can make a big difference.

You might have noticed in most of the screenshots in this article that there are two dropdown menus to the left of the search box. If you haven’t ever used these, go to your Evernote and take a look at them real quick. The first menu include a lot of choices for how you want to sort them. Also, take notice at the very last option on the menu, Reverse Sort Order. This is one that could get easily overlooked, but is a great tool.

20 Evernote Search Features You Should Be Using Sort search results first dropdown menu

Moving on to the second menu, this one includes three different views for displaying your notes: List, Snippet, and Thumbnail. I personally prefer Snippet as it provides a nice balance between the List view (great for smaller screens) and the Thumbnail view (great for notes with images on larger screens).

20 Evernote Search Features You Should Be Using sort search results second dropdown menu larger

Combine Search Techniques

This is a pretty basic one and has even been touched upon throughout the article, but I wanted to make the point that you can combine search operators to improve and narrow results. Using the Boolean techniques in combination with search operators is yet another way to improve results.

20 Evernote Search Features You Should Be Using Combined Search resource and intitle NE hat with arrow

Simultaneous Search – Display Evernote Notes Which Match Your Query In Search Engines

20 Evernote Search Features You Should Be Using Evernote In Google Search backup

Even if you already use the Evernote Web Clipper in your browser, you may not have noticed this feature as it is unchecked by default. You can enable it by going to the Web Clipper’s options. In Firefox and Chrome, this option is at the very bottom of the page.

20 Evernote Search Features You Should Be Using Evernote results in search web clipper settings

Use The Search Hot Keys

Another very simple tip, but it can greatly improve your time if you are accessing the search box often. To access Evernote Search use Win+Shift+F in Windows and Ctrl+Cmd+F on Mac.

To search through notes for text you can use Ctrl+F in Windows and Cmd+F on Mac.

Note Preparations To Improve Your Evernote Searching Experience

Evernote recognizes that they don’t set you up with a specific way to use it and they pride themselves in allowing their users to create their own system and customize it to their needs. There are, however, some things which you can do to enhance Evernote’s benefits and make finding your notes simpler.

  • Title notes accurately.
  • Tag notes, but not excessively.
    • i.e. tags of words that are already in the note itself.
  • When using the Web Clipper, add a description.
  • Use notebooks – you can’t have too many.
  • “Pin” commonly accessed items to the toolbar via drag and drop.
    • This can be a tag, saved search, notebook, anything.
  • Use it. Use it a lot. And only use it.

The majority of these are self explanatory, however, below is a picture of what I mean by “pinning items”.

evernote search feature

Also, the last one on the list, Use it. Use it a lot. And only use it., means that Evernote is only useful to you if you make it a part of your everyday life. If you’re bouncing back and forth between Evernote and some other similar service, you won’t remember where you stored something and it becomes more of a hassle. So dedicate yourself to one service, in this case Evernote, and create your own system within it.

Now it’s you’re turn to share – did I leave anything out? If so, share how you search through Evernote. Also, we’re always looking for unique ways Get Creative With Evernote: 10 Unique Uses You Haven't Thought Of Evernote is one of the ultimate tools in productivity, and with a wide variety of multiplatform apps, there's no limit to the way that you can use the service. We're big fans of Evernote here... Read More that you guys have integrated Evernote into your life, so please share in the comments.

Image Credits: Evernote Logo via Evernote, Black magnifying glass illustration via Shutterstock

Related topics: Evernote, Note-Taking Apps.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Zardoz
    November 2, 2017 at 2:39 am

    Excellent post thanks. The only-use-one-service thing is a crucial piece of advice, if for no other reason than the fact that nobody seems to have made a generalized cloud searcher yet. I've got stuff in Dropbox, Google Drive and Evernote and unless I'm very careful, I forget which cloud thinggy has the thinggy I'm looking for.
    There are several apps and sites that claim to search all your clouds but I have yet to find one that works reliably. The Evernote search API seems particularly problematic which is a real shame - most general cloud searchers work well with Dropbox and Google Drive.

  2. Anonymous
    August 23, 2015 at 3:51 pm

    I would love to use these tips. But I really need help. I have been using Evernote on Windows XP, Windows 7, and Windows 8.1. Then a few months ago the search function quit working on my Windows 8.1 computer, yet continued ok on the others. I can search on tags, and that works, but any other search turns up the message "Sorry, no notes to display". Since Windows 8.1 is on my main computer, I cannot use it with any efficiency. I am about to give up on it. Does anyone have an idea how to fix this? There is nothing in the Internet about this, and the Evernote site is of no help.

  3. Anonymous
    August 13, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    I am very disappointed to learn that I cannot search on punctuation, or by case. It just ignores it. For instance, "@BOAT". I use Evernote for just about everything, including journaling. I want to be able to flag comments without having to tag, a separate step.

  4. Anonymous
    June 22, 2015 at 2:30 am

    According to evernote documentation, Evernote ignores punctuation , also ""

    "A wildcard is only permitted at the end of the term, not at the beginning or middle for scalability reasons on the service"

    so if you type "*app" or if you type *app , you will not get "happy" as search result

    • Anonymous
      June 22, 2015 at 2:31 am

      you will not even get "happ" as search result

  5. ikomrad
    February 17, 2015 at 1:55 am

    the exact phrase search tip does not work. I search my notes for "t-mobile" and "t-mobile ( only at the beginning ) ,

    Both times I had results for t-mobile and AT&T Mobile

    for some reason the dash between the "t" and the "mobile" is not honored. It highlights the letter "t" in every note that has it, and also highlights the word "mobile" wherever it occurs.

    Not what I expected at all!

    • Ogri
      April 20, 2015 at 8:52 pm

      Try to find "t mobile" - it works for me

  6. James
    February 1, 2015 at 10:00 pm

    "If you click a notebook or tag in the left sidebar first, your results will be restricted to just that notebook or tag."
    Sorry, but this is incorrect. It may have been at time of writing, but I am using V5.8 for Windows, and it just does not work that way, I wish it did, but it dosn't

    • Aaron Couch
      February 2, 2015 at 2:14 am

      Not sure how this isn't working for you, James. I have Windows version 5.8.2 and this still works for me.

    • DW Taylor
      March 23, 2015 at 6:29 pm

      I agree with James. It would really be a nice feature to limit the search to the tag or notebook, but when I select a tag, that tag name appears in the searchbar, along with gray text stating Search All Text, then when I type in the search bar, the tag disappears and my results include ALL notes meeting the search text, not the ones with the tag.

  7. Dave Yuhas
    December 18, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    The search string notebook:"blah tag:blah won't work. The closing quotation mark is required if anything follows the notebook name.

  8. Mark Goodson
    September 16, 2013 at 9:35 am

    Aaron. Great post. As Heather said, I'm saving this to Evernote as my reference on search. Thanks.
    Mark Goodson

  9. Jonathan Jenkins
    September 1, 2013 at 9:59 am

    Great info on the search terms. One bit made me chuckle: "....It’s impertinent that you don’t put a space between the colon [:] and the notebook name..."

    - I'm assuming that would be "important" :-)

    best wishes,


    • Aaron C
      September 10, 2013 at 6:21 pm

      Hi Jonathan,

      Glad the info was a help. I think what I actually meant to say was "pertinent", but I was also probably thinking "important"... both which have similar meanings. Thus, I typed "impertinent", and since that's a real word and easy to read over, it didn't get caught in the proofing process.

      Thanks for the catch!

  10. jbenson2
    June 27, 2013 at 7:45 am

    A well done summary of search terms. Thanks.

    Become proficient with these suggestions and increase the power of Evernote several fold. Even the seasoned Evernote users would be helped to review the list. I did not know about the single preceding quotation.

  11. Joel Thomas
    April 4, 2013 at 5:36 am

    good tips

  12. Junil Maharjan
    March 31, 2013 at 5:15 am

    This is a very helpful. muo should create a guide book for evernote and some other similar apps.

    • DMontgomery1393
      April 1, 2013 at 1:10 am

      they have made a book on evernote..

    • Aaron Couch
      April 2, 2013 at 7:53 pm

      Yep. Like DMontgomery1393 said, we already have one.

      I actually linked to it in the intro: //

      Thanks for reading!

      • AndreNorCal
        April 6, 2013 at 5:13 am

        Excellent tips. I use a modified version of the things you have listed. For example if there is something I need to take action on, I start the section of my notes with "Action_Items" and then a list. I use "Follow_Up", etc. and then it makes searching for things easier. I'll definitely combine this with some of the tips you laid out. thanks!

  13. Nevzat A
    March 30, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    Evernote has so many things that make it ahead of Google Keep.

  14. ReadandShare
    March 30, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    Aaron has now written a series of articles praising Evernote to the high heavens! I am not a user but I am intrigued. BUT, before I spend the time laying the groundwork and designing this database (and populating it with my stuff) -- I NEED to know how easy it is to export the stuff if ever I decide to. Can the structure itself be exported as well or do I just get a bunch of flat files back?

    Aaron -- many have asked about this -- but you seem to just go on droning about how fantastic Evernote is -- and not one peep about its portability or security. Why is that?

    • michel
      March 30, 2013 at 7:02 pm

      I guess it's as secure as anything in the cloud: not at all. If it's already out of my hands and controlled by a business from the start, it's insecure by definition.

      I never understood why people (mostly Americans, I guess) trust corporations with anything. That's dumber than trusting the government.

      • ReadandShare
        March 30, 2013 at 7:08 pm

        @ Michel:

        Agree. My primary concern is Evernote's "portability". I went over to the company website -- read the corporate blip about how 'your data is yours and always will be' -- but then followed a lot of user comments complaining about the difficulty of getting their data out in an organized way --- and complete silence from Evernote.

        I was hoping that a website like this will be more of an advocate for us users -- and not just a site for pushing 'cool' products.


  15. Heather
    March 30, 2013 at 4:36 pm I save this to Evernote to find & read later....

  16. Albert Llado
    March 30, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    As with any database (and as has been pointed out in the article), you should spend some moments tagging and naming properly anything you save.
    Later, when you look for something, you will be grateful for that.