With over 100 million users, Evernote is arguably the web’s favorite productivity and note-saving tool. But there’s much more to this powerful platform than meets the eye.
Since its launch in 2008, Evernote has quickly become the ubiquitous platform for “storing everything.” From photos of receipts, to copies of bills. From hurriedly typed notes, to downloads of your favorite blogs. Whatever it is that you want to save for later, Evernote can save it.
In terms of storing notes, there are certain features you can’t miss. The ability to sort multiple notes into notebooks, and multiple notebooks into stacks of notebooks. The impressive search function (that can even search text in images). Access to your notes from any device.
Yet despite its huge number of users and sturdy “basic” note taking features, Evernote has a lot more to offer.
Advanced Search Features
As with most search boxes, the Evernote search box is massively under-utilized. The engineers behind Evernote have put a lot of effort into making this function as useful as possible by incorporating “Descriptive Search” (currently only available on Mac). This means there are a number of common-day phrases you can use to find what you’re looking for.
If you want to find any notes that you created while you were in Barcelona since 2014, type “notes created in Barcelona since 2014.” Looking for some meal ideas? Search for “notes that are recipes.” There’s a whole host of these available:
Another surprisingly handy search feature from Evernote is “Related Results.” First, install Web Clipper, the Evernote browser plugin. Then enable the “Related Results” option. Now, when you search Google, a small widget will also appear, showing any related results that you’ve saved into Evernote.
Once you start using Evernote more frequently, your number of notes will quickly become startling. At this stage, it’s often difficult to remember everything you have stored away, and you can end up duplicating your research. Related Results helps you overcome this by showcasing your related notes when you’re most susceptible to forgetting you have them.
Save Notes Automatically
We’ve written before about how If This Then That (IFTTT) can help you become an Instapaper power user. It can also help you become an Evernote master. Imagine a world where any notes that you would want to take, were taken automatically. This is largely doable with the help of IFTTT (read our full IFTTT guide).
IFTTT connects your favorite apps, news sources, and websites to your Evernote account, thereby capturing notes automatically.
Currently, there are almost 10,000 different “recipes” that you can easily set up to help Evernote become more useful to you. As a few popular examples:
- If a new article is published on your favorite blog, then save this to Evernote (turning your Evernote account into an RSS reader)
- If you post a photo to Instagram, then save this to Evernote (recipe)
- If you label an email in Gmail as “Evernote”, then send this to Evernote (recipe)
- If you post a status update to Facebook, then save this to Evernote (recipe)
- If you favorite a tweet on Twitter, then save this to Evernote (recipe)
- If you make a highlight in Instapaper, then save this into an Evernote notebook (recipe)
To start using IFTTT like this, you will need to sign up (free), and give permission for the platform to have access to any service or tool you would like to create a “recipe” with.
Save Useful Searches
If you have a few complicated searches that you’d like Evernote to perform, you can save previous searches to access results more easily. For example, if you regularly wanted to search for “all the notes I’ve tagged as recipes(IFTTT recipes) from the archive or from the dedicated IFTTT notebook that I have” (GuidingTech), you would save the search:
notebook:IFTTT notebook:archive tag:recipes
To save searches on various devices:
“Windows: Perform your search, then click the save search icon (magnifying glass with ‘+‘ symbol on it).
Mac: Perform your search, then select Edit > Find > save search.
iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch: Perform your search, then tap the save search icon in the lower right of your screen (magnifying glass with ‘+‘ symbol on it).
Android: Perform your search, then tap Add to Home Screen.”
To recall a saved search, simply click on the search bar and select from the list of searches that appear. Finally, to make the most of Evernote search, you can find a description of the available search operators here.
Encrypt Your Notes
When using Evernote to store everything, somewhere along the line you’ll have to store some sensitive information. Travel information, login credentials, contacts, personal messages, etc. Luckily, Evernote has an encryption feature to keep these notes secure in case your device is stolen, or someone hacks into your account.
At the moment, you’re only able to encrypt text within a note (not an entire note or notebook). To do this, highlight the text you want to encrypt, right click, and select “Encrypt Selected Text”. You’ll be asked to input a passphrase, which allows you to decrypt the text. If you lose this passphrase, there is no way to recover it.
You can decrypt the text in the same way.
Share Your Notebooks
If there’s a project you’re working on with others, sharing a notebook can make things a whole lot easier. Instead of a confusing thread of emails, or the hassle of sorting Dropbox folders, you can simply share a notebook.
You can share notebooks from any device by right clicking the notebook, and selecting “Share Notebook”, then following the steps on screen; the recipient of the notebook doesn’t even need to have an Evernote account. They will receive an email informing them that you have shared a notebook, along with a link to view that notebook.
If someone else shares a notebook with you, you will have the option to “Join” that notebook, which will then be displayed in your Evernote account.
What Other Features Should People Be Using?
Without a doubt, Evernote is a powerful tool. The features mentioned above are just a few of its under-used tools and integrations. Along with these, you can also track where you’ve been (iPhone), capture handwritten notes (iPhone), and turn Evernote into a Calendar.
The apps that Evernote can connect to are myriad, and are only set to grow. So, getting to grips with some of the platforms more advanced features will only serve you well as Evernote’s reach and features continue to expand.
Which other Evernote features are you using regularly?