Evernote is my go-to app for organizing all the information in my life, from business goals to important meetings, from critical documentation to my favorite recipes.
I communicate with my clients via Evernote by setting up a shared folder where we collaborate on projects. Whenever I do this, however, there’s a learning curve. Most have heard of Evernote, some have installed it and then gotten stuck, never using it again.
So I decided to create a list of Evernote essentials: terms you need to know to use this extremely powerful app and things you can do to get the most out of it. Enjoy!
- Note: A Note is an item of digital content–written words, web pages, recorded audio, pictures, PDF’s, whatever–similar to a document on your computer.
- Notebook: A Notebook is a collection of Notes, similar to a folder on your computer.
- Stack: A Stack is a collection of Notebooks, also similar to a folder on your computer. Stacks, unlike folders on your computer, can only be one Notebook deep. Evernote does this because they want users never to be more than two clicks away from their information, so it actually gets used. Imagine that!
- Tag: A Tag is a word or phrase that describes a Note in addition to the title that you give it. Tags allow for horizontal sorting (See: Item 7), perfect for cross-functional teams or documents with multiple contexts. A Note may have any number of Tags.
- Trunk: The elephant is the symbol Evernote uses for its mission to help their users “remember everything.” In keeping with that image, Evernote’s web site is called the Trunk, where you’ll find helpful how-to’s, add-on apps, and the latest Evernote news.
- Sync: Evernote syncs in the cloud and allows for real time access to Notes and Notebooks from a your laptop, computer, tablet, Kindle, or smartphone. Cloud upload capacity for Evernote extends from 60MB a month for a free account to 1GB a month for a Premium account. Evernote’s sync can be manually run or scheduled in your preferences to run automatically every 5, 15, 30, or 60 minutes.
- Sorting: Notes can be viewed in Evernote in alphabetical order, by the date created, or by the date updated. You may sort your notes in ascending or descending order, inside or outside their assigned Notebooks. This is what I call vertical sorting. Horizontal sorting is done across all Notes, irrespective of their assigned Notebooks, based on the Tags you give to a Note (See: Item 4)
- Search: One of the most useful features of Evernote is its ability to search all of the content you’ve placed in it. Enter a key word or phrase in the search bar and you’ll get the Notes with that word or phrase in it highlighted in yellow. Evernote’s advanced TypeAhead search suggestion feature automatically completes your search based on the words and phrases you use frequently in Evernote. Also, if you need to perform the same search over and over again, you can save that search for future reference.
- Web Clipper: No more bookmarks! The Evernote Web Clipper is a button that can be installed in major web browsers–Safari, Firefox, Chrome, Explorer–to “clip” any web page and immediately place it as a Note in Evernote. The web clipper tool can clip an entire web page, the specific article you’re reading, or just the URL and allows you to select the Notebook it should be placed in right in your web browser.
- Evernote Email: Any piece of email correspondence with its attachments can be forwarded to Evernote via the Evernote email address that comes with every account. Place the symbol @ with the title of the Notebook you want it assigned to in the subject line, and the email will be automatically filed in that Notebook. Your Evernote email address is in the account information drop down box in Evernote. NOTE: Some email software, like the one I use Postbox, has a clipping tool for Evernote that functions like the Web Clipper in Item 9, making email forwarding unnecessary.
- Merging Notes: Multiple Notes can be merged together in one Note by selecting each Note by clicking on the MergeNote option in the dialogue box that immediately pops up. Other actions can also be taken in this dialogue box, like emailing the merged Note or moving it to another Notebook.
- Attachments: Documents external to Evernote can be placed in a Note or a Notebook in two ways. The document can be dragged into Evernote, where a dialogue box will pop up to title the Note and assign it to a Notebook. Also, within a Note in Evernote, select the attachment icon and a dialogue box will allow you to access your documents and select an attachment which will then appear in the Note.
- Pictures: The graphical interface of Evernote is exceptional. A picture can be placed in Evernote exactly as you would attach a file (See: Item 12: Attachments), or you can take a picture using the Evernote app itself. Just select the camera icon and follow the instructions that pop up. This is especially useful with smart phones. For screenshots, check out the super-cool Evernote add-on, Skitch.
- Audio: What goes for photos also goes for audio. Do exactly the same thing you did in Item13 above but use the audio icon instead of the camera icon.
- Sharing: Notes in Evernote can be shared with others by email or on Facebook and Twitter. Select the sharing icon at the top of each Note and follow the dialogue box instructions to complete your sharing.
- Offline Access: Evernote Premium users are able to access their Notes and Notebooks offline on their smart phones and tablets. This is extremely useful when access to the Internet is not available, like on an airplane or when you’re visiting Siberia. Exactly which Notes and Notebooks are downloaded to your device is configured in preferences and kept current every time that device syncs with the cloud. NOTE: Evernote Premium is only $5 a month or $45 a year. Best deal on the planet.
- Shared Notebooks: With a Premium Evernote account users are able to share Notebooks with other Evernote users. The other users, however, don’t have to have a Premium account to share this Notebook with you. Sharing options are view only or view and modify, complete with password protection. Sharing can also be done by creating a public link for a Notebook.
- Alerts: When sharing Notebooks, it’s possible for someone to work on a Note and for other users to never know they’ve done it. So Evernote has an alert function to tell you when changes have been made to a shared item. Evernote alerts can also be integrated with your computer or smartphone’s notification center and a pop-up window or a sound can play when changes have been made.
- Searchable PDF’s and Handwritten Notes: Another great feature with Evernote’s Premium account is the ability to add a scanned document to your Notes or take a picture of a handwritten note and upload it into Evernote. In a matter of a few hours, that upload with be searchable for key words. Pretty cool!
The relentless flow of input that comes at us everyday is two-fold: things we need to know–information–and things we need to do–action. For the things I need to know and quickly access, which is the point of any system, Evernote is my weapon of choice.