Evernote is a web-based note-taking and storage program, available across the web, on your computers and all your mobile devices – and it’s free.
I started using Evernote in 2009, when it was still in beta, but it’s not until recently that I’ve become a true power-user. Let me take you through a few very simple functions that help me – and any writer – to simplify their writing lives, and get on with actual writing.
Evernote works on your computer (Mac and Windows) as a desktop client. You’ll want to download that, because the desktop versions act as a backup for all your notes. You can also keep some notebooks (the storage containers for notes) as local versions – ie. not synchronised. Local notebooks are good for particularly sensitive data, but it’s the synchronised ones that offer writers ninja-productivity powers.
If you’re not using Evernote already, register for a free account at Evernote. While there, download the desktop version, and pick up the Browser plugin – the Evernote Web Clipper – for your browser of choice.
Once you’ve setup a few main notebooks and are rocking with the web clipper and inputting notes, go download your mobile device version of Evernote too – Evernote is available for iOS – iPhone and iPAD, Android, Blackberry and Windows mobile and Windows 8. You will find the latest Evernote app versions in the appropriate app stores. All free!
Evernote and Notes
Evernote has – at my last count, 15+ different ways for getting a note into Evernote. Some fundamental methods –
- Type in a new note (or touch-tap, if you’re on your mobile device).
- You can type rich-text formatted notes, or setup checkboxed to-do’s or lists. Use Evernote’s Reminder function on any note and you can be notified of a note due – instant task management but in a very simple and easy way.
- Save all your IDEAS, PLANS, TO-DO’s.(Anywhere!)
- Web-clipping notes –
- The Evernote Web Clipper is great for taking excerpts or entire articles from the web.
- There are also ways to clip from your mobile devices – handy as I do a lot of browsing on my iPAD.
- Save all your RESEARCH.
- Record notes –
- There’s an audio recording function.
- Record lectures or interviews, or your spur-of-the-moment ideas.
- Snap/Photograph notes –
- Using your mobile device and Evernote, you can take photos of inspiration while out and about.
- Or use the Page Camera button to take images of your notebook pages / journals or book pages in a library.
- And – bonus: if you have an image with text in it, Evernote will run OCR (optical character recognition) across it, and add the text it finds to the database.
- Save all your physical writing Notes and book research.
- Email forwarding –
- Evernote gives you a secret personal email address (find yours in your account settings).
- Use this to send all kinds of notes from your mobile devices, or forward all those newsletters and other emails you have from your inbox into Evernote.
- Save emails as notes.
- Drag and Drop –
- Drop files and documents into Evernote.
- All those research notes, class handouts, and documents (including your manuscript) can live in the cloud, rather than lost on your hard-drive.
- Save all your documents.
Evernote and Notebooks
Once you have a few notes in Evernote, you can organise them into Notebooks and Stacks. Stacks are just the container for notebooks. Notebooks contain – you guessed it – notes. Various note view methods are available.
The good thing about stacks, notebooks and notes is that you can apply tags to all of them. Tags help organisation but also help the awesome search functions.
Synchronised Cloud-Based Notes
Notes are synchronised to and from the web storage provided for your account. This means that even when you quickly input an idea note on your mobile phone while out walking the dog, once you’re back in Wifi range, your note will sync to the cloud, and be found on your computer and other devices too.
There’s also an offline notebook option (Premium Subscriptions) so that you can access all your notes while out in that park.
Search and Find
The key to greater productivity is Evernote’s Search functions. You don’t even have to tag notes – Evernote’s search parameters work through the entire text content of a note – the title, the body of text, tags if you have them, and even images or PDFs where OCR has recognised text inside. Key word searches mean that you can safely “file” away all your ideas, inspiration, and research documents and know that you’ll find them again, quickly.
Write Anywhere, on Anything, and Stay Organised
Quick summary –
- Evernote lets you create notes from anything – emails, web-pages, typed notes, images, audio, all your documents stored through numerous file trees on your hard-drive – and, that 2:00 am in the morning epiphany (hint: use the audio recording function on your smart-phone).
- Evernote lets you create notes anywhere – via the many mobile versions of the app.
- Evernote lets you synch the notes to cloud storage, and organise them however you want. Once they’re in Evernote, you can find them again, using a quick key search.
These were the very basics of Evernote. There are many other options to get notes into Evernote – in fact, you can Tweet to Evernote, Pocket to Evernote, or save your blog feed to Evernote using a connection service. Once you have notes, you can share them to the public, or individuals – think collaboration.
But this post has hopefully highlighted some of the common-place uses for Evernote, and how the program may help you be more productive and efficient in some of those writing tasks.
What are some of your own favourite uses of Evernote?