Do you use Evernote?
Last night I ran by Best Buy to get some printer ink. I own two different printers and for the life of me, I can never remember the arcane model number assigned to either printer. And the even more arcane numbers on the printer ink boxes don't help.
Fortunately, I knew I had the information I needed in Evernote. I pulled out my iPhone, tapped on the Evernote icon and then opened the note I had conveniently labeled "My Printers." This simple note I had created the last time I couldn't remember my printer model listed the names of both printers I own. After I located the particular ink for the printer that was out, I snapped a photo of the printer ink box and saved that in the same note. This will save me even more time the next time I go to get ink.
Evernote helped me "remember" what printer I had, but it's also partly the reason I can never remember my particular printer. I hardly ever print anything these days because I simply save everything to Evernote instead. So it's rare that I actually have to get printer ink in the first place.
Evernote works so well for me because it is ubiquitous. There's an Evernote app for just about every computer and mobile platform, but I can also access my content from a web browser simply by logging into the Evernote site. I have the ability to access my information pretty much wherever I am--on my own devices or even on someone else's.
So what kind of stuff do I keep in Evernote?
- Miscellany. Evernote is a repository of all the miscellaneous information that I might need access to: account numbers, login and password info, the name of my printer when I go to buy ink cartridges, my wife's favorite food orders if I'm picking up dinner, gift idea lists, a snapshot of my license plate for when I'm checking into a hotel so that I don't have to run back and look at it, prescriptions. You get the idea. It doesn't matter what device I'm using--I have access to all this stuff all the time. Good organization and keyword tagging are key, of course.
- Research. Evernote is wonderful for research notes for the same reasons described above. Little snippets of information can be clipped from just about anywhere. I can organize content and have it with me at all times.
- Composition. I often start writing on one device and finish on another. Or sometimes inspiration hits, and I need to write something down immediately. Maybe I only have my iPhone with me at the time;but I can add my thoughts on it, and later I can pull up the same note on my laptop. Often I have jumped back and forth between two or three devices in writing something, easily grabbing whatever is closest to me. Evernote is not necessarily the final application for what I'm working on, but it's nearly always where I start.
- PDFs and clipped articles. Originally, I used DevonTHINK Pro for collecting PDFs, but as mobile access became more important to me, I abandoned DTP because I was not satisfied with their mobile solutions. I moved thousands of PDF files--mostly articles--into Evernote. Now I have access to them anywhere and anytime. I also clip articles straight from my web browser that I want to save directly to Evernote through the "Clip to Evernote" plug-in.
- Meeting Notes. Usually in a meeting I will take notes in Evernote. But occasionally, I write out notes on a notepad with a pen. In the latter case, the iPhone version of Evernote has a great built-in document scanner that allows me to save my handwritten notes directly into Evernote. And there's even some kind of Evernote voodoo built in that allows me to search through handwritten notes--when I have taken the time to write halfway legibly.
- Read later content. I have a "*To Be Read" folder in Evernote that contains a lot of the web-clipped articles that I want to read later but may or may not save after I read them. I put the asterisk (*) in the title of this folder so that it will show up at the top of my notebook list, right under "*Inbox."
- Blog & newsletter subscriptions. Evernote will give you a specific email account tied to Evernote. This is not a regular email account--you can't reply to an email, for instance. But anything I send to Internet will automatically show up in my Evernote Inbox in the app. I use this to subscribe to blogs or online newsletters. After I read the content, I can delete it or file it elsewhere in Evernote.
- On-the-fly webpages. The share feature in Evernote lets me instantly create a webpage with a unique evernote.com URL. I often do this if I need to share information quickly--perhaps something I need others to proofread or a PDF too large to email. Related to this there are also collaboration tools in Evernote that allow multiple people to access the same note from within the application.
- Grocery lists. This is a pretty simple thing, but I often use Evernote to create a grocery list complete with checkboxes that I can check off as I shop. This also makes for great To-Do lists.
Probably about 90% of Evernote's features are free to use. I've had the premium members (my debit card is charged $5/month) since 2010. Evernote recently updated their tiers, so I now have unlimited uploads of content each month--especially helpful when adding a lot of PDFs. If you're interested in trying out Premium and would be so kind, send me your email (which you can find on the About page of this website), and I'll send you a special Premium invite which will earn me Evernote "points."
By the way, I know that there are other services similar to Evernote out there. Microsoft's OneNote is the biggest competitor. I'm not interested in starting a platform war (and these tools really are platforms all of their own). My choice to use Evernote is not meant as a slam to OneNote. I began using Evernote around 5 years ago because it was on every device I had, and OneNote was not. I'm sure OneNote is fine, but I now have over 800 notes in Evernote, so I'm not going anywhere else. Plus, I'm perfectly satisfied with Evernote (except for the fact that the recently-updated Mac interface is now devoid of all Evernote-green accents--boo!).
What about you? Do you use Evernote? If so, how? Let me know if the comments section.
After writing about Evernote this past week, I saw a couple of articles that I thought would be especially good for anyone just starting out. Of course, even if you've been using it for a while like I have, there's always something new to learn, and it's interesting to note how others use the software, too.
Here are the two articles worth checking out:
Emily Price, "20 Uses for Evernote that You Probably Haven't Thought of Yet" (MacWorld)
Eric Griffith, "30 Tips Every Evernote User Must Know" (PCMag).