Apr

21

10 Tips On How to Use Evernote To Its Fullest

April 21st, 2011 by Claudine Motto | Posted in Evernote, Productivity

This is a guest post written by Claudine Motto, who is a business coach, productivity consultant, and owner of Business in Blossom. She works with women entrepreneurs who want better control of their time, their work, and themselves so they can create more success, flow and joy in their business and in their lives. When she’s not working, much of her joy comes from good coffee, good food, good wine, her husband and two cats. Connect with her at BusinessInBlossom.com.



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It seems everyone’s using Evernote these days, but you may not be aware of some of its most handy features. Here are 10 tips for how you can incorporate Evernote into your workflow, keep it organized, and use it to the fullest so you can save time and have the information you need to be productive wherever you are.

Claudine Motto

1. Organize and tag your notes on the go

When you send your notes to Evernote via e-mail you can tag them and designate the notebook they end up in. If you don’t know your Evernote e-mail address, go to Settings > Account Summary (Web version), or to Tools > Account Info (desktop version). Then immediately put the address into your address book so you don’t have to remember the address and so it’s handy when you need it.

To designate the notebook: in the e-mail subject line, type “@” followed by the name of an existing notebook.

To designate a tag: type “#” followed by the name of an existing tag (by the way, it must be in that order – notebook first, tag second, and both the notebook and tag need to already exist, otherwise the note ends up in your default notebook).

For example, say you share a notebook “Books” with your clients (in the Web version, go to Share > Share Notebooks. In the desktop version, right click on the notebook you want to share, select Properties, then click on “Sharing and collaboration options”) where you keep a list of books that you recommend they read. To add your latest recommendation with the title of the note being the month and date, and the tags “business” and “goals,” your e-mail subject line would look like this: May 2011 @Books #business #goals. The body of your e-mail would be the book titles (so clean up anything you don’t want showing up in Evernote, like e-mail signatures).

By the way, you’ll notice that the Share menu on the web now gives you the option to share to Facebook, too.

2. Find what you need even in your handwritten notes

Evernote’s image recognition makes handwritten notes searchable, which is cool (I’ve found it to be pretty accurate, too) and it’s a time-saver if you don’t have a tablet and you like to take notes on paper but then want to save them electronically so you can more easily search, edit, and share.

You can scan your notes into your system or you can take a picture of your notes and e-mail them into your Evernote account — this works best on phones with good cameras. In either case, note that if you have a free account you have to wait in line for Evernote to perform OCR on your images — Premium accounts go first. And as of this writing, only Premium accounts get to search inside PDFs.

For instructions for how to set up your scanner to scan directly into Evernote (detailed for the ScanSnap since it’s what I use and recommend to clients) but you can find general instructions for other scanners, too) go to Evernote scanners.

One downside (and a workaround with the Import Folders feature): most scanners ask you to save the image to a folder even when you set them up to scan to an application like Evernote. To save time from having to delete the file afterwards (or have a bunch of duplicate files that you don’t need), create a specific folder on your hard drive just for scans that you want to send into Evernote, and specify that folder in your scanner’s image-saving folder. Then in Evernote, set that folder up as an Import folder (Tools > Import Folders…) and choose the delete option for the source file. This means that every file in that folder will get deleted as soon as it is exported/sent to Evernote — so make sure this is how you want it to work.

3. Import Folders can help save the day, too

Create a “Synced with Evernote” folder on your hard drive for any files you’d like to have synced up with Evernote automatically (i.e., if you do public speaking, your presentation handouts, notes). Then in Evernote, set that folder up as an Import folder (Tools > Import Folders…), and choose your preferences (whether to sync up subfolders, which Evernote notebook to send it to, and whether you want to keep or delete the file in your hard drive once it gets exported). You’ll always have a backup of those files handy.

Note: free accounts can export Images (jpeg/png/gif), Audio (mp3/wav), PDF, and digital ink files. For other file types you’ll have to upgrade to the Premium version.

4. “Stack” your notebooks for better organization

Create headings for the groups of things that you do (or the hats that you wear in your business); this keeps things organized and makes it easier to find things. To create a stack, just drag a notebook into another one – then right click on the stack “parent” to name it whatever makes sense (in this case, Writing). You could create a similar structure for Marketing, Research, Shopping, Travel. Think about what makes sense for your business and life.

5. Be purposeful with your titles

This way they sort nicely and you find things quickly. For example, if you keep your blog post drafts in Evernote, start your titles with the word Blog. Go one step further and number your posts so that you always know how many posts you have in the works; if you know when you plan on publishing them, you can add the date, too.

6. Merge ideas together

If you use Evernote to collect ideas for blog posts or newsletter articles, you’ll find you sometimes end up with your ideas for the same subject scattered across many different notes.

That’s where the Merge Notes feature comes in handy: do a search for the keywords or tags that will bring up your notes for a particular idea or subject — choose the notes you want to merge, right click and select Merge Notes (desktop version).

7. Use Saved Searches to save time

This feature is a time-saver for searches you perform frequently, especially if you create a sophisticated search that may be hard to remember without referring to the help files. Here’s a list of the more advanced search operators.

You can create searches for anything you want. But a word of caution: if you go overboard and end up with so many saved searches that it’s time consuming to find the one you want, you’ll either waste time or end up not using them. Be selective.

Here are four saved searches that come in handy for most people:

If you use tags, the “Notes without tags” search makes it quick to see any notes you may have missed tagging. And if you use Evernote for your To Do lists, bringing up all the notes that have To Do’s in them, or all your completed or just your “undones” is a time-saver, a good way to get an overview of your tasks, and especially useful if, a la the Get Things Done system, you want to make sure you have next actions associated with all your active projects.

(Evernote, if you’re listening: it would be great for planning purposes and getting an overview of tasks to have the option to pull all To Do’s in a single note (without altering the original note/s), with the note title in parenthesis and a link to the original note next to each To Do item.)

And by the way, you can search a stack; for example, stack:writing tag:communication would bring up all notes in your Writing stack tagged “communication.”

8. Protect your sensitive information
Both the Windows and Mac Evernote desktop client let you encrypt text. This can be very useful for storing things like account numbers, passwords, and other sensitive information. Highlight the portion of text you’d like to encrypt, right-click on it and choose “Encrypt Selected Text.” Of course the key here is to use a very strong passphrase that can’t be easily cracked (but that you’ll remember, since Evernote cannot help you recover it).

9. Search your Evernote notes when you search Google
How many times have you gone out looking for information only to realize later you had plenty already stored in your hard drive? It’s a sign of the times: collect, collect, collect, then forget you have it. Well, if you use Google Chrome as your browser, you can have it search your Evernote notebooks, too.

First, download the Google Chrome extension here. Once installed, go to your Evernote icon in the browser toolbar, right click, select Options, and check use Simultaneous Search.

10. Make a point to use Evernote — don’t let it just sit there!

We already mentioned Evernote as a place to drop things into that you think your clients might enjoy, like books, or quotes, and as a place to keep your blog and newsletter ideas and drafts so that wherever you are you can work on them.

But the possibilities are endless:

Business cards of people, resources and vendors you’ll want to have handy, but that you don’t want or aren’t sure they belong in your main phone database. Make the title descriptive (or put enough information and keywords inside the note) so when you need to find the information a year later it’s easy to find even if you can’t remember many of the details.

A marketing brochure on the go: consultants who host parties, like Mary Kay or Pure Romance, could create a notebook with pictures of a few of their most lively, fun, successful events. Interior decorators and professional organizers could store pictures of “before and afters.”

Take snapshots of your gym’s latest class schedule; takeout menus; labels of wines you like (and don’t like, so you don’t make that mistake again)

IT information: anything that may help save time and make it really easy to get your business back up and running (like your router settings)

Use Evernote’s mobile app to record audio notes of ideas you may get while driving, or to record “agenda” items you want to remember to discuss with someone — whether your coach, a vendor, your spouse, or your assistant.

Bits of information you’ll need in a rush: the best place to park at the mall for your favorite stores at your local mall (i.e., Victoria’s Secret is between Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s); how to pick the best vegetables and fruits; the vitamins and medications you take; the lightbulb type for your outside lights; your nieces’ and nephews’ clothes and shoe sizes.

The bottom line: when your information is centralized and organized, you spend less time looking for it; you feel more in control; and you can get back to doing work, being productive, or just enjoying life.

How Do You Use Evernote?

What tricks do you use to keep it useful and organized? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.


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Comments

  1. Great info! Evernote is an amazing tool. I use it to remember ideas, blog post topics, music, and books all on the go.
    I also use it as a Twitter tool for capturing important Tweets. Read more here http://facethebuzz.com/2010/08/26/how-to-capture-and-collect-twitter-tweets/

  2. Glad you found the tips helpful, Andrew, and thanks for sharing your own!

  3. Neal Polshuk says:

    Thanks, Claudine…. I’ve been using Evernote for over a year and had no idea that I could merge notes until I read your post. You’ve made Evernote a more productive tool and my life easier!!!!!

  4. That’s awesome, Neal – thank you for sharing that.

  5. Karen Vieira says:

    I opened an Evernote account a while ago and downloaded the app to my phone, but never used it. You have inspired me to open it up and use it now that I understand what I can do with it! Thanks.

  6. Debbie Spice says:

    Thanks Claudine!
    Like Karen, I downloaded to my ipod touch ages ago but hadn’t used it much until I had to kill 30 mins at my son’s new soccer coach meeting. Figured I’d list all the “technical stuff” i needed to do for my business as a list. Now I’ve fallen in love with it! Added my other business stuff to it as well. Its like an adult version of ACT! but without the hassle…
    Now I’m insisting on my son having it on his iphone, otherwise I’m stealing his easter candy! then he has no excuse for forgetting anything!

  7. Larry Keltto says:

    Andrew, Neal, Karen, Debbie:

    I’m glad Claudine’s article has been helpful. Before I read it, I was using about 20% of Evernote’s capabilities.

  8. @Karen Thanks for stopping! Glad to hear it won’t just be taking up space on your phone and that you’ll give it a try. I think you’ll really like it once you start using it.

    @Debbie You’re welcome! Sounds like you got a lot done in 30 minutes. I hope your son doesn’t blame me for not having any more excuses for mom…

  9. Larry Keltto says:

    FYI, I’ve added the highest-rated Evernote book at Amazon to The Solopreneur Life’s Amazon store:

    “Unclutter Your Life In One Week,” by Evan R. Doland: http://www.thesolopreneurlife.com/evernote-doland

  10. Wow, this is awesome Claudine! I had no idea that Evernote could search through hand-written notes.

    I’m pretty new to Evernote myself, and only used it maybe once or twice in the past. I’ll have to give it a second look!

    Christina

  11. Thank you, Christina! I see that you have a writing business and that you like to travel so the possibilities are endless for how you can use it to help you/your business. So do give it a second look and let me know how it goes!

  12. As a teacher I find Evernote invaluable and have a notebook for each class where I can keep ideas / resources.

    I have recently started using the shared notebooks too as they provide a very simple way to easily share information with others.

  13. Hi Colleen, thanks for your comment!

    Evernote really is excellent for keeping ideas and resources centralized and accessible. And being able to share notebooks comes in handy (and for me, it’s sometimes an incentive to get clients comfortable with using it and storing their own information in it – which eventually leads them to less paper clutter).

  14. Mike Korner says:

    Just wanted to chime in to say a big THANKS for what I regard as the best article I’ve found to date about Evernote. I learned five things from it.

    I finally made the leap to Evernote earlier this year and though I have a few gripes about its interface, I must say I’m more productive with it on my side (mostly due to replacing 3 tools with it).

    Thanks Claudine!

  15. Mike,

    A big thanks to you for your kind words – I’m so glad you got a lot from the post.

    I think you’ve got the real “yardstick” as far as whether it’s worth sticking with it (or any application) – the question always is “is it helping me be more productive?” If it is, stick with it. If it’s not (even if it’s a shiny new iPhone) ditch it and find something that works for *you*.

  16. Interesting post! For even more tips and the best book I found about evernote use: Evernote Essentials eBook. Have a look here: http://goo.gl/AUb8b (affiliate link)

  17. PC says:

    Great insightful post. I have a pretty strong addiction to Evernote right now. I am always trying to learn more and and more about it.

  18. @Dominique Thank your for the link to the eBook and for disclosing that it’s an affiliate link right in your comment.

    @PC Thank you for your comment. And as long as you’re applying what you’re learning, and what you’re learning is helping you stay organized and get more done, I’d say Evernote’s fine addiction to have. ;)

  19. I recently wrote a post about using Evernote for Social Media. “3 Great Ways to use Evernote for Social Media”. http://bit.ly/mIZi5M

  20. Great post. I also wrote a lengthy post about how I’ve been using Evernote. It may be helpful to folks here too:
    http://lassala.net/2011/01/10/how-im-using-evernote/

  21. A. Tok says:

    Thanks for the tips! This was a key in getting me to start using Evernote on a regular basis.

  22. Wade says:

    Really useful post. I’m just starting to use use evernote so it’s been a big help. A minor tip for you: you keep using i.e. (that is) when you should be using e.g. (for example).

  23. @Andrew and @Claudio Thanks for posting – I’ll check it out – I’m sure they’ll be helpful.

    @A. Tok – thanks! Glad to hear it.

    @Wade – Awesome. And you’re right on time with the i.e. vs e.g. tip – I’m about to launch my new blog so you’ve saved me from having that mistake all over it (I’m much better at spelling than I am at grammar). Thanks. :)

  24. clarita says:

    Somebody has tested clicktoapp in Evernote: http://clicktoapp.com

  25. Josh says:

    Thanks a lot. I basically learnt how to use evernote from this. I would add this link to my new blog post. cheers :)

  26. @Clarita Curious what clicktoapp does – will check it out.

    @Josh Thanks for your comment, and for sharing this post with others.

  27. Larry Keltto says:

    Thank you to everyone for your comments. Claudine, this post continues to receive hundreds of page views every day.

  28. joseito says:

    Is it clicktoapp an option? http://clicktoapp.com

  29. David Kizler says:

    Great post on ways to use Evernote. I’ve looked all over for an intuitivite virtual notenpad for my mind which can sync to all my devices too. Evernote seems to be the first company to have figured out how to get things to sync properly with both devices and real usuability issues. Thanks for the posts, David

  30. EJ says:

    Thanx Claudine for this great action minded list!
    You should though add #11: “Save this post in your Evernote :)

  31. EJ – it’s funny you should say that – I added this post to my Evernote (shared) notebook on Evernote!
    See the link here
    http://staffweb2tools.wordpress.com/2011/08/02/evernote/

  32. @David You’re welcome!

    @EJ and @Colleen: love it that this article’s in your “go to” archives.

  33. lancerbee says:

    thanks for the nice article. I’m more than certain that evernote users (including me) will find the tips you discussed very helpful.

    moreover, just something I discovered recently and I want to share. I found this free online tool – - http://clippingsconverter.com, which Kindle owners like me can use to directly upload Kindle “my clippings” directly to the evernote site. Clippings can also be converted to word or pdf format (if you prefer those file formats) by using that online tool.

    hope you can also write about that online tool in the future. :)

  34. pixie_popcorn says:

    I am on a quest to understand what evernote will do for me that gmail and a camera will not. Still searching. With gmail and a camera I can capture anything on the web, any document, any scrawled thought, I can attach any photo, I can organize everything into folders, and access it all from my computer, my phone — anywhere. Just not getting the hype.

  35. I like the Evernote interface, also the fact that I have the downloaded application on two different computers and my phone as well as being able to use the web application anywhere. The search function is truly awesome.

    I also like the ability to share notebooks.
    http://staffweb2tools.wordpress.com/2011/08/02/evernote/
    some links

  36. Mike Korner says:

    Pixie,

    Short answer: If you’re happy with your camera and Gmail, keep using them. Why introduce another tool?

    Longer Answer:
    1) User Interface
    2) Inline viewing / consumption of images and media
    3) Search
    4) Miscellaneous

    1) User Interface
    - Evernote is much faster for user interface movements. I can arrow down/up and quick view the contents of notes. With GMail, you have to open them one by one.
    - Evernote has a way less cluttered interface.
    - Evernote allows you to look at all notes, a folder, or a tag at a time. Looking at all notes (without the noise from email) is going to be a lot of work in Gmail (assuming you use it for email, too).
    - Evernote lets me keep one note with a file of information about colors (hex codes and RGB) along with a picture of the color. All of this is inline in the note (no attachments, etc.) And I have multiple color entries in the same note. That would be a whole lot of work with the camera/Gmail, especially since I add colors to the note all the time.
    - Evernote lets you snap a picture, grab an audio, grab a video, etc. in one motion. No need to then mail it (or upload it) then file it. It’s in Evernote in seconds.
    - Evernote supports bulk import of items that you can then move around quickly. Thus, if you collect samples or class assignments from other places, you can have Evernote automatically import them. I guess you’d make them all attachments in Gmail.

    2) Inline viewing / consumption of images and media
    - Evernote allows you to insert & view images inline (not an attachment like GMail)
    - Evernote allows you to insert & view multi-media inline (not an attachment like GMail). No external player needed, either.
    - Evernote can store and view PDFs inline.
    - Evernote is a nice user experience on the phone. Let’s be honest, Gmail isn’t so great on the phone for anything other than simple email.

    3) Search
    - Evernote reads images and searches find the text in the images.
    - Evernote will search in your handwritten notes.
    - Evernote searches the contents of the attachments. Gmail – nope.

    4) Miscellaneous
    - Evernote notes are sharable.
    - Evernote will allow you to encrypt text
    - Evernote works offline. If the Internet is gone for a week, I still work fine in Evernote.
    - Evernote files can be backed up to the backup tool of my choice. Not sure how to backup my stuff in Gmail.
    - Evernote lets you use Gmail to mail things to it. That’s nice :)

    I hope it helps!

  37. John Bivens says:

    I use it for home data I have.
    Notes for my air filter size for the AC.
    Paint Type and color numbers for the paints I use in each room.
    Vehicle information for Vin – License plate number, Tire size and pressure and oil filter sizes. Basically any maintenance items I use for my home or anything I occassionally replace at home.
    Then when I am out and need that item I pull it up with the evernote droid app on my phone and all that info is at my fingertips.

  38. Don Miller says:

    I have Alzheimer’s Disease and believe that Evernote will help me keep better organized and relieve some of the confusion that comes with this illness.

  39. Asif says:

    I’ve started using Evernote about a month ago, mainly for the purpose of working on a research proposal. Now, I use it for all sorts of things! It’s really transformed the way I use my PC. I don’t have an Android or iOS device yet, so not getting those benefits atm, but it’s just another reason to get one now.
    The only thing that I hope they would improve is the monthly upload limit. 60MB seems a little too tight.
    BTW, I’m just gonna clip this article now to evernote!

  40. I am so thrilled that these tips continue to be relevant and helpful to people.

    @Lancerbee – thanks for sharing that clipping tool. I have a kindle, so I’ll have to check it out.

    @Pixie – Colleen and Mike did an excellent job in explaining the benefits over using gmail (Mike, that was an impressive write up!).

    @John – I use it the same way. My latest addition: the reference ID # for my cats for their rabies shots.

    @Don – Yes, programs like Evernote can help you not to have to rely on your memory to remember things. This is good for everyone, but especially with people such as yourself, suffering from Alzheimer’s or other memory issues. Stop by again and let us know how you do with it.

    @Asif Thanks for stopping by and for clipping the article. And yes, you’ll love to have all your “stuff” at your fingertips once you get your new phone!

  41. Becky says:

    Thank you for the help. I have one question. I am using it for taking a pic of receipts and keeping track of medical appointments. My problem is that it is taking up so much memory on my iPhone. Is there a way of transferring to a folder that is only accessible on my computer?

  42. Christine says:

    Hi, Claudine,
    I’m trying to set up my Evernote email into my iPhone. Can you please tell me what to add as the incoming and outcoming servers for the email account?

    Also, I signed up for Evernote years ago and still don’t know how to use it. Where can I learn about it from a very beginner’s aspect? I’d like to be able to use it similar to “pinning” with Pinterest, but I’m not doing something right.

    Thank you,
    Christine

  43. Great tips Claudine,

    I’ll add that I use Evernote to track ALL of our store’s service tickets.

    I created a template for all customer and equipment information in Open Office, copied and pasted the table into Evernote.

    Below the table I keep a running commentary on the ticket, inserting the date before each note.

    Any pictures or videos submitted by customers get saved here, as do price quotes for parts.

    Each ticket is tagged with its status (active, awaiting parts, closed, etc), the brand of equipment and type of equipment.

  44. Anne Stevens says:

    I use Everclip all the time – wonderful to be able to clip and tag interesting recipes, ideas, etc- just brilliant

  45. suyog says:

    I have downloaded evernote on my windows phone but,i am not being able to use it. Plz guide

    thanks.

  46. james says:

    I am one of those people struggling to use Evernote. I have had it for a couple of years, but only use it sporadically. My main problem is the overwhelming amount of information. I wish there was a way to drag & drop notes to rearrange them. For example in a project folder, as I complete tasks (each note is a task) I would like to move the completed ones down so the uncompleted ones are at the top. I also prefer to use the web version because I hate having so many windows open (I just have a laptop), but the web version has such limited capability.

    FYI – the link in item #7 for advanced search is broken.

    Questions:
    – when you merge notes, does it eliminate the original notes and leave you with one (preferred), or does it keep all of them?
    – when emailing a note, can you use more than one #tag or are you limited to one?

  47. Marisol says:

    I’m experimenting with penultimate and been reading most of these posts but it would be nice if they could be organized so that you can search the idea or comment by topic- e.g. Business users; Teachers; Moms on the go etc. when time is not available to read through all I would love to head straight to the teacher comments and how they use it. Do you know of any websites etc. to go to for teacher uses of both?

  48. Great article. This will help me a lot…thanks

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