While originally written in 2009, this post has been frequently updated.
New January 2012: If you like what I write about Evernote, check out my 136 page e-book,
"Get Productive Fast with Evernote". Just $10.
Sunday October 11, 2009 I wrote about Evernote in my print column, Family Tech. If you are wondering what is Evernote, and why would I want to use it, start with the column.
I promised in that column this post to help new users get efficient fast with Evernote.
I thought I'd write a quick plan for someone's first day with Evernote. This is really meant for after you've installed the client to your computer, so this picks up after you've gone to Evernote's Get Started Page and created an account and downloaded and installed a client for your primary computer.
And I'm not trying to write step-by-step directions. I'll rely on Evernote's Help to aid you. If you get stuck anywhere, comment here and I'll either try and answer, or add an update this post if appropriate.
And you may want to check out Evernote's own Getting Started page. (Update 12-3-2010: Evernote added "Getting Started with Evernote" to their website.) And be sure to read their manuals too. They are available for your Mac or Windows clients (PDF files).
Notes: I used the Beta of Windows 3.5 for my screenshots. The Mac version looks very similar.
Windows users are currently in flux now (October 2009). While version 3.1 is the current stable product, there is a beta out now for 3.5. That is what I am using. It's safe to start with 3.1 now if you want, and convert later to 3.5 when it is released in final form.
Readers of this blog will have seen many of these ideas in previous posts--I just thought it might be useful to gather them all together in one post. The ideas here are a compilation of the ideas in Evernote's website, blog post, documentation and the ideas and insights of many users including myself.
And this may seem like a long post, but only about a third of it are things you really should do. The rest are just some ideas to help you be more productive with Evernote.
Now that you have your Evernote application open in front of you, click the New Note button and type in a quick note. Mine was "My First note in evernote" and it is still there so I know when I first played with Evernote.
Find a PDF file on your computer and drag it into Evernote. Now you have two notes.
Find a photo with some words in it (like on a sign) and drag that into Evernote.
Switch to another application, and press your keyboard's Print Screen button twice. Evernote will capture a shot of the current screen.
You now have four notes in Evernote.
image processing takes place on Evernote's servers. For that, you need to Sync.
Every so often, Evernote's application clients synchronize with their servers. This transfers your notes up their own database. This allows you to access the information via the web, as well as have other clients running on other PC's but have them have the same information. It also give you some backup comfort. If your local hard drive dies, your data is still on the web (except for local notebooks, we'll discuss next).
To do your first Sync, click the Sync button. Or, on the Windows client, press F9.
When you first installed Evernote, it prompted for the name of a default Notebook. Right now, that is the only notebook you have.
I recommend creating at least one other. Go to File menu, New Notebook. Give your new notebook the name, Inbox and make it the default notebook. Later, we will have notes coming in from various sources (e-mails, Twitter etc.) and they will all land here first. You will be able to see them here, and then move them to another notebook.
If you want to store information that is never uploaded to Evernote servers, when you create a new notebook, you can designate the new notebook as local only.
Hold off creating more notebooks until later when you figure out how you want to use Evernote. Of course, you can always delete notebooks later if you want. There is a limit of 100 notebooks.
In the header of your note is an area that says "Not Tagged". Click in it and you type in the name of a tag or tags you want to use to categorize your note.
There is a limit of 10,000 tags.
Familiarize Yourself with the Web Version
Fire up your web browser and go to http://evernote.com and sign-in.
You'll now see the web version of Evernote. If ever you are on another computer and need something in Evernote, you can get it through this web site.
Play around in this a bit while you are here. When you are done, leave it open on your computer.
Evernote Web Clippers let you grab the URL's of web pages your are viewing, or the entire web page itself, and copy it into Evernote.
There are versions that will work with the major browsers. They let you assign the web page to a Notebook and assign tags as well.
You can download them from here.
Updated : October 14, 2010 : The Chrome clipper now shows you items in Evernote when you search Google.
Figure out uses
Take a look at this list of things people are doing with Evernote. Which ones would be useful to you?
Just Use It
Commit to using Evernote for the next few weeks as you go about your normal activities.. Capture web pages to it, make notes of phone calls, record the little details of your life as you go through your day.
Eventually, you'll need one of those pieces of data and find it in Evernote. After that first "Ah Ha!" moment, you'll be hooked on Evernote.
Optional but Useful Steps
There are a lot of ways to get data into Evernote. The more data you grab, the more useful Evernote will be. These next few ideas are other ways to get information into Evernote.
Before I began using Evernote, each day I would start a new file in Notepad, and keep notes as the day went on of things I needed to do do, or things I did, and notes on phone calls etc.
I also had a huge folder of documents I'd scanned in with my flatbed scanner going back several years.
So one of the first things I did in Evernote was to go to the Tool menu, Folder Import. This lets you designate a folder and import all the files in it, and even all the files in that folders sub-folder. Soon I had all my daily text files and years worth of important documents in Evernote. Since my scanner produced a searchable PDF, my important documents were searchable.
I've had a flat bed scanner for years but as more and more of my scanning was of documents more then photos, I started coveting a sheet fed scanner. Evernote's partner Fujitsu has their Scansnap scanners. A similar but cheaper little alternative I stumbled into at Costco one day, is the Neat Company scanners.
I'd seen their kiosks at airports but never stopped to look closely at them. Reading the package at Costco, I realized it was a pretty good value. Their little portable one didn't have a hopper; you have to feed in a document one at a time, but it is powered off the USB port and came with a little case. And it only cost $150. Seasrch around online for the NeatReceipts printer. There are versions for both the Mac and PC.
Neat's own software is pretty good, but I prefer to scan the documents into PDF and into Evernote. See Copy to Evernote Folder heading below to see how I get the PDF into Evernote. For other scanners, you can usually choose the software to send scans to. The link earlier shows how to link a Fujitsu scanner to Evernote, but the concept is the same for some other scanners too.
Whether you use a sheet fed scanner or a flat bed scanner, having a scanner with Evernote lets you put all your phicial documents into Evernote and make them searchable. You can get a handle on all those bills, statements, and important documents that arrive by mail.
My NeatRecepts Scanner cannot scan a PDF directly into Evernote (that I've found yet), so instead I scan to a folder on my desktop. I called mine "a_scan_to_evernote" so it shows up at the top of any folder listing of My Documents folder.
I mentioned above, Evernote's ability to do a Folder Import. One of the settings there is to designate a folder to be watched. When anything new appears in a watched folder, Evernote automatically imports it. I designated my "a_scan_to_evernote" folder as a watched folder, so any new scans go right into Evernote.
Plus I have a copy of the PDF file on my desktop to easy access.
I also added a shortut to my SendTo menu in Windows, so I can point at any file on my PC and Send it to the "a_scan_to_evernote" folder and thus, into Evernote.
If I download a file I want in Evernote, I download it to the "a_scan_to_evernote" folder.
Periodically I free up space by deleting the contents of "a_scan_to_evernote" since the material is already in Evernote. Or I could back it up, giving myself even a further level of protection in addition to Evernote's wonderful data redundancy, before I delete them off my hard drive.
Update 10/14/09 : If you have the ability to print to a PDF file you can print from any application to PDF and specify this folder for the PDF file. Then the printout automatically goes into Evernote. This gives you a "Print to Evernote" capability. If you need a PDF printer driver, check out CutePDF and their ilk.
Every Evernote account comes with its own e-mail address. This is not an e-mail address you want to share with anyone; it is for you alone.
Any email you BCC to that e-mail address ends up in Evernote. So if you get an important e-mail just forward it to Evernote or if you are sending one, BCC Evernote.
Sure, you still have the e-mail in your e-mail program and can search for it there, but it is nice to have just one place to search for all your information.
You an find your e-mail address in your client. If you cannot, it is also in the web client, on the Settings page.
Make a contact in your e-mail program so you can easily send your Evernote important e-mails.
Many mobile phones can send text messages to e-mail addresses. See if yours can, by creating a contact in your cell phone for Evernote with your Evernote e-mail address.
If you can send a text to Evernote, then it makes it real easy to shoot off a short reminder to yourself, or take down someones phone number or other bit of information.
If you are a Twitter user, you can send Tweets to Evernote. See this Evernote Blog item explaining how to set it up. Then you can send a Twit to to Evernote simply by including @myEN in your tweet. You can send confidential messages direct messaging your Evernote account from Twitter.
Keeping with our theme of its best to send all the information you gather to Evernote, there is a way to send blog posts you read in Google Reader directly into Evernote. Another Evernote blog post tells you how.
Update 1-3-2010 : I failed to note this. In November, I discovered you can no longer import from Delicious. Evernote indicated they had to "temporarily" disable to ability. I'll update here when I see that it has been re-enabled.
Update 10-14-2010 : The Delicious import still is not on their website. However, in a Evernote Forum post, I found a link to the old importer. Apparently it still works, but is not supported by Evernote.
When I first started Evernote, I had over 4000 bookmarks in Delicious. I used Delicious and Evernote side-by-side for a while, but as I grew into my philosophy that it is best to have all my information in one place, I decided to import the bookmarks from Delicious.com into Evernote.
Fortunately, Evernote makes it easy. In the Web Client, Settings page, there is an import ability currently letting you import from Delicious or Google Notebook.
Added : 10-14-2010 : You can add notes via webcam. Take a webcam shot of a document, and Eernote will find the text in the document and index it.
Import from OneNote
Microsoft makes a product like Evernote called OneNote. A lot of new Evernote uses are former OneNote users. If you are one of them, you can import your OneNote information using the Files Menu, Import, Microsoft OneNote 2007 menu item.
Do you have a home computer and a work computer? Or a home desktop and a Netbook you carry around? Or a PC and a Mac?
You can install Evernote clients on each, and it will sync your data from Evernote's servers. When you add a note on one computer, it will show up on the others.
Not only is this convenient, but it makes your data really safe. You'll have copies of your data on each of the computers, as well as the Evernote servers.
This is what makes Evernote really powerful. There are clients for many of the popular Smart phones. Even if there isn't one for your phone (like my Samsung Instinct), there is a wonderful mobile web page.
Using the Mobile web browser saved me $120 one of the first times I used it.
Evernote was never meant to be a task manager. That hasn't stopped people from using it as one. While it lacks the ability to sound alarms or trigger text messages like Google Calendar and others do, it still can be quite useful.
I created a long blog post saying how I'd set up Evernote to manage my tasks.
And if you are an user of Getting Things Done (GTD) from David Allen, there are a couple I've found who have created strategies for using Evernote and GTD.
I saw a tweet once with an Evernote user wishing there was way to Star items in Evernote like you can in Gmail and other Google products. I had been thinking along similar lines.
I discovered a way to do something close, and documented it in a blog post.
I've made the Saved Search for starred items my default view in my mobile Evernote view on my phone. Very useful.
There are shortcut keys for creating a new note that makes those tasks quicker and easier. I found this cheat sheet listing them. I haven't tried them all, but the Create Note and Paste into Note ones are very useful.
Since you have accumulated all this wonderful information in one place, you may want to share some of it with the entire world, or just a group of your own choosing.
Evernote has the ability to share folders as they have documented originally here and then with new abilities here. And another phase of sharing abilities is coming.
I use Shared Notebooks to share bookmarks on topics I frequently blog about and links relevant to the weekly "Tech Family" column I write for the News & Messenger Newspaper and their web site InsideNova.com.
As powerful as the free Evernote is, for as little as $45 a year, or $5 a month, you can get even more power by buying a Premium subscription to Evernote.
Note: If you do decide to go Premium, could you use this link to get to the signup? This is an affliate link. It does not cost you any more money, but does get me a small commission. - Thanks!
You get the ability to let others edit your shared posts, more uploads per month (from 40 meg to 500 megabytes), the ability to upload more file types, and better security.
If you are wondering how Evernote can make money while giving away the product to the vast majority of their users, a recent New York Times article addressed just that.
Cool Tip about Premium: in one of their recent podcasts, the CEO said if you need Premium for a just a month, go ahead and activate it for a month at $5, and cancel at the end of the month. If you need it again in the future, you can turn it back on. They don't mind.
There are caveats. If you store a file type the Free Service does not support while you are a Premium user, when are are again a Free user, you won't be able to update it.
Evernote has many applications that work with it. In July 2010, Evernote created The Trunk to feature these partners. Be sure to check it out.
Be sure to read Evernote's Getting Started page and the manuals for your Mac or Windows clients (PDF files). And watch their many informative videos. And participate in their Forums to ask questions, and maybe even answer a few for others.
Check my shared bookmarks for more Evernote resources.
Or search Google for "Evernote".
Or Google for "Evernote my_profession" to find links like this for Doctors or this for Journalists and their use of Evernote.
Evernote is a very dynamic product. While it already does a lot, it could do so much more. Thankfully, the Evernote developers seem to be working hard on improving their products.
Evernote makes it easy to keep up to date on what they are doing with a blog, podcasts, more then one Twitter account and a Facebook account.
And of course, you an also subscribe to this blog, and follow me on Twitter. While I am not with Evernote, I follow them closely and pass along the best of what I learn.
And a good way to keep up on other's "chatter" about Evernote if you are a Twitter user, is to have a Saved Search in Twitter (or a search column in your preferred Twitter client), looking for the hashmark of #evernote or anything directed at @evernote.
Update 10-14-2010 : If you are wondering if Evernote is up, they have a status page.
The more users Evernote has (especially Premium users) the more they will be motivated to keep upgrading. If you find Evernote useful, tell people about it in your own blog, Twitter, Facebook or by screaming it from the corner.
Or you can use their website to Tell a friend.
Add Evernote Elsewhere
Add Evernote to GMail's Sidebar.
In Gmail, go to the settings page, then Labs. Scroll all the way to the to the bottom and enable "
Add Evernote to your iGoogle Page
(section added 11/10/2009)
I hope this was useful to you. Leave your own ideas in comments, or if you find anything I need to change let me know too.
Note: This is one of my Reference posts. I'll be updating it over time, and keeping it around for future Evernote new users.
"Get Productive Fast with Evernote". Just $10.