Posted in: Technology

Evernote. Why it will make it & 20 Awesome Ways to Use It.


A guest post from Zee, the Creative Director at London based digital agency, WeDoCreative

Evernote, make no quibbles about it, has changed the way I store my information &, if it hasn’t already, should be the way it stores yours.

Firstly, what is it? Evernote is a tool which stores notes, documents images and gives you the ability to be able to access search them from wherever you are. Still unclear? Here’s a video of Evernote’s CEO Phil Libin giving you a 1 minute run down of his service.

Before we go into why it’s special, here’s a little background, Evernote was initially just a desktop application, a mighty fine one at, but just a desktop application all the same. On June 24th 2008, Evernote went into open beta open its (virtual) doors to the world as a spanking new online service with desktop versions of the tool for Mac’s PC’s and mobile versions for windows mobile and now, the iPhone.

So why is it such a special tool you ask…why do I, as well as the majority of other Evernote users have so much passion faith in the product. Well firstly, the company have been in the information business for a while now, they’ve built a solid reputation it’s clear they aren’t going to dissapear without a fight. Secondly, they have a loyal user base which has only grown since they’re expansion onto the web. Thirdly, innovation – they have really mastered it hopefully won’t be losing their touch any time soon.

Lets forget however about the three reasons above and take evernote on face value. Why is it such a great tool? Here are four of the best features it offers:

1. It runs on Mac’s, PC’s, Online on your iPhone. So no matter where you are, you’ve got access to your information.

2. Evernote can read text in your images So if you’ve got a photo like one I took of a receipt, it will scan it make it searchable. In this particular example I searched for receipt obiously.

Although not perfect, it works better than i ever expect it to is much more efficient than going through a drawer of receipts let me tell you.

3. Fantastic number of ways to get your information into it but the basics: you can email to it, take a photo send it to it, you can take a screenshot or just simply copy paste text into it. If you have a graphics tablet, you can take handwritten notes and of course…if you’re primarily browser based – you can use their firefox extension or bookmarklet which lets you grab any web page, image or text and create a note out of it.

4. Sync baby. Whether you’ve got one compute or 1000. Evernote will stay in sync across them all. It’s good like that :].

For more information a detailed visual run through of Evernote how to use it – have a watch of this video. It’s lengthy, but if you have the time then go ahead watch it, if not – don’t worry, you’ve got the basics the application is pretty intuitive.

Let’s move onto the final part of this post…

Ways to use Evernote.

  • Bookmarking: Probably the most obvious use of evernote. Come across a link – use the firefox extension, bookmarklet or drag drop on the mac to save the link and text/images on it. Tag them you’ve got your own bookmarks available offline online.
  • Random Picture Archive. Now, i’m not saying use it as your primary photo album (although you probably could). It’s perfect for those random photos taken here, there everywhere – like maybe a photograph of a top someone’s wearing that you fancy getting hold of a random shop name that’s made you laugh or maybe just a the smile of a loved one sat in front of you…Using the iphone’s app – this is a piece of cake.
  • Collate ALL your emails: If you’ve got 5 different accounts, Evernote is a fantastic way to be able to search all of them from one place. Just find out your evernote email address auto-forward them on!
  • PDF Store: We all know how prevalant pdf’s have become – just drag drop or even email your pdf’s into Evernote voila you’ve got them available whenever you need them.
  • Serial Pins. Use Evernote to store serial numbers, login details, pins codes whether for software or to get into your house!
  • Receipts. Wherever you are (again particularly useful if you have iphone) take a photo of any/every receipt and have it all stored searchable on your evernote.
  • Code Snippet Library: Coder? Use evernote as a store for all those snippets of code that you need to revisit.
  • Takeaway Delivery menus! Yep, scan or even just photograph your menus never lose them again. Just think, you can search for whatever you’re in the mood for! :]
  • Instant Message Store: Ever need a record of a previous instant message conversation – copy paste it into evernote it’s there whenver you need it.
  • Inspiration: I use Evernote more for this than anything. I’m an inspiration fanatic – particular with design (logos websites in particular). When online I come across a site, logo or maybe just part of a site I like – you can just use Evernotes to capture that area or page. Should you want to capture the entire webpage (which you would normally have to scroll down for), I recommend using a firefox screenshot tool like screengrab! which lets you quickly save the entire page as an image and you can then insert that image file from your desktop into evernote. Works a charm and particularly fast on the mac.
    Of course, if you find inspiration on the road – take a photo of it or use your iphone to and you’ve got it there to come back to when you need it.
  • Recipes: Find an recipe you like in a book, online or wherever – capture it using the many options available to you. The next time someone asks you the recipe for the wonderful dish you just made, or maybe you’re stuck for options while at a friends place – guess who has the perfect recipe to hand? :]
  • Paper notes: Find you’d much rather stick to handwritten notes? Then just keep them to hand at the end of the day – take a photograph of them on your iphone or scan them in you’ve got a back of each of them…again, easily searchable, for whever you need them.
  • Tablet PC Notes: If you’re on a tablet pc, the benefits should be evident – and whatever you do drop onenote. Although great for it’s time, it’s time to move on.
  • Jott + Evernote: If you’re a jott user, take a look at this great post by Brad Isaac of achieve-IT on lifehacker. All about how to combine the two.
  • Reqall + Evernote: Easily one of my top three favorite iphone apps. Reqall will allow you to record what’s on your mind in audio, the email you the file converted to text message so you’ve got in your email account. Next thing to do is set up an autoforward which will then forward on all Reqalls emails, so you’ve got a store of these in your Evernote. Awesome.
  • Train Bus Schedules: Take a photo or add a pdf of the schedule to your evernote and it’s there whenever the time calls.
  • Business Cards: Take a photo of every business card you come across within minutes you’ve got names, emails, addresses, phone number all searchable!
  • Quotes Store: Copy paste quotes, one liners, jokes whatever! There for whenever the surprise speech is sprung upon you.
  • Research: Whether it’s for a product you are planning on buying, a service you might be using or an event you’re putting together…there are other tools out there, but Evernote works wonderfully.
  • Never lose that whiteboard again: Take pics of your whiteboard, add it to evernote and it’s there forever. All the text is searchable you can go ahead clean your board and start afresh with a new one knowing you haven’t lost anything.

Evernote’s elegance & usefulness comes from it’s ability to handle numnerous types of data, across a variety of operating systems of course online. It’s secure, fast, efficient has an actual revenue model (so should definitely be here for a long long time) and it can hold a scope of different file types (with hopefully more to come).

With all the beauty of this innovative tool there are still things I’d like to see included:

1. Copy Paste text from text in the images. Or the ability to literally see a txt version of the image if you see what i mean.

2. More media types – no not people – I mean audio, video, word docs, zip files etc..

3. Even better faster OCR.

4. Ability to edit notes on the iphone – unfortunately you can’t currently edit previous notes on the iphone.

5. Sharing a notebook amongst peers/friends not publicly.

6. Know how many other people bookmarked the same link – possibly even be able to search for links similar to delicious – except without knowing who bookmarked what.

6. Tree like structure to folders or notebooks – so you have one notebook within another…although if you’re tag man person, you’ll be very comfortable.

For some honest thought from people on Evernote – have a read: here, here here.

What do you love about Evernote? What you like to see improved what are you using it for…? And if you’re not using it – why not what else are you using?

About the author: Zee is Creative Director at London based digital agency, WeDoCreative, Editor at Lifehacking Productivity Blog: and an active Friendfeeder Twitterer

Update: Robert Scoble interview with Evernote Phil Libin below:


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21 Responses to “Evernote. Why it will make it & 20 Awesome Ways to Use It.”

  1. Aviva Gabriel

    Why not just use Scrapbook, the Firefox extension? It instantly stores URLs, web pages, whole websites, a wide range of file types (including audio, video, and graphics). Capturing online content requires only a "right-click" of the mouse, or a quick drag of the URL into one of the Scrapbook folders you've created in a sidebar. To create notes (from web content or your own content), right-click in Firefox for the source code. Cut and paste into a new Scrapbook note. Save – and then view in HTML. You can capture widgets and videos with Scrapbook notes, too. Once saved, they'll be functional. All of your Scrapbook content is stored as non-proprietary files in your Mozilla/Firefox/Profile … or you can specify any additional or alternate locations of your choosing, anywhere on your hard drive. Unlike Onfolio (which basically died once Microsoft bought it), you can go into Scrapbook folders and retrieve the original content in its native file format. The program requires virtually no learning, is completely intuitive, works from your browser toolbar or sidebar, requires no lengthy manipulations to capture, and is super-speedy. The program is stable, and the creators are updating and improving the Scrapbook extension as often as weekly, but certainly monthly. Scrapbook has been around for many years, and is not likely to be orphaned any time in the foreseeable future. It's cared for by very attentive parents! So why fiddle around with all the clumsy idiosyncrasies of Evernote?

  2. Bilal Ahmed


    it’s something I had been been looking for, for ages .. syncs your notes across computers ..

    God bless you guys!!!!!

  3. weisen

    Not to pick on English, but this is such a fine post that it's a shame that the first sentence (probably due to typos) makes almost no sense at all.

  4. Matt

    Seems like a solution in search of a problem. I've had the app for awhile, it's clever and well-done and easy to like, but I find it duplicative of other, simpler methods and, to be frank, an unnecessary inconvenience. I haven't found a single use for it.
    Bookmarking – Foxmarks syncs my bookmarks automatically across all platforms, INCLUDING Linux. I never have to do anything, it's taken care of.

    Random Picture Archive – I never need this, but my phone has plenty of these on it and I always carry my phone.

    Collate all your mails – IMAP does this better than Evernote could.

    PDF store – Huh? I can view PDFs on my phone or any computer, hardly ever carry them around, but already can in phone, computer or online memory. What is Evernote adding to the game here?

    Serial and PINS – call me old-fashioned, but I will never store my PINS, passwords, etc. online.

    Receipts – I've never needed to search through receipts…even if I had them scanned and searchable, I'd still need the actual receipt, what shop or place will be pleased to see a printout of a receipt that could have been faked? I keep important receipts in a physical file, this will never change.

    Code snippet library – Huh? I'm no coder, but if I were, I doubt I'd need Evernote to pull down a snippet of code that I couldn't get another way, maybe faster.

    Takeaway & Delivery menus – Are you kidding? You only ever order takeout from home/office, and you have the physical menu right there. I can't imagine using an iPhone or small screen to view snippets of a menu online is going to be faster, easier or more convenient than simply looking at the real menu.

    Instant Message Store – I will never need this.

    Inspiration – just use cellphone pics.

    Recipes – this is silly, I can't imagine the situation where people want to cook something but don't know how, then one person whips out a device and displays a recipe onscreen to save the day. The internet, cookbooks and shopping lists have this covered.

    Paper notes – I guess it might be nice for a researcher to scan in paper notes, but it's pretty hard to do with a cellphone camera, it's all blurry and you have to spread it all out etc. Probably, the person would still want to keep the paper notes, too. If you need online or searchable notes, you're better off just typing them into some other app.

    Business cards – even if you do photograph business cards to have a searchable db ( you should probably do it in privacy, or people will think you're a nut), they're still not entered into your contacts, so you'll have to type them in later anyway. Do that and sync your contacts to your devices. What does a cloud app add to this?

    And so on.

    I want to like this app, but really, it doesn't do anything I need or make my life or actions easier, faster or better.

    I'm keeping the app and always trying to find a use for it, but so far, it is just sitting there doing nothing.

  5. svartling

    Great article. Too bad Evernote is to slow on the iPhone 3G. I've just changed my GTD system from Evernote to GTDInbox because of that.

  6. Gabriel

    I have an EEEPC from Asus, with Linux (Xandros). A pair of months ago, I wanted to test Evernote Web Clipper, but then I couldn't because there wasn't Linux version of the extension for Firefox. But a month ago they released it, and I could try the extension. Cool! It works well, and let's me stay in touch with my virtual content, which is growing fast.

  7. Gabriel

    Yes, I use Scrapbook and it's good. But it's no online. Evernote is about moving online! We could discuss about getting “online” with your data, but I believe computer life is moving that way.

  8. Richard

    I agree with all the above, but BIG surprise, evernote cant transform PDF to Text ! I mean text2pdf.dll is available, so why not use it, at least locally.

  9. Matt

    Firstly, what the hell kind of word is “firstly?” You're straining for “First,” there, my friend.

    Uh, also, you're putting apostrophes (i.e., “it's”) when you mean “its.” Just look it up, okay? You kind of sound like a moron if you don't know how to use English.

  10. Jorge Avilas

    nice article! nice site. you're in my rss feed now 😉
    keep it up

  11. bilo

    matt can't find a single use to need a web clipping app with some belles and whistles? It my experience, most people were having trouble finding these sorts of programs that DIDN'T rely on online.. thankfully this has both, but most have settled on scrapbook..which aside from photo text searching (which could very well be next) and having to manually sync (i.e. copy the scrapbook folder back and forth) and not being able to access this on an iphone (that i know of) I don't see the advantages. Also it doesn't have a built in voice note recorder.. so what we have to use another program and then embed the file (which is the only pain as you can only embed or link files over pre-existing text (thus making a hyperlink where you don't really need one — then inserting a caption to point it out and remind yourself why..that could be alot neater)

    Otherwise, Scrapbook can do all this stuff and it is blazing fast… too fast almost — it's hard to make myself go back and maintain the stuff.. but when i do it's a rather enjoyable process.

  12. billy

    Evernote 3 is a nice app… but it's a major downgrade from EverNote 2.2 (note the big N). And I do mean a MAJOR downgrade. I personally don't own or use a Mac, a desktop, an iPhone and so on. So I'm not the right 'target' for the new direction Evernote has taken.

    I'm happy to use EverNote 2.2 which is simply brilliant and years ahead of any other app available anywhere (yes including Evernote 3, which is perfect as far as synchronization goes, otherwise it's just ok and far from brilliant).

  13. Ben Floyd

    Using Evernote as a code snippet library is a huge stretch. Not only does it not do any syntax highlighting, but it will mangle your snippets, requiring a formatter to insert HTML in any sensible way. If its on the list, then this article is hype.

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