New Software: Evernote

As I promised too long ago, I will begin reviewing some productivity software that I have begun using.

Evernote is a program available on nearly every platform (including mobile platforms) and on the web.  Users can make small notes and organize them either in a downloaded app (which will sync to the cloud for uniformity across all versions) or directly on the website.  Notes can consist of websites (in part or in their entirety) through plug-ins for Firefox and Chrome, pictures, and text.

One of the primary benefits of Evernote is the ability to sync notes across all platforms.  This is what makes cloud computing fantastic.  At one point, I was having trouble opening Evernote in Windows 7.  Thanks to the synced online version of the program, I was able to view all of my previous notes and add anything I needed.  Eventually, the program started back up and I haven’t had problems since.  Had this been an offline application, I would have had to resort to other methods on note taking while I found a solution.  But with the Evernote website to complement the downloadable program, I am able to make and view notes if the program acts up, or if I am at a computer without the program.

While there are plenty of ways to use Evernote, I use it mostly to keep my notes organized no matter where I may be.  One of my primary problems with note taking is that I tend to have notes scattered in several locations and media types (home vs. office, digital vs pen and paper, etc.).  This is particularly problematic because I work from home (or while traveling) and not having my notes leaves me trying to remember where I left off.  Additionally, sometimes I need to stay at the office and would prefer to do work on a personal project after working a full day.  Here I am left with the same problem.  Evernote helps solve these problems by keeping my notes all in one place.  I was previously trying to use Google Docs for this purpose, but I find Evernote more conducive to note taking and now use Google Docs for larger documents.

Recently, my boss gave me a paper to proofread just before lunch. I went to my office and put notes in Evernote as I read. About halfway through I went back to the conference room, hit sync and finished taking notes there.  Before using Evernote, I would have had to use a USB memory stick or emailed the file to myself.  With Evernote, I only had to hit the sync button.

I have the Android app for Evernote on my phone, but I haven’t used it much since I first got it.  The only complaints I have with the mobile version is that in order to see all of your notes, you have to search the empty string.  That is, hit the search button with nothing in the search bar.  This isn’t a negative per se, but I only figured it out by trying every option possible.  It would have been nice if that was explained when the program started for the first time.  Also, none of the notes are in their respective notebooks as they are in the online and desktop versions.  These are minor problems, though for an app that is primarily designed to simply take notes on the go.  It serves as a good sidekick to the desktop app.

I’ve been using Evernote for quite a few months now, but I still use it primarily for taking simple, text-based notes.   For this purpose, it has been a great help in providing a single repository for my notes for everything from work to personal projects.  I’ll be sure to post a follow up if I delve into the extra features.

4 thoughts on “New Software: Evernote

  1. Because I often work on projects for more than one client, I tend to create a Project Log as a general-purpose diary. My notes to myself for the project as a whole. I tag that “log” instead of creating a new notebook (too many notebooks otherwise).

    Other kinds of notes get the “notes” tag — for instance, I’m taking a break from previewing an application. I’ve been making notes about it in EN, and even plopping in the occasional image. That’ll get a “notes” tag.

    I’ve assigned EN’s clipping function to my Print Screen key, making it even easier to grab an image and either turn it into a note on its own, or copy it to the clipboard to paste into an existing note. The text-search feature means I can search for, say, the title of your blog even if I’ve grabbed it as an image.

    I’ve also taken pictures of documents, diagrams, stuff I’ve sketched on a flipchart, notes on my whiteboard. That last is the only troublesome one — I have to watch the ambient lighting, because the whiteboard’s surface is shiny. Still, I’m able to sketch ideas on the Whiteboard, snap them with my phone, and view later in EN. Since I print fairly neatly, I can even search for terms that were on the board.

    Just some ideas you might find helpful.

  2. Thanks, Dave. I’ll try out using the tag feature first. I’ve enjoyed how it works for Google Bookmarks, but actually haven’t been using it in Evernote.

  3. Pingback: Evernote 2.0 at Programming My Life

  4. Pingback: Evernote 2.0 | Programming My Life

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