How I Use Evernote
Monday, July 12th, 2010
Remembering information from day to day can be a strain on even the smartest. From your license plate number to the song you heard on the radio a moment ago, we’re constantly struggling to remember and recall information. Evernote is a very useful free tool to help your, in their words, Remember Everything. Although there are many apps and services today designed to help you store and keep up with notes, Evernote has recently won me over with its almost perfect combination of mobile, desktop, and web apps, and flawless synchronization between them all.
I was not always sold out to Evernote as my favorite notetaking application. I went back and forth from keeping notes, links, and more scattered around in Word documents, random browser bookmarks, jotted notes in random notebooks, and more. I had a slightly better system of keeping up with college notes, as I kept them in OneNote and synced them with my netbook via Live Sync. I’d given Evernote a try, but it doesn’t have as rich of formatting options as OneNote, and seemed less good at taking structured notes from college.
The one thing that kept me using Evernote from time to time was its mobile app. I have an aging Windows Mobile phone, a non-touchscreen device with a full, blackberry-style keyboard. Windows Mobile may not have the greatest number of apps avilable today, but it does have 3 very useful ones: Opera Mobile/Mini, Facebook, and Evernote. Evernote is great to jot down quick thoughts anywhere: the kitchen, the car, or the dresser where I leave my phone at night. I can sync over WiFi, and then see what I wrote from my computer or online. I can even add pictures to Evernote, which is one of the easiest ways to upload them to my computer. It’s simple, seamless, and made my phone keep me in touch with myself as much as with others :)
Then, I began using Evernote even more when I integrated it with my browser. Evernote has released a new Evernote addon for Chrome, and it is both beautiful and useful. I’ve been using Google Chrome as my default browser, and suddenly now Evernote was only one click away. It was dead simple to take a note about a site or app I came across, and since I could tag and annotate the note, and then view it later online or in Evernote on my computer, it was the ideal bookmarking solution. I’m now using it as my primary bookmarking system, and it’s working great. I recently reviewed the new Evernote Chrome addon at How-to Geek and showed how great it is for keeping up with websites, so check out the article for more info:
Beginner Geek: Remember Everything You See Online With Evernote for Chrome
Another recent discovery I’ve made is sometimes you don’t need rich formatting for notes. When you want to remember something, whether a webapp or a favorite quote, what’s really important is the text itself, along with links and/or images that go along with it. Most programs try to do too much, and they make the task more difficult. With Evernote, the killer app is helping your remember stuff, and it works great for that!
Other Favorite Note Apps
And you know what, there may never be the perfect, all encompassing notetaking application. Evernote is great for small, short notes, and even works quite good for longer notes. But, there are several other note apps that I use regularly. These include:
I’m a fan of Backpack from 37signals, and use it to collaborate on shared notes with friends and colleagues and to occasionally throw together a quick webpage when I need some info online temporarily. I also keep a list of all the things I plan to write on my blogs in Backpack, which works great along with Campfire for collaboration. It’s one of the nicest webapps I’ve used, and I recommend it fully for the things I mentioned and more. However, it’s still not as simple to just store all of your thoughts in Backpack; it’s more like saving info on specific web pages.
Office 2010 has added OneNote to the ranks of the standard Office Applications as it is included in all Office 2010 suites along with Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. OneNote gives much richer editing capacities than most other notetaking apps, and can sync your notebooks with the new Office Web apps. It’s also very useful as an OCR tool; Evernote lets you search text in pictures, but OneNote actually lets you copy the text out of pictures! Still, though, for simply keeping up with all your small (and large) notes, I find Evernote much easier to use; you don’t have to configure it, it just works.
Sticky Notes in Windows 7
Sometimes you just need to remember something for a moment, and this is where the Stick Notes app in Windows 7 (or the Notes sidebar gadget in Vista … or the countless number of sticky notes gadgets available for other platforms) comes in handy. In the true spirit of Post-it notes, you can just jot something down on your desktop and delete it when you’re finished with the task. Since it’s right there in front of you, this can often be a great way to make sure you don’t forget something. Just make sure you don’t need to remember it forever, or Evernote would be a much better option.
No matter what you need to keep up with, Evernote is a handy tool that can help you make sure to not forget it. The new Chrome addon has made it much more useful for me, and I now find myself using Evernote daily. Evernote’s CEO repeatedly says that Evernote becomes more valuable to users the longer they use it, and I’ve definitely found that to be true. Sound off in the comments, and let us know how you use Evernote (or another notetaking application, or a string around your finger, or whatever) to remember everything.
Because sometimes, our memories aren’t good enough!