Using Evernote

I tried out Evernote several years ago and wasn’t really impressed at that time. I didn’t use it for very long and probably should have given it more of a chance. I recently realized that I desperately needed a way to take pictures (on my phone) and add notes about the picture. I tried using google keep and docs in the past neither of which worked very well. I decided to give Evernote another try and have been utilizing it for the last few months. I am really impressed with it and finally understand why I have heard so many people rave about it.

To get the most out of Evernote you need to snip, clip, screenshot, drag and drop and push everything into it. Surprisingly, it can handle office docs, pdfs and many other formats. This seemed a little strange to me at first. But after realizing it has the ability to search inside of the docs I could understand how this could be very useful. As an example you could drop a word doc of meeting minutes into your notes from the meeting. I should note that this functionality depends on having the premium subscription ($50/Year).

Another thing that seemed a little strange to me at first was that notebooks can only contain one more level of nested notebook (they call this a stack). Coming from a files and folders world I initially thought it was a real limitation but have found it to be refreshing because things can only get lost so far away from the root. I noticed a lot of complaints about this in the Evernote forums. In Evernote everything is a note inside of a notebook.

I have used some form of notebook both professionally and personally since about the time I graduated from college. I started out by keeping weekly notes in html at work to keep things straight. After reading GTD I started using wiki software to maintain a set of linked lists. At some point I think I went back to html for a while, then tried OneNote and finally started using google documents. I have always used a light version of GTD and created a new list weekly to keep track of the weeks accomplishments inside of the note for that week. This has worked out well and kept me organized for a very long time. I moved my GTD list into Evernote and have found it to work well.

I have found the offline notes feature invaluable on the phone app with the phone in airplane mode. I only have a couple of minor complaints:

  • There is no client available for Linux. The web page is functional though and so it isn’t a huge issue.
  • It is not so easy to get your information out of it. For example, I needed to liberate the content of a note and place it into a word doc. There is no export to word option, only enote xml format and/or html. When I pasted the text into a word doc it didn’t have line breaks at word boundaries. Which means that words were chopped at line boundaries without hyphenation ‘-‘ characters or anything. There is probably a way around this but I haven’t found it yet.
  • I tried to use the presentation mode last week and it didn’t work. It was the first time I have tried using it and so it may have been operator error. This feature would save me a lot of time if it would work reliably. Also, there is no text box to update your note with feedback or discussion points while in presentation mode. It would be useful to have.

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