Using Evernote to Be More Organized, Informed and Engaged

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July 2014
by Mary Shafer

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The first time you see the clean, friendly elephant head logo, the little “dog-ear” inset at the corner of that elephant’s ear may signal that you’re encountering a note-taking app that helps you remember things, since elephants never forget. At least that was the intent of the logo designers.

But Evernote is much more than that, which is why I’m enthusiastic about it, so enthusiastic that I should tell you I have no connection with it other than as a user.

I’m going to introduce it simply, since simplicity and elegance are the watch- words by which this multitasking app was designed. But you’ll quickly see that simplicity doesn’t mean “bare bones”—not by a long shot.

Evernote Basics

Evernote’s branding tagline is concise:

“Remember Everything.”

The corporation’s mission statement is equally simple:

“Evernote apps and products make modern life manage- able, by letting you easily collect and find everything that matters.”

You don’t get much more elegant from a marketing standpoint.

But when you imagine everything that business people must do and remember each day, you realize the significant promise embedded in this statement — and the potential for disappointment. Unrealized potential for me; I have yet to use (or even see demonstrated) an Evernote product that did not exceed my expectations.

Evernote’s free Basic version is essentially a digital note-taking tool. You create an unlimited number of virtual “notebooks” in which to store your notes. But Evernote also lets you record and store graphic images, photos, audio clips, video clips, scans, and documents created in other digital apps.

Essentially, if it’s digitized, you can store it in an Evernote notebook that syncs to the cloud, using your computer, phone, tablet, and the Web. In this way, the app allows you to:

Keep everything in sync. You can save all your notes, Web clippings, files, and images to Evernote on one device, and they will be available on every device and computer you use. It’s a quick, easy way to capture a brilliant, middle-of-the- night idea about promoting that new title in this season’s lineup, or a new idea about solving that tough editing issue.

Preserve access to things you like. Save everything cool and inspiring you see online and in the real world. Snap a photo, record some audio, and have it for future reference. Imagine the inspirational possibilities for getting new book and product ideas.

Make time more productive with richer research results. When you collect information—from text notes to Web pages to files to snapshots—in a single location, it’s always at your fingertips on your smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer. Evernote can turn time ordinarily wasted in lines, airport lounges, and doctors’ offices into fruitful minutes or hours.

Work with friends and colleagues. Share your notes and collaborate on projects with colleagues, authors, and vendors. What a fantastic tool to make sure everyone’s literally on the same page.

Manage travel. Keep your itineraries, confirmations, scanned travel documents, maps, and plans in Evernote, so you’ll have them when you need them, where you need them.

Capture even the fancy stuff—extension apps and tools. Evernote’s free Web Clipper browser extensions let you capture entire Web pages to your account. You get the whole page—text, images, and links—so you don’t have to save it forever as a bookmark or to-be-read URL, clogging up your browser (and likely getting lost in the shuffle).

Oh, and did I mention you can input your text with either a keyboard or a digital pen? That’s right—you can use the Adonit Jot Script digital pen on a touch-sensitive screen such as that on your tablet or smartphone to hand-write your notes. Wireless, Bluetooth-based, it’s able to tell the difference between intended stylus input and extraneous screen contact with your hand.

This revolutionary Evernote Edition retails for $75, so you probably want to be sure you will really get use out of it, but it’s awesome to know it’s available. Learn more from the video here:

And here’s another one, comparing that tool to similar styli on the market: dthin.gs/1gqvnKS.

Of course, you can also draw pictures and symbols with a digital pen, replicating the spontaneity and familiarity of the pencil-on-paper note-taking experience while capturing material digitally. And you can exploit its character recognition function by using another free extension app, Penultimate. This s is the original and easiest-to-use handwriting app for iPad, combining the natural analog experience of pen and paper with the flexibility and syncing of Evernote (evernote.com/penultimate).

Another use for this input device is working with the newest Evernote extension, Skitch. This s app lets you screen- grab your desktop,
ImageWeb browser, or apps; annotate with pen, text, shapes and arrows; resize, crop, rotate, and flip images; take photos with your built-in Webcam; open and save in many diff rent image formats; instantly upload to skitch.com; and archive and reuse images from your Skitch history.

As mentioned, you can also capture audio notes using your device’s built-in micro- phone. When you open Evernote, go to the top File menu and choose New Audio Note from the drop-down list. You’ll get a dialog box like the one on page 24, and your cursor will be where you can start typing a title. Once you do that and hit Return or Enter, your cursor will move to the text area. Click the little blue Record button at top left and it will begin recording as you speak. When you’re done, hit Save and it will capture your words as a .WAV sound file that remains embedded in that note until you export or delete it.

Obviously, Evernote boasts a powerful tool and function set for a free app (or even for a paid one). But it’s how those functions work together that makes it an uncommonly good value.

Because usefulness depends on ease of retrieval, one of Evernote’s most important and well-designed functions lets you search by notebook, keyword, tag, and text. Premium version users can even search inside PDF, text, and spreadsheet attachments. See the video below for more:

Related Evernote Products

In the app’s left sidebar, you’ll see a number of icons:evernote

  • Notes (the default screen)
  • Notebooks, which shows your individual notebooks
  • Tags, which lets you create and edit your assigned tags
  • Atlas, which shows where you recorded each note, if you keep Location Services active on your devices
  • Premium, which allows you to upgrade to a paid version without leaving the app
  • Market, which showcases all kinds of products created to work with Evernote

Those products are a good sign: The more developers who come on board to program for Evernote, the better the chances that the app will remain viable and be regularly updated.

I’m not going to talk about all the products, but one is too cool not to mention: the ScanSnap Evernote Edition Scanner.

A collaboration between Evernote and Fujitsu, the Scan- Snap lets you put nearly anything in it, push one button, and watch it scan, sense and autofile your photos, receipts, business cards, and documents in your designated Evernote notebooks. This s happens very quickly, and all your information is synced on a dedicated cloud server for you to access it from anywhere with an Internet connection. Suggested retail is just under $500.

Upgrades

Evernote Premium, a version that costs $5 to $45 per annual subscription, depending on the additional features you need, offers several attractive options for power users. Offline Notebooks lets you access your notes fast when- ever you need them on your mobile device, even without a network connection; great for travel. Work Better Together allows friends and colleagues to edit notes you share with them, and see Note History for previous versions.

Passcode Lock adds a layer of protection on mobile devices. If you need help, fast Priority Support is a chat window away. Getting 1GB of monthly upload capacity and an increased max note size of 100MB means you can keep more notes, more photos, more files, more of everything. Smarter Searching lets you search inside PDFs and attached documents, find text in images faster, and rediscover your content with the powerful Related Notes feature. And with Present Your Notes, you can let people into your thinking process by making notes available with one click in an attractive, full-screen layout.

Evernote Business is a version designed to optimize smooth, collaborative teamwork. Business notebooks function likepersonal notebooks, except that they contain company- wide assets such as logotypes, boilerplate contract language, you name it. And collections of these business notebooks are called Libraries. These can make all important company information available to all co-workers. An interactive back- ground search can bring up other notebooks containing related terms as you type, giving you access to content that might help you with your current work and could save time.

Aids for Action

One of the best features of the Evernote family of apps and related products is the one at Evernote.com that offers comprehensive tutorials, tips, and usage suggestions to help you learn quickly how to use these products to best advantage.

Note the Knowledgebase of collected, searchable entries according to topic for self-directed help. These entries delve deep into the details of how each feature works.

Each Evernote product also has its own entry in the exhaustive, easy-to-browse collection of Product Guides to give you a quick overview of everything available, including what it does and how best to use it.

And you can always go to YouTube for a quick-and-dirty tutorial if you’re stuck.
If you become a hardcore Evernote fan, you may even find yourself drawn to the company’s blogs at blog.evernote.com. Here you’ll find the latest news, tips, and stories for both personal and business use, along with many small tutorial- type entries that don’t seem to fit anywhere else on the clean, smoothly navigable site.


Mary Shafer is an independent publisher, an award-winning author, and a marketing consultant with more than 20 years in the industry. Formerly president of the MidAtlantic Book Publishers Association, she provides guidance for authors considering self-publishing and for indie publishers seeking greater success at IndieNavigator.com.

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