Productivity software? Tried it. It never does what I need it to do and I spend more time setting it up and loading stuff into it than I do actually using it. Most of the apps I’d tried also had accessibility issues. Sometimes they synced, sometimes they didn’t and I was constantly maintaining the tool that was supposed to make my life easier.
Until now. In a nutshell, Evernote lets you add information to a database that is accessible through the web, a desktop app, and your iPhone, or smart phone. Items are tag-able and fully search-able so you can add pretty much anything, run a search, and quickly find it again wherever you are.
Here’s an example of how I use it for blogging. Many of my best ideas for bog post come when I’m out for a hike or driving. I don’t always have a pen and paper with me and I never text and drive so what to do? SIRI to the rescue. I just tell SIRI to email Evernote with my special upload address, I make the subject line “blog post” and then dictate the idea, or sometimes even most of the post. and SIRI emails it to Evernote. I can finish what I’m doing and come back to my Evernote file full of blog posts, ready to finish.
Now when I say you can upload things, try to visualize this. You’re at a networking event and you suck at remembering names. With Evernote you can take a picture of a person with your phone, tag them with their name and they’re saved for future reference in your database. Even more interesting, include their name badge in the snapshot, even a handwritten name tag, and Evernote will recognize the handwriting and enter it as searchable text!
While you’re at it, take a photo of that person’s business card through the app and connect your Evernote account with Linkedin. Evernote will digitize the image and create a searchable note in your account with the most up-to-date information about your shiny new contact. It will also prompt you to connect with them on Linkedin Attach notes about the meeting to the note in Evernote and you’ve got a great reference for the next time you meet.
Evernote can find text within images, recognize it and make the text search-able. The image at right is a snapshot of the bag given out at N2Y4 Mobile Challenge. The highlighted yellow text is the result of a search for the words “Mobile Challenge” in my Evernote database. I hadn’t even tagged it yet. I also found my notes from Raj Singh’s lecture, the images of the slides he put up, the website homepage with session info, and a reminder to connect with one of the people I met at that talk.
Never again will I collect a bunch of paper at trade shows just to remember the product offering. A few quick photos of the booth, and not only do I have faces to relate to later, but the booth itself, logos, products and the text of the brochures ready to use in my post. all in one swoop. This is going to make blogging after conferences a breeze.
What else does Evernote do? A lot. Here are some of the ways I use it.
- Evernote now includes another of my favorite tools. Skitch. Skitch allows me to take a screenshot and annotate it. When I’m doing a webinar and need screenshots or a recording a tutorial for a client i can easily take the shots I need and mark them up to show the client exactly what I mean. Sweet.
- Record an audio message to listen to later, take a photo and tag the two to record an event or item to remember.
- Drag and drop content like a PDF right into Evernote from your desktop and it’s filed (and searchable).
- Save your Tweets (public or DM) directly into Evernotes database by simply including @myEN in the message (quick set up required)
- Create a shared notebook to share notes or whole notebooks with your team.
Evernote constantly syncs with the database, so you are only seconds away from totally available information.
Did I mention it’s free? Yes, you have to put up with some small rotating banner ads, but believe me it’s worth it. Odds are very good you’ll upgrade to premium anyway, not to get rid of the ads, but to get more storage because you can fill it up pretty quickly.
Are you using Evernote too? share some tips and tricks here. Got an even better app? Tell me, I love finding new toys!
(Note, this is a revised post from my first review back in 2009!)