So what’s so great about Evernote? It’s a surprisingly rich application for something that has such a simple core function (note taking), but here are the ‘top 3’ things that make Evernote a killer app in my mind:
- It runs everywhere. iPhone, Android phones, Blackberry, Windows Phones, iPad, Android tablets, Windows laptops, PC’s, and Macs. Even if you have a device that isn’t on the list, or happen to be somewhere without your device (how does that happen anyway?), Evernote is available on the web, and therefore can be accessed with most any internet connected device. This means that your notes can be available anytime, anywhere.
- When you search your notes, Evernote searches both the text in your notes, and your attached image files (pictures). This is amazingly useful, I’ll illustrate why in a moment.
- The Evernote web clipper allows you to clip a complete copy of a webpage, a portion of a webpage, or save a bookmark to a website in your notebook. This makes it easy to save just the stuff you want to remember from websites that you visit, and annotate that information with your own notes. More on this in a subsequent post.
A few years back I found myself having accumulated a large stack of business cards. There were work related business cards from colleagues, vendors and business partners or potential partners. There were cards from businesses that I have used in the past, or would like to use in the future (house painters, auto detailers, medical specialists, whatever). I bought one of those leather business card holders, filled it with cards, and carried it in my briefcase. The problem was that if I didn’t have my briefcase with me, I didn’t have the cards. On top of that, after a while I decided that the number of times I referred to the business cards was not nearly frequent enough to justify the extra space this biz card wallet took up in my bag.
Once I started using Evernote, the solution was obvious. I scanned all the cards to image files, and loaded them into Evernote. This allows the cards to be searched when I need to find one, even if the text that I search for is a word that is in the image. (see example search for the word ‘foundation’). Evernote also allows me to annotate the business card with my own notes about the person or the business represented by the card, these notes are also searchable. All the business cards I’ve ever decided to save are now available on all my devices, whenever I might need them.
Evernote can search any image as long as it is a JPG, PNG or GIF format. The Pro (paid) version of Evernote also allows you to search within Adobe PDF documents that are attached to your notes. Evernote’s ability to find text in a picture is excellent, but not perfect. See the example, I was able to search and find the word ‘foundation’ in this business card image, but the word ‘ground’ was not found, because of the funky font. If you are interested in the tech details on how image searching works, check out this article.
In addition to searches, business cards in Evernote can be sorted and filtered by category or ‘tag’. Example, I can filter to show only cards related to car repair, work colleagues, friends, whatever.
Getting a business card into Evernote is very simple. After scanning the card to an image file, right click the file and choose Send To -> Evernote. It will be imported as a new note in your default notebook in Evernote. Once this happens you can add additional notes, tags, move it to a specific notebook, etc.
Hopefully it is obvious that this image search capability isn’t limited to business cards. You could snap a picture of the menu in your favorite restaurants, import those pics into Evernote, and build a rich collection of restaurant menus that are always handy. The same is true or food and drink labels, frequent flyer membership cards, grocery store rewards cards, images of new guitar chords you are trying to learn, you get the idea. In part 3 I’ll talk about the web clipper, and some ways it can be very useful.