I’ve written about how to use Evernote before, but the way I use it has evolved through the years I’ve used the app. There are so many different ways to use it and every user has their favorite.
What Can Evernote Do For Me?
1. Organize Information
Whether I’m organizing recipes, information gathering for an upcoming trip, or working with clients, it’s been an invaluable app for me. If you know how to use Evernote, you’ll use less paper and you won’t forget things nearly as often.
I can envision using Evernote for tax information — receipts for tax-deductible expense could be photographed or scanned into Evernote, then tagged as you need.
Storing critical information in Evernote protects you in the case of a devastating fire or other catastrophe that destroys your home. You’ll still have your documents even if you lose your computer and mobile devices as your data is all stored in the cloud and can be accessed from any internet-connected device.
My husband, Jim, despite 30 years in IT management, is still a notepaper (index cards) and pen guy. He’s now in real estate, so can you imagine how many cluttery pieces of note paper he has lying around? He knows how to use Evernote, and I’ve
nagged tried to convince him for years to use it more. If you need to decrease clutter, you can take pictures of notes and documents and store them in Evernote. The text in the image will be searchable so you’ll be able to find things much more easily.
3. Keep Private Documents Private
For private documents, you can password protect a note so only someone with the password can open it. No more worries about someone discovering your secret file drawer.
4. Keep it With You Wherever You Go
Evernote’s mobile app is excellent and has the same functionality as the desktop app. It’s laid out a little differently, but it’s all there. Keep important information like your list of medications in Evernote and in an emergency you’ll have easy access to vital medical information.
You can also save photos and images easily from your phone. I’ve taken photos of wines and products I like and stored them in Evernote. It can also record the location of images, depending on your location settings, so if you forget where you were when you took that photo, Evernote has your back.
5. Learning — Online and Offline
I like to take online classes. I’ve done certification classes in marketing and Evernote is a great place to collect all my notes, screenshots from online presentations and webinars, and course information. I can go back and review it any time, and it’s on my phone for the times I’m waiting somewhere and need reading material.
I used it for in-person classes too (pre-COVID-19). I’d either type on my phone or take my laptop with me and just type my notes into Evernote instead of more paper. Truthfully, I can’t read my own handwriting anymore anyway, so it just makes sense. And it’s great to have the notes organized and the papers tend to get lost.
6. It’s a Great To-Do List
There’s a whole system of task management called The Secret Weapon that uses Evernote and a system called Getting Things Done to manage tasks. It’s a great system and I go back to it from time to time.
Even if you don’t want to get as involved as The Secret Weapon, you can track to-do items easily with a search in Evernote, which I’ll show you later on in this post.
How to Use Evernote
To understand how to use Evernote, you first need to understand its structure.
First, there are notes. A note is the basic unit of information in Evernote. It’s like a document in a word processor, such as Microsoft Word.
Notes can be audio notes you record from your computer or phone, FaceTime, or a written note. Each note must be in a notebook, which is a collection of notes, generally around a specific topic. For example, my certification course notes are in a notebook named for each course. Those notebooks are all in a stack, which is a group of notebooks. I have a stack called Learning Stack that keeps all of my course notes together in one place.
So you might have a stack called Home, in which you keep a notebook for recipes, another for cleaning tips, one for decorating ideas, and so forth.
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Evernote offers templates for many different uses, such as keeping up with airline frequent flyer information, gift tracking, weight loss goals, meeting notes, and much more for both work and personal use. You can also create your own templates by saving a note as a template.
Perhaps the most important feature of Evernote is its tagging system. Although a note can be in only one notebook and only one stack, it can have as many tags as you need. The tags are what makes information easy to find and readily accessible.
As an example, I found this article about gardening that I’ve saved to Evernote using the Evernote Clipper browser extension. I’ve saved it to my notebook called Cabinet, which is a general notebook.
I tagged it backyard, gardening, and home, and added a note at the top that says basic tips and reminds me what the note is about. Anything else I collect about gardening I can either import via the Evernote Clipper or drag and drop into the app. That includes any PDF or other document.
It’s truly an excellent way to collect and organize information around any topic or store vital information.
Here’s how I use Evernote for work. One thing that’s unique to Evernote is the ability to nest tags. That means I can make one tag, and create other sub-tags under it.
For example, I use this to organize client information. To protect my clients’ privacy, I’ve created a Fake Clients tab to show you how it works. Click on Tags in the sidebar. I created the tags Fake Client 1 and Fake Client 2 and dragged them under the Fake Clients tag to nest them under it. That way I can add any information clients send me to a notebook I’ve named Client Info, then tag it according to client name.
Some examples of client information I keep in Evernote would be passwords to web hosting and websites, logos, images, special colors, notes the client has sent me or anything else I need to remember. I love having everything all in one place, so I don’t have to search for the logo or images when I’m working on a project.
The search is one of Evernote’s most powerful features. As I said earlier in this post, you can use Evernote as a to-do list. Here’s how.
Open a new note and click the checkbox like we did above. Then add your task. If you hit Return or Enter Evernote will automatically create another checklist item.
Check off the tasks as you complete them. Then do a search for todo:false. Evernote will bring up any notes with unchecked boxes and you’ll see at a glance what items are still outstanding.
You can save any search you like, just go to Edit on the top menu, then Find, then Save Search. You can then drag the saved search to the shortcuts bar on the left (as you can see from the screenshot I’ve done), so that you can get to it quickly without having to use the search bar. Just click on the shortcut and it will pull up the search for you.
You can also add tags and notebooks to the sidebar. I keep my tags there on the sidebar to keep them handy and easy to find.
How Much Evernote Costs
There is a free plan, but you may find it limiting based on what you need to do. You can compare plans here and there is a 14-day free trial.
I use the Premium subscription, which allows me to integrate Evernote with other services I use, and I can create notes via a special email address. The ability to email into Evernote is something I use on a regular basis, especially with clients.
The Premium plan is $7.99/month or $69.99/year paid annually. I know that sounds like a lot, but it’s invaluable for me. I don’t get anything for writing this post, it’s just one of my favorite tools.