Why I love Evernote, for realz

I've had "blog about Evernote" on my to-do list for a few days to the point that I've spent more time looking at it than doing it, so here we go. I've been an Evernote user since it was in beta, I think, so I've evolved with it. It was cool to begin with, but now a lot of other services integrate with it so it's become increasingly useful over the years. So what is it? I'd say it's an information management system. By way of explanation, I'll describe how and why I use it. I have a basic personality problem in that I hate clutter but I want to save everything because I never know when I might need it. Evernote solves the problem because I can save everything with minimal hassle (I'm also lazy). With Evernote, I can speak to it, draw in it, scan PDFs directly into it, send iSight photos into it, snap photos with my cell phone, or type into it. Then it syncs the information with just about any platform you can name (mine are my MacBook, iPhone, and iPad). I have multiple notebooks, and each note can be tagged. You can perform complicated ninja-like searches to slice and dice your data or you can just type a simple keyword, and Evernote does handwriting and text recognition from its server side. That means once you sync, you can search for text on business cards or scribbles on scraps of paper you've taken a photo of your phone with.

All of that is powerful because on the rare occasions I feel dedicatedly organized, I can put notes into notebooks and tag them. On the more usual occasions when I don't, I can toss the information into Evernote willy-nilly with confidence I can easily find it again anyway.

Most browsers have Evernote clipping extensions, too, so if I see something I want to blog about or read later I can click the icon and it appears in my Evernote default notebook.

Evernote will geotag, and it allows the creation of lists with checkboxes. With all of this, the possibilities are basically limitless. Examples of stuff I've done with Evernote:

  • Taken a geotagged photo note of a menu posted on a window for a restaurant I wanted to come back to
  • Made a voice note about a blog idea while I was driving and couldn't write
  • Added to that note supporting Web sites when I was at my laptop
  • Made a notebook for my BCEN adventures complete with Web sites, confirmations, to-do lists, and notes for weak areas I needed to study for (and then a scanned-in PDF of my certificate!)
  • Kept a "Journal" notebook for stuff I can't bring myself to get rid of but don't want physically lying around, like personalized Christmas cards
  • Taken snapshots of stuff I see in stores that I want to remember as gift ideas

Because you can combine media in a note, you can type something in and then drag in a photo and clip a Web site to the same note. Presto.

Evernote has a free service and a paid service. I use the free one and have never bumped against the usage limits, but that's probably because I use Dropbox for other types of sync-age.

Getting data out of Evernote is the only downside I've found. You can export notebooks as HTML or PDF or Evernote archives, but you can't easily export a notebook as individual notes. Practically, that bothers me only because it makes using Evernote as a journal impractical. I want my data back for something like that, and not in an ugly PDF. But that's just me, and it's a small thing.

Evernote keeps my apartment from being totally littered with scraps of paper and piles of stuff I might need to look at "someday." Also, when someday comes and I need to find something, I actually can. Love it.