For many years, I have been searching for a solution to the problem of how to carry electronic notes with me. You’d think there would be a number of these, but each one I’ve tried has always lacked something important, usually ease of use and simplicity.
In my small business life, I often have to refer to various (and ever-changing) small pieces of information. I used to write it all down in a small pocket notebook or on file cards but usually managed to lose them. The ideal electronic solution would improve my access to information, as well as protect it from loss.
Here’s what I have been looking for:
A good solution would allow me to enter a note on my desktop or laptop and keep it automatically synchronized with my other computers and portable devices.
A really great solution would also let me easily create notes on portable devices, such as my iPhone, and even make my notes available anywhere using a Web-based interface. It would support multiple file types, including as photographs and web clippings, and keep everything nicely organized without too much help from me.
All this information would reside on all my computers and mobile devices, as well as up in the cloud someplace, safe from loss.
And a perfect solution would be, at least in small quantities, free.
I started using Evernote when I searched for a solution that would allow me to create notes on my desktop and access them on my iPhone. Or vice versa. All I wanted was to do what be able to access important reference data from wherever I happened to be.
With Evernote, I can type a note, grab text from an email, clip a web page (in whole or part) or take a picture with the camera in my Mac or iPhone. Evernote runs everything, including photographs, through a text recognition engine. This allows me to search on text that appears inside a picture, perhaps of someone’s business card or a label. Content can also be tagged and filtered based on personalized categories.
Information managed in Evernote is stored in notebooks, which may be public or private. You may also send email to a notebook as a way to add information.
A free account gives you 40 MB of uploads per month and unlimited use of the software. Evernote clients are available for Windows XP and Vista, Mac OS X, iPhone, Windows Mobile, and SanDisk U3 flash drives. You can also access your information from any Web browser.
That’s the free version. If I were paying $5-a-month or $45-a-year, I’d also be able to store any file type in Evernote, making it available across all the supported platforms, and get 500 MB of monthly uploads.
The Evernote applet–currently residing the my Mac’s menu bar–makes it easy to paste to Evernote, grab a clipping, or search within my notebook. (You can do that in Windows, too).
The applet is the usual way I begin interacting with the program. On my iPhone, I have the Evernote app, which connects to the Internet to display my notebook’s contents. But, it also allows me to select specific notes to be stored on the iPhone, ready for use even when I don’t have wireless access to the Internet.
A 500-word blog post doesn’t really do Evernote justice. It’s a big problem-solver, especially for anyone with an iPhone or Windows Mobile device. It’s something I recommend to all my friends–including you.
David Coursey is alert-and-oriented, but just barely. The appearance of his having a memory comes from using Evernote. Write to him: firstname.lastname@example.org.