36 Tips Every Evernote User Must Know

You’ve probably heard of Evernote. Some call it a note-taking service, or an organization tool, or an archiving platform, but none of those terms are enough to convey just how much you can do with it. Evernote is, quite simply, an online spot to store anything and everything you might find of interest, to read or utilize later. The more you add, the more useful it becomes.

You can add to or access info on Evernote from the Web, full desktop programs for Windows (which we give a full five stars in our review) and Mac, or via mobile devices like iPhone, iPad, Android, or Windows Phone. Every single one of those interfaces has earned our Editors’ Choice award. That’s a lot of awards.

However, there is a new wrinkle: as of Aug. 19, if you have the free basic version, you can only sync notes to a max of TWO devices (not counting the Web-based interface). If you want full access on everything, as in the past, you need to pay for Premium Evernote.

There are also Evernote extensions for Web browsers, a handwriting and drawing app for iPads, even hardware that makes it especially helpful to input hard copy info into the service, including a special scanner.

That doesn’t even take into account the ecosystem of third-party software, apps, and services that make it a breeze to add items to your Evernote repository. There is even a version for Business users who want document sharing and collaboration tools in their teams.

Extras are great, but they don’t spell out just how to use Evernote. There are no lack of methods and best practices for getting the most out of the service. From what you can store to how you store it, there’s plenty to try. The competition from Microsoft, the totally free OneNote, is also worth considering as it’s better for taking typed notes—but as an info storehouse, Evernote can’t be beat.

Evernote’s got some issues, business-wise. It was one of the first Silicon Valley “unicorns,” a company valued at a billion dollars before it made a cent. Now, it’s having trouble monetizing its platform: a buzzwordy way of saying it needs to make money, and that’s why it’s killing products like Clearly and charging for things that used to be free. But that’s the price we’ll pay if we want to keep this service around.

So here’s our take on the top tips you need to get the most out of Evernote. If you do it right, it’ll be the database of your entire existence, make your day-to-day life that much simpler, and hopefully keep the company in business for many years of storage to come.

1. Premium Evernote

Premium Evernote

Once you’ve got a few items saved, it pays to switch to a paid Evernote account. Otherwise you can only upload so much—60 megabytes worth of files per month, at a 25MB per note maximum. Worse, without upgrading, you can only sync your notes with 2 devices (as of August 2016 for current users)—note that Evernote Web does NOT count as one of those devices. The limit only pertains to the mobile apps and desktop programs.

The Plus tier includes unlimited devices, offline access, 1GB of uploads per month, larger individual note sizes, and syncing with mobile apps—you can even save your emails into Evernote with Plus. That costs $34.99 per year (an increase of 10 dollars since 2015).

The Premium tier was $50, but has jumped up to $69.99 a year. For that, you get it all: 10GB of uploads, turns notes into presentations, PDF annotation, and searches inside attachments (even MS Office docs).

Business, of course, costs a lot more: $12 per month per user (so $144 per year) on the team. But that comes with all of the above plus more, which you can read about in our review.

2. Clip the Web

The most important part of your Evernote arsenal is the Evernote Webclipper. It’s a browser extension for Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari, and becomes part of IE when you install Evernote for Windows. With it, you can capture everything you see online, from an entire page to just one little section or picture. A menu will fly out from the right and provide several options, from changing the notebook (all notes go in a notebook on Evernote) to inserting arrows or highlights or annotations (all the things Skitch used to do for Windows and mobile users). All it takes is a click on the Evernote elephant-head icon.

8. Secure Your Research

Secure Your Research

This isn’t so much about better use of Evernote as it is just a good idea: Turn on the Two-Step Verification feature. You’ll find it in the Account Settings. Enable it and a warning pops up—just continue, it’s worth it for the peace of mind that comes from the extra step. When enabled, you’ll require either a phone capable of receiving texts, or a smartphone running an authenticator app like Authy or Google Authenticator. Either method can provide the code you must enter in addition to your password. For more on this kind of security, read Two-Factor Authentication: Who Has It and How to Set It Up.

11. Auto Detect Post-it Notes

Auto Detect Post-it Notes

The camera mode in the Evernote app on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone does something special: Put a brightly colored Post-it Note on a contrasting background, hold the camera phone up to the note, and it’ll auto-scan into Evernote. You can assign a Post-it color to a notebook, to automatically file them—you don’t need to enter a notebook name. So for example, all yellow Post-Its could shunt directly into a “reminders” notebook. It works with yellow, neon pink, electric blue, and limeade colors. (Evernote used to sell Post-its itself, but killed its online marketplace. However the feature is still available in the apps—go to Settings > Camera > Post-it Notes.)

12. Use Moleskine for Better Notes

Use Moleskine for Better Notes

You can purchase Moleskine notebooks, sketchbooks, and journals of almost any size, priced at $11.95 up to $32.95 with paper inside that is “Evernote Camera-Enabled.” The Moleskines have special dotted lines that optimize the image, plus “smart stickers” to help assign the page to a notebook. And while you’d probably be fine with regular, cheaper Mokeskine noteboooks, they come with three months of Evernote Premium for free (one month with the Post-It Notes). If a page has a “Smart Sticker” on it (they’re included with the notebook), the mobile app can automatically file it in an Evernote notebook you pre-choose.

Optionally, you can get the $199 Moleskine Smart Writing Set ($199.00 at Moleskine)
with a smart pen that works with Evernote and other services—it’s our PCMag Editors’ Choice for smart pen input devices.

13. IFTTT: Save Notes from Everywhere

IFTTT: Save Notes from Everywhere

Evernote has become such a big part of people’s online storage needs that it’s integrated with just about every service out there. If you don’t believe that, visit the Evernote App Center for a listing of featured Web apps, iOS apps, and Android apps that can send info to Evernote.

No app is more powerful in this regard than If This, Then That (IFTTT). Because it ties in with so many other services, you can use it to create recipe after recipe. Among the most popular things you can send to Evernote instantly: tweets, starred Gmail messages, favorited items in Pocket or on Twitter, Instagram photos, Feedly articles, reminders made with Siri, any RSS feed, and Foursquare check-ins. You can even create a diary of Facebook messages. The list is practically infinite, limited only by your creative coupling of services and their triggers. Dump everything in Evernote and search/sort it later.

14. Scanner Time: Go Truly Paperless

Scanner Time: Go Truly Paperless

Scanners are Evernote’s best friend. Because, as with pictures or handwritten notes, every word in a scanned document is searchable within Evernote. You can go paperless in just hours (or days, you packrat). Evernote sells a Wi-Fi-enabled scanner made by Fujitsu , the ScanSnap, for $495; pricey, but it scans everything directly into your digital depot of docs. Other small sheet-fed scanners with software that supports Evernote direct uploads include Doxie.

If you’re really brave with your paperwork, send it all to Shoeboxed.com via snail mail. They’ll scan them and put them in your Evernote account. After a free trial, the basic service is $9.95 a month for 50 docs per month, up to $49.95 a month for 500 docs per month. You can get five docs scanned per month for free.

15. Integrate with Webmail

Integrate with Webmail

Powerbot is a $1.99-a-month service coupled with a browser extension (for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari) that turns your Web-based email account on Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, even Google Calendar, into an Evernote feeding powerhouse. Rather than just forwarding a message, you can click a button in your mail to send a message, an attachment, even an entire thread of emails to Evernote (or to Dropbox or OneNote). Better yet, Powerbot also can access Evernote so you can attach an existing note to an outgoing message.

16. Blog by Notebook

Blog by Notebook

You can publicly share an Evernote notebook as a blog. To do it, you sign up (via your Evernote credentials) at Postach.io. It’s a breeze to create, and Postach.io supports RSS feeds, tags for Facebook and Twitter simultaneous posts, domain names (you have to buy one elsewhere), Disqus comments, Google Analytics, and more. Postach.io can’t delete notes or notebooks or get to your account info. You designate exactly what notebook it should pull from, and any note inside—from images to text to audio to documents—will become visible on the blog once it’s tagged as “published.” It costs $9 a month or $90 a year.

19. Map the Mind of Evernote

Map the Mind of Evernote

If you’re the type of visual thinker who likes to see representations of files flying about in pseudo-3D—a mindmap—well, Evernote’s probably not for you. Luckily, there are options. Mohiomap can link to Evernote and Dropbox and give you a way to node-navigate that you wouldn’t normally—and it is a great way to find long-lost notes that could inspire you. You can even drag and drop tags, creating linkage you may not have seen before in the data.

28. Learn the Search Syntax


Searching through Evernote is the next best thing to storing things there—after all, you store it to find later. Just throwing terms in a search box isn’t the right way to go about it. Learn the syntax that makes searches powerful. They’re spelled out on Evernote’s advanced search syntax help page.

For example, use “tag:” (without quotes) followed by a term just to search tags. The “created:” or “updated:” operator, followed by a date in the form YYYYYMMDD can find specific dates; follow it with something like “day-2” and it’ll find everything from the last two days. If you’re looking for your task lists, the “todo:” operator only looks for notes with check boxes. Look just in the title of a note with “intitle:” and in a specific notebook with “notebook:”. The “source:” operator followed by “web.clip” or “mobile” limit searches to those sources. Learn them all. The video above will help.

30. Use Evernote Like PowerPoint


Evernote believes all your notes can work as slides. That’s what Presentation Mode is for—making presentations where your notes are the content of the talk. It’s part of the Windows, Mac, iPad, and iPhone versions of Evernote—if you’ve got the Premium version. Here’s a full tutorial, with the video preview above.

31. File Your Statements Automatically With FileThis

File Your Statements Automatically With FileThis

Another add-on service that will toss docs into Evernote for you so you don’t have to scan them, FileThis links with major providers and banks so you can get statements and receipts that auto-file. Link it with up to six services for free, or pay $20 or $50 a year to get a lot more, depending on your needs. Later, when you need to find that one credit card statement with that one charge on it, it’s just an Evernote search away.

32. Search and Transfer Notes/Files with Otixo

Search and Transfer Notes/Files with Otixo

If you use a lot of online storage services beyond Evernote, like Dropbox and Google Drive and OneDrive, you should consider using Otixo cloud manager to search them. You’ll have to pay to join it up with multiple services, but when you do you get one search for all your online notes and documents—and the ability to drag and drop them between services.

34. Pair Better with Google Drive (Soon)


Evernote claims at least half its users also have a Google Drive account, so it’s made it a little easier to access all Google Drive files while using Evernote, like making them embeddable links in a note. Go into your Evernote setting to Connected Services, and connect your Google account to the service; the integration itself is still in beta testing on Android and on the desktop with the Chrome browser only (though as of this writing it seems like you can’t get into the desktop beta test, so look for it down the road).

35. Integrate Evernote with Microsoft

Microsoft’s Outlook.com is PCMag’s favorite Web-based email service. And it’s got complete support for Evernote, not just Microsoft’s own OneNote. It does more than work with email however—it also integrates with Outlook.com’s calendar functions. Set a reminder on a note in Evernote, and now the reminder will pop up in Outlook’s calendar. Of course, it also makes it a one-click thing to store important emails in Evernote as well as share notes stored there.

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