Monday, September 5, 2011

Remember Everything - Evernote

One of my top favorites, and most used apps is Evernote. It is basically an information repository and manager where you can store bits and pieces of information and a lot more and later find them easily using search and tagging functionality. Most important of all its free [premium upgrade available with a lot of additional features] and syncs to the web so that you can access the data anywhere. Now isn't that worth a look? :)

It’s easy as creating a free account and installing the application in your desktop or Smartphone. Versions for iOS, Android, BB, Windows Phone, Windows, Mac etc are available and you can use multiple simultaneously and be ultra productive. In my case I use it on my iPod Touch, iPad, Web, Windows Computer as well as Macbook Pro. This kind of omnipresence makes it a companion you will never forget, and if even forgotten you might have one or the other device near you to get into it. Evernote has public API's which other developers can use to integrate it into their applications. For common people, this means you can use multiple apps that integrate into Evernote and act as your information repository. 

Evernote has a lot of cool features you will like and I can speak volumes about each. Here is a short intro into some I use the most. 

Tags - These are the most used feature by me and I encourage everyone to use them too. And use them wisely. This is because for a beginner coming from a Hierarchical file system usage where you keep your documents inside folders, tagging opens up a new world which will initially cause frenzy, and then a slowdown and sometimes even an aversion. The world is moving and new technologies arrive, pushing behind some of the older concepts. Even this topic of folders and their arrangement is a big topic to discuss, sometime later. But for now let’s just concentrate on one subject - using tags. I would advice not to use the folders and folder stacks in Evernote (which everyone might not agree) and use tags instead. For example if you have some financial document which and there needs to be something done with it as well? Do you keep it in folder 'Financial' in your file system or in the folder 'Todo'? Add in some more attributes which are related and you are in a distress. Now with Tagging, you can place all your docs into one location and assign multiple tags to them. This makes finding them easy as you might remember one or the other tags (which are essentially text strings). Voila. It takes some time to settle into this system and develop your tagging methodologies, but I assure you this will be really helpful once you are comfortable in this. 

Saved searches - One another killer feature, this lets you save your searches for future. So let’s say you search for the keyword 'Auto' every now and then and then have to filter notes with 1 or 2 tags from it you are interested in. If you create a saved search with all these attributes, it makes your life really easier. Evernote has published how to use search keywords and sample uses in their website which you can look at. I will create a different posting on my tagging and saved searches system. 

Tables and Lists - You can create tables and bulleted lists in Evernote. These come in handy when you want some kind of organization in your notes. Support for paragraphs, indentation etc is also there. The table support is rudimentary but the basic function of Evernote is not spreadsheet so the current table related features are enough as per me. Your miles may vary. 

Optical Character Recognition – Evernote goes through any picture that you upload and scans for text. This means if your pictures had something written on them, Evernote will convert it into searchable text for you. This is a really useful feature when you use a scanner and add it to Evernote because it makes your scanned documents searchable. Bingo!!

How I use it mostly? I use Evernote everywhere. 
  • As a To-Do list - One of the beauties of Evernote is the ability to integrate checklists that you can mark as done by touching checkboxes. These come in handy whenever you need to save something for latter and mark as complete when done. Shopping carts/errands/stuff for future - you name it and you can make it. 
  • As a repository of all my important documents - Now this one may be not for the paranoids. I store my certificates, scanned copies of credit cards, copy of drivers license, lease agreements, medical records etc in Evernote. This gives me instant access to such documents when in need. No more hunting for such stuff when in NEED! 
  • As a starting point of articles for the Blog - Now that one is easy. The availability of Evernote makes writing and updating easy wherever I am. I might write something from home, and while I am away, remember something and add/update it from one of the other devices. No need to hunt around for that one random whatever.txt file that I might have stored 5 levels deep in the file system of my computer which is shutdown
  • As a place to save random stuff from the web - Living in this era means you will have a lot of information/articles in the internet you might be interested in/stumble upon accidentally that you might want to save. Evernote has plug-in for most major browsers and email clients like outlook. These are called clippers, and help you extract either a whole page or a portion you are interested into Evernote. Find some article you like and just press the web clipper button and zoooooom....there you have it. Article saved and ready for search/future use. 

Evernote has blended into my DNA so much that I can't even think of a minute without it. Go get Evernote Here!

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