Shock: Evernote company likes Evernote feature – but, okay, it is good

I have a love/tolerate relationship with Evernote: what it does well, it does well, except when it doesn’t. Still I live in this app a lot of the time and when I’m not in it I’m oftentimes on the web. You’ve heard of that. Possibly you haven’t heard of the Evernote Web Clipper. Take a look at this:

Browsing the web is a key part of your daily routine. Collecting the best of what you browse should be easy, but it’s not. Bookmarks are serviceable, but they’re hard to manage in quantity and they aren’t searchable. This is why we built Web Clipper. Today, we’re launching an update that makes it even better.

Popular sites perfectly captured with the new Web Clipper – Jeremy Brand Yaun, Evernote blog (30 June 2015)

The short version is that it’s better at saving the best-known web pages like Amazon or, even more popular, LinkedIn. The better answer is that if you haven’t tried it, go to it, regardless of what website you want to grab a piece of and keep offline. Read the full piece.

The unexpected benefit of

That’s unexpected as in who ever goes to Evernote is a service and a whole series of applications so no matter what your device, you can have an Evernote app on it. Write a note on your iPhone and it’s there on your Mac or on that PC in the library you’re passing, if you want it to be.

It used to feel as if the company did all these apps and somehow still expected that people would use its website first. They may have had a point all along. Local apps are handier because they’re quicker, in theory: you have all the Evernote gubbins with you so the only thing you’re downloading is your own note data. And often you have that note data right there on the device.

Yet I’ve been forced to use for the last few days while my iMac has been off being looked at and seen to. (Apple did a recall on certain models because of some hard drive problem. Mine qualified, I’ve let them take it away and tend to it.) I’ve been working on an old MacBook Pro and while for the most part it’s been fine, one area it’s fallen down on is Evernote.

I’m not sure why but I have the latest version of Evernote for Mac and it won’t load on this MacBook. Something somewhere is too old or too new, I don’t know which and I’ve not poked about under the hood. I needed a particular note and I needed it right then so when the Evernote app crashed, I just went to and got it from there.

I also got the hassle of having to log in to the site: not only do you need to log in – for which I use 1Password so that’s quite a simple and quick job that doesn’t involve me having to remember the actual password – but you also have to wait. Evernote texts you a six-digit number and if you don’t enter that correctly, something blows up somewhere.

It’s a good and secure feature, it’s a reason why you can read your Evernote notes on that passing library PC without being worried anyone else can. It’s also just a chore when you have to do it several times a day.

But I did it several times a day because I ended up staying in And I stayed in it because it’s rather gorgeous. Here’s what it looks like on when you start to write a new note.

Evernote screengrab

I used it out of necessity and yet now I just like using it.

Developer on why you should and how you can write in Evernote

The Evernote blog is always very heavily pushing the use of this software – you’re understand but, still, it could lighten up once in a while – but amongst the sales talk there are good ideas. Here’s one on how this software is great for writers. I’m a writer and I use Evernote extensively. Can’t say it’s my favourite writing tool but the suggestions in this are good and also short.

In the late 1940s, Jack Kerouac wrote his iconic Beat-era novel “On the Road” in a series of notebooks. In 1951, he typed the manuscript out on a continuous 120-foot scroll of paper. It took him three weeks and, as legend has it, a friend’s dog ate the original ending.

More than six decades later, the laptop holds court where the typewriter once reigned. We still carry trusty notebooks, but now we can easily digitize the words within to keep them safe. The tools have evolved, but the need to turn ideas into written words is still vital to work and life.

Evernote is a boon for writers of every stripe. Even a few low-tech Luddites we know use it in tandem with their handwritten words. Here’s how it can support your writerly efforts…

Put it in Writing: Be a Better Writer With Evernote – Kristina Hjelsand, Evernote Blog (14 May 2015)

The first tip also links out to how Neil Gaiman uses Evernote so, okay, they’re not kidding.

Read the full piece.

Clever software gone stupid

Stupid is a harsh word. But a thing happened today that tells me I shouldn’t rely on software as much as I do.

Last night I was at a party with Angela and at various points we were talking with a particularly funny, fine guy. He gave Angela his card and this morning she typed up his details into Contacts on her iPhone and sent him a nice note.

Aha, says I, there’s a way to save that typing. I gets out my iPhone, open Evernote, take a photo of the man’s business card and, wallop, it’s done. Every detail off that card read and popped into an Evernote document. Name, phone number, address, email, the lot. It is brilliant.

But not quite brilliant enough.

Much as I use Evernote all day long, it is a fat lot of good having someone’s details in there and not in my Contacts address book. Can you get that data out of Evernote? Presumably yes, apparently yes, but I couldn’t.

I found a button that seemed to suggest it would send the details off to my Contacts so I tapped on that.

And instead it sent my details off to my contacts.

This man who had talked more with Angela than he had with me, who had given her his card and not me, now got an extremely terse email from Evernote listing my contact details. Nothing else. No message. Just name, number, email.

Fortunately he used the email and replied or I wouldn’t have even noticed. I was able to send him a non-terse message even as I was saying something very terse to Evernote.

Using Evernote to write books

It’s a piece from so, you know, there’s not going to be a lot of criticism here but still:

Every day, people rely on Evernote to compile, catalog, organize their research and writing.

For author and chief Business Insider correspondent Nicholas Carlson, Evernote was the primary tool he used to write a 93,000 word book. In six weeks.

That boils down to an average of 2,500 words every day.

This week, Nicholas stopped by our Redwood City HQ to talk about how he used Evernote as the comprehensive writing workspace for his newly published book, “Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo!”

How to Write a 93,000 Word Book With Evernote – Taylor Pipes, Evernote Blog (18 January 2015)

Read the full piece.

Use Evernote to achieve your 2015 goals

That’s not my claim nor my suggestion and it is the claim and it is the suggestion of the Evernote company. So, you know, pinch that salt. But there are some good ideas in this and I think the killer persuasive point is the first one: you’ve already got Evernote so why not?

Like millions of other people, I use Evernote as my “digital brain” to store ideas, notes, web clips, receipts, recipes, important documents, event details, and more. I couldn’t get along without it.

But, did you know you can also use it to help you achieve your most important goals for 2015? There are three advantages of doing so:

1. It’s a tool you’re probably already using. You likely don’t have to learn or purchase something new.

2. It’s a tool that is available on every device. This makes it easier to keep your goals visible—a key to following through on them. You can review your goals on your desktop while at the office or on your mobile device while on the go.

3. It’s a tool that is simple and flexible. So many goal-setting apps force you into their system and structure. They are often overkill with too many features. Evernote, on the other hand, is fairly free-form, so you can create whatever structure works best for you.

How Evernote can Help you Achieve Your Goals in 2015 – Michael Hyatt, Evernote Blog (29 December 2014)

Read the full feature for four steps to doing this. It includes how to get tick boxes into Evernote and – surely this isn’t just me? – I never remember that you can do this and then I never remember how to.

Excellent new app: Evernote Scannable

Seriously, if this had come out a few hours earlier I’d have made it the buy of the week on The Blank Screen newsletter – and it’s free, that’s a great buy of the week. I wonder if I can make it buy of next week?

This is all Evernote Scannable does: it scans business cards – or receipts or anything, really. But it’s how it does it and what it does then, that’s what is so good.

It’s good enough that I bid to be the one to review it on MacNN and this is part of what I’ve just said there now:

It’s not often that software makes you laugh, at least not for good reasons. But the new Evernote Scannable is so fast at scanning documents that on our very first go we failed to get our thumb out of the way quick enough and it scanned that. We really did laugh at this big, fuzzy thumb – and were then delighted and surprised and genuinely impressed with what happened next. Evernote Scannable removed our thumb from the image. Automatically. The final result has it replaced by the same white as the document we were aiming at.

In this case, the effort was fairly pointless as our thumb obscured half the planet and we had to redo it. But you’re going to use Evernote Scannable a lot for business cards and this means you don’t need to put them on a table before scanning. Just hold them toward the camera, try to cover up anything important with your fingers, and the app will scan what you want it to scan.

Hands On: Evernote Scannable – William Gallagher, MacNN (9 January 2015)

It is very fast at scanning, it’s not really scanning as I think of the word. Just wave your phone at something and, wallop, scanned in, where’s the next one? You can zoom through getting receipts – I detest receipts but you have to have ’em – and once you’ve said that yep, this is what you want to happen, a single tap sends the scans off to Evernote.

Meet someone, see their business card, snap and it’s in your Evernote account. Without a thumb.

Read the whole piece, go on. I get really enthusiastic in it.

Starting over with OmniFocus and Evernote

I think this is digital decluttering. And like all decluttering, I already know which of it I’m going to put off. My Evernote is a steaming mess of about 4,000 notes with 800 of them in the inbox and if it weren’t for the software’s very good search feature, I’d be regularly sunk. But it does have good search, I am not sunk, it can wait another day.

Whereas I’m starting over with OmniFocus.

This is my rather beloved to do app and I put my ability to cope with lots of projects entirely down to this software. But one big new project came in December and is hopefully continuing for a long time. I have two meetings this month that should lead to one enormous project and one gigantically enormous series of projects. Can’t wait.

Plus one big change at the end of 2014 meant a thing I do that has been albatross-shaped is pretty much entirely gone. I’ve walked away from a thing and am feeling so good about it that I think might even start to enjoy saying no.


One bad project gone, one new one in, two new ones looming and most things churning over, it is time to apply that ability to say no. Time to review everything and chuck out what I don’t want to do, what I am not going to get to.

And the reason to do it is not that I’m some kind of OCD-based guy who needs everything in its place. I refer you to the steaming mess of Evernote above. The reason is that lately there has been so much in OmniFocus – I have added so much – that I’ve stopped checking it. You shouldn’t have your head in OmniFocus all day but you really should look at it from time to time. A very sensible thing to do is look at it first thing in the morning, for instance, and that’s where I go wrong.

When you have a lot on and some of it is pressing at you terribly, you go straight to the keys and you start working on that. If checking OmniFocus were a quick thing, as it is built to be, as it is intended to be, then two minutes checking that while I boil the kettle will help my day astonishingly.

I’ve been looking through my OmniFocus now and can tell you that I have 2,513 things to do and they’re arranged in 88 projects. It could be worse: while I was looking, I ticked off something like 30 tasks that I’ve actually done and just not got around to noting.

Take a look at these 88 projects, though:

That is a mind map I did over Christmas: it’s a visual representation of everything I was working on at the end of 2014 and my only hope is that the image is too small for you to see the details. What I want you to see is how steamingly messy it all is. And I want you to see it so that you are hopefully nodding when you see this next shot, which is how I’m doing the projects for 2015:

Is that better? It’s certainly duller with all those colours reduced to just a couple. But I did this in an app called MindNode, which I do recommend a lot, and it chooses the colours. Add a new thing, it gives you a new colour. So that overall purpleness is not a choice, it is a consequence of my collapsing things into fewer categories, fewer projects.

Next job: translate that mindmap into OmniFocus folders and projects. Back in a bit.

Make a tickler file be more than a nice name

I like tickler files but really just because I like the name. They’re a system for making sure you don’t miss events that happen some months off or tasks that should be done at certain times of the year. They’re also meant to be paper files, specifically the kind of cortina-expanding file folder I can just about distantly remember. And that’s why ticklers are just names to me: I need a software equivalent.

Here’s someone with a solution. But first, their definition of what a tickler file is good for:

Put simply, a tickler is a method of ensuring that information that you need gets to you at the right time. For example, if you receive tickets to a concert that takes place on 21 Feb 2015, then you don’t need those tickets until that day. With a tickler, you can make sure that your tickets resurface on the correct day but you can forget about them until then. The concept works with meeting agendas, invoices, subscription renewals and any other task that needs to happen at a specific time.

The reminders function of many software programs can be seen as a tickler function but the most effective ticklers won’t just remind you of something at a specific time, they’ll provide all of the relevant information at the same time. Lots of apps can do this but my preferred solution is Evernote.

Four Steps to Create a Digital Tickler File – unnamed author, Productivity SOS (29 December 2014)

Possibly the only thing you need to know in order to work out this whole process is the last word in that quote: Evernote. I’m an Evernote user and even today was glad that I was: a telephone support line said something like “Well, when did you phone us before?” and because of Evernote I was able to say “17 November, next question?” like a right smartarse. I actually think that this particular use of it takes more effort than I’d stick with but take a look: it’s smart and it clearly works if it works for you. Read the full piece.

Evernote claims people are ditching PowerPoint in favour of the note software

Well, actually, the headline writers at Evernote claim that: the article they head stays a little away from the topic. It’s also even more of an advert than this sounds but Evernote gets some wriggle room here because PowerPoint is rubbish. Treat this less as an ad campaign aimed at PowerPoint users and more at telling you how Evernote has this Presentation Mode.

Hand on heart, I’ve ignored it because I do all my talks with Keynote and like it a lot. But this could be handy.

Meetings are a major part of our daily routine. At their best, meetings foster collaboration and openness. At their worst, they leave us feeling drained and directionless. The frequent culprit: slide decks. The problem can be summed up with one word: preparedness.

In the world of slides, being prepared for a meeting refers not to productive time spent getting your thoughts together, but rather the hours devoted to fiddling with design templates, and turning good ideas into bullets. The result of this preparedness is a presentation that’s more pitch than discussion. It’s locked. Your team’s feedback will have to wait.

There’s a better way, and it overcomes all these shortcomings. It’s Presentation Mode. We use it everyday and it’s had a significant impact on the quality of our meetings. They’re faster, more focused, and more collaborative than they’ve ever been.

The New Presentation Mode will Change Your Meetings – Andrew Sinkov, Evernote Blog (3 December 2014)

Read the full piece.