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Evernote is one of the most popular and talked about apps in the App Store. In this article, you’ll learn how to install and configure the app, gather and organize notes, and review workflows that include sharing and advanced features. You’ll also learn about Evernote’s accessories and “baby apps” that are fully integrated into it’s functionality. This article will enable you to use Evernote and its integrated apps as effective organizational tools.

Installing and Configuring

Evernote is free and works on any platform: Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, and Blackberry. There are two different ways to set up Evernote:
On Your Computer. Open up your web browser, type in www.evernote.com, and then click the green Sign Up tab at the top right of the screen.  Follow the instructions.
On Your Mobile Devices. Go to the App Store on your iOS, Android, Windows or Blackberry phone/tablet and search for Evernote. Download the app.

Also, install the simple drawing app from the Evernote family, Skitch on both your computer and mobile devices. On your computers, access and install the WebClipper for Safari, Firefox and/or Chrome. That extension creates an elephant icon in your browsers’ menu bars to create web clippings.

When you install Evernote on your device, it asks you if you want to create a new account or sign in to an existing one. If you are new to Evernote, it asks for your e-mail and a password to establish an account. The app will then ask if you want to save location data along with your notes, allowing you to see where each one was created. After this you’ll see the main menu screen where you can navigate to your notebooks or all of your notes by tapping the appropriate button.

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Creating Notes

Web Clippings – In your computer’s browser, gather websites directly into the appropriate notebook in one action. Web clippings can be initiated from the elephant icon.

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Text Notes – Make a new note using the plus sign at the top in the mobile or desktop app and start typing. This is a great solution for everyday note-taking. Better yet, you can use built-in dictation on iOS and OS X to create the text note. All text notes are searchable so that you can quickly find what you’re looking for later.

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Screen Shots – On your computer, use the Elephant icon on the main menu to add a screen shot or partial screen shot as a note.

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Take a photo – In the mobile app, tap the paper clip, then camera icon. Tapping the camera icon shows you a “photo” or “document” setting. Use the icon near the bottom center to mark-up a photo if necessary. Photos can also be added to notes from the Camera Roll using the middle icon.

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On a computer, you can take a snapshot with the iSight camera using the camera lens icon at the top right of the note.

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Basically acting as a scanner, the document setting capture words and converts them to searchable text. When I tried the mobile app’s document camera setting on some old recipes the results exceeded my expectations. Because the app uses Optical Character Recognition (OCR), background distractions were removed. Document Camera works best when you capture a half page at a time. The (unmodified) screen shot on the right is the result of searching all my notes for the word “raisin.”

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Draw a note – On your mobile device, Open Skitch and login using your Evernote account info. Tap the plus sign to make a new note, and then tap “Start with Blank.” From here you can draw anything you want, and the drawing is automatically saved in the Sketch notebook in Evernote. Evernote will convert any hand-written words in your sketches to searchable text, just like the Document Camera feature. The process is automatic and requires an internet connection. On a computer, you can draw a note by clicking the “Mark up” icon.

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Email a note into Evernote – You also can create a note by e-mailing it to a specific address. The address you need to send it to can be accessed in the mobile app by tapping on your name at the top left, then scrolling down and tapping Evernote email address.  On a computer, click on your name at the top left, then choose Account Info. You can use the button provided to add it to your contacts.

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One way to take advantage of this is asking Siri to send an email to your Evernote. This allows you to create notes hands-free without even having to open the Evernote app. You can also forward an e-mail you have received to your Evernote to store it outside of your email account. To email a note directly to a specific notebook, type “@” followed by the name of the notebook at the end of the subject line. For example, to forward an email to your “Recipies” notebook, you would format your subject line as: “Kale Mandarin Pumpkin Seed Salad @recipes”.

Record an audio note – In the mobile app, create a new note and select the paper clip icon. From here, tap the microphone icon. The elephant icon on the desktop app’s main menu can also make an audio note.

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Drag files into Evernote – On the computer, click on the elephant icon in the main menu and drag a file to the resulting window as shown above on the right.

Organizing Notes

As you enter notes, put them directly into the notebook you want by accessing that notebook, then use the plus sign to make a new note. To move a note – Tap “more…” adjacent to the notebook name in the mobile app, then tap the name of the current notebook and choose a different one. Click the “i”  icon in the desktop app and choose a notebook.

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Create Notebooks – If you tap Notebooks in the mobile app, it displays your existing notebooks. Tap Edit, then New Notebook. Type a name for a new notebook like “Recipes” or “Computer Science 101,” then tap Done.

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On the desktop version, click Notebooks on the left side of the screen, then the new New Notebook button.

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Tagging Notes – Tags can be used to categorize and make notes easier to find when searching. Add tags to notes on a mobile device by tapping “more…” and typing a new tag or choosing an existing one. For multiple tags, type a comma after each one.

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On a computer, Click the “i” icon in a note and type in the Tags field.

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Searching Notes – Searching notes is extremely effective, even if they were handwritten and captured using the document camera, or drawn using Skitch. You can search all your notes or a specific notebook, or within a note. You can also search using tags.

On a mobile device, tap Notes on the main screen to access All Notes. Then tap the magnifying glass at the top, type a word to find and hit Search. To search a specific notebook, access that notebook and do the same thing. To search by tag, tap a tag on the main screen, all notes with that tag are displayed.

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On a computer, use the search area at the top right to search notes or notebooks. To search by tags, click in the search field and choose Tags from the Search Options menu. Choose a tag in the field to the right of that and then click the Add button.

Sharing

Your notes can be accessed from the app on any device, or through the Evernote website. They can be sent to other users via email, SMS or iMessage. You can also publicly share items using Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Notes or entire notebooks can be shared with others even if they aren’t Evernote users. You can set permissions that allow other users to view or edit your notebooks. There is a difference in how individual notes and notebooks are shared. Notes are sent using mail or messaging or social media. This allows others to see the contents of the note in the form of a text message or an email, but not edit them directly in your notebook. Notebooks are shared, and the person is invited via e-mail to view or edit the notebook depending on your permissions.

To Share a Note – In the mobile app, tap on the share icon at the bottom of the note. Then choose Message, Twitter or Mail. On a computer, click on the share icon at the top right. Then choose a social network or other method of sharing.

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Share a Notebook – In the mobile app, tap on the iOS 7 share icon at the bottom of the note.  Then tap “Invite Individuals” or “Generate Public Link.” On a computer, mouse over it to see the share icon and click it and you will see the same options.

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Advanced Features

Evernote has some more advanced features that really add to its effectiveness. If you turn on Evernote in Location Services on a mobile device, each note is geo-tagged as you create it. That, in combination with reminder services add another dimension of practical uses.

Locations – Notes created are automatically tagged with their location. Tapping “more…” reveals the location and it can be modified if necessary and touching and holding and dragging the pin.

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Syncing – Evernote syncs automatically. If you need to sync proactively, tap your name at the top left of the main screen, then tap Sync now.

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Reminders – At the bottom of every note, there is an alarm clock icon that can be used. Activating a reminder sends you an e-mail on the morning of the event, if allowed. Additionally, it takes advantage of Notification Center and can make Alerts, Sounds, Badge App Icon and Show on Lock Screen.

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Sample Workflows

Here are some examples of how Evernote and one if it’s “baby apps” could be beneficial:

Make a new notebook called “family recipes.” Take out the shoebox of recipes and snap photos of them using the camera icon in Evernote. If cropping or marking them up is necessary, the “baby app” Skitch is integrated into Evernote and will handle that. Then, you can easily send the entire family recipe notebook to a sibling using the sharing feature.

A property manager could easily track all the units in a building, repairs that are needed, and dates for those repairs using marked up images, locations and reminders. They would receive an e-mail every morning indicating what types of repairs are supposed to be done that day and where they would be done.

For students, a notebook in Evernote can be used to keep track of each subject. That electronic notebook can collect web clippings, notes, and photos of the white board in class. You would then have an electronic notebook for each subject from which you can review, search, or share your notes with other students. Your class notes would also be synced automatically to your computer and other devices, making them easily accessible at any time.

For business users, separate folders for each client and project can prove invaluable. Colleagues could collaborate with you and add or modify notes if given edit privileges. You could also create a searchable reference notebook of solutions to common issues.

Accessories and other Evernote Apps

My favorite app is Evernote Peek. It creates electronic flash cards on an iPad. This can be especially handy for children as a fun learning method. To do this, create a notebook and add notes. Each note’s subject will be a question, the body becomes an answer. Install Evernote Peek, and login to your Evernote account.

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MoleSkine® makes Smart Notebooks designed specifically for use with Evernote.  Starting at $24.95, they convert your drawings or notes to digital format as you snap them with the document camera. They feature “Evernote ruled” and “Evernote squared” page styles “with dotted lines designed to ensure a clean image when digitally capturing your notebook”. Each Evernote Smart Notebook comes with 3 months of Evernote Premium, which offers a number of additional features.

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MoleSkine® Notebooks come with Smart Stickers. When you capture a page with Evernote, the Smart Sticker icons become searchable, digital tags that make it easy to keep your ideas organized and to keep your digital and analog workspaces synced. They are customizable within the app. Recently, Evernote and 3M also announced Smart Post-it® notes with similar functionality.

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Other mobile apps in the Evernote family include:

Evernote Food – Discover, save and share best restaurants, recipes and experiences.

Penultimate – The most popular drawing and handwriting app for iPad.

Evernote Hello – A fun contact management app, nice for people who often get handed business cards.

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They are all worth checking out, especially Food.

If you are gathering data for work or play, recipes or fashion ideas from the web, tech specs from a whiteboard, or collaborating with a colleague on multiple projects, the impressive Evernote family of apps probably has a workflow that will be effective and enjoyable!

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12 Responses to “How-to: Setup and start using Evernote”

  1. Actually, per the Apple App Store, the most popular drawing and handwriting app for the iPad is “Notability”.

    Like

  2. Mark Donalds says:

    Evernote sounds pretty awesome to me. I am one of those iOS users who spend most of their time in browsing internet and sending emails to co-workers. I am researcher, and Evernote seems pretty big deal for me, Sarah.

    Like

  3. John Matthew says:

    I heard about Evernote, while using Skitch. It offered me to sign up but I didn’t go down with it. However, you have insisted me to go and check out this Evernote application on my iOS devices and as well as OS X.

    It sounds pretty awesome to me, what do you say about your personal and professional experience with it?

    Like

  4. Best article on the subject I’ve seen yet – thanks!

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  5. This is incredibly detailed and a very well written article! We can tell you put a lot of effort into this and its a great guide. Thank you

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  6. Are there any sticky note apps for the Mac desktop that sync with Evernote? I’ve got one on my Windows 7 box that does and it’s very convenient.

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  7. Should have been titled:

    How-to: Setup and start sharing all your info with the NSA.
    O_o

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  8. riterrick says:

    I’ve had this app for a long time. Up until now I haven’t fully utilized it to it’s potential. This article will be a great reference! Thanks for taking the time to create it!

    Like

  9. Oliver Stamm says:

    Very nice article about Evernote! Actually I have used it for some time but I have to admit I went back to notes app in OSX and iOS for it’s simplicity. I guess it depends on what you need but for simply note taking, notes is very easy, clean and straight forward. Looking forward to the new design in Maverick though. The yellow writing pad design got pretty old ;)

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  10. Good article on Evernote…I’ve always wondered what it was TBH, and why everyone I knew was using it and what purpose it served. I guess I would be willing to try it out, I don’t like the fact that it stores everything in the cloud though. Is there some option where you can disable that and only have it store stuff locally?

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  11. Nice article. To be honest Evernote was something I heard about years ago when Kevin Rose talked about it somewhere but never got to use it. Until last year, when I started working with some cool people on Evernote client with interesting approach to browsing your data – Bubble Browser.
    Now I use it quite often to store notes and web clips. I got three codes for you fellow readers to try out BB for iPad – feel free to redeem them and try it out:

    http://tokn.co/gzqaphss
    http://tokn.co/5pm6fpcb
    http://tokn.co/u4dfycyu

    I’ll try get some more so even more of you can fell in love in our small app :)

    Like