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Review: Evernote As A Useful Tool For Writers

884 Words. Plan about 6 minute(s) to read this.

In the digital media business, content is king. I’m constantly looking for new content that I can blog, present, or build a podcast around. Keeping track of seed ideas and brainstorms has been a challenge for me; sometimes good ideas have fallen through the cracks because I’m away from my main workstation. Looking for a tool to help me organize the ideas, research, and inspiration that fuel my content generation, Evernote came highly recommended by the Twitterverse. One person even confessed a total Evernote addiction, describing a relationship with the software both highly personal and consciousness-invading…sort of a friendly virus he was happy to host. With such a rabid fan base, I thought I’d apply Evernote to my content management challenges.

The Terse, Right-To-The-Point, Really Short Review

I love Evernote. Get it now. All that happens in the rest of this article is that I explain my affection for this tool that occupies a deserved place on every workstation and touch device I own…and some I don’t.

The More Considered and Poignant Review

Evernote is a cloud-connected application that helps you organize bits of information into notebooks. The bits of information are things like:

  • Sudden vocal blurts. Have a thought, aim your largest face hole at the mic, and Evernote saves an audio file for you.
  • Clipped web articles. Chrome is my co-pilot as I surf the Internet seas, and there’s an “Evernote Web Clipper” plugin that lets you capture a web page and drop it into Evernote. Great for stashing articles you want to reference for research or just to catch up on later.
  • Text. Evernote has a nice editor that lets you type tidily, complete with the usual features of bold/underline/italics, bullets & numbering, block indent, hyperlinks, etc. I often use Evernote to compose entire pieces, and then paste them into WordPress (some reformatting may be required).
  • PDFs. Evernote will embed an entire PDF into a note, which is research gold. I frequently read academic papers or IT vendor whitepapers in PDF format. With Evernote, I can browse the PDF right in the note, and make my own text notes above the PDF embed object. With Evernote Premium, PDFs are even searchable.
  • Annotated screen caps. Evernote has a free companion application called Skitch that lets you do partial or full screen grabs, and then annotate them. When watching vendor slide decks, Skitch is a great way to grab a slide and then save it as a note.
  • E-mails. There’s an Evernote plugin for Outlook that lets you snap an e-mail straight to a note.

There’s probably more data types Evernote supports, but those are the highlights for me; they are the ones I’ll be using often enough to matter. No matter the data type, each note can be given a custom title and tags, making it easier to find that note later.

As a cloud-connected application, Evernote synchronizes your notes across devices. So, I have Evernote running on my iPad, iPhone, Kindle Fire, laptop and workstation. Any device I have on hand is ready to capture a sudden idea or outline. Outlines are a big deal for me. I sometimes think of blog article in an unbidden burst, where I’ve got a central idea and supporting points flooding into my brain all at once. No matter where I am, I probably have a device with me where I can quickly dump that mind crackle into Evernote and get back to it later when I have time to compose a proper article. I think I just confessed to a sort of attention deficit disorder, but that’s part of the point for me with Evernote. If I’m somewhere that I can’t sit down and write because my attention is on something else, I still want to be able to get a hold of those special moments that my brain conjures seed content.

Other Evernote users can see your notebooks if you share with them. For example, I took detailed notes during a vendor webinar, and then shared the containing notebook with a fellow Evernote user for his perusal. My daughter is also a bit of a writer, and has shared a notebook of her fiction short stories with me. I like that process better than sharing attachments via e-mail.

If you’re thinking about trying Evernote, there’s both a free and premium version. The paid version is $45 a year per account, not device; when I upgraded to premium service, I got premium on all my Evernote-equipped devices. Premium gives you 1GB worth of uploaded data per rolling 30-day period. 1GB might not sound like much, but I’m finding it to be a LOT. Even uploading PDFs and a bunch of screen caps into Evernote hasn’t made much of a dent in that 1GB limit. There’s several other benefits of going with premium service, but the biggest one for me is that Evernote notebooks can be set to work offline. For example, I uploaded a PDF as a note from my PC, and then synced Evernote on my Kindle before heading to the gym. The gym has no wireless Internet service, but I was able to read the PDF during my workout.

Evernote is brilliant. At this point, I have no complaints. I think we’ll have a long and fruitful relationship together.