This post is my introduction to Evernote, and the entire post is all about that one software. I have posted on tools that authors can benefit from, and will continue to do so. I usually cover around 6 or 7 tools and describe their potential utility, without going into detailed how-to explanations.
In this post, I will concentrate on just Evernote because I started using this multi-platform tool last year, and I am increasingly finding it invaluable.
As I continue to use it, I keep getting surprised by some new feature or some new way to use a known feature.
As with most such software, Evernote comes in free and paid versions. The free version has enough features to keep you busy for the foreseeable future once you start using it.
What is Evernote?
Right from birth, your mind starts accumulating information, and as time goes by, becomes an increasingly chaotic collection of tons of titbits of information ranging from utterly useless to potentially life-saving. Sooner or later, you get swamped, and that means you start forgetting. It’s a defence mechanism.
Evernote gives you a way out—just dump all of your may-come-in-handy-one-day bytes into the program. You can retrieve them as required later; the software has a very advanced search function, and it is up to you to categorize and tag your bits of information in a way retrieval becomes easy.
However, please DO NOT use Evernote for storing sensitive information that could be misused in the wrong hands. That means information like your bank account and credit card details and statements, your various log in ids and passwords, social security information, family medical information, passport and driving license information. It is best to keep that kind of information out of your computer, online and off.
Hopefully, this introduction to Evernote will convince you to go in for this tool. Once you start using it and get familiar with it, you can customize it—to an extensive degree—to your specific requirements. It’s going to take a while to get really familiar with the software, though. At least that’s what my own experience tells me. Maybe I’m just particularly dumb.
The Evernote basics
However, it doesn’t take much to start. You can download Evernote, set it up and start using the basics within less than an hour.
These basics will help you, as an author, to use Evernote to:
- set up mindmaps (kind of) for researching and writing your books;
- work out outlines for your books;
- store an almost limitless number of notes, reminders and I’ll-need-to-save-this-for-later brainwaves;
- function as an album of photos and images to be referenced later;
- work as a bookmark hub for storing URLs—or even whole webpages;
- serve as a collaborative tool between your team—co-writers, editors, whatever—and you.
And these Evernote roles are just for starters.
Here are the basics features of Evernote that you should know.
Consider notebooks as the top nomenclature layer of your classification system. As an author, you may have a notebook titled “War Book Series”. You may stack notebooks one level deep; under “War Book Series”, for example, you may have several notebooks, each named for a different book in that series. You cannot go down a level below that.
When you first set up your Evernote account, the system will generate a default notebook for you, usually tagged with the user name you opted for. The free Evernote account allows a maximum of 250 notebooks.
Notes are the data bank of your Evernote system. You store everything—personal notes, documents, to-do lists, images, audio files—in notes. You must be alert to this every time you create a note: the Evernote system stores every note you create under the default notebook. One click of your mouse sets that right. You click on the little arrow shown in the image (red #1), opening your menu of notebooks and click on the right one.
You give each note an individual name. Going back to the War Book Series, you could have notes titled, for example, “Army Hierarchy”, “Uniforms” and “Weaponry”. Evernote allows you to create up to 60 MB of notes a month. The count starts from the date you first created your Evernote account. Unused quota lapses; you start each month with a fresh 60MB.
Believe me, 60MB is a lot, and is good enough for most users, except maybe those who are working on a dictionary or the next encyclopedia.
There is no limit on the total storage Evernote allows you.
Tags are the index layer of your Evernote system. The Evernote search function is excellent, and focuses on your tags. Thus, if you take care over getting your tags right, you will never have a problem tracing a particular note later.
You can use the same tag for several notes, which means they will all appear when you search for that tag. You can use several tags for one note, which means that note will appear in the search results for each of those tags.
The free account is allowed a total of 100,000 tags. That should keep most people happy. Tags can be nested in multiple hierarchies. That means you can have a sub-tag under a tag, and a sub-sub-tag under the sub-tag.
However, use tags sparingly, since the program indexes the contents of your notes and uses that data to respond to searches.
Let me explain that. Since Evernote indexes the contents of your notes, you can search for notes by using a search term that is part of the contents of those notes. For example, if you search for the word “uniform”, you will be shown all the notes that contain that word somewhere in the content. You will also be shown all images with that search term somewhere on them in text, like the one below.
How does that happen?
Evernote comes with inbuilt optical character recognition (OCR) capabilities, which means that text on the images you upload is also scanned and indexed. Thus, the results of your search for “uniform” will also include all images showing that search term.
As an alternative example of text in an image that is part of the original object (text not added on later), the results of a search for “USS Arizona” would include the image below (assuming it is part of your saved notes).
The multi-platform nature of Evernote
While your contents are available on your local device, your contents are periodically synced on the web. This means you can get access to your contents from pretty much any computer, tablet or smart phone. The software works equally well on both Apple and Windows PCs.
Well, that wraps it up as far as this introduction to Evernote is concerned. Hopefully, it is enough to enable you to download, install and start messing around with it. I will be posting later on some of the more advanced features of this marvellous tool.
You got any more information on the basic features of Evernote? Would be nice if you let us know in the comments.