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Evernote Overview

As I mentioned previously, Evernote is not only available for a variety of platforms and operating systems, but it also offers users a Free version and a Premium version. I think it’s important for users to understand how the Free and Premium accounts work with respect to using the service on an iPad.

To do that, let me offer up a sample scenario of how Evernote might work for a couple who have the app installed on their mobile phones, her iPad, and his work computer.

  • Janell and Jack are going to be remodeling their guest room, and Janell has decided to collect ideas and images and How-To articles in an Evernote notebook titled Guest Room. She is sitting in the dentist office reading a magazine and finds an advertisement for a bed and dresser set that she thinks would be perfect for the room. She opens up the Evernote app and uses the Camera feature to take a photo of the advertisement with her phone’s camera. The photo is now stored, safe and secure, with her Evernote account, and it also begins to synchronize (via Janell’s data service provided by her mobile phone carrier) with the Evernote servers.
  • Walking back to work, she reads an email on her phone from Jack that contains a link to a local artist’s website. Jack likes this artist’s style and asks Janell to take a look at the paintings he has available for sale. Janell doesn’t have time to browse the site right now, so she quickly saves the link to the Guest Room notebook.
  • During a conversation at lunch about the room remodel, a co-worker tells Jack about a great handyman they used a few months back. He doesn’t have the phone number, but the co-worker remembers the handyman’s name was John Hasbright. Jack opens up the Evernote app on his computer and adds a note to the Guest Room notebook that contains a short audio clip—“Google John Hasbright handyman and get phone number.”
  • At home that night, Janell and Jack sit down with her iPad and open up the Evernote application. They browse the Guest Room notebook that contains all the various items they’ve collected—How-To articles, photos of various paint options for the walls, and more. They also find today’s new additions—the photo of the bed and dresser, the link to the artist’s website, and Jack’s voice recording.

Even if you’re not familiar with how Evernote works (and I’m going to get to that next), I hope you’re beginning to see how this tool is used to collect a mixture of content (photos, recordings, websites, PDFs, Word documents, and much more) and organize it in such a way that it’s easier for you to find what you need.

In addition to what Jack and Janell have done in the preceding example, here are some other things they could do with Evernote:

  • Store quotes from various contractors for the wall knockdown and rebuild—these could be text files, PDF files, Word documents, or even photos of printed documents.
  • While browsing paint colors at the hardware store, they not only can take photos of the paint cards, but they can also add a text note to each photo so they will know the color name (Sunset Breeze) and the color number (M23325), which aren’t always the easiest to remember.
  • Jack and Janell could hire an interior decorator and share the Guest Room notebook with her so she can view all of the content stored there.
  • Janell took over 30 photos on her phone of various rugs. She could send those to an Evernote note any time she wishes—photos do not have to be taken with the Evernote app. She can then delete the photos from her phone.
  • When the interior decorator finds a brochure showing a variety of wood floor colors, she could scan it and then upload it to the Guest Room notebook for Jack and Janell to examine.

Where Evernote really shines is when you use it to store information you need now or in the immediate future. Although it can be used as an archive service, you’ll be much better off sending information and files you no longer need to an archive solution (and I cover this in Chapter 9, “Don’t Forget Your Backup: Long-Term Deep Storage”). Evernote has limits on how much content you can upload—the Free account limits you to 60MB per month and the Premium service has a 1GB upload limit per month. Consider that some high-resolution photos can be 3MB–5MB in size, and the Free account will be maxed out at around 15–20 photos!

Even if you have a Premium account and aren’t facing the upload limit and the Internet-connection requirement, I still encourage you to only use Evernote for information that you need on a regular basis or for an upcoming project. Although Evernote will allow for up to 250 notebooks for both Free and Premium users, you’ll really be pushing the limits of your iPad’s internal storage (or your phone’s) if you choose to have that many notebooks synchronizing between phone, iPad, and computer. Instead, try to create notebooks that can serve your immediate needs until you can move something from Evernote to a personal archive (covered in Chapter 9). Here are some ideas for notebooks you can create:

  • Receipts—Create a notebook called Receipts and place photos or scans of any receipts you need to keep inside. When you no longer need access to a receipt, archive it. You can either use the tagging system built into Evernote (where you type in keywords for items that are searchable within Evernote) to tag a receipt as a tax-related item, a charitable donation, a business expense, or other type or you could create notebooks for each of these types to separate your receipts by type.
  • Recipes—A notebook that contains your favorite recipes (or new ones you’ve just discovered) is great for those moments when you’re in the grocery store and need to know which ingredients to purchase.
  • User Manuals—Scan in the guides for your tools and electronics and especially toys that often have unusual requirements for opening to install batteries.
  • Book/Novel—This notebook is a great place to collect your chapters, photos of locations (or character inspirations), and other bits and pieces that you just don’t want to lose. (I create a notebook for each of my technology books and use them to store websites, photos, user manuals, and so much more.)
  • School—Consider using this notebook to store records, permission forms, contact info, class schedules, and anything else that pertains to your education (or your child’s). It’s also useful for high school seniors to collect applications (PDF files) and paperwork related to applying for colleges, scholarships, and financial aid.
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