Have you ever gone to look for something and realized there are about a dozen places it could be? What’s the address of your friend’s new house? Where’s the link to your cousin’s wedding registry? What happened to the recipe for that holiday cookie you make once a year?
That information could be anywhere! In the bottom of your bag, your Downloads folder on your desktop, in the depths of your email inbox. Which note, task, or drive app did you add it to?
Looking for everything everywhere is wasting your time.
The best way to avoid this is to have a ‘single source of truth’—a place you can go for anything you are looking for and actually be able to find it. That’s where Evernote comes in. It’s a popular solution due to its simple yet expansive ability to bring everything in and make it all searchable.
Let’s dive into the many ways you can capture your valuable information in Evernote so you can get started building your own one-stop shop for answers to all the questions ‘future you’ might ask.
Power tip: Short on time? Save this blog for later with Web Clipper (more on that in a sec), and take our quiz now to find out the capture type that best suits your personality.
Let’s start with “the internet.” We’ve all been there, browsing around for inspiration or maybe doing project research. You end up with 50 open browser tabs and a random document filled with links to websites whose relevance you’ve already forgotten.
Web Clipper is a handy browser extension that’s compatible with all major browsers, and allows you to save web pages, articles, or even PDFs, straight to Evernote. If it’s interesting, useful, or cool, clip it once and save it forever.
It even works on mobile devices. Just tap the Share option from your web page menu and select Evernote. When you clip a page, a new note is created in your Evernote account with a link to the website and even a full-page view of the site and images at that time. Evernote’s world-class search indexes content on the clipped web page, making it easy to find again in the future.
Email to Evernote
OK, it’s time to get honest with yourself: Is your email inbox so out of control that it just says 999+? When you search for something in your email, can you even find it, let alone find it fast? Do you open just the important emails in your inbox, only for them to get buried beneath the weight of the junk emails in the future? There’s a super easy way to improve your inbox overwhelm with Evernote!
When you see an important email come through, you can simply forward it into your Evernote account. Evernote will automatically create a new note with all the details, images, and attachments included. The email becomes completely editable, so you can change, add, and delete information, plus anything else you can do within a note. You can even add tasks to help you remember to follow up on time!
When to-dos come flying at you like dodgeballs at recess, it’s not hard to start feeling like you’re going to miss something important. What’s worse is forgetting what the task was even about in the first place. Tasks in Evernote keep your action items in the thick of the action itself, since you can add them right inside your note.
Capturing tasks on the fly is easier than ever thanks to the Evernote mobile widgets. The friction of constantly context switching from your email to a task manager app, then to a document, then back to a task manager app is taking up time you could actually be using to do the task at hand. Now, you can have a single note with all your project resources, documents, notes, and to-dos, all together.
Do you ever talk to yourself, and actually say something brilliant? (I know I do…) It’s kind of sad to think about all those fresh ideas that never leave your brain and are now lost in the black hole of your subconscious. From thinking out loud to rattling off all the ideas swirling around in your mind, commit those thoughts to memory with an audio note in Evernote.
Simply start an audio recording in Evernote and just start talking. With hardly any effort, you can transform your conversations with yourself into productive brainstorms by capturing those chats in Evernote. Playback is as simple as pressing a button, and the audio notes sync across devices so you can record your next big thing on your phone, then listen back on your laptop for a seamless experience of reflection.
Scanner & camera
Nowadays, almost everything is digital. You can get a restaurant receipt in a text message, and store digital tickets for any event imaginable right there on your mobile device.
We don’t live in that absolutely perfect, completely paperless paradise yet. But there’s a way you can fit your entire filing cabinet right in your pocket right now. That’s the magic of scanning into Evernote.
Take a picture of anything you want to keep track of right inside a note. Even the text in the image is searchable. No more scrambling to find that gift card you got last Christmas but never used because it’s not in your wallet. Snap a picture straight to Evernote and now you can call up that info at any time.
And are you someone who never forgets a face? Never forget the information that goes with it either, with Evernote’s business card scanning feature. One photo, a lifetime of great opportunities.
Are you a visual thinker? Have you ever muttered the words “Let me just show you”? Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could have a giant sketchbook on you at all times? Well do I have some good news for you! Make a sketch of your big idea in Evernote on mobile and desktop.
Sketching is an extremely creative way to get your rough ideas onto digital paper. Convert your sketches to images, or even sketch on top of existing images. It’s as simple as starting a sketch in a note, and drawing with your finger, stylus, or cursor. With so many different sketch tools and canvases, you can capture your humble scribbles or draw up your next masterpiece, and they’re all kept contextually inside your notes.
From screenshots, PDFs, and images to documents, video files, presentations, invoices, charts, and more, there’s a chance you might have a desktop covered in layers of files you put there for “safe keeping.” Or maybe you have a Downloads folder thicker than a milkshake, and you have no hope of finding anything in there beyond last week. Searching around for the exact “Untitled” or “Screen Shot” file you are looking for is taking years off your life.
Save your future self some time and trouble by setting up a few import folders, which can connect a specific notebook in Evernote to a folder on your computer. When you add a file to that folder, it automatically creates a new note. It also indexes the text and makes the file fully searchable in your Evernote account. It even syncs that note to your mobile app sending your desktop files to your mobile phone with no effort on your part.
My favorite import folder is for compliments sent to me by customers and co-workers. When I have a bad day, all the nice things people have said about me are easy to find and cheer me up!
Evernote Helper & quick notes
Do you ever wish you had another you, or maybe a second pair of hands? Unfortunately, science hasn’t figured that bit out yet, but Evernote has come close with Evernote Helper. Since time is valuable, Evernote Helper is there to skip a few steps forward and capture your incredible thoughts straight to Evernote, even when the app isn’t open. It’s automatically installed when you download the desktop app to your computer, and it’s always within reach right in your computer’s toolbar.
Jot down a quick note, and when you’re done writing, click Convert to note to save it as a note. You can also take screen captures with Evernote Helper that save directly into Evernote, freeing you from having to save them directly to a note or add them to an import folder.
Sure, your super-cute notepads or sticky notes look cool, but you know what they can’t do? Convert themselves into a full digital document ready to be formatted, edited, and shared with anyone. Say hello to scratch pad!
Located on your Evernote Home dashboard, you can capture any quick idea, thought, or important information easily. You can convert your scratch pad to a note with a single click, turning your “back of the napkin” idea into a workable reality. It also syncs across your devices, so if you jotted a detail down on your mobile scratch pad on the train into work, it will be ready and waiting for you on your Home dashboard when you open up your desktop app.
If you’ve made it here, you’re clearly invested! I respect that, so here’s a cool tip to make many of these capturing features faster to get to on your mobile device. Did you know you can customize the ‘Create’ button in your app? You can even add more options! From your Evernote mobile app, tap the Settings gear icon and select Create Button. From there you can customize your button with a variety of options for capturing and layout. Customize your Create button with your favorite capture features.
You probably sensed a theme to this post, but if you skipped to the bottom without reading all the rest, here’s the TL;DR:
- There are many different ways to capture content, ideas, and more right into Evernote.
- Find everything in Evernote fast, since it’s all easily searchable (even if you misspell a word).
- Evernote syncs across all your devices so you can take your ‘single source of truth’ with you everywhere you go.
As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. So it goes with building up your Evernote account to house all the information you’ll need to recall. Build a process that isn’t too complicated. It only has to work for you, so keep that in mind as you try out some of the features above.
If you aren’t sure where to start, try taking this handy quiz to help you find which Evernote capture feature fits best with your current habits.
Expert power tip
Check out these excellent tips from Evernote Expert Stacey Harmon on how to build a better habit of capturing into Evernote.