Notes to the MAX!! (Awesome, forEVER, or otherwise)
April 4, 2011 4:02 AM   Subscribe

What are the ways in which you use Evernote (or AwesomeNote, or whatever your poison) to make your life better, easier, happier, more organized, more awesome, etc? I'm not doing too bad a job of it myself, but I suspect I am just scratching the surface.

In recent months I have read a lot of people going gaga over Evernote; I have downloaded it myself (both for my iPod Touch and the Desktop version). I'm probably missing something, but I'm feeling a little nonplussed. In search of possible alternatives, I came across AwesomeNote, which I now use every day and am mostly thrilled with. I'm currently playing around with finding a way to use the two apps together, but mostly finding it cumbersome. Anyway, I'm most definitely NOT looking to get into a discussion of which app is best; I believe everyone will have an opinion about which of the many available apps are ideal, and I'm also aware that each app has its own specific aims.

What I *AM* looking for are uses that range from seemingly mundane, all the way through and up to possibly life-altering and uber-specific (i.e. even stuff that is too specific to seem useful to anyone besides yourself!).

I should mention that I'm one of the fools that bought a Touch before they added a camera (saving my shekels as we speak, and waiting for the next release in September), and I suspect that part of the reason I'm not getting all the goodness of these apps is that I can't just snap a pic of something and have it instantly become a note (including Evernote's OCR).

I know this is a kind of open-ended question; "the sky's the limit", "it's up to your imagination", and all that, but I guess I'm eager to hear as many different scenarios as I can in order to help my own clumsy brain get rolling in new and exciting directions. I also know that googling will get me "101 uses for Evernote" type lists, but I'd still like to hear from the hive mind...

Thanks to all in advance!
posted by segatakai to Computers & Internet (23 answers total) 127 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: *p.s.* -links to particularly helpful/inventive 101 lists are also welcome (since there are so many to sift through).
posted by segatakai at 4:07 AM on April 4, 2011

I have Evernote on both my work computer and my laptop. At work, I use it to organize large sections of text from interview transcripts, which I tag with different keywords. As part of my job, I frequently need quotes on different topics to include in publications, so it's useful being able to quickly find them when I need them with a quick tag search.

At home, I use Evernote as more of a writing journal. I organize story ideas, random thoughts and small observations that normally I wouldn't think were worth writing down. This comes in handy as a flipbook of potential ideas when I'm looking to start a new writing project.
posted by DeusExMegana at 4:27 AM on April 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

I used to have a Tablet PC with OneNote but it's been replaced by Evernote and my cameraphone, (no need for an ipod touch or iphone with camera). I have a small whiteboard in my office where I do a lot of work related to my research. When I fill up the board I snap a shot and email it to my evernote email address, (you can find it from your account info online). It gets uploaded and all the OCR happens in the background. When I want to look that info up again I just search for what I've written, or check the dates. I also do this with handwritten notes I take at conferences and even printed pages that I want to keep track of.

I also use the evernote web clipper in my browser (there's also a bookmarklet so you don't need to install anything) where I clip recipes. That's even easier to search, and it syncs up with my iPad for use in the kitchen.
posted by monkeymadness at 4:47 AM on April 4, 2011

There are too many computers in my life. I have a computer at home, another computer in my office at school, and a netbook that I bring to seminars and meetings. In the course of any given day I will likely also use a computer in the library or our department's computer lab.

I also have a habit of losing flash drives. It's a problem.

So, I use Evernote. It's installed on my three computers, and I can access all my notes via the web interface on public computers. I draft basically everything I ever have to write in Evernote. The first reason for this is the obvious one: it syncs my drafts across any computer I ever use, so I can work anywhere. The second reason is because there is only so much you can do about formatting text in Evernote. If I try to sit down and write a draft in Word, I can't get into the draft-writing mental state - I keep fussing about formatting and editing the same sentence over and over again. Evernote, for some reason, puts me into the "This Is Just A Draft" mental state, and makes it easier to bang out a rough draft without overthinking.

Last year when I was studying for my grad program's preliminary exams, Evernote was my dumping grounds for all study materials. Every list of terms, every chapter summary, every practice essay I wrote lives in Evernote. This was great at the time because it meant I could study anywhere. A happy side effect of this is that I now have a handy, searchable reference to all things ecology and evolution living in an Evernote notebook.

I've also used Evernote on and off for taking notes in class. It works great as long as the notes won't involve much drawing or math. I tend to draw a lot of figures in my notes, and my last two classes have been heavily math-focused, so I mostly take notes by hand now. Evernote does have a freehand option, which I would play with if I had a Tablet PC, but I suspect I'd still prefer paper and pencil for math.
posted by pemberkins at 5:07 AM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

To do list for work
To do list for each side project
Home improvement to dos
Room Measurements
Photography ideas
music to check out
Drafts of blog posts

Some other essentials like:
Car information (vin, driver license , radio code, Road side assistance numbers, insurance info)
Phone numbers for all the financial institutions I deal with
Medical insurance info
posted by pyro979 at 5:38 AM on April 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

Evernote can be used as a simple Getting Things Done workflow manager. The sync function is invaluable in this application. (For advanced GTD workflow, Evernote is not ideal, but for a free application, it rocks!)

Also, I've got loads collected and clipped in my fields of interest, and trawling through old notes and web page clips can kick-start me onto a new project.
posted by KirkpatrickMac at 5:41 AM on April 4, 2011

I record every significant thought that crosses my mind. This incudes questions I think about that seem important to answer in the future, interesting observations of society, questions I should post to AskMeFi about, or concepts yet to be fleshed out by my mind but I am too busy at the moment and/or are so far-fetched I need to be in a higher state to adequately explore them.

One I just jotted. "if you have a friend that has an obvious physical deformity of some sort, is it better to eventually ask them about it, have them talk about it, and know that you know, rather than never utter a word about it and have it linger as this thing you awkwardly ignore and pretend isn't there? Think about long-term, future impacts of such a talk on future interaction - more comfortable since the friend knows you're comfortable with it, or less comfortable since you had the convo (or other such reasons)?"

Others are less in depth, and more ridiculous. Things that make me both crack up and serve as a to-do item. "Rap about how 'healthy breakfast' is often an oxymoron." Others are decrees similar to those Vladimir Putin signs, but less serious, more awesome, and with a scope limited to my life. "Destroy expectations. Completely." "Imperative to experience different environments."

I think when I look back upon this stuff, it is not only a memory (and I like remembering memories) but a way to reflect and review the important thoughts that go through my mind. And perhaps engage in some serious introspection into those thoughts as well as explore what is fundamentally behind those thoughts.

It's probably a curse associated with people who think about philosophy a lot.

I'm probably insane. But if being insane is wrong, I don't wanna be right. 8D
posted by markbao at 5:50 AM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

I mostly use Trunk Notes now on my iPhone. It's a wiki app, but I don't do a lot of inter-linking. It's got built in functions, snippets, encryption, markdown, javascript, etc. Most importantly it syncs with Dropbox, so I can pull up the notes in Textmate (and unencrypt them within Textmate too, using an app-specific bundle). My most used "note" is an encrypted file that contains a table of all of my passwords. I use some javascript (from the app page's forums) to take the list and give me a dropdown of all the site's in my password list - and then when I choose the site I need it shows me my username and password and any additional notes. Other notes I have in there:

ClientStuff - This is an encrypted file with some FTP information and the like
Hours - Running list of client work
Pantry - I have a "pantry" that I don't look at all that often, so I have a list of what's in there, so if I'm at the store I can check to see if I do indeed have a can of tuna
Spices - Same thing as Pantry - just a list of spices I've got on hand.
Packing List - this is just a list of stuff I need (but might forget) to remember when I travel like a charger for my iphone, and that sort of thing.
Ideas - Just an assortment of projects I might work on someday.

Since I started using Trunk Notes, I don't use Evernote too often anymore. The only thing I have it do now is store my recipes. I have the browser extensions, so I'll highlight a recipe I am interested in, and add it to Evernote. Perfect for when I'm at the grocery store and thinking of something to eat. I might eventually move these over to Trunk Notes, but I've got a fair number of recipes in there, so I'm thinking I'll just deal with keeping them in Evernote.

Other stuff in Evernote that I haven't bothered moving over to Trunk Notes:

Picture of some shoes I'm interested in finding
Picture of a table that I'm thinking of getting custom built
Consumer Reports table of front loading washing machine ratings.
List of books to read - I can probably delete this because I've moved the list over to Good Reads
Quotes I like that I find in books or online
A bunch of php/javascript/jquery snippets. Mostly stuff I always find myself googling to remember, like "show all variables in PHP" - in practice I still probably google these more than use Evernote for them
Tutorials - A bunch of photoshop (mostly) tutorials. I just captured the entire page, that way if the site ever goes down for some reason I still have access to it.

If I drank wine more often, I'd probably start taking a picture of the labels I liked - because I can never remember which bottle I enjoyed. I've got a Todo app where I store some stuff that is probably better suited to Trunk Notes, but I haven't bothered to move them. In there is:

Movie and music recommendations
Room measurements
gift ideas - both for when people ask what I'm after and ideas for other people.
Recommended products - Eg. Toaster oven, recommended vacuum, recommended Blu Ray player

I should really consolidate the three apps (Evernote, Trunk Notes and Todo), but I seem pretty good at remembering which note/list is where.

Evernote's Blog has a Tips and Stories section you might find useful.
posted by backwards guitar at 6:40 AM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

I record necessary minutiae, usually with my cameraphone. I have an Evernote folder full of stuff like pictures of furnace filters, coffee filters, vacuum cleaner bags, and light bulbs -- all stuff whose specifics escape me when I'm at the store trying to remember the right one to buy. Another folder is beer and wine labels. Yet another is books, comics, graphic novels, magazines, records, etc -- snapping a pic reduces my desire to buy the item immediately and allows me to search Amazon later if I want to.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 6:55 AM on April 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

I took iPhone pictures of all of my software license keys and put them each as a separate entry. Then, I put all of the physical papers with the keys in a safe box so they won't get lost or damaged. When I'm reinstalling something, I just get the key off my iPhone.

I store my wireless key in an Evernote note so I can easily show the key to visiting friends.
posted by DWRoelands at 7:14 AM on April 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone. A lot of these are just the kind of things I was looking for. I'm off to bed now, but I hope you'll keep them coming; I look forward to what I'll find in the morning! More specific, more general, the more the merrier!
posted by segatakai at 8:00 AM on April 4, 2011

When I have a glass of wine that I really enjoy, I shoot a picture of the label using the camera on my phone and tag it with "Food&Wine". Then I pull up the list of tagged photos the next time I'm buying wine so I can keep the house stocked with bottles of wine I know I like.
posted by AngerBoy at 9:41 AM on April 4, 2011

I'm a sysadmin, and I frequently find myself doing stuff that I will want to repeat later. Like setting up a new database server. Evernote has been a saving grace for me because as I'm setting it up, I can create a note with the steps I am taking, whatever problems I run into, etc. In the future, if I want to blog about it, write more documentation, or just repeat it, I can go back and check out the exact steps I took.

More generally, I have been using Evernote for all my work documentation. Right now, it's just for me. But I've been taking all the random notes I've saved on a subject in Evernote, put them together and release it as documentation for the rest of the team. Huge help.
posted by icebourg at 9:45 AM on April 4, 2011

You know how insurance companies are forever advising "keep a home inventory in case you need to make a claim?" I use Evernote for that: photo of the item, photo of the serial number, photo of the receipt if I have it.

Other inventories I keep in there:
• The battery sizes of all the various things in the house that need batteries (especially button batteries)
• The size and wattage of lightbulbs of every lamp in the house
• Pets' medical records
• Things I covet and their best prices I've found thus far

For me the main appeal of Evernote is being able to easily access my data across numerous devices.
posted by jamaro at 10:01 AM on April 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

There are some really great suggestions in this thread. I'll definitely be adopting some!

Moving out of my apartment at the end of last semester, my things ended up in about five different locations. I took some boxes of things home with me; others stayed with friends or in storage units. I made a note in Evernote, using a numerical system that I modified from my work in my University's archives, to be able to locate and cross-index all my things easily. Because I have Evernote on my Android, I know moving into my new place will be a breeze because I can access that note on the go.

I have a note called "Life Notes," arranged in outline form by subject-matter headings like "History," "Languages," and "Computers," where I simply deposit tidbits of interesting information I'd like to retain someday.

I used Evernote to plan, store files, organize research, and write a 28-page research paper last year. The text-recognition and search function for PDFs or other images was an absolute Godsend. I could have organized all my information better, but luckily I didn't need to because Evernote made everything easily findable. During that project, I would snap pictures of books in the library I knew I'd need to find again later.

I sometimes use the Evernote Web Clipper, which allows me to save links and articles I want to read later.

Finally, I've used it for class notes for about two years, and I have retained them all. There have been a considerable number of times I've chanced upon some really helpful information from old notes, using the Search function, and I wouldn't have known where to start looking for it otherwise.
posted by Comic Sans-Culotte at 10:20 AM on April 4, 2011

I used to think that I was misusing Evernote because I didn't have some of the complaints that many users have about it -- at the time, there was no way to create "folders" or notebooks within notebooks or lots of other ways to organize notes once you get them in there (beyond tags, which don't work for a lot of people) (They have since changed this.)

So I just had lots of mismashed together notes, with the exception of a few (I seperated all my "work projects" into their own section so they were easier to find when I was on my desktop at work.)

But I've realize that's the genius of Evernote. The search functionality does all the work for me. If you want to be a person who just dumps everything in, knowing you can find it later, then it's really easy to do that.

In other words, my recommendation is to try to use tools like this the way your brain works.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:40 AM on April 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

Like icebourg, I work in IT and Evernote is my portable brain. Every time I have to google-hunt a solution, the one that works is pasted to Evernote (along with the 6 almost unrelated articles I saw and knew I would want one day). Every time I write documentation for a user, a copy gets pasted in Evernote*.

For personal use, all my recipes are in Evernote (which is how I originally started using OneNote before I switched). Things like what size filters the furnace and fish tank take, the dish soap my husband prefers, and other random things I can never remember when I'm actually at the store.

Yes, the camera feature is very useful, but it's not that hard to type in information from a label if you had to.

*My only complaint about Evernote is that they used to have a spectacular screen clipping tool and they busted the hell out of it a while back and I had to buy Snagit instead. And the old screenshots used to be pasteable back out of Evernote (so I could copy previously-written user documentation stored in Evernote and drop it into Word or Outlook, edit, and send), and that stopped working too. I loved Evernote so much that the day I found out the clipper was broken I *cried*. I mean, I was having a bad day already, but I was actually kind of heartbroken. (I haven't tried using the Clipper in so long I should probably go check and see if it's unbroken now.)
posted by Lyn Never at 10:52 AM on April 4, 2011

I save all my recipes from the internet on Evernote, and then when I am at the grocery I can double check the recipe from my phone to make sure I get all the ingredients I need.

I also have lists of things I routinely buy at certain stores that I can quickly check against when I am inside the Trader Joe's or the Target or whatever.

I also have terrible tab hygiene on my browser, and if there is something I want to read but get distracted, I'll put it in Evernote so I can read it later and close the tab. (Like right now I have 26 tabs open, I need to go dump some of those links into Evernote.)
posted by ambrosia at 11:18 AM on April 4, 2011

Recipes. it's so easy to just cut and paste them from websites as I come across them. And then when I'm sitting down to figure out what to make for the week, I can search by ingredient when things are in season or depending on what I'm in the mood for. And then being able to check ingredient lists when I'm at the store on my phone has saved me many times from having to go back for something I forgot.

I also use it for storing sizing information for clothes and shoes for my husband and daughter since I never remember any of that and for frequently needed identification information.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 11:25 AM on April 4, 2011

Recipes - a bonus is that I can then send them on to people more easily too, either from a cut and paste from the app into email, or using a share function.

Fashion lookbook - I use the web bookmarklet to clip pictures of outfits I might like to wear or things I'd like to buy.

Notes from non-fiction books - I read a lot of 'how-to' books, and summarise the info in bullet points or numbered lists. Just enough to jog my memory of the full details.

Short lists for later reference/research/writing: ideas for who I could ask to speak at the networking group I organise, blog post ideas, recommendations for restaurants/sightseeing at the place I'm going on holiday to later this year, recommendations for music/books/etc.

The trick is to review this stuff regularly, otherwise it becomes a graveyard where good ideas get buried and never seen again.
posted by harriet vane at 9:42 PM on April 4, 2011

Oh yes, like otherworldlyglow, I keep sizes and details of the people I love, for when I need to knit them something. It's not creepy at all.
posted by harriet vane at 9:47 PM on April 4, 2011

Response by poster: hmmm, this is where I always have the hardest time, coming up with a summation, or picking best answers, or worrying (hoping, actually) that there are still more answers to come...
posted by segatakai at 8:36 AM on April 5, 2011

I use mine in a lot of the ways listed above. Almost any meeting I'm in is going to get documented and saved away under the appropriate tab / folder / tag / etc.. I have separate lists / notes for personal stuff - one there I don't see mentioned is that I keep a running list of songs I've heard and liked, either as soundtracks to movies or youtube videos, or on a random radio somewhere, or wherever - try to catch the artist's name, the song title, or at very least a catchy lyric I can Google, then later I can try to find an album somewhere to give it a spin.
posted by allkindsoftime at 8:37 AM on April 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

« Older Suggestions for music server software with smart...   |   No Money For Paul Krugman and Four Computers Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.