Sunday, December 19, 2010

Evernote - A "shoe box" organizer that works

I have been an iPhone owner since the iPhone 3G was released in the USA on July 11, 2008. Why do I remember the exact day? Because I was one of the nerds that stood in line outside Tuttle Mall, in Columbus, Ohio, way before the AT&T store opened! Anywho, I often get asked what my favorite iPhone app is. Having tried out a fair share of apps from the App Store, I have to say my all time favorite is Evernote.

If you are the type of person that tends to forget things, loose things, and hates to spend a long time organizing information, then this is app is for you! And you don't really need to have an iPhone to use it. It is available for all major smart phones. Plus you can use it directly through, or via multiple Web Browser addons or use one of the many thick client versions they have for all major operating systems.

If I need to remember anything for later (a store receipt, notes from a lecture, a good deal I see in the paper, a shopping list, recipe from a friend, a note from my kids' school, the name of a good wine bottle,.. you name it) I simply snap a picture of what I want to remember and send it to my Evernote account via the Evernote iPhone App.  If I feel up for it I might tag the note (e.g. Recipe) and add a descriptive title (e.g. "Chili Recipe from Bob").  But often I am to lazy to do that, and it typically doesn't matter.  I just file it and forget it.  What Evernote does when it files my note is to automatically perform OCR on the picture and store any text it extracts as metadata along with the note.  So if Bob showed me a handwritten recipe that he had titled "Bob's kick ass Chili" then that piece of text (granted it is written in legible writing) would automatically be stored in the metadata index for the note.  So if years later I searched my Evernote account for "Chili", or "Bob" AND "Chili" I would find the recipe.

To me, Evernote is the shoe box method for organizing, that actually works!  Meaning, you can get away with throwing all your junk into one large shoe box and thanks to Evernote's powerful search capabilities have it at your fingertip anytime you need it.  Feeling left out at a chili cooking party? Just whip out your cell phone and say "One second, I have a better recipe!" and voila you are the star of the party! ;-)

For more info on Evernote, check out one of their many introductory videos on  Then sign up and get an account!  The basic account is free and should be sufficient for most users.