How many times have you had a great idea, or been given a useful piece of information and had nowhere to store it? How often have you written it on a scrap of paper and stuffed it in a pocket, only for that piece of paper to end up a sodden unusable clod from the washing machine? How often have you tried – and failed – to remember the useful snippet of info? See all app reviews.
This kind of thing happens to us all, but there are useful tools for your computer that can banish them for ever. One of the most versatile and most popular is Evernote.
Evernote is a universal note-taking tool that’s as good for jotting down the kinds of things you’d usually scribble down on bits of paper (phone numbers, shopping lists), as it is for grabbing photos of things you want to remember, and even for making detailed notes in meetings or outlining that great idea for your new blockbuster novel or film script.
Notes can be collected into notebooks so you can be organised, and Evernote can be used as a permanent or temporary store. We often use Evernote to grab information of different types – photos, web addresses and written notes for example that it can be hard to store together using other means.
You can get Evernote for tablets and smartphones as well as for your laptop or PC. The app can even be accessed via your web browser. You get an email address when you sign up so you can email notes into Evernote without opening the app itself.
If you are using a device with internet access, notes taken are synchronised with the cloud. This happens automatically, seamlessly and quickly, so you’re never far away from all the notes you have made.
Evernote is a two-tier application with a free component that allows you to make notes and synchronise them across different devices. Pay £35 a year and you can upload more data each month and share notebooks with other people. This way, they can edit notes so you can work collaboratively on different projects. A subscription also allows you to have offline access to notes. With the free version, you no longer have access to the data when you log out of Evernote.
If you use Evernote wisely you just might be able to rid your world of those little bits of paper, remember things you’d otherwise forget, be a lot more organised and, ultimately, stop worrying so much about the little things so you can get on with the big things.
How to use Evernote
Step 1. Browse to Evernote's website and create an account by choosing a username and password. As is usual for web-based services which are accessible on a range of devices, you can use this to log in on your phone, tablet or any computer.
Step 2. Respond to the email you are sent to complete the account creation process. Note that you can download Evernote for various devices. We’re going to work with the web client to start with, so click ‘Evernote Web’ to begin.
Step 3. Log in and you’ll see three panes. On the far left are ‘notebooks’ - collections of individual notes. In the centre pane are brief snippets of each note in a notebook. Here you can determine how notes are viewed. On the right is the editing pane. Click ‘New Note’ to start.
Step 4. Type a title for your first note and add some text. If Auto Save is checked, your note will get saved and be shown in the centre pane automatically after a short wait. Use the formatting ribbon if you need to. Click ‘Done’ to finish.
Step 5. To create a new notebook click the down arrow by Notebooks on the top left of the screen. Select it to start adding notes. Attach images or other files to notes by choosing the paperclip icon on the ribbon.
Step 6. To share notebooks with others click the down arrow next to the notebook name then select ‘Share this notebook’. Invite sharers using the dialog box. You can allow others to modify a notebook if you pay and become a premium subscriber.
Step 7. Download Evernote for your mobile devices to get more from it. Once you’ve signed in, synch notes and add more content as you need to. There are free apps for the iPad and iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone 7.
Step 8. On the iPad, for example, you can create new content easily and it will sync to your account so you can view it on other devices. Mobile devices can even append your location to notes automatically.
Step 9. There are some other Evernote tools you can use. Go to www.evernote.com and take a look at Skitch, Web Clipper, Hello, Food, Clearly and Peek. These utilities don’t work across all platforms, but you're bound to find something that works well for you.