Do you ever wish there was a way to keep track of little notes in one place? Or that you could search through various information whether it be hand-written or web content? Evernote might be the answer to your needs. It does not matter if the text is copy and pasted from the Internet, a scanned hand-written note on a napkin or words in a picture. Evernote is capable of letting you drop it all into your account to be searched later via their website, computer or smartphone applications.
Evernote's slogan is Remember Everything. The only way their service does not work is that you do not use it. It seems to be capable of handling just about any text you can throw at it. Making everything searchable makes it easy for you to remember everything you input into your account.
Features of Evernote
Evernote's front page currently has the three phrases: Capture Anything, Access Anywhere and Find Things Fast. We will use these divisions to take a look at what Evernote has to offer.
Evernote allows the user to capture many different types of content. You can scan and upload a paper document, write a text note or tag a voice memo. Evernote can do text searches on the file which will allow you to later find documents that contain certain words even if they were not manually typed in. This feature is also available on photos. Uploading a photo of a restaurant menu will make the menu searchable when you are looking for a certain dish. If you snapped a photo at every restaurant you visit, you will eventually have menus available from all your favorite places right from your computer or phone.
By using their "web clipper" browser extension you can save whole or partial web pages to your account with just a few clicks. Other text documents can also be sent to Evernote as plain text, or as certain digital file formats. Emails can be forwarded straight into Evernote so that you can clean out your inbox, but still keep important email and information handy.
Since Evernote is available on multiple platforms in multiple ways, it is easy to save and access your information from any Internet connected computer or phone. There are installable applications for Windows and Mac that Evernote produces and maintains. Because they have made their API available, anyone with programming skills is welcome, and encouraged, to create their own Evernote application that is specific to their own needs.
Evernote has smartphone applications for iOS and Android devices as well as Black Berry and some Palm and Windows Mobile phones.
Besides having the platform specific applications, all of the features are available at the Evernote website. This allows you to access your information from any computer whether you have special software installed on a device or not.
Find Things Fast
Because Evernote is available on each of these devices and platforms, it allows you to access your information quickly from any device. By having an installed application on your computer, you are able to store your information locally for those times when you are not able to connect to the Internet. Searching your data becomes quick and easy.
The way they are able to make the text available from photos and scanned images is through a process called OCR (Optical Character Recognition). However, Evernote takes a different approach to OCR technology. Even if OCR is 99% accurate at the character level, that means that 1 out of every 20 words is probably wrong (100 characters is considered 20 words). Instead of trying to figure out exactly what the individual characters of a word are, they make a list of all possible combinations of the letters that the text looks like. This is especially important when processing hand-written notes. This makes it possible for you to search your documents and return every note that might contain that word. Meaning you may actually get documents returned that don't have the word in it you are looking for. But that is better than not finding the document when you are needing the information. It is for this reason that Evernote can't give its users the text of their photos and scanned documents. Their process allows them to find all possible combinations of letters, but it is not possible to know which combination is the accurate one. The user will have to determine that.
Those are the details of how it works. The reality is that you will probably never notice the details, you will just know it works.
There are two Evernote account types: Free and Premium. Surprisingly, Evernote would rather you start as a Free user than pay the $5 a month Premium price. They know from seeing their membership history that the longer you use Evernote the more you become dependent on it. They would rather you use the free service to start with because that will make it more likely that you will become a long term paying subscriber.
The main differences between the two account types are based on how much you can upload each month and which file types are allowed. With the Free account you can upload 40 MB per month. Premium members are limited to 500 MB. The Premium account also lets you upload any file type, not just text, images and voice files. This means that Evernote can be used as cloud storage for anything that you might need to have access to quickly.
Free members are allowed to share notebooks with their friends. Premium users can not only share a notebook, but also collaborate, add to and edit each other's notes within the shared notebook.
Security is a high priority at Evernote. No one ever looks at your data. However, when data is transferred from your computer to their servers it is done through standard web transfer protocols. As a Premium user you get SSL encryption from your computer to their servers.
Once you become a Premium member, you are not stuck paying that price forever. If you have a month when you know you will need to upload a large amount of information because of a project you are working on, you can pay for the Premium account for just that time period. Any advanced features you use during the month, (for example, uploading various file types) are still available for you to access, you just can't upload any more advanced files without paying again. This means that you are never locked into the Premium account just because you tried it once.
All of your data is yours. They make it easy for users to pull their data off the Evernote servers and take it with you to another service or for use on your own machines.
There are many advanced features and abilities within Evernote. Creating an account is free and will give you a chance to check out Evernote yourself.