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Better Organization Through Software

Evernote can ease lost-sticky-note stress.

Joel P. Bruckenstein, 01/14/2010

Sticky notes are so yesterday. They are small. If you have more than a few of them active at a given time, they quickly become unmanageable. Organizing them is difficult. They tend to stay in one place (typically stuck to your computer monitor), unless of course they lose their stickiness, in which case they end up lost. You generally do not file sticky notes; you throw them in the circular file when you are done with them.

As we enter 2010, if one of your New Year's resolutions is to get more organized and more efficient, you really need to begin by finding a suitable replacement for the sticky note. There are a great many options available to you, but one of the best I've come across is one that I've written about in the past: Evernote.

Evernote has evolved considerably since I last wrote about it in July 2008. This little application can capture just about anything, including a short text note, a picture, a Web page or a screen shot. Unlike sticky notes, Evernotes can be tagged with keywords and/or be processed automatically in a way that makes them searchable. The notes can then be indexed so that you can locate the information you require at a later date.

Evernote can also work across platforms. This is extremely important today, because many of us store information on multiple devices from multiple manufacturers running multiple operating systems. For example, I currently store information, at least occasionally, on Windows PCs, an Apple laptop, and an Android phone. Evernote supports all of them.

In addition, to the Evernote versions for Windows, Mac, and Android phones, there are mobile versions of Evernote that work with the iPhone/iPod Touch, Blackberry, and Windows Mobile. There are even versions for the Palm Pre and the Palm Pixie.

There are currently two Evernote subscription plans available: free and premium. Unless we specify otherwise, all features discussed are applicable to both versions. We'll get into the finer points of the premium version later, but for now, suffice it to say that the free version is sufficient for most beginners. If you become a frequent Evernote user, you'll probably be happy to pay $5 per month or $45 per year for the additional perks that the premium plan provides.

Working with Evernote
How does one use Evernote? Typically, you download the Evernote application to one or more devices. All downloads are free, so you can download Evernote to all your devices at no charge. Let's say that you begin by downloading Evernote to you PC. First, you must register with Evernote in order to establish a free online account; then you download the Evernote application. Once that is done, you can immediately begin creating notes. A note can be a typed note, an ink note (created with a tablet PC, for example), a picture, a PDF file, a Web clip or an audio file. Evernote even offers "Web clippers" for most popular Web browsers to facilitate clipping whole Web pages or portions of Web pages and turning them into Evernotes.

When you create a note in Evernote on your PC or your phone, you can sync the note with your Evernote online account. There are two advantages to doing this. The first is that when you upload a note, Evernote Web performs image recognition on the note. This makes the text within the notes and images searchable. So, whether the note is typed, handwritten, an image, once Evernote has cataloged the text within the note, you can later search for it.

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