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Getting Organized with the Evernote 3.0 Beta

Evernote does much more than replace your sticky notes.

Joel P. Bruckenstein, 07/10/2008

As regular readers of this column know, I've long been a fan of Evernote. I first discussed Evernote here in September 2005, and I was so impressed with its functionality (as well as the fact that the base version was available at no charge) that I singled it our as the Software Product of 2005.

For those of you unfamiliar with Evernote, I was originally drawn to the product because at the time it offered a way of storing all of the little bits of information that didn't conveniently fit elsewhere. In many ways, Evernote attempts to address the same needs as OneNote, part of the Microsoft Office suite of products, but it does so with a unique interface.

Visually, Evernote appears to be an unlimited roll of paper similar to a cash register tape. On that tape you can create an unlimited number of little virtual notes, so they have the feel of sticky notes lined up vertically, one after the other. There is a difference between Evernote and sticky notes, though, in that Evernote allows you to create notes of any size, and it automatically categorizes and indexes them if you want it to. This means you can actually search or sort through notes in a second and find the one you wanted at a later date. (Try that with a stack of yellow sticky notes!) It also offers better security than paper sticky notes because it allows you to encrypt individual notes that contain sensitive information.

There were many more sophisticated capabilities built into the previous version of Evernote, but to summarize briefly, Evernote version 2.2 (the current version until 3.0 loses its beta status) allows you to create notes that include text, snapshots, Web clips, handwriting, and digital ink. You can then search through these using a number of different tools. In addition, Evernote 2.2 makes it easy to share content with others via e-mail or IM. What intrigues me about the Evernote 3.0 beta is a new, more-intuitive interface. In addition, it has capabilities that far exceed those of previous versions.

Introducing Version 3.0
Although Evernote has many capabilities, until recently I still thought of it and used it primarily as a note-taking program. I suspect that version 3.0 will significantly change the way people perceive and use Evernote. That's because Evernote can truly communicate across platforms, make data accessible from virtually anywhere, and it can synchronize your information if you want it to.

Now, when you sign up for a free account, you get an online version of the application that includes 40 MB of uploads per month. To give you come perspective, I'm told that 40 MB is enough to upload 20,000 text notes, 270 Web clips, 40 audio notes, and 11 "high resolution" photos. If that's not enough upload capability, for a very reasonable $45 per year (or $5 per month if you prefer to pay monthly) you can upgrade to a premium account, which entitles you to, among other things, 500 MB of uploads per month and premium technical support. In addition to the online version, there's a Windows version, a Mac version, and versions specifically designed for certain cell phones such as Windows Mobile phones and iPhones. You can use Evernote with virtually any phone that has e-mail or Web access, but the special versions generally make it easier to perform common tasks.

With all of this connectivity, Evernote CEO Phil Libin says he wants the application to "be your external brain." What does he mean by this? Let's look at a couple of examples.

In a recent article titled Making the Most of Your Business Cards. I suggested that many advisors might benefit from a business-card scanner, but what about those who only need to capture that sort of information occasionally, or those who want to capture that sort of information when they don't have their scanner with them?

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