Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Why I Adore Evernote

Because it's awesome. And using it, I wrote 3000 words for Camp NaNoWriMo today. Now, I am going to bed. I have an exam tomorrow. More later. :)

UPDATE June 21 :

Bad news: I hurt my hand with all the typing yesterday and test-taking recently. And I have an English exam (writing galore!) tomorrow. (I've taped my forefinger to my second finger to rest it. I hope it helps).
Good news: I aced my calculus exam
Better news: I have the rest of this post ready!

Evernote is basically a digital note-taking application. A cross, you could say, between a notebook and a file folder for stray articles and reference material. Only now, all this stuff is searchable, in one place, and accessible from anywhere. Awesome, right?

I've been an Evernote user since roughly November of last year, and I love it. As of right now, I have Evernote installed on my Windows laptop, my Apple iPad and my Android phone. I also use their webclient on a regular basis. 

Obviously, keeping notes is complicated and different people will want different things out of an application. Evernote isn't the perfect solution for everyone, but it's definitely worth a look and I highly recommend it.


Awesome features

Sync : All your notes are available across all your devices. Without a paid subscription (5$/month, 45$/year), notes aren't stored locally on mobile devices, but you can load notes while you have a wifi connection, and they will be on your device for quite a while. I use this all the time since I don't have a data plan - everything I open in the morning is accessible all day at school.

Flexibility : Evernote is built to allow you to create your own text-based notes, but it will accept pretty much any kind of file. I've yet to find something it won't take - I've saved images, webpages, audio files, PDFs, and even powerpoint slideshows.

Incredibly cool search : This is probably not high on anyone's must-have list, but I just noticed it, and it's very useful. When you do a 'find' search in a text document, not only does Evernote highlight every instance of the word or phrase you searched, but it also lays down a little yellow bar on the scrollbar at every point on the document where your search term exists. It's a great way to see how and where you're using certain words. I used it to track down where and why I was mentioning specific characters in my Camp NaNoWriMo novel.

Multi-level organization : Evernote allows you to organize notes into notebooks, and also tag them. Both notebooks and tags are stackable, although only to one level. I use this feature to find important things relating to a single project across folders (ie. everything to do with my WIP : the draft, revision notes, helpful articles and a blog post), or within large folders (ie. all notes with writing contest submission information, within my WIP notebook)

Email : Quite possibly the best feature. With your Evernote account, you get an email address, and anything you send to that address becomes a note. (and you can generate a new address easily if it becomes compromised). You can also specify which folder and what tags in the subject line of the email.


Areas for improvement

Text highlighting : Evernote has your typical bold/italicize/underline, as well as different colours for text and strike-through, but I can only find the highlighting tool on the iOS platform. No highlighter is a bit odd - selective ability to highlight is much odder.

Consistent formatting : I'll write something on my laptop, and it'll look good - all the same size and font of text. For no particular reason that I can find, when I open that same note later online, some parts are larger/smaller/in a different font. It's not a big deal to fix, but it's annoying for sure.


How I use Evernote

As a student: When I'm at school, I can simply log on online and make notes on any computer without having to worry about emailing documents or saving to a USB. When I get home, it's waiting for me, and any changes I make are available the next time I work at school as well.

As a writer: The ability to jot down an idea anywhere, and have it sitting on your computer when you get home, waiting to be expanded upon, is amazing. In February during FAWM, I used Evernote to write lyrics for songs, and save the audio files from GarageBand as well, so everything was in one place.

I also use Evernote to manage my fiction writing. Instead of a gazillion files and folders on my hard drive, I have one notebook and plenty of tags to keep my stories organized. I'm even writing my Camp NaNoWriMo novel in Evernote. I kind of miss Scrivener, but the easy sync and simplicity of Evernote are priceless for the no holds barred speed of NaNo.


Conclusion

I currently use the free version of Evernote, but depending on how my first few months at university go, I am seriously considering asking for a subscription to Evernote for Christmas. The free version is AMAZING, but I would love offline notebooks on my phone/iPad, and while the single and discreet promotion is really not annoying and sometimes very cool, I would like to have more room in my sidebar.

Check out Evernote for yourself.

P.S. No, I'm not getting paid for this. Opinions are solely my own etc...
P.P.S. Yes, I wrote this in Evernote.

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