Media Tools


Best digital compiling-filing

I teach a lot of courses, and collecting information to keep them relevant takes time. If I’m on the Internet, I might come across something good. The old way: I’d save it to my desktop, drag it to the relevant folder, and hope to remember the file (and what’s inside it) when the time comes to teach the course again. This process requires that I’m at the same computer every time–otherwise those files get lost. It took too much time, and required that I use my brain. I hate that.

Now, when I come across something, I copy it into I’ve been using Evernote for about six months. It lets me manage research files and web clippings — something that sounds easy but isn’t. If I’m at a school or library computer, no problem. I go to and paste it there. The note gets copied to my account and synched to all the computers I use. Evernote keeps track of where and when I got it, makes it searchable, and keeps it organized. It even presents clips nicely using a notebook (or scrapbook) metaphor.

Evernote is a like great digital filing cabinet or scrapbook–and it’s easy to use, cheap and powerful. It acts like a good archive should, too: It organizes the information, preserves sources and presents it well.

Fabulously, Evernote reaches off the computer and into the paper world. If you upload a picture or scan a piece of paper, Evernote will process the file to extract the text and make whatever text it finds readable.

If I have my own ideas or something not on the web, I go to the desktop application. I can enter text, pictures, video and even audio there. The desktop app is a junior word processor. I can also drag and drop files from other applications, such as Word. These too get searched and synched between all of my computers.

I tried Google Notebook (not flexible and now defunct), DevonThink (not easy to use, not everywhere), and Zotero (not flexible). Evernote is head and shoulders above these others.

I don’t have an iPhone, but I do have an iPod Touch. Evernote works really well on it. It only lacks an easy way to input handwriting, but that’s easily worked around with a third-party scribbling program. I understand that an iPhone works even better: you can upload snapshots easily.

If, like me, you have to manage many files on many projects, you may find that Evernote does a lot without requiring much. It’s cheap, too. There’s a free version, a $5 a month subscription, and a $45 a year subscription.

— Adam Norman

My favorite way to keep track of recipes is with Evernote. When I’m on a webpage that features a recipe I like, my first click is the Evernote button in my tool bar and then typically my second click, “Done,” is my last. This file will then be searchable by every word on the page, and the source URL is also automatically attached. Default presets can be chosen for virtually every option for saving and tagging the file with keywords for easy retrieval. Also, if there are multiple recipes on a page, I can select just the portion of that page that I want saved to Evernote, or the entire page.

Some of the many ways I’m able to save recipes to Evernote: I can take a picture with my Blackberry of a dish I’d like to recreate in the future, and among the toolbar’s save options is “Add to Evernote.” From my Blackberry, I can also upload a file or audio note (sudden salad dressing idea I had while driving) and add to Evernote. I can also use email or a DM note in Twitter to add text to my Evernote notebook.

When the time comes to look up a recipe, Evernote is very fast at searching, and if there’s some identifying characteristic about a recipe, I’ll note it with keywords when I initially save it, for example: “healthy,” “freezes well,” “vegan,” “dessert,” “try with tofu,” or “pressure cooker.”

Evernote’s outstanding for acquiring and filing recipes, but it can be used for everything, and that’s how I use it. For example, I researched a tire purchase and into Evernote went the Consumer Reports ratings and info, the data sheets from the manufacturer of the tires I was considering, the pages about these tires from, the special offer information ($70 off 4 tires), a picture of my tire sidewall showing the tire size and finally, the purchase receipt after I ordered the tires from Costco. I am sure you can see how much time and hassle this saved me and how when I shopped, instead of a stack of papers, I just used my Blackberry.

— Kim Price


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