Tag Team Tech August 2012
Keeping it All Straight: Using Evernote to Stay Organized
Sometimes it feels like we’ve got too much information coming our way, and even finding the methods for keeping track of technology trends and news can be overwhelming! This month, I’ll look at how Evernote can help you keep track of websites, notes, to-do lists, ideas, and more. You can even use Evernote to share information with your students, patrons, and colleagues.
Evernote is a powerful, free program available for both PC and Mac operating systems. While it does have a web interface, the client is far more powerful and user-friendly. Here are some of the features that make it such a great tool:
Just like you can organize your paper notes into notebooks or folders, you can use notebooks in Evernote to sort all of your notes into categories. You may be like me and use only a few categories (see above — personal, Hamden Hall [work], professional development, and conference and meeting notes), or you may choose to make a larger number of more specific notebooks. If you only have a few notebooks, you can use tags to get more granular; for example, you could tag your “school” notes by grade level or your “library” notes by categories like “programming” or “collection.”
The most basic feature that Evernote offers are plain old notes. These are simply text files, which you can use for lists, meeting notes, or anything else that you would normally jot down on paper. They allow for basic formatting, but I especially like the check box feature, which offers clickable boxes perfect for to-do lists. Notes can easily be dragged into different notebooks, as well as shared with others; you can email them or share them on Facebook or Twitter.
Audio and Photo Notes
If you prefer to record your notes, you can click on the microphone icon in your new note and record your voice, a talk you’re listening to, the meeting you’re in, or even something you’re listening to on the radio. The file is embedded into your note as a .wav file and it can be played right in the program, or shared just like text notes. If your computer has a camera, you can also take a picture directly from the note. It will also be embedded.
This add-on makes Evernote about a thousand times more convenient than it is already. The web clipper is installed directly into your browser, much like the Pinterest, Scoop.it, and Diigo buttons you may be used to. When you click it in your browser’s toolbar, you can either clip a selection of the site you’re on, the entire page, or just the URL. Evernote is smart enough to grab just the main text on the page, leaving out all the sidebar text, for example. Or, if you highlight a bunch of text before you click the Web Clipper button, it will just save what you’ve highlighted. If you select “entire page,” it will take the whole shebang, images and all. You can choose the right notebook, tag the data, and add a comment right from the pop-up window.
Web Clipper also works great with images. Right-click on any image online and you can clip the image alone into a new note. The note automatically includes the URL to the picture, too.
If you have a smart phone, you can install an Evernote app that makes it possible for you to save information on the fly. Snap a picture with your phone and save it to a notebook, or record your voice on your phone and sync it to Evernote. Your notes can be saved across platforms, so whatever you do on your phone will show up on your computer, and vice versa. I also discovered recently that notes on your phone will automatically save the location of where the note was created, which is great if you’re trying to remember a restaurant you ate at or, in my case, a lake I wanted to visit.
In addition, Evernote offers numerous additional apps, like Evernote Hello (remember people through images, contact information, notes, etc); Evernote Food (remember meals, restaurants, wine, and dining experiences) and Evernote Peek for the iPad (turn your notes into study materials).
If you’re like me and you’re using a ton of other social media sites in addition to Evernote, you’ll be pleased to know that there are ways to weave those applications into Evernote. For example, if you follow @myen, you can save tweets directly to your Evernote notebook.
At the same time, Evernote works seamlessly with Skitch, the annotation software that allows you to mark up screenshots in beautiful ways. Once you create something in Skitch, you can share it easily in Evernote.
And if you browse Evernote’s Trunk, you’ll see a countless number of mobile, desktop, and web apps that you can explore to find the tools that work best for you. (Some of these include Expensify, which allows you to import expenses and scan receipts for business travel; Noteshelf, which lets you import handwritten iPad notes into Evernote; and Instapaper, which helps you save online articles to read offline later.)
With the availability of tools that put Evernote at your fingertips wherever you are, and the power of the Web Clipper, you may find that this tool is just what you need to stay organized, to manage the flow of information coming across your screen, and to quickly save resources for later. More than any other tool I’ve come across, Evernote has the power to make sense of the chaos of online (and offline!) life.
For more information about Evernote:
Sarah Ludwig is the academic technology coordinator at Hamden Hall Country Day School in Hamden, Connecticut. Formerly she was the head of teen, technology, and reference services at the Darien (CT) Library, where she developed the library’s first teen program after serving as the head of library services at Wilbraham & Monson Academy in western Massachusetts for three years. She is currently the chair of YALSA’s Teen Tech Week Committee. Her book, Starting from Scratch: Building a Teen Library Program, was published by ABC-CLIO in June 2011.