Evernote – take your notes everywhere [App of the Week]

I have a lot of apps on both my phone and tablet, but the one that I use more than any of the others is Evernote. Since a recommendation recommended it to me, my life, both at home and work, has become more organised but with less effort.

Evernote – What is it?

Evernote is a free or paid-for app that can be downloaded to your smartphone, tablet and computer. It lets you to store notes electronically – including photos, audio clips and Office documents – putting them all at your fingertips whenever you need them.

I’m currently using the free version, but I’m likely to update to the paid-for version soon, which brings with it a 1GB monthly upload capacity, offline access to notebooks and the ability for multiple users to access and edit selected notes.

For more app recommendations, see our app review page.

5 reasons to try Evernote

  1. All your notes available everywhere
    I find this most useful in meetings, where I can find notes from earlier meetings without having to carry reams of paper around. You can even take photos of documents and store them in Evernote, where it uses optical character recognition (OCR) so you can search the text inside the photo.
  2. It’s paperless
    Over the years, notes can build up and, while there’s always a recycling bin nearby, a digital archive strikes me as a more environmentally sound option. You also never regret throwing out notes you later need.
  3. You can share selected notebooks
    Within Evernote you can create a number of notebooks. Most of these will be private, but if you choose to, they can be shared with friends, colleagues or publicly – useful when planning a holiday or working on a joint project. It’s worth noting, however, that you’ll need the premium version should you want your friends to be able to edit your notes.
  4. It supports multiple devices
    This means you don’t always have to access your notes through your tablet or smartphone. I’ve also downloaded the app to my desktop at work and my laptop at home. What’s more, I can log into my account through a web browser on any other computer. Apps are available for Android phones and tablets, as well as the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.
  5. It’s easy to use
    I think the best apps are often the simplest. But while Evernote is easy to use (searching for old notes is a doddle) that doesn’t detract from its versatility.

Click to enlarge

Ben’s first impressions of Evernote

I was first recommended Evernote by a colleague as a solution to the rustling paper problem that always used to occur back in the days when I recorded the Which? Tech podcast. Not only did it remove the rustling issue, but it also meant that I would have access to all the notes I’d need during the recording, without having to spend 15 minutes printing them out beforehand.

I now, however, use Evernote out of work almost as much as I use it at work. I’ve always been a fan of lists, whether they’re shopping lists or to-do lists, and Evernote is great for checklists. One feature that I’d like to see it include that it currently doesn’t, is the ability to mark checklists with completion dates. At present you can see when notes were created or last updated, but not when they were completed.

One other great feature that it offers when taking notes in meetings, is its automatic adding of the title of the meeting in your calendar to the title of the new note. In short, it predicts that you’re taking notes at the meeting that’s scheduled in your calendar. Overall, it’s an app – and a service – that makes organising your thoughts and activities much easier. I can’t live without it now.

Download Evernote now

For iPhone and iPad – Evernote

For Android – Evernote

Or have you already tried Evernote? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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20 replies

  1. Does it allow longhand notes because if not and you are a slow or mediocre typist (as most of us are), its impractical to record eg lecture/meeting notes?

    1. Not to enter directly, but you can take scans of hand-written notes. Alternatively, I use an app called Noteshelf on the iPad for hand writing notes, which syncs with Evernote.

  2. Have you also tried One Note, which is part of Microsoft Office? If so, I would be interested in a side-by-side comparison. What are your thoughts? I found One Note life-changing, but for a different reason: after installing it, I spent a lifetime trying to uninstall it!

    1. I’ve tried in the past. I found it tried to impose to many things on me – I like Evernote’s simplicity. I don’t know if Ben had tried it.

    2. …tho One Note has one top function. Whether you’re browsing, reading emails, reading a spreadsheet, a simple [Windows key] + S lets you click drag the area of the screen you want a snapshot of and loads it into a One Note page automatically along with a link to the website page if you were browsing. Similarly can OCR page for later word search.

  3. Evernote is a wonderful flexible app – it makes data storage simple and available to multiple devices e.g. laptop, tablet and phone.

  4. Evernote has great flexibility – yoi can arrange your notes in the manner that best suits your way of workibg. You can have 1 or many Evernote notebooks in your account to store your notes. You can tag individual notes with your own defined set of tags -maybe all the notes relating to a specific project, and/or all those notes relating to tasks you need “to do next” or whatever system suits you.
    If you receive an email tht you want to record as a note, just forward it to the Evernote email address associated with your Evernote account and a new note containing the email will be created in the notebook youspecify.
    You can link notes together – if there’s a number of notes that you’d liketo organise together, say notes relating to a meeting, ctreate a master note for the meeting abnd then copy each relevant note’s link and paste it into the master meeting note.
    If you take photos of information written on a whiteboard, say, and store this as a note, you can search your notes for specified text and Evernote will find that text even if it is on that photo of the whiteboard.
    As well as taking notes from photos you take with your smartphone, you can also take audio notes.
    There are plenty of apps that integrate or work well with Evernote.
    In terms of productivity, it’s got to be the most Value For Money app around – and it’s free!

    Even if you don’t have a smartphone, Evernote is still a powerful tool on the desktop as its web-based service allows you access to your notes from anywhere with an internet connection.

  5. When I looked at Evernote last year, I felt the free version was too limiting for anything but evaluation, the paid-for version too expensive when there are plenty of free alternatives available. I know Evernote offers more than simple file sharing and synchronisation but, between Dropbox, SkyDrive, Google Docs and SugarSync, I don’t feel the need to pay for Evernote.

    Or am I missing something?

  6. I too downloaded Evernote for use on my PC, Blackberry, iPhone & iPad and agree the cross- platform capability is very useful but in the end I reverted to a more simple app which runs in a browser and also on the Apple IOS platforms called Simplenote. It only does text written notes, not Word Docs or photos but it works flawlessly immediately synchronising across all the platforms. It’s also free but for US$20 per year you get versioning and backup etc. Worth a look I reckon see http://simplenoteapp.com/

  7. Evernote is far more than a note application. The searching is very fast and because it will OCR your scans/ photos you can use it as a filing system for bills, receipts, recipes or general information you have photographed. We love it!

    1. Fair point. I use OneNote on my PC and OneNote Mobile on my iPhone to do all of that. Re OCR, if you drop an image into OneNote, you can immediately search for text in it.

      If you use MS Office, OneNote probably came with it, in which case it’s “free”. Otherwise, Evernote is cheaper (free if you don’t need ‘premium’ features but that’s probably only a minority of users) and may well be the better choice. For syncing files between devices and sharing with others, you don’t need either – just use free tools such as Dropbox, SkyDrive, Google Docs and SugarSync.

      There’s an interesting article comparing OneNote and Evernote here:
      The conclusion is that there are significant differences and which you choose depends on you particular requirements.

  8. I am surprised and disappointed that you did not also mention that the Evernote app is also available on windows Phone 7.

  9. I’ve looked at Evernote before and very tempted to use it, only one feature though has stopped me and others that I read. Evernote that I’m aware of stores your files in the cloud, this feature alone I find not good for the UK. My business takes me to many places around the UK I come across many areas that don’t have internet connection, without internet your unable to get to your notes rendering Evernote useless.
    I’ve just spent two weeks in Europe, again with files in the cloud Evernote would not work for me, as great as is sounds.
    Can you confirm that notes are not stored on your devices?

    1. You’re right, Frank. Evernote notes are stored in the cloud and not locally on the device. There are a few ways around this, but if you need many notes when you’re without an internet connection then you may struggle.

      I make new note using Evernote when I don’t have an internet connection, and then I upload them to the cloud when I do. So when attending events, I take several notes offline, and I then upload them when I return to the hotel – or return home.

  10. For my part, I use Beesy on my Ipad. It changes my life at work and my productivity on differents projects. Every person of my staff is using this app. I think that Beesy should be consider as a very efficient way to manage your tasks. So far so good !

  11. The reason that Evernote is free is that it sends full details of the contrivance that you are using periodically to Evernote, and if you physically disable this by disabling the cached file it stops working! I would agree that it is a decent piece of software….but just remember that your pc system info is the payback.

  12. I got very excited at the possibility of clipping web pages and being able to file them in a digital notebook and then access on them again on my smartphone…but there is a problem…my main computer is Mac OS X 10.4 and web clipper does not work on this operating system…not sure I will use it without the webclipper.

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