App of the week: Organize your life with Evernote!

You’ve likely heard of Evernote. If you haven’t, then don’t fret. Let me tell you a little something about a great little free app for the iPad, iPhone, Mac, PC, Android, Blackberry, Palm Pre, Windows Mobile and web!

Free, you ask? Yes, free. I believe there are some features you can unlock by paying for the business version, but for most people, the free version is probably going to be more than enough.

You’re probably wondering: What is it? What can I do? Now that I have enticed you with the zero dollar figure, let me explain. It’s listed under ‘productivity apps’ in the Mac App Store, so that should be a big clue right there. Essentially, this is a great ‘organize your thoughts and projects in one place and synch them to your devices’ type of app.

I don’t know about you but after taking notes in a meeting or class, I find that I rarely look at those notes later, and if I do, it’s impossible making heads or tails from them after a few weeks detached from the note-taking. Why? Because notes are typically taken (at least by me!) in chronological order. You write them down as points are heard and thought of. When looking back at my notes, I find myself wishing there was an index or table of contents to it and that it would automatically sort itself out into a more useful order of ideas and points.

So, what I do is sit down after said meeting and organize my notes in Evernote. I create a notebook for the project in question, then add individual notes to the notebook which allows me to sort all the notes made in the meeting.

What’s a notebook? What’s a note? It’s easy, really. Evernote allows you to create as many separate notebooks as you need. Think of a notebook as a folder of stuff all on one topic. In school, you may have a separate binder for each class you’re taking. This is the same kind of concept. And notes that you add to these notes books are like pages in that binder or notebook on that topic.

For work, I can have notebooks for projects, everyday notes, upcoming event planning, daily to-do lists, etc. For school, maybe you have a notebook for your English class and another notebook for History, but maybe another notebook for that big English project that you’re working on with a group of classmates. You get the idea. Throw some pictures in. Record a voice memo or two. Take a snapshot. Attach a file. Toss in some check-lists or tables of data or even just a list of things you need to remember (like deadlines).

Need reminders about deadlines? There’s an app for that, but why rely on another app when Evernote deals with that, too? There’s a “reminder” feature which emails you reminders if you need, too. So, set a reminder on a note for Tuesday at noon and Evernote will email you to say that the note is coming due at that time, closer to that time. For people with busy schedules, that is a super-handy feature.

Need to know when a note was created or updated? Want to set a URL on the note? Need to know who wrote it? Need a word count? No problem. It does that too. Just click on the “Note Info” icon and it brings all that up and more, including a place to add tags for better organization and searching as your notebooks begin to fill up.

But it’s not just about organizing your own notes, projects and thoughts: you can collaborate and share, too. Share to Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn or email. You can even just send a ‘share URL’ if you want people to access it online. Does the recipient need Evernote? Nah. But it helps! Just don’t forget to hit the synch button every now and then if you’re hoping to access your notes on other devices! Periodic automatic synchs do occur, but hitting the synch button every now and then makes sure all your changes get pushed to all your devices.

The only drawback that I could see (and perhaps this is a feature of the Pro version) was that there is no spellcheck. At least, I couldn’t find it, and it’s not automatic, like in WordPress, email and Word, for example. So, a word to the wise: edit your stuff carefully before publishing from Evernote. Run it through a spellchecker. Hand it to your BFF to read it over. Whatever you need to do, but make sure you take that extra step before putting your work out there from Evernote.

All told, I love this app. It’s made my work life so much easier. I even composed this blog post in Evernote before copying over to our blog. It is so easy to use and very useful. Compare a few different device views below. I’m sorry that I don’t have views for all listed devices above (I didn’t grab a screenshot of my PC app and I don’t have access to an Android), but check it out. It’s free. What do you have to lose other than confusion and chaos come crunch-time? 🙂

~ Kelly, Library Media Specialist

A screenshot of Evernote for Mac

Evernote for Mac

A screenshot of Evernote for iPad

Evernote for iPad

A screenshot of Evernote for iPhone

Evernote for iPhone

Do you have a favourite app for Mac, PC, iPhone/iPad, Android or any other device? Tell us about it in the comments!

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