How to organize and search notes in Evernote


Evernote is a note-taking service that allows users to quickly capture information from a variety of sources. This information is collected as notes. However, as the number of notes in your Evernote system increases, it can get unwieldy very quickly. Fortunately, Evernote provides several different ways to manage and organize your notes. This post will teach you how to organize and search notes in Evernote like a pro!

Before we get started with the tutorial, if you are looking to learn more about apps like Notion, Evernote, Todoist, Google Docs or just how to be more productive (like Thomas Frank’s Productivity Course), you should really check out SkillShare. Skillshare is an online learning platform with courses on pretty much anything you want to learn. To learn more about Skillshare and its vast library of courses and get TWO FREE MONTHS of UNLIMITED CLASSES, click the link below:

SkillShare – Online Learning Platform

If you are new to Evernote or simply looking to improve your productivity in Evernote, you should check out my Beginner’s Guide to Evernote at the link below:

Beginner’s Guide to Evernote – The Productive Engineer

This comprehensive guide will teach you all you need to know to use Evernote productively.

Notebooks in Evernote

The primary way that most Evernote users organize their notes are using notebooks. Notebooks are a collection of notes. This idea of notes and notebooks makes is easy to grasp as it relates to physical notebooks filled with notes. The analog is that much as you fill physical notebooks with notes, you fill Evernote notebooks with individual notes.

How many notes and notebooks can I have in Evernote?

Evernote system limits
Maximum number of Evernote notes allowed by subscription option

The capacities of Evernote are different based on the level of subscription. Evernote has four different subscription plans:

  • Basic
  • Plus
  • Premium
  • Business

The number of notes for a single user is 100,000 notes. The business subscription allows for up to 500,000 but that number is the total number of notes allowed across all the users of a business.

Evernote system limits
Maximum number of Evernote notebooks allowed by subscription option

Like the max number of notes, the max number of notebooks also depends on the level of subscription. Basic allows a maximum of 250 notebooks while Plus and Premium subscriptions allow a max of 1,000. Business accounts allow a maximum of 10,000 notebooks but, like the notes limit, is the aggregate total across all the users of a business.

How to create a Notebook in Evernote

To create a new Notebook in Evernote Desktop, go to:

Creating a new notebook in Evernote Desktop
Creating a new notebook in Evernote Desktop

File -> New Notebook

This will bring up a “New Notebook” dialog box. Fill in the name of the notebook. You have the option to set the notebook to either a private or shared notebook. Private notebooks are notebooks only your account can see. Shared notebooks allow you to share your notebook with others.

You can also use the keyboard shortcuts to create a new notebook, which are listed below:

  • Mac: Shift/Command/N
  • Windows: Shift/Control/N
Adding a new notebook in Evernote web client
Adding a new notebook in Evernote web client

If you are using the web version of Evernote, in the legal panel of the Evernote screen, press on “Notebooks”. This will bring up the notebooks screen. On the right-hand side of the screen is a button labeled “New Notebook”. Click that button and give your notebook a name then press “Continue”. Your notebook will be created.

How to add or move a note to a Notebook

Move Note to... dialog for Evernote Desktop client
Move Note to… dialog for Evernote Desktop client

There are several ways to add notes to a notebook. If you are using the desktop client, you can simply right click on the note and select “Move note to” or use the keyboard shortcut listed below:

  • Mac: Control, Command, M

Or you can just click and drag the note onto the notebook you want it to be in.

Move to... dialog for Evernote web client
Move to… dialog for Evernote web client

If you are using the web application, click the vertical ellipsis button in the top right-hand side of the note you want to move and select the “Move to..” dialog.

Dialog with list of notebooks to move note to in Evernote web client
Dialog with list of notebooks to move note to in Evernote web client

A second dialog box will pop up. Select the notebook and press the “Move” button.

How to move several notes into a notebook at the same time

Moving multiple notes into a Notebook in Evernote
Moving multiple notes into a Notebook in Evernote

In the desktop clients of Evernote, you have the ability to move multiple notes to a notebook at the same time simply by holding down the “Shift” key and selecting the notes you want to move. Once you have done this, you will see the note area populate with several options including “Move Notes to”. Press the “Move Notes to” button.

A list of notebooks to move note to in Evernote desktop client
A list of notebooks to move note to in Evernote desktop client

A dialog box will pop up with a list of your notebooks. Select the notebook and click “Move” to finish moving your notes into the notebook.

How to organize notes into notebooks

Now that you know how to move notes into notebooks, the question becomes:

How do I properly organize my notes into notebooks?

There are many different ways to design a notebook structure. Enclosed below are a few popular ones:

Organize by Topic

Probably the most straight-forward method of organization. Examples might include:

  • Sailing
  • Programming
  • Guitar
  • Vacation ideas

Organize by Category

It can also make sense to organize by category. Categories could include:

  • Expenses
  • Work stuff
  • Our Kids
  • Business

How you organize your notebooks will largely be a function of your particular workflow. It is important to try to pick a way upfront as changing it can be a pain if you have a lot of notebooks and notes.

Can Evernote notebooks be locked?

The answer is not really. If you want a notebook to only be available to you, you should make it a private notebook. If you have a shared notebook you wish to make private, you can change it to private.

Changing shared notebooks to private in the desktop client

Modifying sharing controls in Evernote desktop client
Modifying sharing controls in Evernote desktop client

To do this in the desktop client, right-click on the notebook and select “Modify Sharing…”

Changing notebook availability to private in Evernote desktop client
Changing notebook availability to private in Evernote desktop client

Change the notebook availability from shared to private and press the “Done” button.

Changing shared notebooks to private in the web client

Modifying sharing controls in Evernote desktop client
Modifying sharing controls in Evernote desktop client

The web client is a little different but easy enough to do. Click on “Notebooks” in the left hand panel. Next, click on the ellipsis of the notebook you want to limit access to on the far right-hand side of the notebook listing. Select the “Share notebook” dialog. A new dialog box will appear (Share [YOUR NOTEBOOK NAME]). Click the “Stop Sharing” button in the bottom left corner of the dialog box.

Turning off notebook sharing in Evernote web client
Turning off notebook sharing in Evernote web client

A new dialog box will appear and confirm with you whether you want to stop sharing. Click the “Stop sharing” button to make the notebook private.

Can I copy a notebook in Evernote?

While you can duplicate a note, you cannot duplicate a notebook.

Can I merge notebooks in Evernote?

You can but is is a workaround. There is no inherent feature that allows this to be done. The best way to describe would be to use an example. Let’s say we have 3 notebooks we want to merge into one. We could either:

  • Pick one of the existing notebooks as the “destination” notebook and move all the notes from each of the other 2 notebooks into it
  • Create a new notebook and move all the notes from all three existing notebooks into it

It admittedly is not an elegant solution but does work.

Can you nest notebooks in Evernote?

You cannot nest a notebook inside of another notebook. However, you can group notebooks together into a collection. This collections is called a stack.

Stacks in Evernote

Evernote supports the ability to group multiple notebooks into a collection they call a stack.

How to group notebooks into stacks?

Desktop Client

To create a stack in the desktop client:

Notebook button in Evernote desktop client
Notebook button in Evernote desktop client
  1. Click on “Notebooks” in the left panel to display all of your notebooks in the main display area.
  2. There are two ways to group the notebooks into a stack. You can either:
Creating a new notebook stack in Evernote desktop client
Creating a new notebook stack in Evernote desktop client
  • Drag one notebook onto another to create a stack
  • Hold down “Command” and click on each notebook you want to add to your new stack
  1. If you used the “Command” option, right-click and select “Add to Stack” > “New Stack”.
  2. Your new stack is created. to rename your new stack, right-click on the stack header and select “Rename…” and change the name of your stack.

Web client

Creating a stack in the web client is slower because you have to go one notebook at a time.

To create a stack in the web client:

Creating a notebook stack in Evernote web client
Creating a notebook stack in Evernote web client
  1. Click on “Notebooks” in the left hand panel
  2. Click on the ellipsis for the notebook you want to add to your new stack
  3. Select “Add to Stack” > New Stack…
  4. A new dialog box (Create a new stack) will display. Give you stack a name and press “Create”
  5. Your new stack will be created
  6. Repeat process for each subsequent notebook you want to add to the stack

Does Evernote support having stacks within stacks?

No. Stacks are a collection of notebooks only. You cannot put a stack inside another stack.

Tags in Evernote

Tags are also supported by Evernote and work in the way you would likely expect.

What are tags?

Tags are essentially keywords (metadata) you can add to your notes that can be very helpful for searching for notes.

How do i add a tag to a note?

Adding tags in Evernote desktop client
Adding tags in Evernote desktop client

To add a tag to a note in Desktop client:

  1. Select a note
  2. At the top of note, there is a tag icon and a text box.
  3. Click in the text box and type in your desired tag name and hit “Enter”

Your note now has a tag.

adding tags in Evernote web client

To add a tag to a note in the web client:

  1. Select a note
  2. At the bottom of the note, there is a tag icon and a text box.
  3. Enter your tag name in the text box and press “Enter”

Your note now has a tag.

How are tags useful in Evernote?

The easy way, at least for me, to thing of tags is a series of filters. When you search for a keyword or phrase in a conventional search, you could end up getting a lot of unrelated search results. This makes it harder to get to what you want. Conversely, a search that includes tags will be much more refined. You will get results (assuming you were consistent in your tagging) that are much more granular.

An example of how tags can be helpful

Searching Evernote with only a keyword
Searching Evernote with only a keyword

Let’s say I am trying to find a guitar article I had read awhile back. I go into Evernote and search my notes for “guitar”. I get 212 results. Not great.

Adding tag to Evernote search in desktop client
Adding tag to Evernote search in desktop client

Now let’s try the same search while using a tag as part of the search. This time in addition to searching for the keyword “guitar”, I also add a tag. I remember that the article was on Tim Ferriss’s blog. I know I tag all posts I get from Tim’s blog with the tag “Tim Ferriss”.

So I add the tag to the search.

Searching with both a keyword and a tag in Evernote desktop client
Searching with both a keyword and a tag in Evernote desktop client

Now I get the exact result I was looking for because Evernote was able to correlate every note that had the word “guitar” that also has a tag of “Tim Ferriss”. This additional filtering also Evernote to zoom in on what I want across the 212 prior results.

How to search using tags in Evernote?

Selecting tag as a search option in Evernote desktop client
Selecting tag as a search option in Evernote desktop client
  1. Click on the search field at the top of the Evernote Window
  2. Type in your initial search term(s)
  3. Click on “Add Search Option” and select “Tag”
  4. Select your tag from the dropdown menu. To save scrolling you can start typing the name of the tag and it will take you to the tag you want.
  5. Select the tag and click “Add”
  6. Evernote will perform the search and return the results

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Amazon link to Doxie Go SE Wifi

Summary

Evernote leverages stacks and notebooks to create a hierarchy for storing notes. It uses tags to filter searches to help users get to the note they are looking for. As you get more comfortable using these features, you will likely find that you are able to stay organized and find the information you need quickly, which is the whole point of a productivity system.

Check out our Resources page

Check out our resources page for the products and services we use everyday to get things done or make our lives a little easier at the link below:

Link to resources page

Helpful Links

Evernote Help & Learning Page:

link to Evernote learning page

Keyboard shortcuts for Windows:

link to Evernote windows shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts for Mac:

link to Evernote mac shortcuts

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