Over the years, Evernote has gone through several design changes but one thing stays the same: the elephant logo. The elephant has remained the consistent image associated with Evernote and it begs the question: why an elephant.
In the English language there is a saying: an elephant never forgets. The reason why Evernote chose an elephant for its logo is that Evernote’s goal is to help you remember everything important. Evernote is great and storing and quickly retrieving the key data you are looking for in your notes. It allows you to capture ideas quickly and store them in a highly searchable database, putting your ideas in a trusted system that is easy to search. Elephants have remarkable ability to recall things that happened in their past and thus, an elephant is a great metaphor for Evernote.
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.
How Evernote Helps You Remember Things
While I discussed why Evernote chose an elephant for its logo and branding, it is reasonable to ask whether Evernote really helps you remember things. The simple answer is yes. The mechanism for how it helps you remember is a little indirect. It doesn’t technically help you remember as much as it provides an unattached supplemental brain that is easily searchable. While Evernote’s primary roles is as a note-taker, to me, it’s real value is as a vast repository of data (ideas, notes, pdfs, images) all searchable at a very granular level.
How good is Evernote at Finding Things?
Really really good. The search capabilities in Evernote are very impressive. Evernote’s utility as an external brain goes up exponentially the more things you put in it. It has powerful search syntax that, once learned, can make finding the one piece of information you need in a sea of notes simple.
Evernote’s Search Syntax – How To Be A Search Ninja
Search Ninja admittedly is a strong analogy but if you learn Evernote’s search syntax, you can really make your Evernote workflow more efficient. The biggest key to how well Evernote works for you is how quickly you can find what you need. It is as simple as that. The whole idea of a note repository like Evernote is to return the best search result for your query. The more you can narrow down you search criteria, the easier it is for Evernote to find what you are looking for.
Evernote provides the following operators you can use to find what you are looking for:
- intitle: – Searches within the title of the note
- notebook: -Searches notes within a specific notebook
- any: – Searches for a note that matches any of the search terms provided
- tag: – Searches for any note that has the tag
- -tag: – Searches for any note without the tag
- created: – Searches for notes created on or after the date specified
- updated: – Searches for notes that were updated on or after the specified date
- resource: – Searches for notes that contain a specific type of file (audio, images, pdfs, etc)
- latitude:, longitude, altitude: – Searches for notes created at or near the specified coordinates
- source: – Searches for notes created by the application (email, web clipper) that the note originated from
- todo: – Searches for notes containing checkboxes
- encryption: – Searches for notes that have encrypted text
Examples of How To Use Evernote’s Search Syntax
It is great to know that Evernote has these search operators, but how do you use them to help find what you are looking for? Well, that is what this section is all about. Enclosed below are some sample queries that I have used to help parse my mountain of notes (I currently have 3,498 notes and climbing).
Using The intitle: Operator: A Good Way To Start
Normally, when I am trying to find something, if I know that a keyword in the title of the note, I will use that as my first search criteria. For the purposes of this example I am searching for a note that has the word “Python” in the title of the note.
To search for the keyword “Python” in the title of the note, we can use the intitle: operator. Open Evernote and click on the search box in the upper right hand corner of the window. Type in the following (no spaces):
You may not get any results if you aren’t a programmer or like snakes so you can use another keyword you know you have in a some of your note titles. The search of my Evernote note database yielded 47 notes with “Python” in the title.
47 Results Isn’t Horrible But We Need To Do Some More Work
While narrowing down 3,498 notes down to 47 is good, it is not good enough. How else can I filter my notes? Well, I know the document I am looking for was a PDF file. Let’s narrow are search to only notes that have “python” in the title AND are pdf files. We will append the resource: operator to our search query:
You need to add the application/ to the operator value part in order to let Evernote know you are looking for a note with application type pdf. PDF is a file type not an application type but that is how Evernote likes it.
Unfortunately, that only narrow our search results from 47 notes to 41. Not a big impact so we will need to do some more refining.
41 Is Still A Lot, Maybe One More Operator…
We are very slightly closer but we need to make more progress. Ah I know what to do. I know that the note I am looking for is about Python and XML. I also know that any note that is about XML I assign an “xml” tag to. Let’s append our search to include the tag: operator and filter for notes with the tag “xml”:
intitle:python resource:application/pdf tag:xml
Voila! Now we have the one note I was looking for! Obviously for this exercise I used a slightly contrived example but you get the picture. Once you become proficient with the operators, parsing a large notes database becomes infinitely easier. I sometimes kick myself for taking so long to learn the search syntax as it has been such a timesaver for me when working in Evernote. Like most people, I can get pretty busy and the quicker I can get the information I need to do what I need to do the better.
The Thing That Makes Evernote Search The Best – OCR
We have talked about how search syntax can really help you out in finding the note you are looking for. But what about if you want to find some text inside a pdf file or an image. What if you want to search the contents of a handwritten note inside Evernote? This is the probably the biggest differentiator between Evernote and every other note-taking application out in the market today. Evernote is really good at searching inside of files. Evernote’s implementation of OCR (Optical Character Recognition) is outstanding relative to its competition. If you know a phrase in a handwritten note, image or PDF, you can simply search for the phrase in “” like this:
“The secret to everlasting happiness is …”
Evernote will return all notes with that EXACT phrase whether its in a traditionally typed note, handwritten in an image or if that text is inside a PDF. This is extremely powerful. I have a ton of manuals and guide in pdf format in my Evernote. If I need to look up some code or section on how to do something and I remember some of the phrasing, I search for that phrase and Evernote is uncanny in coming back with the document I am looking for. I highly recommend you give this a try.
The Doxie Go SE WiFi – A Wireless Scanner With Great Evernote Integration
Do you have a lot of documents you want to put into Evernote but do want to have to snap a picture of them one at a time with your smartphone? Let the Doxie Go SE Wifi do it for you! The Doxie Go SE Wifi will scan, OCR and file your documents into Evernote for you. This will allow you to search the contents of your documents quickly and easily. Don’t forget to use tags to add metadata to your notes to make retrieval and sorting easier. For more information on the Doxie Go SE Wifi, click on the Amazon link below:
Amazon link to Doxie Go SE Wifi
Evernote is really a great tool for dumping a lot of data you want to access later. It’s advanced search capabilities via search operators as well as tags and notebooks make it exceptional at uncovering what you are looking for quickly. I would say that the elephant is a good metaphor for Evernote.
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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:
Evernote Advanced Search Operators Page
Link to How to Use Evernote’s Advanced Search Syntax
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Link to Evernote’s Pricing Page
Evernote’s Help Page
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