Many tools exist to help you clip articles, share notes, and save text as you read. But without a doubt, Evernote is the most feature-rich tool. Here are some quick ways you can make Evernote work for you.
Last week, I covered how to automate and control parts of your online and digital book reading with a tool called IFTTT. Today I want to cover Evernote, a popular note-taking app and highlight some features you can use to get started. While Evernote’s main purpose is to help you organize and take notes, keep to-do lists, and save files, it can do a lot more.
Evernote is best for those active readers who like to highlight text, save marginalia, and keep personal notes for research or for general information. Evernote is very popular among students and professional writers, like journalists and novelists.
But even if you just want to keep track of your information and store it for later, Evernote can do everything you need it to do.
This is by no means a definitive guide. Instead, I’ve picked out some key features of Evernote that often get overlooked.
Scan Print Documents and Books to Make Them Searchable
This feature works well for students and writers conducting research. Using your web cam, scanner, or smartphone camera, you can scan any print book. Evernote will automatically make the text searchable by scanning the characters.
A good use case for this is when you want to save a couple pages of a library book for future reference. You can then tag and organize this text in Evernote’s system, saving you some time.
Evernote’s scanning system also works on handwritten notes (as long as your handwriting is legible enough). Here’s an example:
As you can see from this example, the text is highlighted in the document after typing it in the search bar. This also applies to any other text-based scanned document you upload to Evernote.
Clip Any Website to Read Later
While you are better served using tools like Pocket or Instapaper for creating personalized magazines or reading longform articles, Evernote’s Web clipping tools help you save anything you find online.
I use the “Evernote Web Clipper” extension on Chrome. It’s also available on Firefox, Safari, Opera, and Internet Explorer. What this allows me to do is clip any website, which takes a screenshot of the site exactly as it is when I view it.
This is better than saving URLs. URLs and website content can change, and if you are conducting research, the last thing you want is to lose vital information because of a bad URL.
I use this tool when I conduct research for my own writing. I also use it to save interesting articles I don’t want to read right away, or that I’ve read but want to reference later. A good example of this tool’s use is that I use it to save articles for Friday Reads. It allows me to search the text of articles to find quotes for my column.
For active readers, Evernote Web Clipper allows you to annotate web articles however you see fit. It also helps you organize your articles using tags and notebooks within Evernote.
Backup Notes from Kindle
If you own a Kindle and take a lot of notes while reading, there are several ways to backup and organize your notes in Evernote.
Unfortunately, there’s not an easy way to do this. One option is to plug in your Kindle to your computer and save the clippings.txt file to Evernote, making your Kindle book notes searchable on your computer. This is the method I use and explain in this guide from last year.
However, there is another way. According to blogging expert Michael Hyatt, you can use Amazon’s public note-sharing system at kindle.amazon.com to move your notes into Evernote in a much easier, streamlined way.
However you approach it, Evernote is perfect for saving and categorizing your book notes. Back up your Kindle notes and use the scanning feature for any handwritten notes to save all of your research.
Ultimately, Evernote is the best tool for serious readers, writers, researchers, and marginalia aficionados. For me, Evernote and IFTTT together have made my online reading and writing easier than ever before.