I have had an on-again, off-again relationship with Evernote. Lately, it has been more on, again.
Some recent tools, upgrades, and improvements in my workflow have really improved the relationship.
My scanner is a beast. The Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500M scans 20 pages a minute, can hold 50 pages in the feed tray, scans both pages in a single pass, and did I mention it's a beast?
The bundled software has built-in optical character recognition (OCR) capabilities. . . but more on that to come.
The software also comes with an application manager, allowing me to choose how a document gets handled when I press the big blue button on the scanner--image saved to a folder, to an email, to iPhoto, or, my default, to Evernote. (I don't even have to have Evernote running; I can simply pop in a document, receipt, business card, hit the scan button, and a few seconds later a new Evernote note is available for editing with the scanned image in the body).
After scanning into Evernote, I slap the paper with a satisfying SCANNED stamp, and, eventually, shred the physical artifact.
TextExpander, like 1Password, and, increasingly Evernote, is one of those apps that I wonder how I computed before downloading it. Like the website says, TextExpander "saves you time and keystrokes, expanding custom keyboard shortcuts into frequently-used text and pictures."
David Sparks, in his book Paperless, outlines a strategy for naming files for readability, easy retrieval, and organization. I adopted his suggestion for adding a timestamp to the beginning of filenames and have found it incredibly useful in, well, readability, easy retrieval, and organization.
I set up a snippet to expand on
,,ts which uses TextExpander's built-in date functions (
%Y-%m-%d) to write out the current date in the yyyy-mm-dd format. I add this snippet to every Evernote note title followed by a description of the note's contents (for example, 2013-02-20 - Taco Mac receipt). (Given Evernote's robust search and OCR--which I swear I'm going to get to--I don't worry too much about the verbosity or detail of my note titles).
Another cool snippet I use for inputting scanned (personal and business) checks into Evernote uses TextExpander's fill-in forms to prompt me for the deposited amount and the payee (
,,deposit uses the content
Deposited $%filltext:name=check amount% from %filltext:name=payee% to write in something like "$5000 deposited from IRS").
Like I said, I'd get to OCR. The technology, despite being around for several years now, consistently feels like Disney Magic® to me. Essentially, software is run against your image and converts text found in said image, be it typewritten, handwritten, drawn, etc., into machine-readable and, more importantly, machine-searchable text. Like I said, Disney Magic®.
I scan a receipt from Whole Foods; two months later when I am curious about the insane amount of cash I dropped on maple syrup, I simply search for maple in Evernote, it pulls up the scanned receipt with the printed words "maple syrup."
I have begun scanning business cards, birthday cards (digitally preserving handwritten notes and letters from my family), receipts, bills, checks. . . basically anything that fits into the scanner (which is basically any piece of paper).
I haven't even touched on the app itself. The Mac app, recently upgraded to version 5, sports an improved and streamlined interface/UI, as well as a fresh coat of paint.
A few other quick pros for the platform:
- the iOS apps have also seen serious updates lately, which only improve upon their usefulness (hello geocoded notes and photos)
- the company has produced (or acquired) other first party iOS apps that are pretty sweet (I use Evernote Food regularly, am using Hello more and more as a contact manager, and Penultimate is a great note-taking app)
I still have some niggles about Evernote's lack of support for plain text and Markdown and the export formats (proprietary XML or HTML, ugh) leave much to be desired. But as an omnipresent repository and content manager for my increasingly paperless life, Evernote is really fitting the bill.