Evernote: Remember Everything on Your Mac

Do you ever wish there was a single place you could keep all your notes, web clippings, voice memos, and incredible ideas for screenplays? Somewhere that synchronised your notes across all your various devices and made them fully searchable by their content or tags?

Introducing the uninitiated to Evernote – a single place for all the things you need to remember! Is it worth the money you ask? Well it’s free so we should probably have a look…

Remember, Remember

When considering a universal note taking app, it’s of vital importance that it warrants its place as your one and only! Fortunately Evernote makes a great stab at covering all the bases by including a myriad of different note taking options:

  • Type a text note
  • Clip a web page
  • Snap a photo
  • Grab a screenshot
  • Upload a voice memo


One thing that sets Evernote apart is its ability to comprehensively search your notes, which it does by automatically indexing your notes and making them searchable. If you want to go a step further then you can simply give tags to your notes or arrange them into different notebooks!

Tags are a great way to track your notes – remember that you can give your note multiple tags if it fits in several different categories!

As you dig deeper into Evernote, you’ll find that the number of notes you take increases dramatically as you familiarise yourself with its extensive capabilities. This is where the ability to search comes into its own. You never have to worry about organisation when adding notes on-the-go, as you can quickly find them later. Using OCR technology, Evernote even makes printed and handwritten text inside your images searchable too! (and if that isn’t worth an exclamation mark then what is?)

Web Clipping

Web Clipping

Using Evernote

Getting started with Evernote is easy. You simply go to the Evernote website, sign up for a free account, and download the Mac app. In this review I’ll focus on the nature of the Evernote Mac app, but it is worth noting that it has a great iPhone companion and the Web App can come in very handy – for those (rare?) occasions when you’re in dire need of your notes and away from your Mac.

Signing Up

Signing Up

Once downloaded, Evernote allows access to all its functionality through a single interface – it’s simple but powerful. It has three possible layout settings but doesn’t faff around with further customisation that you simply don’t need. I hardly need to go into the use of Evernote’s interface as it manages to be consistently intuitive, with everything where you would expect it to be.



The left column has your notebooks, tags, attributes, and saved searches, while the centre column lists your notes and the right column displays each individual note as you select it. I like the way the left column allows you to quickly narrow down the notes you are looking at by selecting a tag, previously saved search, or attribute such as:

  • When it was created
  • When it was last modified
  • What kind of information it contains
  • The original source

One of the best things about Evernote is the way in which in syncs across all platforms. Whenever you open or close the app, it synchronises all your ideas, snapshots, voice memos, and notes so that they’ll never be forgotten! It’s also possible to force a sync if the note you’ve just uploaded is just too valuable to risk a crash on…


The choice of whether or not to go premium will entirely depend upon your personal use of Evernote and whether the extra data storage is worth it (500mb per month as opposed to 40mb on a free account). Personally I don’t find that the small adverts are particularly bothersome – they mostly seem to want me to buy an Evernote t-shirt!



It’s worth noting a couple of criticisms before I hit the bottom line. It’s slightly strange that Evernote allows you to take iSight snapshots but doesn’t allow you to record voice memos from within the Mac App. The iPhone App lets you do this and it’s an odd omission from an otherwise feature-packed Mac counterpart.

Another criticism would be that Evernote lacks the capabilities to be an adequate cloud based file manager – while you can email PDF files (and the like), the lack of a standard folder structure will frustrate the organised.

It is clear, however, that Evernote was not built for file management and it actually does what it does extremely well. If you do need a cloud based file manager then stick to an app that does that well, like Dropbox.

Evernote 2.0

As I was writing it appears the development team at Evernote have been bravely slaving away on their Evernote 2.0 beta and have released the full version! I’ll briefly look at the impact of the two key additions, sharing and stacks.



As you can see above, sharing adds a new tab at the top of the notebooks sidebar that switches between your own Evernote account and those notebooks that have been shared with you. There are a vast array of options including sharing your notes with individuals, groups, and even making them publicly available! Premium account holders gain even more value from this update as they can now edit others’ shared notes, make their shared notes open for editing, and see the history of a particular note – invaluable for group collaboration!

The other major new addition is the inclusion of notebook stacks, in response to the requests of its users for a good way to further organise notebooks. Simply put, stacks allow you to group notebooks together and keep Evernote tidy!



Evernote 2.0 also includes some smaller additions that, overall, make Evernote even better! It’s great that the Evernote team are clearly committed to their users and the future of their App.

Final Thoughts

Evernote is a brilliant app with some incredibly useful features for helping you keep track of almost everything. The main selling point is definitely its ability to cloud sync across almost any device, and its fully featured search functionality – it still amazes me that it manages to index some of my scrawly handwriting!

With very little not to recommend, and a development team who appear determined to support and expand Evernote, the future is bright. If you struggle keeping track of things or just want a single place for all your thoughts, ideas, and notes then I’d urge you to give Evernote a try. Sign up for a free account, download it on all your devices, and see whether it makes your life easier!


Evernote makes it easy to remember things big and small from your notable life using your computer, phone, and the web.



Add Yours
  • I agree with this review almost 100%, but I think you forget to mention the biggest drawback to Evernote (and the only reason why I do not use it): getting things out of Evernote.

    In order to make use of the great OCR technology and sharing tools, Evernote wraps every file in a proprietary HTML-ish wrapper. If you never plan to get your notes and stuff out of the app, that’s fine. But if you use the files in Evernote in other Mac OS X apps, then you’re going to be disappointed. Drag and drop almost never works, there is no Finder access and trying to import Evernote files into another app is typically a headache not worth attempting.

    I tend to use files on my Mac in various places (OmniFocus, VoodooPad, TextMate, etc.) so the limitations Evernote places on these files is a deal-breaker for me.

    • Totally agree

    • Indeed, and all this wrapping of HTML makes a two word note into a 50kb file. It’ll be unreasonable to have thousands of notes in Evernote on Macbooks.

    • Yep

    • Standard users can drop .mp3, .wav, .amr, .pdf, .gif, .jpg, .png, and
      Plain text into a note. Premium users can drop anything in and if Evernote does not recognize it, it just treats it as a container like a zip file. Evernote does change the page to a publicly available XML format named ENML so that it can do the magic of transferring the data to other operating systems that may not recognize that particular file type. For instance, Windows RTF and Mac’s RTFD are only partly compatible. Evernote bridges the gap with ENML so the file can go either way and it looks exactly the same in Evernote on either platform.

      On my Mac, If I right click on a .pdf I’ve saved in Evernote I get a “save as” with the file type .pdf to move it back into my system. Or, if I go into the Apple file structure: User / Application / Evernote / data – there is a SQL file containing the search index and a content folder containing each individual note in a sequentially numbered container folder. In that container is an html file with the page you see in Evernote, the image files from that html, the ENML file putting it back together, and a couple of thumbnails for Evernote to show in your selection panels.

      If I’m going to be doing stuff to that .pdf elsewhere in my system, you’re right, having it only in Evernote makes it difficult to get to. If you just want a place to save something, sync it to your other computers without thinking about it, then Evernote does what it says it will.

      BTW, I have over 3000 notes taking up almost 5 GB. When it gets too big for my Mac I’ll export / archive those notes I want to access least. No different than any other data I save.

      For premium users, if you really need to preserve a file structure while it is in Evernote, you can always put it in a .zip container. I right click .zip containers in Evernote to open in BetterZip and there are my original files.

      I don’t like these proprietary formats either, but until we get ubiquitous synching and universally standard file formats across ALL operating systems we use, Evernote helps bridge the gap.

  • Still holding out for Shovebox to get cloud syncing

  • I think they have increase the upload limit , 1G for permium user and 60MB for free user.

  • I thought the OCR-Scan (inside PDF, Handwriting recognition etc.) is just for premium users? May be, i´m wrong.
    A great feature of Evernote – and much more with the version 2 – is sharing of your Notebooks with other Evernote-User (via. direct include into Evernote) and none Evernote-User (via. Web-Interface).

  • For me the killer feature is using it as a To-Do repository, especially as MacMail lacks a ‘copy into a todo’ functionality. I simply forward certain emails into Evernote, give them a todo check box, file them to the various notebooks, and I’m on top of stuff.

    It may not be the sexiest todo management system, and it requires a small amount of discipline, but it works very well for me!

  • I’ve made the switch from Evernote to Springpad (springpadit.com) and really enjoy it. Much of the same functionality, but 100% free. For now. They claim to not be a direct competitor, but they are very similar. The iPhone edition could use a little tweaking, too.

    • I just did as well and workflow wise, SpringPad feels so much better to me. Plus they have a few good ideas when it comes to note categories.
      I think it solves all my note taking needs, be it musical, photo or movie ideas.
      But I agree, the iPhone edition needs a little work.

  • Is there a “paste note in plain text” option that I’m missing? Everything I paste into Evernote is riddled with web formatting…

    • No. Even if you copy and paste in plain text, it’s wrapped in HTML for Evernote’s use.

  • I recently started using Evernote and its “free” storage space is severely limited. I have over 4000 pics on my iphone and have used only half the iphone capacity. I uploaded 166 pics from the iphone to Evernote, used 99% of Evernote upload capacity and recieved a warning notice that Evernote utilization would be restricted until the next cycle. From a practical standpoint Evernotes data restriction allows only 2% utilization of my iphones capacity per month. With this strict data limitation, it is more functional to use my iphone, ipad, and laptops and “Forget Evernote”.

  • i love evernote -to add info to evernote i use click.to, is an app to upload text and photos.. free,,,, an idea for you guys