Last month Evernote released version 5 for the Macintosh desktop clients. It was a fairly extensive release packed with all kinds of cool new features. Now that I’ve had some time to use it and get to know it, I’ve got a few tips to share how it can help you go paperless and be more productive.
Tip #1: Use Shortcuts as Paperless “Stickies” or “PostIts”
I will admit that one of the most difficult things for me to do when going paperless was give up my need to tack PostIt notes to my monitor to remind me of things, or to help keep track of things that I was working on. Sure, there were Mac OS features that introduced “virtual” stickies, but none of these ever worked for me in a practical sense because they felt too ephemeral. With the introduction of Evernote 5 for the Macintosh, however, I found an answer to my problem. The new “shortcut” feature.
Shortcuts are what they sound like: a quick link to any arbitrary note, maintained neatly in the upper-left portion of the Evernote window. Creating a shortcut to a note is simple:
- Find the note you are looking for.
- Right-click on the note and select the Add Note to Shortcut option.
Here is an example:
I don’t think there is a limit to how many notes you can add to your shortcut list, but I try to keep mine a short “working” list. That is, I try to keep notes that I reference frequently while I am working, but that may also change frequently from project-to-project. Looking at my list, I have five notes at present:
- Lord of the Rings Reading Notes: I am rereading Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings for the first time in 30 years and I’ve been taking notes as I go along, so it is convenient to have these notes readily accessible.
- Frequent Links: this is a list of notes to pages or sites that I link to frequently. It’s convenient to pull up this note, copy the link I need, and paste it in my post or email. Faster than having to retype it each time.
- Daycare payment schedule: the payments vary month-to-month depending on how many days, so it’s convenient to pull this note up to figure out how much has to be paid each month.
- Note on a nonfiction article I’m working on. I have a mid-month deadline and there was some research involved on this project, so it’s nice to have those notes readily accessible.
- Critique of a story that I am revising. I’m working on some revisions to a story I submitted to a magazine–the editor requested a few changes and it’s convenient to have notes from critiques of that story from my writers group readily available.
And if you want to remove a link from your shortcut, you can simply right-click on the note (or shortcut) and select the Remove from Shortcuts option.
Tip #2: Use the new Tag View as an Index
One of the more visually appealing features of the new Evernote 5 is the tag view that is provided. You can get to the tag view by clicking on the Tags item in the sidebar:
Once selected, what you see is a slick looking alphabetical sort of all of your tags. (You can alter this to show tags by count instead of alphabetically.) Here is what my tag view looks like:
I tend to use tags more for managing lists and for automation. Some people use tags for organization. Because of that my list of tags is pretty small. Still from this view, it is easy to produce some quick searches for things that I might be looking for. Suppose for instance I wanted to find all of the items I’ve read that I’d consider recommending to others. I have a “Reading” tag which I use to mark everything I’ve read. I also have a recommended tag which I use to flag those items that I’d recommend. The “recommended” tag can be used for more than just “reading,” however. It might also be used for movies that I watch or music that I listen to. So in order to find just those items that I’ve read and recommend I need to use both tags. The Tags view makes this very easy.
I start by clicking the Reading tag:
Note that when I click this tag, I can see that there are 178 notes that match. By clicking the “Show matching notes” button (circled) I can go to the list of those notes. But I’m not ready to do that yet. I need to be more specific. Evernote 5 really helps in this by highlighting all of the other tags that contain notes tagged “reading”.” These tags appear highlighted in white:
You can see that “recommended” is one of those tags highlighted in white. But there are several others.
To select both “Reading” and “Recommended” I hold down the Shift key and click “recommended.” This immediately narrows the number of notes that match the criteria:
Once I’m satisfied with my selection, I can click the “Show 16 Notes” button in the upper-right part of the screen to see the resulting notes:
I’ve only been playing around with Evernote 5 for the Mac for a little while, but these are two of the new features that I use most frequently and that I’ve found have increased my productivity. Plus, I can finally give up those stickies for good. Have you found any useful tips or tricks with Evernote 5? Leave your tips and suggestions in the comments.