Going Paperless Quick Tip: How to Search Evernote for Attached Documents

Many of my notes in Evernote have some kind of document attached to them. More often than not, these are PDF files that I have scanned in. However, they can also be images, Word documents, or other types of documents that I’ve attached to the note.

Evernote has great search capabilities, and can, for instance, search the text of PDFs and image files, but sometimes that isn’t enough. Sometimes, I want to narrow a search down to a specific document type, PNG files, for instance, to find what I am looking for. Fortunately, Evernote has some advanced search capabilities that makes searching for attached documents much easier.

The simplest way of doing this is to use the “resource” option in your searches. For example, suppose I wanted to search only notes containing PDF files. To get a list of all of the note I have that contain PDF files, I would type the following into the search bar:

resource:application/pdf

Here is an example of what this looks like:

PDF Search

From this, you can see that the only notes that show up are notes that have PDF files attached to them. In this case, I have over 1,100 notes that contain PDFs. This can help narrow down your search to notes with a specific document type, much in the same way a notebook qualifier would narrow your search to a specific notebook. To see the difference, take a look at this:

Here is search for the term “scientific american” across all of my notes. I put the term in quotes in the search bar so that it searches for the entire term and not just the words. It is trying match the term “scientific american” and not “scientific” and “american.”

Scieam search 1

Note that my search results in 124 matches. These includes notes with attached documents, as well as notes without attached documents (where the phrase “scientific american” appears somewhere in the note.)

Now, here’s is the same search, but filtered so that I am only looking at notes with PDFs attached to them:

Sciam search 2

In this case, I did the following search:

resource:application/pdf "scientific american"

and and the result was 85 matching notes. That means that I have 85 notes with PDFs that contain the phrase “scientific american.” You can see that adding the “resource” attribute to my search eliminated nearly 40 notes from my search. Put another way, there are 40 notes that contain the phrase “scientific american” that don’t have PDFs attached to them.

You can search for other document types using the “resource” attribute. If I want to search for all notes that contain image files, I can do the following:

resource:image/*

and that will find all notes containing image files:

All Imags

In this example, I searched for all images and the result was 1,226 notes containing images. If I narrowed that search to a specific image type, say, PNG files, I get:

Image PNG

733 of my notes have PNG image files.

Searched clipped items

I clip a lot of stuff from the web using Evernote’s web clipper. I clip PDFs, images, and web pages. Sometimes, when I’m looking for something, I know that I clipped it from the web, and I know that it is an image or PDF, but I don’t remember much else about it. In these cases, another search attribute can help: source.

For example, say I want to skim through all of the PDF files that I clipped from the web since June 2013. My search would look like this:

resource:application/pdf source:web.clip created:20130601

and here is the results:

Clipped PDFs

You can see that I’ve clipped 13 PDFs using Evernote’s web clipper since June 2013.

Of course, all of these searches can be made into saved searches, in order to save you a little typing down the road.

There are also lots of other advanced search attributes you can use. For more information, see Evernote’s Search Grammar document.

Happy searching! And Happy New Year, everyone!


If you have a suggestion for a future Going Paperless post, let know me. Send it to me at feedback [at] jamietoddrubin.com. As always, this post and all of my Going Paperless posts is also available on Pinterest.

Last week’s post: My paperless year in review.

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One thought on “Going Paperless Quick Tip: How to Search Evernote for Attached Documents

  1. Hi Jaime, another way to find a pdf file is
    filename:*pdf. This can also be applied of course to Word, Excel, etc file types.

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