Going Paperless Quick Tip: Create a Table of Contents for a Set of Arbitrary Notes (Mac Only)

People organize notes in different ways, but the organization mostly involves notebooks and tags. Sometimes I’ve found that tags and notebooks are not specific enough to what I need. But I don’t want to create more tags or notebooks. For example: I will tag notes related to meetings as “meeting notes.” That makes it easy to filter my notes down to just the meetings.

But what if I was giving a presentation on a particular project? Okay, well, I suppose I could add a tag for every project I had, but for me, that would become unruly. Take it step further, what if I was giving a presentation on a collection of projects, what then?

Evernote for the Mac has a cool little feature buried in its guts that lets you generate a “Table of Contents” note automatically for an arbitrary set of notes. It works like this:

Step 1. Select any notes by Command-Clicking the notes in the note list:

Use the Command-Click to select multiple notes from your list of notes. These can be the result of search, or just picking and choosing arbitrary notes as you go along, like this:

Select Notes

Step 2. Click the Create Table of Contents Note button

Once you’ve selected all of the notes you want to collect together, click the Create Table of Contents Note Button as shown below.

Click TOC

The Results: A Table of Contents Note

That’s all there is to it. Evernote will automatically generate a Table of Contents note from all of the notes you selected. In the example I used above, my Table of Contents note looks like this:

TOC Note

Click on any of the links in the note, and Evernote will open up the related note in question. The Table of Contents function uses the title of the notes to build the list.

Some uses for the a quick Table of Contents

I’ve found this hidden feature to be quite useful in a number of places, for instance:

  • Collecting together a list of arbitrary notes for a meeting.
  • Having a quick jumping off point for references for a story.

But where I’ve found it most useful is in giving presentations.

I give presentations on Evernote every now and then. I’ll produce a slide deck, but do realtime demos within the Evernote application. I’ll use the Table of Contents feature to create a note that can quickly get me to the notes that I want to be able to show to demonstrate some feature or function within Evernote.

There are probably a lot more ways to use the Table of Contents note function, but I just wanted to provide a few example.

I checked on my Windows machine and I cannot find this function there, so it looks like it is Mac-only at this time. Still, for folks using Evernote on a Mac, it is a pretty cool little function, and a real time-saver.

ETAIn the comments, Dan Kerschen provides an easy way to do this on Windows systems.

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 Process for Keeping Evernote Clutter-Free.

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Published by Jamie Todd Rubin

Jamie Todd Rubin writes fiction and nonfiction for a variety of publications including Analog, Clarkesworld, The Daily Beast, 99U, Daily Science Fiction, Lightspeed, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and several anthologies. He was featured in Lifehacker’s How I Work series. He has been blogging since 2005. By day, he manages software projects and occasionally writes code. He lives in Falls Church, Virginia with his wife and three children. Find him on Twitter at @jamietr.

13 replies on “Going Paperless Quick Tip: Create a Table of Contents for a Set of Arbitrary Notes (Mac Only)”

  1. You’re right, you can’t find this function under Windows, but you can get the same result with 2 more clicks:

    First select your notes like you did in the first step, then right-click and “Copy Note Links”. Then you have to create a new note and paste your links into the body of the note.

    Voilà, easy ToC.

  2. Unforunately the links look like the following example and have to be edited manualy: evernote:///view/593538/s3/dff25437-e5a4-4564-a34a-1ztre2210519/dff21427-a5r4-4564-r34e-1ecbe2010569/ This is very annoying.

  3. Great tip Jamie!! Thanks a lot! How about making a table of content in your shared notebook containing all the articles from Going Paperless? This way it would be faster to have a quick look at all the titles 🙂

  4. A note to sorting: Your example has the reverse order – Day5,3,3,2,1.
    The function “Copy Note Links” uses the same order as you set for the Note List. If you want to create normally sorted table of content (Day1,2,3,3,5), switch the Note List to order by Title. Tested on Evernote 4.

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