Category Archives: quick tip

Going Paperless Quick Tip: See Evernote Reminders in a Calendar with Sunrise

I have been using the Sunrise calendar app for a few years now, and recently, they introduced a new feature that greatly expands the applications with which Sunrise integrates. Previously, I’d used Sunrise to view my Google Calendars, as well as Facebook calendars, the latter mostly to see birthdays or events.

In it’s most recent release, Sunrise now allows you to integrate other applications, including Evernote, so that you can see all of your calendars and Evernote reminders in one place. I love being able to see my Evernote reminders on a calendar. Here is what it looks like on my iPhone:

Sunrise iPhone

In the above image, you can see that I have items from my Google Calendar (“Vacation in Maine”) as well as reminders from Evernote (“Changed filter in water”). There is a web-based desktop version that you can use on your laptop or desktop machine, and that version looks like this:

Sunrise Desktop
Click to enlarge

I used to use Sunrise exclusively on my iPhone, but since the latest version, I’ve replaced my desktop-based Google calendar with Sunrise because it is so convenient to have all of my calendar’s in one place.

Sunrise is easy to setup with other services. You simply add an account in the Add Account section, select the services that you want to add, and follow the instructions to integrate with those services. Folks who use tools like Asana (for to-do lists) or GitHub (for coding) will be pleased to see you can integrate calendars from those services as well.

Sunrise Add Account

The integration with Evernote has been particularly useful because I use Evernote reminders for more and more things, from keeping track of when freelance contracts expire, to reminding me when to change the water filter, or register the car. Now I can see these things all in one unified calendar, and that saves me time and frustration. And best of all, it lets me see the big picture all in one place.

And for those wondering, Sunrise is available for the desktop (via a browser), iPhone, iPad, and Android.


If you have a suggestion for a future Going Paperless post, let me know. 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: 10 Ways My Use of Evernote Has Evolved Over Time.

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Going Paperless Quick Tip: Clipping Email with the Evernote Web Clipper

I was recently asked if there was a way to automatically eliminate the header information you get in a note when you forward an email message to your Evernote account. The short answer is to use the Evernote Web Clipper. This solution really only works if you are using Gmail, which I do. That said, if you have Evernote installed on a Windows machine and use Outlook, you can use the Outlook plug-in for Evernote to get some of this functionality.

I imagine that many Evernote users are familiar with the Web Clipper for clipping pages from the web, marking them up, and saving them to Evernote. But if you use Gmail, and have a message window open, when you click on the Web Clipper you will have an option to clip the email message you are looking at. Here is what it looks like:

Email Clipping
Click to enlarge

Here is how it works: Select the message you want to clip in Gmail and then click the Evernote Web Clipper icon in the toolbar in your browser (I use Google Chrome). What you will see is something like the image above.

1. Choose the Email clipping option. When you clip a Gmail message with the Web Clipper, you will see 2 options: Email or Screenshot. Select the Email option. (This is usually the default option for email.)

2. Select the messages you want to clip. In Gmail, messages are threaded. The web clipper gives you the option to select which message(s) in the thread you want to clip. It also makes it easy to clip all of the messages at once.

3. Mark up the message. Use the standard markup tools to mark up the message: highlight, draw arrows, annotate with text, etc.

4. Tag and file the message. Choose the notebook in which to save the message, and add tags, if desired.

5. Save or share the message. Click the Save button to save the email message to Evernote. You can also click the Share button to share the message with others.

Clipping email messages using the Web Clipper doesn’t add any of the forwarding headers that forwarding a message often adds, which is nice. It also makes it easy to tag and file email messages. And being able to mark up the messages is a nice bonus.

Some email messages I receive get automatically sent to Evernote without me having to do anything. But I tend to use the Web Clipper to clip one-off email messages. For example:

  • Confirmations of charitable donations.
  • Travel confirmations or itineraries.
  • Email messages that I want to convert to reminders.

I find the Web Clipper incredible useful, fast, and easy in situations like these.


If you have a suggestion for a future Going Paperless post, let me know. 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: 3 Ways I Capture Where I’ve Been with Evernote.

Enjoy these posts? – Tell a friend

Recommending readers is one of the highest compliments you can pay to a writer. If you enjoy what you read here, or you find the posts useful, tell a friend! Find me online here:

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Going Paperless Quick Tip: 3 Ways I Use Evernote to Avoid Sweating the Small Stuff

When I first started using Evernote, I did so with the full intent of pushing their slogan, “Remember everything,” to its limit. There are many benefits to this. In his book Getting Things Done1, Dave Allen points out that getting things out of your head so that you don’t have to remember them helps reduce stress. That’s as good as any reason for me. At first, some of the more arcane things I’ve put into Evernote seemed almost silly. But in the last year or so, it’s really started to pay off. So today, I thought I’d share some of the questions that have come up in everyday life that I’ve been able to answer because Evernote remembers for me.

1. When was the last time…?

The Little Miss was sick over the weekend. She will be three this summer and is rarely sick. Hardly ever a fever, a sniffle, or complaint of any kind. So when her fever spiked at well over 102 F on Saturday, it surprised us. Kelly asked, “Do you remember the last time the Little Miss had a fever?”

I didn’t, but Evernote did.

I’ve described how I capture “milestone”-type notes in my timeline notebook. These are notes that really don’t belong anywhere else, but form part of a bigger picture on a timeline of events.  I have also described how I think about searches in Evernote, especially when it comes to the question of “who”; that is, who is this note related to? Over the years, I’ve developed a practice of capturing simple, discrete notes, often nothing more than a title, and a tag for who the note is related to.

So, when Kelly asked me if I remembered the last time the Little Miss had a fever, I opened up the Evernote app on my iPhone and ran a search:

tag:littlemiss2 fever

This resulted in exactly one matching note:

Fever Match

Within seconds, I was able to turn to Kelly, and say, “The last time she had a fever was back on June 4, 2012.”

Initially, it took a little effort to remember to record these types of things at the time they happened. But it made it really easy to answer questions like this.

2. Changing the water filter

We have one of those Brita water jugs that goes into the fridge and into which you can put tap water from the sink. The tap water gets filtered and you get clean, refreshing water. And I always forget to change the filter. When I finally got around to changing it the last time, I did two things that will help going forward.

First, I created a note in Evernote indicating that I changed the filter. I filed the note in my Timeline notebook. Here is the entire note:

Water Filter

A quick search (for the term “filter”) brings this up as the first match. I can glance at the created date and see that I changed the filter on May 3. Since the filter is supposed to be changed every 2 months or so, I went one step further: I created a reminder on the note for July 2, so that Evernote will remind me when I need to change the filter again.

In this example, Evernote is remembering two things for me:

  1. When I last changed the filter
  2. When I need to change it again.

And I don’t need to do anything to remember this. Evernote will ping me when it’s time to change that filter again.

Continue reading Going Paperless Quick Tip: 3 Ways I Use Evernote to Avoid Sweating the Small Stuff

  1. I am not a GTDer, alas, but I took some good stuff away from the book.
  2. Not her real name.

Going Paperless Quick Tip: 5 Spring Cleaning Tips for Streamlining Evernote

The weather here has finally started to feel like spring. Better late than never, I suppose. Spring is my favorite season. Don’t get me wrong, I love the summer, but when you have to go through a cold, snowy winter, there’s nothing quite like spring. For many people, of course, spring means spring cleaning, and so I thought I’d share some tips for how I keep my Evernote account clean and tidy this time of year.

1. Scan any accumulated paper.

Paper accumulates, even for those of us going paperless. As I’ve said often before, I may be going paperless, but much of the rest of the world still runs on paper. So I use this time of year to scan in paper that I’ve been ignoring. Not too long ago, as we converted our old office back into a living room, we finally cleaned out the old filing cabinet. I scanned close to 1,300 pages over the course of 2 days. Most of that scanning sat around in my Evernote inbox until recently, when I finally decided that I was going to…

2. Achieve Inbox Zero

I have automated a lot of stuff that goes into Evernote, and for much of the stuff that is automated, it gets filed in the appropriate notebooks. But I still have an Inbox notebook and that’s where stuff like scanned documents, clippings, and other things go before I’ve had a chance to look at them.

My inbox was overstuffed because of all of the paper I scanned earlier in the year. So I spent time this spring trying to get it to Inbox Zero.

Much of this is a mindless task that can be done while watching TV (or, say, a Yankees game). Typically, I only have to do a few things with each item I come across:

  1. Give the note a title.
  2. Update the “create date” of the note to match the date of the document. This makes it super-easy to search for notes based on their dates, without having to come up with complicated titles that include the date.
  3. Decide if it needs a tag. Many of my notes don’t simply because I can find them using Evernote’s search capabilities.
  4. Decide which notebook it belongs in.

Sometimes, something gets into my inbox which I decide I don’t need afterall. I’ll delete these to avoid the clutter.

I also take this opportunity to refine my daily review, which helps to keep my inbox close to zero each night before I go to bed.

3. Review saved searches and shortcuts

I make extensive use of saved searches and shortcuts to speed up tasks in Evernote. My shortcuts, especially, change frequently. As I work on different projects, I move different items in and out of my shortcut list. Here’s what my shortcut list looks like today:

Shortcut List

During this season of spring cleaning, I review what is on my shortcut list and remove stuff I’m no longer using. I also look to see if anything is missing. I can already see two things that need to be added to my current shortcut list, and I’ll make sure to get those added later today.

I’ll go through a similar exercise with my saved searches, mostly looking to remove saved searches that I’m no longer using.

Continue reading Going Paperless Quick Tip: 5 Spring Cleaning Tips for Streamlining Evernote

Going Paperless Quick Tip: Edit Scanned PDFs Directly in Evernote

I spent much of my weekend scanning nearly 1,300 pages worth of documents in the filing cabinet. The only reason I did it is because we’re getting rid of the filing cabinet to make way for some new furniture.

I scanned all of the pages using my Fujitsu Scansnap s1300i, and in all of those pages, I didn’t have a single jam or problem.

That said, some types of scans are more difficult for scanners to figure out than others. Occasionally, one page will scan in upside down, while the next page is right-side up. Then, too, if the pages are thin, even one sided pages get 2 pages in the scan because the text from one side will bleed through to the other. I used to rescan all of these documents, which was a pain. But since Evernote made it possible to edit your PDFs directly inline (in the Mac version for now), I can take care of this easily from right within the note. I figured I’d describe how I’d do it so that you can see how you can do it for yourself.

Here’s a letter I scanned from my grandpa:

Inline Edit 1

 

Note that the first page was scanned upside down, and the second page is actually the text of the first page that bled through (thin typing paper) and was interpreted by the scanner as the back of the first page.

To correct this, I clicked on the edit button on the attachment bar for the PDF:

Inline Edit 2

When you click on this, a new window opens up with all kinds of options for annotating your PDF. You can add arrows and text. You can highlight. What isn’t as obvious is the pulldown menu that allows you to rotate and delete pages. Since I wanted to rotate that first page so that it was right-side-up, I clicked on that menu, like this:

Inline Edit 3

Of course, you can press Command-R to rotate a page clockwise. I did this twice in order to get the page right-side-up:

Inline Edit 4

Next, since the “second” page was really just the first page bleeding through the thin typing paper, I could delete that page and shrink down the size of my PDF. I did this by selecting the page in question, and then clicking the menu and selecting the delete option:

Inline Edit 5

I repeated this as necessary for the pages in the letter, and the result, when I finished, was a two-page letter with both pages oriented correctly.

Inline Edit 6

This has become a standard practice for me. In addition to updating the meta-data of the note (tags, title, note date, etc.) when I scan it in, I also make sure the pages are properly oriented and unneeded pages are deleted. I’d say 1 in 50 scans I do require this type of edit to the PDF. The Scansnap s1300i is very good at scanning. But at least now, I have a way of editing the scanned document right from within Evernote without having to re-scan. Any anything that saves me time and gives me better PDFs is a win in my book.


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: Prototype: Automatically Send Kindle Notes and Highlights to Evernote.

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Or use one of the share buttons below. Thanks for reading!

 

Going Paperless Quick Tip: Append to Existing Notes in Evernote via Email

A few weeks back, I wrote about how I use the Drafts app to quickly add common notes to Evernote, including appending items to existing notes. The Drafts app is a Mac-only app, and my solution, therefore, was really a Mac-only solution. The truth is that the bulk of my computing ecosystem is Macintosh, and I write about what I have experience with. Still, I felt a little bad about not having a equivalent solution for Windows or Android users.

So today, I’m going to provide a tip for quickly appending items to existing notes in Evernote via email, something that works from any platform or device from which you can send email.

Append vs. Add New

Most people familiar with Evernote know that you can email notes to your Evernote account simply by sending them to the special email address that Evernote provides you with. (You can find this address in your Account Info settings.)

People are also probably aware that you can file and tag notes in email as well. By using the @ in the subject line, you can tell Evernote in which notebook to file a note. Using the # symbol allows you to tag the note. So, for instance, if I wanted to create a new note in my Ideas notebook and tag it “story idea” I would give my message the following subject line:

Subject: New story idea @Ideas #story idea

And this would get filed and tagged appropriately.

This is great for creating new notes, but what if you want to append to an existing note. That is, instead of creating a new note, what if you want to add some additional information to an existing note?

Evernote provides a way for you to do this via email as well, although it isn’t as clearly documented as filing or tagging.

Appending via email

Suppose I already have a note in Evernote, like this one:

Append Note 1

You can see the note title is “Notes for Going Paperless post” and you can see that I’ve got one line of text in the note.

To append to this note by email, I do the following:

  1. Create a new email message addressed to my Evernote email account.
  2. In the Subject line, include the title of the note that I want to append to, followed by a space and a plus sign.
  3. Include the text I want to append in the body of the email message.
  4. Send the message.

Here is what my email message looks like:

Continue reading Going Paperless Quick Tip: Append to Existing Notes in Evernote via Email

Going Paperless Quick Tip: Using Mail Filters to Automatically Send Email Receipts and Other Messages to Evernote

There are certain types of email messages that I like to keep in Evernote because I find it useful to have them there. Receipts from places like Amazon or Audible, or instance, or travel itineraries are a few examples. I get weekly email reports on my FitBit activity, my cloud backup status, or my productivity as measured by RescueTime. All of this is useful information to have as part of my timeline in Evernote. But it would be a pain to have to take the extra step to add this to Evernote myself. Fortunately, there is a way to automate this process using mail filters.

Now, you could simply sign up for these services using your Evernote email address, but I don’t like that idea. I don’t want other services having that address. So I sign up for all of these services using my normal email address, but then create mail filters that forward messages of certain types to Evernote via my Evernote email address. Here is how it works.

Ingredients

  • An Evernote email address. If you have an Evernote account, you have an Evernote email address. If you don’t know what your address is, you can look it up in your account settings.
  • An email system that can filter messages. I use Gmail, but you could use Outlook or Apple mail, or whatever application suits you.

Here is an example of how I send my Audible receipts to Evernote.

Example: Sending Audible receipts to Evernote

I listen to a lot of audio books. Each time I order books from Audible.com, I get a receipt emailed to me. I like those receipts to be stored in Evernote and so I’ve created a Gmail filter to forward those messages to my Evernote email address.

1. Create a new Filter in Gmail.

2. Specify the conditions of your filter. For my Audible receipts, my conditions look like this:

Evernote Email Filter

3. Specify the action for your filter. For my Audible receipts, my action looks like this:

Evernote Email Action

  • I check “forward it to”
  • I select an email address to which I want to forward it. In this case, I’ve selected my Evernote email address (which is blurred out in the image).

In Gmail, you need to validate the email address you are going to forward it to by adding a forwarding address. So if you haven’t already done this with your Evernote email address, you will need to click on this option first before the Evernote email address is available for you to forward to.

If you are using some other email system, like Outlook or Apple Mail, there are similar filtering functions that you can use to forward messages to another email address.

The result is that my receipts still appear in my Gmail inbox, but they are also forwarded to a note in Evernote. Here is what the resulting note looks like:

Audible Receipt

I use other filters to send other receipts or other types of email to Evernote. I collect travel itineraries, shopping receipts, backup reports, activity reports and lots of other standardized notification email messages in Evernote in this manners. This allows me to get the receipts or message into Evernote without having to take any action on my part beyond setting up the filter.

Processing the notes

Forwarding the messages put them into my default notebook, which is my Inbox notebook. I refile or tag these notes as part of my Daily Review every evening. This helps ensure that I actually see the note, but it also gives me the opportunity to put the note where it belongs and keep my inbox clean.


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: Using the Drafts App to Quickly Add Common Notes to Evernote.

Enjoy these posts? – Tell a friend

Recommending readers is one of the highest compliments you can pay to a writer. If you enjoy what you read here, or you find the posts useful, tell a friend! Find me online here:

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Or use one of the share buttons below. Thanks for reading!

Going Paperless Quick Tip: How I Do A “Daily Review” in Evernote

I have never jumped on board the GTD bandwagon. This is entirely because of my own failings, and not any failings with the methodology of GTD. It fits well for some, and not for others. I’ve read David Allen’s book multiple times, and I’ve tried his GTD methodology both before and after I used Evernote. For me, it is just too much overhead, and more importantly, it doesn’t work the way I do.

That said, I can usually find something beneficial in everything, and the most significant thing I took from GTD was the concept of the “daily review.” The idea is pretty simple. You spend a few minutes each day reviewing your day, updating your to-lists , and basically keeping tabs on what is going on in your life so that you can empty your head and still make sure everything is captured as it is supposed to be.

I put a lot of notes into Evernote. More and more of these notes come from various automations, so that I am not putting them in myself, but other systems are putting them in for me. That means that sometimes, things get into Evernote that I might not be aware of if I didn’t pay attention.

I use a “daily review” to pay attention to the notes that I put into Evernote. Here is how I do it:

Step 1: Create a “Daily Review” saved search (one-time only)

When I started with my daily review, I created a saved search that looks for all notes created on the day I execute my search. That is a simple enough search to create. The search syntax looks as follows:

created:day

which tells Evernote to search for all notes with a create date equal to or greater than today. This worked pretty well, but after a little while, I realized that I was seeing only note that I created today. What about notes that I updated today, but that were created before? So I modified my saved search as follows:

any: created:day updated:day

This search tells Evernote to find any notes created since today or updated since today. The “any:” keyword at the front is what tells Evernote to look at any of these conditions.

Once I had the search I wanted, I saved the search and gave it the name “Daily Review.” Finally, I dragged the saved search to my Shortcuts so that I have easy access to it.

Step 2: My Daily Review (once a day)

With my saved search, I now spend a few minutes each evening reviewing all of the notes created or updated on that day. Usually this takes less than five minutes. In most cases, there aren’t more than 20 notes to review in a given day, but on some days, for instance, when I do a lot of scanning, there may be more.

I run my search and look at the results. I usually look at them in the List view. Here are my results from January 28:

Daily Review

I was out of town on this day, so you won’t see a lot of scans, but otherwise, this is pretty typical of what I might see in a daily review. I use the List View because I can easily see what notebook the note is in, and what tags have been assigned. I’ll typically do a few things as part of my daily review:

Continue reading Going Paperless Quick Tip: How I Do A “Daily Review” in Evernote

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.

Enjoy these posts? – Tell a friend

Recommending readers is one of the highest compliments you can pay to a writer. If you enjoy what you read here, or you find the posts useful, tell a friend! Find me online here:

Twitter | Facebook | Google+ | Blog | RSS

Or use one of the share buttons below. Thanks for reading!

 

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.

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

Going Paperless Quick Tip: Using Evernote to Create a Quick, Ad Hoc Thank You List for Holiday Gifts

Holiday season is upon us, and for those who celebrate Hanukkah, it is already here. I thought for this week’s Quick Tip, I’d offer a suggestion that I used during the holidays last year: Using Evernote to create a quick, ad hoc thank you list for holiday gifts you receive. It is actually very simple.

Step 1: Snap a photo of each gift you receive

There are several ways you can do this, depending on the context. I typically use my iPhone, open up the Evernote app, and use the photo Quick Note option (see the screen  capture below) to snap a photo and create a note.

Evernote Photo

I tend to try to capture these photos as soon as possible so that I don’t forget. But if you are looking for a creative variation, you might consider snapping of photo of you using the gift. Then you have a photo to send with your thank you note.

Step 2: Title the note with the gift and the name of the gift-giver

Once I’ve got the photo of the note in Evernote, I’ll title the note with what the gift is and the name of the person (or persons) who gave it to me. For example:

  • Yankees baseball shirt from Kelly
  • “I’d rather be writing” license plate frame from Mom and Dad

If the gift is for one of the kids, I’ll add who it is for in the title:

  • Star Wars Angry Birds game for the Little Man from Jen and Jason

Step 3: Tag the note

I don’t use tags frequently, as I have written before, but using tags to manage lists is one of those exception I find particularly useful. After I’ve snapped the photo and added a title, I’ll tag the note “thank you.”

Continue reading Going Paperless Quick Tip: Using Evernote to Create a Quick, Ad Hoc Thank You List for Holiday Gifts

Going Paperless Quick Tip: Scan Now, Organize Later

I am always looking for ways to optimize the use of my time, and recently I’ve hit on a process that helps speed up getting papers scanned into Evernote. I call it my “Scan Now, Organize Later” method. And yes, it is as simple as it sounds. It works like this:

  1. Each evening, after I pick up the mail, I scan what paper I need into Evernote.
  2. If there is any other paper in my pile, in front of my scanner, I scan that in, too.
  3. Later, at some point in the future when I have time, I organize the scans, using a Saved Search to find the unprocessed scans that still need to be organized.

That’s it. If it sounds a little counter-intuitive, let me explain in a little more detail.

Scanner settings

I am still using my trusty Fujitsu ScanSnap s1300i for all of my scanning at home. For this process of mine to work, I have made some changes to the defaults for how my scans get into Evernote. The first thing I did was change the file name format for the incoming scan in the ScanSnap manager:

ScanSnap Manager

Instead of using a date-based format, I use a counter-based format. And my format (as you can see from the screenshots above and below) preface the counter with “Scanned_”:

Scanned File Name

These settings make it easy for me to identify notes that I’ve scanned into Evernote and haven’t yet processed. They all go into my Inbox notebooks, of course, but a lot of stuff goes into my Inbox notebook for processing. Because the title of the scanned notes all start with “Scanned_” it makes them easy to find.

Finding the scanned notes

Usually, when I am scanning in the day’s paper (if there is any–often these days, there is none), I just want to get it scanned in and move on. I’ll organize it later. But to be able to organize it, I need to be able to find these notes in the clutter of all of my other notes. To do this, I’ve created a Saved Search called “Scanned Inbox.” My search looks like this:

Scanned Inbox Saved Search

What the search does is look for any notes in my Inbox notebook whose title begins with the word “Scanned.” The asterisk at the end of the search is what tells the search I’m looking for the word at the beginning of the title. Of course, this search will pick up any notes that have been titled Scanned_001, Scanned_002, etc. In other words, it identifies only those notes that I have scanned in. Now I have a way of easily finding those scanned documents that still need to be organized.

Continue reading Going Paperless Quick Tip: Scan Now, Organize Later