May 22, 2012

Evernote: Productivity tool packs a punch

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Evernote uses optical character recognition to find words within images and turn them into searchable text. Wild!

Change the way you document the world with this smart little app

Guest post by Janet Fouts
Social Media Coach

Productivity software? I’ve tried it. It seems to never do what I need it to do, and I spend more time setting it up and loading stuff into it than I do actually using it. Most of the apps I’d tried also had accessibility issues. Sometimes they synced, sometimes they didn’t, and I was constantly maintaining the tool that was supposed to make my life easier.

Until now. In a blog post I came upon, marketing ace Steve Rubel made a casual remark about a product called Evernote. This, my friends, is a very cool app.

In a nutshell, Evernote lets you add information to a database that is accessible through the Web, a desktop app, and your iPhone, Blackberry or smartphone. Items are tag-able and fully searchable so you can add pretty much anything, run a search, and quickly find it again wherever you are.

Let Evernote serve as your memory

Now when I say you can upload things, try to visualize this. You’re at a networking event and you suck at remembering names. With Evernote you can take a picture of a person with your phone, tag them with their name and they’re saved for future reference in your database. Even more interesting, include their name badge in the snapshot, even a handwritten name tag, and Evernote will recognize the handwriting and enter it as searchable text! Whoa!

Evernote can even turn a handwritten name tag into searchable text

Evernote can find text within images, recognize it and make the text searchable. The image at top is a snapshot I took of the bag given out at N2Y4 Mobile Challenge. The highlighted yellow text is the result of a search for the words “Mobile Challenge” in my Evernote database. I hadn’t even tagged it yet. I also found my notes from Raj Singh’s lecture, the images of the slides he put up, the website homepage with session info, and a reminder to connect with one of the people I met at that talk.

Never again will I collect a bunch of paper at trade shows just to remember the product offering. A few quick photos of the booth, and not only do I have faces to relate to later, but the booth itself, logos, products and the text of the brochures ready to use in my post. all in one swoop. This is going to make blogging after conferences a breeze.

Other nifty features

Evernote does more.

  • You can clip a snippet of a web page or the whole thing, screen shots, emails. downloaded PDFs, scanned receipts or even business cards are recognized, tagged and filed.
  • Record an audio message to listen to later, take a photo and tag the two to record an event or item to remember.
  • Drag and drop content like a PDF right into Evernote from your desktop and it’s filed (and searchable).
  • You can even save your precious Twitter Tweets (public or DM) directly into Evernotes database by simply including @myEN in the message (quick set up required)

Evernote constantly syncs with the database, so you are only seconds away from totally available information.

Did I mention it’s free? Yes, you have to put up with some small rotating banner ads, but believe me it’s worth it. Odds are very good you’ll upgrade to premium anyway, not to get rid of the ads, but to get more storage (up to 500MB added per month). For $45/year it’s a steal, trust me.

Are you using Evernote too? share some tips and tricks, I’m just getting started here. Got an even better app? Tell me, I love finding new toys!

Janet Fouts is a social media coach with extensive experience in coaching nonprofits. See her website Tatu Digital Media or follow her on Twitter at @jfouts. Republished from the Janet Fouts blog with permission.
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  • Michael

    Evernote is awesome! I’ve been using it for a while now and I can’t remember what it was like not to have it.

    A great app that integrates really nicely with Evernote is IQTELL. It pulls in all of your email and calendars so everything is in one place and you only need to login once instead of going to all of the separate places.

    The web site is http://www.iqtell.com, I highly recommend signing up for the beta.