I‘ve been using Evernote for a little over a week now and I love it. I wanted to share what I like about it, how I’m using it and, hopefully, gets tips from others.
As a brief overview for those who are unfamiliar with Evernote, it is a note-organizing software program. There are desktop versions, a web version, and smartphone versions, all of which sync so that you can have access to your notes no matter where you are. The tag line on the Evernote home page sums it up:
Use Evernote to save your ideas, things you see, and things you like. Then find them all on any computer, phone or device you use. For free.
That’s sounds great, but what does it look like in practice? Let me start with my general philosophy. I’m using Evernote as a general notebook for my genealogy research. Anything that I might have printed in the past and and put in a pile on my desk to refer to later, I’m trying to put in Evernote. I’m not using it to hold all my source documents. I already have those online at this website. I don’t want to duplicate my work and make things more complicated. My goal is to simplify my research and make sure I have access to what I want when I want it.
- Web clippings – when I find something that I think I want to refer back to later, I can clip the page into a note. I’ve used various other services for this in the past – Delicious, Diigo, Google Notebooks, and plain old bookmarks. What I like about Evernote is that it captures the page, not just a link to the page, so if the page or website disappears, I still have access to what I wanted. It also captures the link, so I can get back to the original site. It lets me add notes as well as tags, so I can remember why I wanted the page and it captures the date and time that I grabbed the clip.
- In addition to saving the text of a web page, you can also capture a screen shot. I ordered a military file from NARA a few days ago; in the old days, I would have printed the order to hold on to until the file arrives. Instead I captured the screen shot and put it in Evernote.
- PDF files – you can also add PDF files as notes. I’m experimenting with transitioning my genealogy database to RootsMagic. I found a RootsMagic tips sheet online, so I added it to Evernote. That way I can access it from home or if I’m away from home and using RootsMagic-to-Go. I also have the pdf version of Evidence Explained. Even though I use the source templates in RootsMagic, I still like to refer to Evidence Explained to make sure that I am capturing all the information I need to for my citations (I’m obsessive like that). So, of course, this is one of the first things I added to Evernote.
- Evernote for Blackberry – this is a fun little app and I’m sure the other phone versions are very similar. I can do a quick text note, snapshot, or audio note from my phone and send it straight into my Evernote notebook. The only one I’ve used so far is the snapshot. I was reading the newspaper at work the other day and saw an article about a genealogy workshop to be held that weekend. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to attend it, but I wanted a clip of the article, just in case it worked into my schedule. In the old days, I would have made a photocopy, which would then sit on my desk. Instead I took a snapshot with my phone and sent it straight to Evernote. The really cool part of this is that Evernote has OCR technology and it can read the text of the newspaper article, even though I saved it as a photograph. As an example, the subject of the genealogy workshop had something to do with tracing one’s Indian heritage. I couldn’t remember the exact wording, so I did a search on “Indian” and the image popped right up. I’ve read that the OCR also works with tombstone photos. I can also see using the audio note feature a lot when I’m driving and think of something I want to do later on. Lastly, I can retrieve any notes in my account and view them on my Blackberry.
There is a lot more that Evernote will do. How do you use Evernote for genealogy?
See the follow-up to this post: More Ways I Use Evernote for Genealogy