What Is Evernote? A Beginner’s Guide

What is Evernote? It’s a tool for capturing and arranging your information and ideas. It serves as a digital file cabinet, personal notebook, and project management tool.

It’s more powerful than other commonly used note-taking apps like Simplenote or Apple Notes.

I’ve had an Evernote account since 2010. The product has evolved a lot of the years and arguably not always in the right direction.

Like many, I stopped using Evernote when it became slow and fell behind some competitors. However, the new version is worth reconsidering if you recently migrated.

In this article and podcast episode, I’ll explain what is Evernote and how to get more value from it.

Evernote Free Vs Premium Vs Business

The pricing of the Evernote app has changed a lot over the years. The free version is rather limited in that it works across only two devices. I’d imagine most people work on more than a computer and mobile phone today.

It also comes with heavy restrictions on note sizes and with monthly upload limits. That said, it offers a nice taste of the product.

Consider it as freemium or like a free trial.

what is evernote
Try Evernote for free before you buy

Most Evernote users will find the premium option an affordable middle-ground. However, if you’re determined to shop around, Bear and other note-taking apps are cheaper.

If money is an issue and you can’t afford Evernote Premium, I’d recommend using Simplenote or Apple Notes instead.

The business version contains advanced security features for business owners like single sign-on and team collaboration tools, such as shared spaces. It faces stiff competition from apps like Notion.

Evernote Tips and Tricks

The more you use Evernote, the powerful it become. I suggest using it for the following situations.

1. For Note-taking

I recently attended a Photoshop class where the lecturer shared an Evernote notebook full of image ideas and articles with students. This struck me as a clever use of Evernote for several reasons.

The lecturer added extra articles and images to the notebook as the classes progressed, making our class notes dynamic and relevant.

Evernote’s free version is relatively good; anyone can use it as a digital notebook, even cash-strapped students. Evernote is also geared towards the capturing and sharing of images from your notes with collaborators.

You can even create templates in Evernote and reduce the amount of time you spend capturing meeting notes. (Or use the audio recorder).

2. For Recipes

I’m no chef, but capturing pictures, recipes, and ingredients for meals means that I can cut down on cooking book expenses.

It also means I spend less time browsing recipe sites and flicking through old cookbooks. This aspect of Evernote is beneficial on a tablet.

Now, if only they could do something about the grease stains on my touchscreen.

 3. For Digital Backups

I’ve tried to eliminate as much paper from my house as possible, and I’ve signed up for electronic billing for several services. There are some documents that I need to keep paper copies of (e.g. birth certificates, diplomas). I scanned these documents into Evernote so that I have digital backups of said documents.

what is evernote
Capture your notes without the need for paper

Lots of Evernote fans store digital receipts in their notebooks. There’s a plugin for Gmail that allows users to send important emails to Evernote but I find it just as convenient to label and file these within Gmail.

4. For Research

I occasionally write lengthy articles that reference lots of research and technical data. Rather than browsing the web throughout my working day (a terrible way to work), I create a notebook for the article I’m working on.

In one mega browsing session, I capture important webpages and articles and save them directly into this Evernote notebook. This way, I can work offline and quickly review my notes in the desktop app at the end of the day.

5. For Support

Several years ago, Evernote acquired Skitch. This is a simple-to-use tool for capturing and annotating images, and it integrates with Evernote. Skitch is more feature-rich than the built-in screen capturing tools included with Windows and OS X. I still encounter the odd copy and paste error, though.

Recently, a client asked me for support for a web application. Using Skitch, I took and annotated screenshots and wrote step-by-step instructions for the client. I also saved these instructions within Evernote for future reference.

6. For Image Ideas

I spend a lot of time creating images within Photoshop and Illustrator. Until recently, I kept a copy of links to my favorite images in a simple text document.

Now, I capture these images directly into Evernote and tag them as “image ideas.” The simple act of capturing these images sparks ideas about what I’d like to create next.

7. For Business Cards

Business cards are a staple of networking events. I was never quite sure what to do with these cards, and I dislike clogging my phone with random contacts. Invariably, I bin these cards after a few months but losing a contact is frustrating.

Now, I snap business cards with my iPhone and upload them to Evernote. This way, I never lose a contact.

8. For Planning Holidays

A few years ago, I organized a holiday and saved all the documentation about this holiday into an Evernote notebook. I could access these notes on my mobile device and via the iPad app while on holiday.

We made it there and back, at least.

What is Evernote
Keep essential notes and documents in one place

9. As a Web Clipper

I spent a lot of time writing copy for sales pages. Part of copywriting involves studying other successful web pages and how they work.

If you’re engaged in this type of work, consider snapping these pages using the Evernote web clipper. That way, you can easily access them later on, even if the web page is taken down.

10. For Recording Audio Notes

Evernote works nicely with the voice recorder on your mobile phone. If you think of a note or idea for a project and are in a rush, open up Evernote and click the record button.

Later on, listen back to these audio notes and transcribe or refine them.

11. For Writing With Markdown

In a recent update, the Evernote team finally rolled out support for Markdown. As a writer, I love this feature.

Basically, I can write content formatted for the web and other documents using hashtags. It’s much faster than playing around with the formatting options in Word or HTML.

What Is Evernote? The Bottom Line

Like many, I had some issues with older versions of Evernote. However, the current version is snappy and useful for capturing notes fast. I also like its support for Markdown.

I’ve also tested various Evernote alternatives since 2012. Examples include Bear, SimpleNote, OneNote, and Roam Research.

Some of these digital note-taking apps are certainly more powerful than Evernote (particularly Roam Research), but I still have and use my Evernote account all these years later.

I’d encourage anyone new to building a personal digital notebook to start with Evernote and capture ideas that matter. If you stopped using Evernote for some reason, you might be pleasantly surprised.

All that said, remember, the perfect productivity app doesn’t exist. So pick a tool that you like, and get to it.

  • Improved search
  • Works everywhere
  • Time-saving templates
  • Product has improved a lot over the past 12 months
  • Finally supports Markdown
  • Limited freemium version
  • Stiff competition from Notion, Roam Research and Bear
  • Business version not as cheap as some competitors

Evernote Tips and Tricks: An Interview With Bethany Stephens

Bethany Stephens smiling for the camera
Bethany Stephens, Evernote expert

Bethany Stephens is the founder of Soapbox Influence, a marketing agency based in Bentonville Arkansaw. Her company employs 15 people and works with Fortune 500 brands, including NBC Universal.

Stephens is also a writer and blogger who considers Evernote a key part of her creative workflow. She also uses it to run her business and collaborate with writers, designers, and more.

In this interview, Beth explains:

  • How she uses Evernote to capture ideas and write
  • Why every writer and creative should capture ideas regularly
  • What her tagging and filing system looks like
  • Why she also uses Evernote for task and project management

And lots more.

I start by asking Beth to describe what her business does and why her team relies on Evernote so much.


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  • Bryan Collins is the owner of Become a Writer Today. He's an author from Ireland who helps writers build authority and earn a living from their creative work. He's also a former Forbes columnist and his work has appeared in publications like Lifehacker and Fast Company.