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 u