Evernote: Free Software that Knocked My Socks Off

I finally tried Evernote, and I’m glad I did.

  • It’s an incredibly useful program to save all kinds of information.
  • It has a gorgeously simple design.
  • It’s free.

Here is what it looks like on my computer:

evernote-screen

I had heard of Evernote before, but I thought it was just a way to save quick notes, like reminders on a Post-it. I already had a note-keeping system that worked for me, so I dismissed it. My philosophy is “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” so I don’t try new software just for the novelty of it.

This one is worth trying. Seriously. Go try it. I use it every day, and it keeps me more organized and free of paper clutter.

evernote-logo

First it organized my recipes.

For the past few months I had been trying demos of recipe management software, and I wasn’t pleased with any of them. They were costly, overly-complex, and all the forms and check boxes weren’t worth the trouble.

I collect most of my recipes from the internet, but I always make changes and substitutions to them. I was looking for an easy way to save the recipes along with my notes and changes, and then be able to find them later. Sometimes I bookmarked a web page, but it didn’t help when the internet was down, a page took five minutes to load, or it had been deleted. I had recipes saved in Word files in folders, but they were hard to search for, and I couldn’t always remember the recipe names. As a result I had recipes everywhere, in every form.

Evernote made it easy to organize them. When I found a recipe I liked online, I could just highlight what I wanted to save on the page (including the photo), click a button, and that was it! Since you can add tags to your notes, you don’t need to bother with folders, and the text is highly searchable if you want to look for a specific recipe or ingredient. I love that I can preview the recipes as I scroll through them, because I usually remember the photo instead of the name. Since the format is simple, it didn’t take long for me to add my other favorite recipes to the collection.

Then it simplified my projects.

I’ve built up long lists of website links for my interests and hobbies, such as gardening, beekeeping, and sewing. When you spend time reading blogs, you end up with a lot of new ideas and information! I went through my bookmarked links and saved the ideas and instructions for projects that I wanted to try. I also organized my own notes so I could have everything in one place and find them quickly. It’s like having a personal reference library, streamlined with only the parts I want to keep!

It created an inspiration board for me.

I used to clip pages and photos from magazines to keep in a folder, and now I do that in Evernote. When I come across a photo that I like, it’s easy to save that photo along with the website source. Later I can scroll through the photos when I’m looking for a home design or project idea. It’s so much better than looking down a list of web page bookmarks, wondering which one had the inspiring photo I liked so much.

More things you can keep in Evernote:

  • to do’s
  • lists
  • inspirational quotes
  • articles
  • scanned receipts
  • business cards
  • voice notes
  • project plans

The software integrates with email, Twitter, iPhone, and it comes with a web account so that you can access your notes anywhere. There is an optional upgrade, but the basic free version has been enough for me.

Programs that you pay for should work this well, and this does it with style.

Have you tried Evernote? What did you think?
About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.

Comments

  1. My husband has been telling me to try this forever… but now that YOU say so I will definitely peek at it this weekend!!!

    se7en´s last post…Where the Wild Things Are Party in Se7en Steps…

  2. You make it sound too good to be true.

    I have a bookmarking problem too. I bookmark way to much stuff, forget where I put it or why I bookmarked it. This sounds perfect.

    Emily @ Under$1000PerMonth´s last post…Why So Anti Oven?

  3. Southern Gal says:

    I’m so bad at having papers scattered all about even when I think they are organized. This sounds like a project to me!
    Thanks.

  4. Never heard of it before, but I’ll have to go check it out!

    Jamie

    steadymom´s last post…An Explosive Volcano Birthday

  5. I have read about this before, but always from a perspective about organizing business…. now that you make it sound so user-friendly and easy for home, I am going to check it out… thanks (again!) :)

    angelvalerie´s last post…following up on good intentions

  6. I have been debating trying this, but hadn’t been able to make up my mind. Like you I thought it was just another note program. Now I guess I’m going to have to check it out.

    Buffie´s last post…Aloha Friday #98

  7. I’ve been using it for awhile now and really like it. One of the best things I like is that of course, there is an iPhone app for it so I can use it to remember things on the go which is my biggest challenge. It’s also good because I can take pictures from web sites of things I like and not necessarily the entire site to wade through later. Very handy and well worth the price ;)

    Chi Anne´s last post…Starting class

  8. Eeeek! (That was a squeal of delight.) This looks super cool. I’m thrilled that you like it for recipes, because I too went through all the available programs last year and ugh. all too complicated. Thanks for sharing a great find!

    jill´s last post…We want to move.

  9. Oh my! I got it as soon as I read about it this morning. Have been using it ever since! Thank you, thank you!!

    tara´s last post…thankfulness #5

  10. I just found this in the App store for my iPhone a few days ago. I didn’t get a chance to really look at it after I signed up. Never knew it did all this. Now I’m going to have to go back and check it out. Thanks!

    pamela p´s last post…happy

  11. I can’t wait to try this to organize all of my bookmarked recipes – of which I have a gazillion.

    Thanks.

    Katy´s last post…Small Victories

  12. This looks like a great idea, but i just don’t know if i’d be able to give up my scraps of paper, which is currently where all my notes are stored!

    Satakieli´s last post…Making Do

  13. Thanks SO much for this review and info. I downloaded it awhile ago, but haven’t gotten around to figuring it out. Motivated now!

    Annie Pazoo´s last post…How Cool is This?!!

  14. Thanks for this – I’ve been playing around with it this afternoon – loving it! Think I’ll still be a paper freak too – but this definitely helps organise thngs for me :)

  15. I just installed this program this week…..loving it! I heard about it several months ago and had just not gotten around to it. Don’t wait as long as I did….if you are a blog reader it is perfect to save all those great ideas you come across!

  16. I’ve never heard of it. I like the way your page looks. I will check this out at school. (They block so many things. I want to make sure it works there before I devote too much time to it. I need something I can access at home and school.) I may have to sneak down this weekend and see if it works.

    Thanks! You’re a gem!

    mrs. e´s last post…A Little Bit of This and That

  17. whoa… that could change a LOT. I’ve got a complicated recipe-tagging system set up in my google reader & google email account. I would love to consolidate!

  18. My husband set me up with Evernote about 2 months ago and I LOVE it!!!! It syncs with my iPhone so it is a perfect “note keeper”. I also put my grocery list on there, my “to do” list, recipes, etc. I seriously don’t know how I lived without it;)

  19. I have been trying to get myself switched over to evernote for a while now. Such a neat program.

    One quick question – it looks like when you are looking at all of your notes in the thumbnail window, the picture that you saved into the note is visible. I have saved a picture into each recipe but the pictures don’t show up on the main page of thumbnails. Did you do something special to make that happen? The visual cue can be such a good reminder of a project or recipe I want to try.

    Thanks!

  20. I’ve been reading for awhile but never posted. Thanks for your inspiration to try to keep things simple. I’m looking forward to trying out this software. Do you have a recommendation for a family budgeting/accounting software? Just thought you might have a great idea since this one looks so good.
    Thanks!

  21. Wow, this looks pretty great. I definitely have a problem with emailing myself (and never following up) and using the notes/post-its application that comes on the iPhone. It should be much better to have a searchable database like this that syncs! This seems like a good compliment to Omnifocus, which aims at getting things done.

  22. I have been using it for several months, and it has SO simplified my life. I even use it for researching larger purchases. For example, earlier this summer, I needed a new portable air conditioner. When I saw one at the store, I would take a picture with my camera phone and send it to Evernote. Then when I got home, I could Google the exact item and read reviews, see if the one I found was a good price, etc.

    Jaz´s last post…Why I bake my own bread from scratch

  23. I love love love Evernote… I first came across it in November when my BIL got an ipod touch and thought it was cool sounding but assumed it was a paid program and thought there was no point until I got my Phone… well I still have about 3 months until my contract is up and I can switch and I’ve been using it for a whopping 2 weeks and it has REVOLUTIONIZED my life! Holy man – my google bookmarks were out of control… now I just clip everything to evernote.

    another project this has revolutionized is my massive magazine collection that I tell my hub I save becauise of all the great ideas and recipes (covered in “ahem” dust). I’ve been going through them and finding the articles and recipes online and clipping them to evernote, if they’re not online I either type them or scan them (depends on if there is a picture)

    I’m trying to decide if I should pay for just this month (I’ve used over 75% of my allotment in 2 weeks with NO end in sight) or if I should pay for a whole year… but even $5 or $45 is still WAY better than buying a clunky program that is only available on your computer!

    My BIL loves evernote because I’ve shared my recipes with him and he doesn’t have to clip things himself (lazy boy!)

  24. I’m convinced to try it from all these positive comments! I need this. Thank you!

  25. love it! can finally clean up my bookmark bar!
    using it to keep my food plans for the week from shape.com diet plan.
    soo convenient!

  26. I am sold. Honestly I didn’t even know what I was “needing”, simply that I was needing something… Then, this morning, I stumbled upon your post and I knew.

    misty´s last post…If google brought you here- it’s likely not what you’d hoped…

  27. Thank you for fantastic tip – Evernote.
    I love the user friendly tags.
    I have clocked a few notes now since last week- love been organised.

    Question: How did you get your notes in one panel and recipes in another panel?

    I have been playing around and cannot seem to get them the same way.

    Thanks

  28. I love, love, love Evernote. I became hooked at the beginning of the year when I saw the link in Real Simple. It’s amazing…and so versatile. Use it for everything.

    Amanda´s last post…Introduction to Routines

  29. I downloaded this the other day after reading your post, and it may just change my life. Or at least save me hours of searching through lists of bookmarked sites through stumbleupon. Thanks

  30. You convinced me too, I showed it to hubby, and he too was impressed… I’m clipping recipes and craft ideas, and feelling great, as I told him about something neat rather than the other way around! Thank you so much – I just have to sit down and go through my bookmarks finding all the things that need clipping, and then I’m set!

  31. Thanks for sharing, I’m going to check it out now!

    Chele´s last post…Menu Plan Monday~September 7th

  32. Oh, wow – thank you for posting this!!! It sounds like just the substitute for my beloved Google Notebook (RIP). I’d been fretting over what to do with all my blog finds!

    Sara´s last post…Knotted Hobo Bags

  33. I didn’t notice anyone mention this yet. I use Evernote and I love it because it has an optical character recognition feature. That means you can scan things like business cards or receipts as jpegs, yet still search for the text in the documents! You don’t even need to add tags. So I’ve got business cards as well as pages ripped from magazines, and I can just do a search for “yarn,” and it all comes up in the search, highlighted. It’s amazing! And I think someone else did mention this, but you can email documents into your Evernote account as well (creating the account creates an Evernote email account), so you can add things to your file from anywhere. It’s amazing! AND free!

  34. Anybody have some suggestions for some simple walkthroughs for Evernote? I’m feeling klueless!

  35. A great tool similar to this, if you have microsoft office ’07, is OneNote. I LOVE it !

  36. Wow! This is exactly what I need – and it will work with my Mac. I’ve been trolling the internet for cheap *ahem* low-budget decorating ideas – especially for our small house. One thing leads to another, & I end up with countless pics downloaded onto my computer, plus tons of websites bookmarked. I’d just decided I would have to organize everything by copying & pasting, and burning onto discs so I could free up my hard drive & bookmarks! LOL! Also, I’m a gardener by passion & trade, so I’m constantly taking notes & copying pages. Since Evernote takes scans, I can finally organize everything conveniently! Wahoo! Thank you very much for the recommendation.

  37. Been hearing about it and now I’m convinced. New reader and I love your site!

  38. Sue Lawrence says:

    I tried it after I read your blog about it. I do love this program!! I’m a chronic organizer…so this suits me to a T. I use it for notes, articles, recipes, ideas, lists, things I want to look up later and I’m sure the more I use it, the more things I’ll realize I can use it for!!
    Thanks a bunch for this tip…MOST EXCELLENT.

  39. We use Dropbox at work – instead of distributing Agenda’s. minutes, plans etc we drop them in Dropbox where any user can access for their use – works extremely well. Evernote sounds fabulous and definitely gonna give it a try – thanks for sharing this info with us :)
    Mandy´s last post…When a child is born

  40. Was wondering if this was similar to One Note from Microsoft. Thanks Jett

  41. I will definitely try this out. I used to think I was organized enough but I thought wrong. I may be more organized than most people I know but there are times when I still get lost in my own home, especially when dealing with paper (I’m a self-confessed paper-holic by the way).

    Keep on postin’ great stuff.

  42. I’m just trying Evernote for the first time. Do you still use it?