Tools for Writers: Evernote (Part 2)

How Stuff Gets Into Evernote

In Part One of this series of posts about Evernote, we looked at what Evernote is and what it does. Today, we’ll be looking at how you can get stuff into Evernote.

Direct Entry

This is the most basic method of adding stuff to Evernote. At its simplest, you just open up a new Note and type text straight into it … and format the text, like a mini word processor. You can create bulleted lists, tables, and lists with checkboxes, which can act as checklists.

In addition to typing text, you can record audio or take a photo directly into a Note. This is usually done with a mobile device but you can also use a laptop. If you take a photo of a business card with your phone, Evernote will create a specially formatted Note, so you can store the contact details of all of those people you met at your favorite writers’ conference!

Drag & Drop

When you open a new Note, you can drag files (PDFs, images, Word documents, etc.) from your hard drive using Windows’ File Explorer (or the Mac equivalent) into the Note. Evernote will even index text contained in the images, as well as in PDFs. If you are a Premium or Business user (I recommend the Premium account) Word, Excel, and Powerpoint files will also be indexed and searchable.

Web Clipping

I think this is the most useful way of getting stuff into Evernote, especially for those that do a lot of online research.

Evernote has extensions/add-ons that you can install in all modern browsers (I mostly use it in Chrome). This adds an Evernote icon to the browser’s toolbar, which allows you to “clip” the web page you are viewing as a Note. If you are reading an article on a page with a lot of extra content (e.g. ads and other content in a sidebar, header, footer, etc.), it will extract the main article and ignore the superfluous content. It can also store the entire page . . . or you can select the specific text (and images) you want, and it will do just that.

When clipping a web page, Evernote will suggest the most appropriate Notebook for the Note (“auto-filing”), based on similar content, using it’s “smart filing” feature. If you prefer a different Notebook, you can specify which one you want to add the new Note to, and tag it as well. (You can read more about tagging in my earlier post.)

There is another great feature associated with clipping web pages that I absolutely love and rely on, but more about that next time.

[Note: There are similar add-ons for MS Outlook and Gmail, which allow you to save emails as new Notes.]

Evernote Folder

Within Evernote’s settings, you can specify one or more Import Folders on your laptop or desktop so that any files saved to those folders will be imported automatically into your Evernote account. For example, I have a subfolder within my Documents folder called “Evernote”, so any files (usually PDFs) that I save to \Documents\Evernote are automatically stored in my Evernote database. This is especially useful when scanning paper documents to PDF files.

You can designate multiple Import Folders and, for each folder, you can also specify:

  1. Whether to import files in subfolders of the specified folder
  2. Which Notebook you’d like to add those files to, and
  3. Whether to keep or delete the imported file(s) on your hard drive.

Email

When you create your Evernote account, you will be assigned an email address to use to create Notes by email. Any email you send to this address will be stored as a Note in your default Notebook and the subject of the email will be used as the Note’s title. So, any time you receive an email that you want to store in Evernote, simply forward it to your special Evernote address and it will be saved there for you—it will also save any attachments.

This functionality can be especially useful if you don’t have direct access to your Evernote account but have the ability to send an email. Just make sure you store this address in your contacts list on your phone or other device.

You can also add special characters at the end of the email’s subject to:

  1. Add a reminder to the Note
  2. Specify the particular Notebook you’d like to save it to
  3. Specify any Tags you’d like to add to the Note.

If you enable Evernote’s “smart filing” functionality, it will automatically organize Notes you create by email by putting them in Notebooks with similar content and Tags. For example, if you have a Notebook that contains several Notes concerning a particular person and you forward an email to Evernote about that person, the smart filing functionality will automatically file it in that Notebook. This uses the same functionality that Evernote uses when auto-filing clippings from the Web, discussed above.

Integrations

There are several third-party services that integrate with Evernote. I use the three described below.

FileThis

FileThis.com downloads documents, in PDF format, from a multitude of online accounts (predominantly financial, medical, and utility companies) and stores those documents in your Evernote account. For example, I have it set up to download all of my bank statements, my electricity and cellphone bills, and various other financial documents.

FileThis has a free plan and two paid plans, which are both very cheap ($2 or $5 month) and well worth the minimal cost. One of the great benefits of using this service is that Evernote then makes those documents searchable, which can be a lifesaver when you’re looking for details of a particular financial transaction that you know is in a statement somewhere.

IFTTT

IFTTT.com (If This Then That) connects many online services and integrates them and initiates various “actions” based on certain “events” happening—IF This happens Then do That. For example, you can set up various (what IFTTT calls)  applets that store something in Evernote when something else happens.

I have an applet set up with the following logic: IF Books and Such (the agency) publishes a new blog post Then save a copy of the post in my Evernote account. If you feel so inclined, you could add to a Note every time you update your Facebook status: IF I enter a new Facebook status Then append that status to my “Facebook Statuses” Note in Evernote.

Google Drive

If you also use Google Drive, you can link Evernote to your Google Drive account and attach files from Google Drive into a Note.

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These are just some of the ways that you can get stuff into Evernote. In the next post, I’ll look at how you can use Evernote to manage your writing projects, research, and writing business.

About Ian Feavearyear 12 Articles
Ian was born and bred in the rural county of Suffolk, England but feels very much at home in the mountains of California. He is married to the Inspire Board President, Robynne, and is currently working on his first non-fiction book. Ian is Inspire's Blog and Social Media Director, webmaster, and general tech go-to person. Ian is a law school valedictorian with a Juris Doctor from Concord Law School and a paralegal certificate from Humboldt State University.

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