How to use Evernote effectively — 40+ hacks that will change how you use Evernote

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Our guide will help you learn how to use Evernote to its full potential. With over 40 hacks, you will not only learn how to use the Evernote system, but you'll learn how to save time, be more efficient, and supercharge your productivity. 

Evernote was born in 2007 as a basic digital note-taking app. Today, it’s a full-featured software that people use to organize their entire lives, thanks to voice notes, handwriting recognition, email-to-note saving capability, and cross-device synchronization.

how to use evernote

Whether you’re an Evernote newbie that wants to go from novice to pro right off the bat, or you’re an intermediate user looking to squeeze just a bit more efficiency out of your Evernote system, read on. We’ve compiled all the best Evernote hacks you need to know.

Evernote 101: Your Introduction to Evernote 

If you’re brand new to using Evernote, here are the basics you should know.

1. Know the Evernote lingo

First things first, let’s get a few definitions out of the way. Evernote has its own vocabulary and it’s helpful to understand it.

  • Notes are the foundation of Evernote. A note can be anything — a photo, PDF, screenshot, voice recording, checklist, or just a random quote you jotted down. For a simple analogy, think of a note as a piece of paper.
  • Notebooks are collections of related notes. You could think of them like a literal notebook, containing several pieces of paper. Each note you create gets saved to a notebook. Notebooks are best for organizing large topics and themes within your Evernote system. You’re limited to 250 notebooks.
  • Stacks are collections of related notebooks. You can “stack” multiple notebooks together by simply dragging them on top of each other. Stacks only go one-level deep, so it’s helpful to think of them as groups of notebooks you might store together in a file cabinet or on a bookshelf. For example, a college student might have an “Education” stack that contains all the notebooks they use for each of their college courses. 
  • Tags are keywords you can use to further categorize any of your notes. Since notes can only be associated with a single notebook, tags are excellent for helping you find items across your Evernote account, regardless of which notebook or stack they’re in. across Notebook grouping. For instance, when it’s time to do your taxes, you may want to find all of your notes that include receipts, and a “receipt” tag will help you do just that. You can add up to 100,000 tags.

2. Commit to consistent naming conventions

A consistent notebook and tagging structure goes a long way towards keeping your Evernote organized. For example, if you’re keeping track of your home remodel in Evernote, it’d be much easier to find notes titled like this:

  • Kitchen - Paint Colors
  • Kitchen - Vendor List
  • Kitchen - Budget and Invoices
  • Bathroom - Budget and Invoices

…than notes titled like this:

  • Painter Invoice Dated May 08, 2020
  • Color Inspiration

You can use Evernote’s built-in character hierarchy to organize your notes in the sidebar. 

  1. Special characters ( ., _, @, #, !) sort first. If you want to pin a note to the top of your notebook for easy reference (or one of your notebooks to the top of your stack), start the title off with a special character like Evernote Certified Consultant Stacey Harmon does:how to use evernote
  2. Numbers (0, 1, 2, 3, etc.) sort next.
  3. Letters (a, b, c, etc.) sort next. In other words, a notebook named “!Movies To Watch” sorts above “1Movies To Rent,” and both appear above “Books to Read,” even though B comes before M in the alphabet.

3. Download both the desktop and mobile app

The mobile version of Evernote is essentially for capturing notes while you’re on the go, but the desktop version of Evernote is where the organization really happens. To be a true Evernote power user, you’ll want to use both apps, which are both free. 

Plus, Evernote automatically syncs your information across devices. You can download Evernote for Mac, Windows, Apple, or Android here

Time-saving Tips & Tricks for Evernote

Now that you’ve got the basics down, it’s time to supercharge your productivity on Evernote. School yourself on these Evernote tips and tricks.

4. Make your default notebook your Evernote “inbox”

The key to using Evernote successfully is to keep things organized. But when you’re quickly jotting down an idea, you don’t always have time to think about which notebook to save it to and which tags to use.

Solve this problem by treating your default notebook as your Evernote inbox. You can store notes here on a temporary basis, and move them to their permanent homes later. Make sure to regularly check in on your default notebook and move things out of it, though. Otherwise it will get pretty messy in there! 

5. Master Evernote search

The more notes you add to Evernote, the more you’ll come to rely on Evernote search. By default, when you type something into the search bar, Evernote serves up all notes that include the word you typed in and any matching variants: 

how to use evernote

You can use the Evernote search filters to narrow your results further, but sometimes you’ll still find yourself with dozens (or hundreds) of results. 

Instead of wading through notebooks for a needle in a haystack, use these Evernote advanced search operators to zoom in on exactly what you need. All you have to do is type in the operator with your search term immediately after the colon, such as intitle:appointment.

  • intitle: limits your search to only notes that have that search term in the title.
  • Adding the notebook: operator to your search narrows the results to only notes within that notebook.
  • If your search term contains multiple words, Evernote only shows you results that contain all of those words, in any order. If you want to find notes that contain any of the words, in whatever order, use the any: operator. Conversely, if you only want Evernote to search for notes with a set of words in that exact order, add quotation marks around the phrase, like this: “medical bills”.
  • Use the tag: operator to only see notes tagged with a specific tag. Want to filter out those notes? Use the -tag: operator instead. You can also add an asterisk, as in tag:*, to search all notes that contain tags (or -tag:* to find all notes that don’t have a tag).
  • Looking for a note you created within a specific time frame? Add created:YYYYMMDD to your search. Don’t know the specific date? No problem. Search created:day-2 to find notes created within the last 2 days. You can use this same hack for notes that were simply updated within a particular time frame. Just swap out created: with updated:.
  • To find notes that contain media, use the resource:application/pdf, resource:image/jpeg, or resource:audio/* operators.
  • Pull up your to do list with the todo: search operator. Todo:true finds all notes with a checked checkbox, todo:false finds notes with an unchecked checkbox, and todo:* serves up all notes with a checkbox, regardless of the checked status. 
  • Think you made a typo? Add an asterisk to the end of your search term to find words that match the beginning, e.g. a search for health* includes health, healthcare, health.
  • If you encrypted your note, you can also add the encryption: operator to your search. Unlike with the other operators, you don’t need to add in text after the colon.

By the way, you can save any of your Evernote searches for even faster searching. Just click the “Save Search” button after you perform your search!

6. Save screenshots around the web

At its most basic, Evernote’s Web Clipper tool lets you save screenshots you take on the web straight to your Evernote account. But it does so much more. You also can:

  • Clip the full website page, or just clip the section you want. (Web Clipper removes all that extra nonsense like ads, social media buttons, so you’re left with a clean version of the page.)
  • Markup your screenshot with text annotations or highlights.
  • Edit the title and add tags to your screenshot so you can easily find it later.
  • Save your screenshot directly to a notebook.

how to use evernote

how to use evernote

As long as you have the Evernote app installed on your smartphone, you can also use Web Clipper on your phone. Just tap the button you normally use to share a webpage, photo, or video. Web Clipper will appear as one of your options. 

Pro Tip: Turn on the related results setting. When this setting is turned on, anytime you perform a search in Google, Web Clipper will show you related results from your Evernote notes, so you can see if you’ve saved anything related to this search. In the Web Clipper Options menu, make sure “Show Evernote content related to my web searches” is checked.

how to use evernote

7. Set up your shortcuts

Your Evernote shortcuts appear on the sidebar in the desktop app. This section is designed to make your favorite notes (the ones you access on a daily — or close to it — basis) super easy to find. You can create shortcuts for notes, notebooks, stacks, tags, and saved searches.

To add a shortcut on a computer, right-click or control-click the item you want to create a shortcut for. Then select “Add to Shortcuts.” On your phone, click the three dot button next to Share and click “Add shortcut.”

By default, shortcuts are sorted by the order in which you added them. To reorganize them, you can drag and drop them. 

8. Create checklists

Is there anything more satisfying than checking something off your to-do list? Add a checklist to your notes by clicking the “Insert To-Do button” (it looks like a checkbox).

You can also transform an existing list in Evernote into a checkable to-do list by selecting the text, and clicking the checkbox button.

With Evernote checklists, you can create grocery lists, book or movie lists, gift lists, to-do lists, packing lists, and more. 

9. Share your notebooks

Invite coworkers and family members to collaborate on an Evernote notebook with you. All they need is their own Evernote account. Then, you can click the “Share” button > Share with individuals”. They’ll be able to make edits, add photos, and videos to your notebook.

You can share both notes and notebooks in Evernote. You can also specify whether you want someone to be able to edit, or simply view your note:

how to use evernote

Evernote’s collaboration tools are perfect for shared projects, like household chores, home remodels, work projects, and grocery lists. 

Pro Tip: For shared projects like grocery lists and home remodels, upload lots of photos to your note. These can be particularly helpful if you want to make sure someone buys exactly the right thing from the store.

10. Hyperlink your notes for faster navigation

Just like you can link to web pages in Evernote, you can also link to other notes. Note links make it much easier to navigate among notes. No more toggling through your notebooks or performing a search every time you want to look something up. You can just click!

To create a note link, right-click on the note you want to link and select “Copy Internal Link.” Then paste that link into the note where you want to add the link. 

Pro Tip: Got a work meeting coming up? Create a meeting agenda note and link to the notes covering the individual projects or topics you’ll be discussing. You can also use note links to create master lists of your vendors and emergency contacts.

11. Combine related notes into one

Sometimes it’s easier to start a new note than find a previous one on the same topic. Or sometimes you write a note and expect it to be its own thing, but later find it’s related to several other notes. With the Merge function, you can quickly merge these notes into one!

Select the notes you want to merge, and select “Merge” from the menu that appears. 

NoteMerging notes in Evernote can’t be undone, so think twice before merging!

12. Add a Table of Contents to your notes

Not quite ready to commit to permanently merging a set of notes? Achieve the same results with an easy-to-navigate Table of Contents. Select the group of notes you want to connect, and then click the “Create Table of Contents Note” button. 

how to use evernote

Evernote will create a new note with your Table of Contents, with links to each note in the series — perfect for meeting agendas, trip planning, and large projects.

how to use evernote

13. Duplicate a note

The especially A-type personalities among us may like following a similar structure with our notes. Instead of copying and pasting each time you want to replicate the format you used on a previous note, simply duplicate it. Easy peasy.

14. Use Evernote’s note templates

You can save yourself the trouble of designing your own note templates by using one of Evernote’s instead. To date, they have over 50 ready-made templates you can use to start off a note. To access the Template Gallery, simply click Template after creating a new note.

how to use evernote

Evernote’s got templates for work, school, and life. Here’s a list of a few to give you an idea of the variety:  

  • Income and budgeting templates
  • Habit and fitness tracking templates
  • Gift idea templates
  • Daily, weekly, and monthly planner templates
  • Party and trip planning templates
  • Class notes templates
  • Meeting agenda templates
  • Marketing and social media planning templates

how to use evernote

NoteWith a paid Evernote account, you can even create your own templates, too.

15. Never miss a thing with Evernote reminders

Want to return to your note at a later time? Set a reminder for yourself. 

With the note open, click the alarm clock button and set the day and time you want to be reminded. 

how to use evernote

Evernote will remind you via a push notification or email. You can also integrate your calendar to view your reminders in your calendar.

16. Transform emails into notes

When you sign up for Evernote, you receive an Evernote email address. If you’ve ever wondered what the purpose of this is, we’re about to tell you.

With your Evernote email address, you can quickly send documents, PDFs, images, and scans to your Evernote. Just attach them to an email, and send the email to your Evernote email address. They’ll arrive in your default Evernote notebook. You can also use this feature to forward email threads you want to save to a note.

Pro TipBefore sending your email, edit your subject line with these parameters to automatically save the note to a specific notebook, append tags, or add a reminder:

  • To save it to a notebook: Add the @ symbol followed by the name of the notebook, e.g. @_InboxNotebook 
  • To add a tag: Add the # symbol followed by the tag, e.g. #receipts #travel #hawaii
  • To add a reminder: Add an exclamation point ! followed by the word tomorrow or a specific date, e.g. !tomorrow, !2020/06/30

Note: Basic accounts are limited to 5 emails total, while Premium and Business accounts can save up to 200 emails daily. (If you’re not ready to upgrade your account, you can always use the Web Clipper tool instead to save your emails instead.)

Ready to upgrade? Save with these Evernote promo codes.

17. Connect Evernote with IFTTT

IFTTT stands for If This, Then That. It’s a handy software that allows you to create “applets.” These applets connect two pieces of software together, and perform a specific action when a trigger occurs. For example, if you post a new photo on Instagram, IFTTT will automatically save it in Evernote. 

There are a ton of IFTTT applets available for Evernote, including functions like:

  • Saving your favorite tweets to an Evernote notebook
  • Logging receipts in Evernote
  • Adding an Evernote reminder to a Google Calendar event
  • Creating a note by telling Google Assistant to create a note
  • Saving your Instagram photos in Evernote
  • Synching your Evernote with other productivity apps like Google Drive, Trello, and more

how to use evernote

18. Learn Evernote keyboard shortcuts

Don’t let your mouse slow you down. For you fast typers out there, here’s a comprehensive list of all the Evernote Shortcuts for Windows and Mac computers. You can use keyboard shortcuts for all sorts of things, including:

  • Creating new notebooks, notes, and tags
  • Changing your Evernote view
  • Adjusting the formatting in a note
  • Checking the spelling in a note
  • Navigating to your Notebook or Tag list
  • Editing, merging, and searching notes

19. Recover deleted notes

Ever lost a note? Check your Trash. It’s at the bottom of your notebook lists. 

Thankfully, the delete button on Evernote isn’t permanent. If you accidentally delete a note, it just goes to your trash, and it stays there until you decide to delete it permanently. 

To restore the note, simply right-click and select “Restore."

Note: Deleted notes do not appear in Evernote search results. You can only find them by looking in your Trash.

20. Add a layer of security with Evernote encryption

Part of the beauty of Evernote is that it saves your content to the cloud — so you never have to worry about it getting accidentally deleted. However, that auto-saving cloud feature also makes your content more susceptible to hackers.

For particularly sensitive noses, consider saving them to your local computer only, without a cloud backup. Just make sure you have a local backup system in place.

Alternatively, you can keep on saving to the cloud, and encrypt sensitive information within your notes. Highlight the text you want to encrypt. Then right-click and select “Encrypt Selected Text.” Enter a password you’ll remember and confirm! 

NoteWhile Evernote’s security features allow you to encrypt text within a note, you can’t encrypt entire notes or notebook.

Mobile-only Evernote tips

These next few Evernote hacks are only doable using the mobile app. Read on for Evernote tips you can do on-the-go!

21. Take your important notebooks offline

Evernote stores everything to the cloud and syncs it across your devices. As long as you have an internet connection, you can access whatever you need.

But what about when you don’t have an internet connection? 

Maybe you’re stuck in the waiting room at the doctor’s office and wish you could browse through your travel inspiration notebook. Or maybe you just got through customs abroad and need to pull up your travel notebook to get the hotel’s address.

You’ll need an offline notebook to save the day. 

If you have your computer with you, congratulations: all of your Evernote notes and notebooks are saved to your local drive. But that’s not the case for your mobile phones, where storage space is at a premium. So, you’ll need to set up offline notebooks in your settings:

  • On iOS, go to Account > Settings > Notebooks > Offline Notebooks and select one or more notebooks to save offline. 
  • On Android, click the three dots button, select “Offline notebooks,” and toggle which notebooks you want to download.

Note: Offline notebooks are a premium feature only available for paid Evernote accounts.

22. Use Evernote without even opening the app

Did you know you can use Evernote right from your notifications screen on iOS and Android? That’s right — you don’t even have to open the app! 

You can quickly create a note, take a photo, or set up a reminder or to-do list. 

23. Turn your phone into a high-powered scanner

The Evernote mobile app uses your smartphone camera as a scanner. If you ever want to scan a document, whether it’s a legal document, magazine article, business card, whiteboard, or handwritten note, open up the app and click the camera button. 

Then select the scan icon. This tells Evernote to treat what’s in the camera view as a text document. 

After you scan the document, you can select the type of document it is, like a color document or Post-It Note (more on that in a bit). This helps Evernote improve the image quality.

Now get this: Once the image is saved, you can use Evernote to search within the text of your document. Amazing, right? 

how to use evernote

24. Scan in your Post-it Notes

As we mentioned, the Evernote camera has special settings to enhance the quality of your scans, including a setting just for Post-it Notes

Here’s an extra cool Evernote hack that goes beyond enhancing photo quality. Assign different Post-it Note colors to specific notebooks, and whenever you scan a Post-it Note of that color, the note automatically gets saved to the appropriate notebook!

how to use evernotehow to use evernote

Note: Evernote’s Post-it Note feature works best with Electric Yellow, Electric Blue, Limeade, and Neon Pink Post-It Notes in the 3x3 or 11x11-inch sizes.

Time to stock up on Post-It Notes? Save with these Post-It promo codes.

25. Level up your note-taking with Moleskine

Do you prefer taking handwritten notes? We get it. As magical as Evernote’s digital note-taking features are, there’s still something special about putting pen to paper. 

Here’s the good news. With Moleskine’s Evernote-compatible notebooks, you get the best of both worlds: the ability to handwrite your notes, and the ability to save them to the cloud and make them searchable by text. 

how to use evernote

These lined notebooks are designed to make text more recognizable upon scanning. Each notebook also includes smart stickers so you can automatically save each scan to a particular Evernote notebook or add a tag.

how to use evernote

Time for a notebook? Save with these Moleskine promo codes.

Next-level Evernote hacks 

We’ll let you in on a secret: The more you use Evernote, the more useful it is. If you’re ready to dive in deep, here are 15 surprising ways you can get even more out of Evernote.

26. Create your personal RSS news feed

That's right — Evernote doubles as an RSS feeder. You can use IFTTT to create an RSS feed of your favorite news stories or blogs, which automatically saves each new story to your notebook for you to read at your convenience. Say goodbye to a cluttered inbox filled with daily newsletters and random blog articles.

If you have a paid Evernote account, you can take things one step further by signing up for email newsletters using your Evernote email address. Then they’ll be sent directly there and bypass your inbox entirely!

27. Swap out PowerPoint for Evernote

Forget painstakingly transcribing each of your notes into a presentation software. When using Evernote on a desktop computer, you can simply click the Presentation Mode button (it looks like a projector) to instantly start presenting your notes in slide form. Who needs PowerPoint? 

This feature automatically adjusts your notes to the dimensions of the monitor you’re presenting on, so everyone can see things perfectly.

how to use evernote

You can make additional tweaks to your presentation with the Evernote layout editor. Here, you can divide your notes into separate slides (as opposed to scrolling as a big one document), add in title screens, or use one of Evernote’s auto layout options to split it up for you.

how to use evernote

You can even highlight text with the built-in laser pointer tool, or switch between dark or light color schemes.

Note: Presentation mode is only available to premium Evernote users, but you can test it out for free within 30 days of signing up with a free Basic account.

28. Save your Kindle notes

Do you read books on an e-reader? If you own a Kindle, you may love it for its annotations and highlighting features. 

Wouldn’t it be great to save all of your notes into Evernote? With Evernote Web Clipper, you can.

Access Kindle on the web using the Kindle Cloud Reader. Then open up “Your Highlights” on the Amazon Kindle website. Next, click on a book to view all the highlights. Finally, use the Web Clipper app to save them all into Evernote. 

29. Record audio interviews and lectures

Don’t have time to write out your thoughts? Add a voice recording to your notes for you to transcribe later. Evernote audio recordings are super useful if you’re taking interviews, conducting research, or listening to a lecture in class. Best of all, you can record audio at the same time you type in your note. 

Note: There are limits to how much you can record in Evernote. With the free plan, your notes can only be 25MB each. Make sure your audio recording is smaller than that, or it won’t sync to Evernote.

30. Take notes in class

Speaking of lectures, you can kiss those college-lined notebooks goodbye. 

With Evernote, you can create a notebook for each of your classes, and then create a new note for each lecture you attend. It’s a lot easier finding what your teacher said on Monday two weeks ago than rifling through your paper notes. You can also scan pictures of your syllabus and other class documents for easy reference.

31. Publish a blog

We weren’t joking when we said you can do pretty much anything with Evernote. You can even create a blog with Evernote, thanks to their integration with postach.io. All you have to do is choose a blog name, sync your notebook, and start writing your post. 

Then, anytime you’re ready to write a new article, create a new note in your blog notebook. When you’re ready to publish, tag the note with “published,” and voila, it will automatically publish to your blog! 

how to use evernote

32. Create a restaurant wishlist

Ever notice how when it’s time to pick a place to eat, you can’t remember the name of any restaurant you like? 

Avoid this scenario with your own restaurant wishlist, right inside Evernote. Save restaurants that catch your eye from their Yelp or Google page. Click the share button on your smartphone, and save to Evernote, or use the Web Clipper tool if you’re on the desktop version.

Pro Tip: You can create similar wish lists for books you want to read, movies you want to watch, or places you want to visit.

33. Plan a trip

Evernote is made for trip planning. You can:

  • Create a packing list with checkboxes
  • Save your boarding pass to a note
  • Email your hotel and flight confirmations to your trip notebook
  • Make a wish list of all the places you want to see
  • Scan in a copy of your passport and driver’s license
  • Share your travel notebook with your travel companions
  • Download an offline version of your notebook before you leave
  • Use one of Evernote’s templates to get inspired, plan your trip, or create a daily itinerary

how to use evernote

34. Make a virtual recipe book

The internet and Pinterest are fantastic for saving recipes, but they're a lot easier to retrieve and reference later if you import them into Evernote. You can use the Web Clipper tool to save recipes you find online, and store them in a Recipes notebook. 

Pro Tip: Further organize your recipes using tags, like #breakfast, #coffee, #drinks, or #keto. 

35. Move your diary online

Whether you keep a dream diary, pregnancy journal, or gratitude journal, you can write it all in Evernote. When you transition your diary into an Evernote notebook, you can add more than words to your diary with images, audio notes, and more. 

Plus, they probably already have a template designed for your type of journaling, like this one for gratitude journals

how to use evernote

36. Keep track of receipts

There are all sorts of reasons to hold on to receipts, whether you’re a business owner, a side hustler, or in charge of your household. But there’s no reason to store them in a huge filing cabinet in your house. 

Instead, upload your receipts to Evernote. You can organize them into the appropriate notebook, add tags, and use easily searchable titles like “Home Remodel - Home Depot Receipt for Paint Colors - May 2020.”

Pro Tip: Use tags to categorize your expenses and indicate whether a bill is “paid” or “unpaid.”

how to use evernote

37. Upload important documents to Evernote

Just like your receipts, you can use Evernote to store backups of all your important documents, like mortgage contracts, rental agreements, insurance forms, and more. Just open up the app, select the camera button, scan your document, and you’re good to go.

how to use evernote

38. Save business cards

What are you supposed to do with all those business cards? No one knows. 

Fortunately, with Evernote, you can quickly scan in the card so you have a copy saved (leaving you free to throw out the paper one). Plus, Evernote will translate the card’s text into searchable text for you to look up whenever you need it.

39. Make digital memories 

Is the front of your refrigerator getting crowded with all your kid’s artwork? Clear some space without losing those sweet memories. Snap digital photos of their artwork and save it to a notebook in Evernote.

Pro Tip: When your kid graduates high school, you can upload those photos into a digital scrapbook as a graduation gift. 

40. Save your emergency list

Create a master “emergency list” in Evernote to share with babysitters, caregivers, and house-sitters. Make sure to include:

  • Alarm codes
  • Contact information for you, family, and trusted neighbors
  • Veterinary information for your pets (vaccination records, emergency vet contact information) with feeding and walking instructions
  • School contact information and teacher names
  • Insurance contact information and location of important forms (via a note link)
  • Product warranty information
  • Links to online user manuals 

how to use evernote

As you can see, you can do a LOT in Evernote. It’s much more than just a place to take some simple notes. 

You can save photos, voice memos, spreadsheets, PDFs, and more. You can share and collaborate on notes with friends, family, and coworkers. You can create to-do checklists, schedule reminders, and get things done. And with these Evernote hacks at your disposal, you’ll be an Evernote whiz in no time. 

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Sara Altschule
Software  >