Evernote

I find it difficult to be over enthusiastic about Evernote, the website and desktop application that promises to “remember everything.” It has a slick and easy to use interface, performs well, and often in the background, and allows you to create content, such as notes, to include images and even whole pages from the web, as well as to scan directly into it from a scanner, take pictures with your webcam, phone … I could keep going. (Their support for mobile devices includes: iPhone / iPod Touch, iPad, Android, BlackBerry, Palm Pre / Palm Pixi, and Windows Mobile.)

Now, they are announcing a few interesting integrations. You can use Seesmic to automatically sent Twitter and Facebook posts (yours or those of friends or colleagues that you would like to remember) off to Evernote, for storage, syncing, and availability. I haven’t figured it out yet on the Mac, but I should also be able to use the Mac OS X Animator to create a watched folder for Evernote, to sync images and other files. (This is out-of-the-box functionality on the PC.)

The service is free, with some limits (that I have never run up against, by the way: 40 MB a month), and there’s a premium service, which ups the monthly upload limit to 500 MB.

In Evernote, you can organize your notes or web clippings into folders and with tags. Additionally, tags can be nested. I have been creating tag structures along the lines of:

genealogy
     archives
          LVA
          NARA
          NC Archives
          Presidential Libraries
     cemetery
     census
          1790
          1800
          1810 …

     military
          Civil War
          Revolutionary War
          Spanish-American War
          WW I
          WW II …
     obituary
     probate
          loose estates
          wills
     surname
          atkins
          blakeway
          gregg …
     web services
          Ancestry
          Footnote
          NewspaperArchive …

What’s handy about this, is that you can have an unlimited number of tags. As a user, you don’t need to remember how the tags are organized when you tag them. In other words, if I tag something as, “Genealogy, Civil War, Gregg, Wills” that note is automatically available from all of the following locations:

genealogy

genealogy
military
Civil War

genealogy
surname
gregg

genealogy
probate
wills

This means that I don’t have to remember the document in any particular way, I only have to remember the item in one of its contexts. However, to make this useful, one needs to remember the organization scheme, as you cannot re-use a tag for a different purpose.

Here’s what the Premium service gets you. I’m not sure that I need to go beyond the free product at the moment, but I do think that with half a gig a month, I could turn Evernote into another backup mechanism. It’s also handy that the premium account will take any file type. We will see. I’m still on the sidelines, but using Evernote more and more.

Free Premium
Access to all versions of Evernote Yes Yes
Synchronization across platforms Yes Yes
Text recognition inside images Yes Yes
Note allowance Unlimited, upload 40MB/mo Unlimited, upload 500MB/mo
File synchronization Limited: images, audio, ink, PDF Any file type
Search within PDFs No Yes
Access to note history No Yes
Offline notebooks (iPhone/iPad/iPod) No Yes
Notebook sharing Read only Allow read and edit
Max single note size 25MB 50MB
Support Standard Premium support
Security features Standard SSL encryption
Priority image recognition No Yes
Hide promotions No Yes
Cost Free $5/month or $45/year

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