Monthly Archives: November 2009

Evernote can be your Digital Photographic Memory

Evernote makes it possible to have the digital equivalent of a photographic memory with you at all times (and on any computer) and its FREE.

Evernote ( has native applications for Mac, Windows, iPhone/iPod Touch, BlackBerry, Palm Pre, Windows Mobile, and a web-based version that allows you to CAPTURE, MODIFY (mostly) and RETRIEVE information when and where you need it.

Capture – getting data into Evernote can be through typing, web clipping, audio recording, PDF files or images.  Premium users can add other file types.  Once something is captured, it will be available on ALL your devices and computers in seconds after that note is “synced”.

The image functionality can take advantage of the camera on your phone (or webcam) to capture images straight into Evernote.   Once notes with images are “synced”, they are magically indexed with optical character recognition (OCR) and can be searched just like text!

Overall the OCR is really good.  I’ve been using it to capture whiteboard notes, business cards, return addresses, interesting websites (web clipping), and more.  I used it when I was recently shopping for a washing machine; recording the pricing at different stores and taking images of the sale flyers/advertisements.  It was really nice to be able take a snapshot and add a tag and keep walking.

Focus and contrast is always important for OCR and this is no different, older iPhone cameras (without autofocus) may have issues without some type of close-up lens like the Griffin Clarifi (

Modify – editing a note is pretty straightforward on the web, PC or Mac versions.  Editing on the mobile side can be a little challenging on anything other than text-only notes.  Notes with images, audio, or rich text can only be added to (not edited) on the iPhone or BlackBerry applications (not sure about the Palm Pre and Windows Mobile versions; but the documentation seems to lean that way).

Retrieval – getting data OUT of Evernote is a joy.  If you are hyper-organized you can setup multiple “notebooks” to store notes in and use tags to categorize your notes globally.  But, if you do nothing more than the basic capture – you will still be pleasantly surprised at the speed and accuracy of the searches, synchronization, and various ‘views’ — especially on the mobile devices.  I’ve gotten very accurate results with the search — even “artsy” text and small print has been recognized.  Sideways text does seem to pose a problem.  Searches work off the index and the tags – but not the notebook names – making it very easy to search.

I’ve been a big fan of Evernote for a while.  I started using it to keep some important notes synced between my Mac and a couple of PCs.  Now I have thousands of notes, plus links to web sites, whiteboard images, business cards, and more — available on my computers and mobile devices.  It really does make a difference.

The free account has ads (which are very unobtrusive) and is limited to 40mb transfer per month.  That sounds low – but here is the reality; I have 18,000 typed notes, 360 camera phone images, 240 web clips, 34 audio notes, and 9 hi res photos. I only hit 15% this month.

For power users, $5 per month gets rid of the ads, increases the monthly limits (from 40mb to 500mb), adds SSL security & document sharing tools, and allows for any file-type (i.e. videos, Word, Excel) as attachments.  If you collaborate or are working with sensitive information – this might really be worth it.