book reviews / teacher resources / tech tips for writers

Book Review: My Evernote

My Evernote

by Katherine Murray

5 of 5 stars

Part of my Amazon Vine reviews

View all my reviews

Evernote is a popular FREE note-taking app that stormed onto the internet consciousness a couple of years ago and quickly became the standard by which all competitors were judged. It enables you to copy snippets of webpages, images, audio files, and more into personal collections (called ‘notebooks’) that are not only shared across all digital platforms–desktop, laptop, iPad, smart phone–but with friends of your choice. A little like Google Docs, but easier, faster, and more accessible. Despite daunting competitors like MS One Note and Google Notebook–and smaller ones like Diigo and ReQal, Evernote has amassed over 11 million happy users. If you’ve been promising to try it, but were waiting for a magic wand to clear up all your questions, it’s arrived.

Katherine Murray’s new how-to book, My Evernote (Que 2012) has an awful lot of the answers, enough that I now have my Evernote up and running like a leopard across the African savannah.

Let me back up a moment. I got My Evernote because I got stuck. I downloaded Evernote, tried it out, and somewhere between installing and using, lost my way. Yes, I managed to snip website pieces, share documents from my computer, but I failed to accomplish the one thing that motivated me to download it: I wanted to collaborate on documents with friends. I muddled around on my own for a while, decided it was too d*** hard, and put the program aside. I planned to research more later, but instead forgot about it.

Until I found this book, and the answer to my problem.

My Evernote is a well-organized, clear and concise summary of this popular program. Chapters include:

  • Getting started
  • Capturing and tagging your first notes
  • Editing and Formatting notes
  • Adding images
  • Inking notes (using a scribble pen)note-taking
  • Grabbing web clippings and Webcam notes
  • Recording audio notes
  • Creating and managing notebooks
  • Sharing notes with others

The book includes a good summary of what most people want out of a note-sharing program. I decided to test the book by returning to my rarely-used program and see if I became inspired. Here are a few of my thoughts:

  • Evernote has become a more robust program since I first tried it. It now offers every conceivable method of clipping-and-saving from the internet to your personal cloud. As such, what was once probably a fairly intuitive widget has become a fully-featured software program that takes some thinking to get it to work. Therein lies the value of buying a book like this, that covers all of them.
  • The proverbial Killer App–creating and sharing notebooks–is well-detailed by Murray.
  • Two tools I didn’t know were available until reading this book are creating tables and ToDo lists (complete with check boxes). Very nice.
  • Love the audio notes. They’re quick to access and record, no fumbling blindly to find the right button amidst a line-up of look-alike buttons.
  • Another favorite I learned about from Murray: Ink notes. I can think of numerous uses for these at conferences.

Being a teacher, I’m always looking for education applications. I found a big one, thanks to this book: Evernote for link sharing. I’ve considered and rejected many link sharing programs–like StumbleUpon and Pinterest–because of their lack of privacy for young minds. Evernote for Schools solves that by being completely private, easy for new technology users to understand (click the icon on the toolbar), and collaborative for projects–a critical feature in today’s education environment.

Overall, My Evernote is thorough, easy-to-understand, and motivating. I am re-energized to use it for a long list of useful purposes that will organize my life–and my husband’s. I can’t wait.

Oh–the answer to my ‘collaborate with a friend’ problem: That’s only possible with the paid version. Because ‘collaborate’ is such an internet buzz word, I bet that will soon be moved to the Free column.

More tech in writing:

Book Review: Google Apps Meets Common Core

Book Review: Talking Back to Facebook

Book Review: Facebook for Business in 10 Minutes

Book Review: Digital Forensics With Open Source Tools

Tech Tip for Writers #59: Shortkey for the Copyright Symbol


Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. In her free time, she is  editor of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out to publishers next summer.

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17 thoughts on “Book Review: My Evernote

  1. I have One Note which came with Microsoft word and have used it to copy invoices but that’s all I’ve ever used it for. So much technology and I echo the other commentor’s lament, “I am so behind.”

  2. I’ve downloaded Evernote and beyond playing with it for a little while, have yet to explore the possibilities.sounds like you’re way ahead of the posse!

  3. This looks very helpful. I remember two years ago a blogger raved about Evernote. I tried it briefly and then stopped. I don’t think I completely understood it or how it could benefit me.

  4. IMHO, so many new digi-techie devices now available – every day, another encyclopedic downloadable device or program makes itself a space on the virtual shelf. Like some of your other followers, I am very behind this frontier – they’re way out west on a rocket heading for the moon, and I’m still at the train station in Chicago. But I digress.
    It’s revealing that a techie superstar like you would have had difficulty with an app like this until the book came along – and you found it. And this is the cr-p that bothers me about computer devices and programs. Everyone who posts or creates anything assumes that every reader is not only up with the latest, but also with the very latest that the app creator is familiar with.
    Case in point: just back from a visit to family in Boulder. Flew a well known airline. On its website is posted, “Please tell us what you think of our website.” Honestly, very little. I tried to do one simple thing – to pay in advance for baggage as it was cheaper – and could not find a button to lead me to accomplish such a task. Garbage info all over the site, on every “page” and all over the place, but nowhere could I find a “pay here” button. So I got on the phone and after waiting more than an hour (Yup, more than an hour of listening to their pre-recorded “wonderful us” garbage) finally got to speak with a real live human. Who told me that the opportunity to pre-pay for baggage would not show up until I could print my E-ticket, which would not be available until 24 hours before plane leaves the airport.
    So, there was not only no button to click on their site to pre-pay, there was also no notice about when I would have an opportunity to do so. What do I think of their website? Can’t write those expressive words on your blog.
    I get the feeling that so many of these sites and apps and programs are created by people (mostly teenagers) who have spent all of their very young lives sitting in a dark corner of their basement playing video games – “Oh look, I’ve found another hidden gem; killed another invasive alien; located another secret passageway – oh goody-goody for my amassed (pointless) points” – and are applying their video game mentality to every aspect of their current supposedly adult lives. Everything must be found (because it’s all hidden) as you trek along the way, trying to avoid being killed by hidden minefields. Which will then force you to start the game over. Thing is, trying to pre-pay for baggage is not a game – it’s real life. Why oh why didn’t Big Airline simply write someplace on their website that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to pay for baggage until I printed my E-ticket? Why such secrecy for something so essential?
    Why oh why did you, Jacqui, have to purchase this book, as wonderful as it seems to be, in order to use this program? Why didn’t the program come with the info that would have made its very purpose accessible?
    It’s this I-got-the-magic-sword-and-you-don’t attitude that makes me hate computers and other techie devices so much. If you, teenage Program Creator, want to sit in the dark and play video games, have a good time. I have a real life outside the computer and don’t have time for such game playing, even if something like Evernote would make my writing world easier to manage.
    However, thank you, Jacqui, for this info. I bet many folks will really appreciate it, maybe one day even me.
    And I apologize for seeming to hijack your site. If you choose not to publish my rant, no hard feelings from me.
    Shari *: )

    • This is the conundrum for us poor tech teachers–there’s always a better tech tool out there. We can’t keep up. I’ve settled for teaching those interested how to figure out tools rather than the tool itself. That way, when they find a cool tool and think it will make their life perfect, they can figure it out.

      Airlines are a bad example. They hate us customers. They’re all awful, but we have nowhere else to go.

    • It wasn’t even ‘really’ easy to me. But, now, it’s what I use when I’m taking notes. Notability is much easier, but it’s an app so I can only use it on my iPad.

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