I used to keep notes and information in various places around the Web and on my devices: Google Drive, the Notes app on my iPhone, to-do list apps, notes scribbled on Post-It’s and notepads, notes and sketches digitally scrawled into iPad apps like Paper and Penultimate. You get the picture. My information was disparate. Now, thanks to Evernote, my organization is centralized and respectable.
When I first started using Evernote a few years back, it was pretty simple: upload a note to the service or simply create one natively from within the app itself. I loved the fact that I could snap a picture of a whiteboard or sign or sheet of paper and the text would be saved and searchable. For a long time that was how I used the service, in a very useful, yet basic, way.
Recently, while doing a bit of research for an upcoming presentation about must-have apps, I realized that Evernote had been changing. To my surprise and delight, I stumbled across an entire universe of add-ons and accessories that revolved around the familiar green and grey elephant.
Here are some of the best.
Imagine being able to easily scan that mess of paper lying around your office and cluttering up your kitchen table directly into an Evernote folder. Wirelessly.
Evernote is all about keeping your thoughts and information organized. The Scansnap Evernote Edition Scanner from Fujitsu takes things even further by automatically recognizing the differences between documents, business cards, photos and receipts and filing them accordingly. All this happens with the touch of a button. When you files are done being scanned, you’ll get a notification summary on your smartphone.
The reason people still end up using paper for note-taking is that writing on an iPad using a stylus isn’t as natural as writing on tree pulp. The problem is that most people write in relatively small script on paper, but are forced to write larger when scribbling on the pixels of a tablet. When you find yourself writing with fourth-grade-sized letters, it’s not really worth the hassle.
That’s where a completely re-thought stylus like the Jot Script comes in. It feels like a real pen—it’s not chunky, but it's smart. Not only does it feature the slimmest stylus tip on the market, it uses Bluetooth 4.0 to ensure precision and to allow the tablet screen to distinguish between your palms and the stylus.
Zapier (Web App)
Similar to IFTTT, Zapier lets you program the Web and a slew of apps to work together. This is great for creating and customizing your own workflows.
It's also a great way to connect Evernote with over 240 other services. This works by creating “zaps” that connect two services together to automate tasks. Popular integrations include Wufoo, PayPal, MailChimp and Gmail. Integrating Zapier with Evernote is a great way to eliminate repetitive tasks.
Hop.in (iPad App)
Hop.in is like the Evernote Web clipper for your iPad. It makes clipping any material from a webpage as simple as a double-tap. Videos, text, photos—you name it. If you've ever used Trello, the experience is somewhat similar; it involves a “card-based” UI that lets you enter a bit of text before uploading to Evernote.
Another great feature is the baked-in social connectivity. If you want, it’s easy to share a clip to Facebook or Twitter. You can even follow the clippings of other interesting people through the service to see what they found worthy of saving.
The Evernote team developed Skitch to help you get your point across in as few words as possible. In practice, you mark up pictures (either directly within Evernote or from a stand-alone mobile app) with things like arrows and text that are designed to call attention to specific objects or areas. It’s fast and easy and you can share your Skitch-enhanced notes easily. There’s even an option to mark up the original image or to create a separate PDF.
eHighlighter (iPhone App)
Sometimes, the only way to get the information you need into Evernote is to use a shotgun approach—saving an entire Web article, for instance, when all you really wanted was a certain paragraph or quote. Similarly, when it comes to saving info from a paper source (like a book page, for instance) you may not always want to grab everything on a page.
The eHighlighter app allows you to act more like an information sniper by giving you the ability to save only the small snippets you want. Just highlight your chosen passage as you would in an e-book reader and clip it to Evernote.
StudyBlue (Web, Android and iPhone App)
StudyBlue is a tool geared towards students—or anyone wanting to learn something new. It makes your Evernote notes, well, studyable.
If you are a fan of the flashcard approach (hopefully the word flashcard doesn’t give you bad flashbacks), you’ll love StudyBlue, because it turns your notes into flashcards and quizzes. When you get something wrong, you can circle back until you know it cold. A handy alert function will help you remember when to get your study on.
PopClip (Mac App)
PopClip saves a bit of time when it comes to copying/pasting and selecting text and getting it into Evernote as fast as possible. It’s one of my most-used Evernote extensions, though it took a bit of getting used to.
With PopClip, simply selecting any bit of text on your Mac opens up a convenient menu that will let you copy text or send it directly to Evernote. Yes, you’ll be shaving off mere seconds from your routine, but for the lazy, it’s a great way to overcome any mental reservations you may have about saving something you know you’ll want to find later on.
Dispatch is an email app for your iPhone that is all about getting things done by taking specific actions. One of those actions is to save an email to Evernote. True, you can do this with Evernote already using the personalized email address you get when you sign up, but some people may prefer a built-in button. Another great action? Save a snippet of your reply for reuse later on—it's particularly useful for repetitive replies on the go, since it’s a bit tricky typing a long email on a small touchscreen keyboard.
I know, Web Clipper is sort of a “Duh!” addition to this list since it was developed and promoted by Evernote, but still. The Web Clipper works as an add-on to Chrome, Firefox and Safari, and lets you quickly and easily save entire articles (sans ads and sidebars if you prefer), or to take screenshots (and mark them up with Skitch). Of course you can choose which notebook each clip should appear in and add tags.
Lead image courtesy of Evernote