Evernote is a tool for keeping track of, well, everything. At least everything as far as digital information goes, or information that can be digitized. Evernote comprises a Web-based service and clients for Windows, Mac OS X, mobile devices, and extensions for Web browsers. It’s a service I’ve been using for years, and over that time I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks for getting the most out of the tool.
Learn the Shortcuts
If you’re using Evernote on the desktop, you’ll want to start by learning the keyboard shortcuts. With Evernote, you can assign a couple of shortcuts to create a new note without leaving whatever application you happen to be using. For example, on Mac OS X, the Cmd-Ctrl-N shortcut (Ctrl-Alt-N on Windows) will create a new note from any application.
If you have something in the clipboard you want to create a note from, you can use Cmd-Ctrl-V to start a new note with whatever’s in the system clipboard. That’s Ctrl-Alt-V if you’re using Windows.
Want to search for something that’s in Evernote? A quick Cmd-Ctrl-E will bring Evernote to the foreground and let you search immediately. If you’re on Windows, that’s Shift-Win-F.
Use Evernote as an Address Book and Contact Manager
I’ve yet to find a contact manager/address book that I actually like, whether it’s Web-based or native desktop software.
For people I keep in close touch with (co-workers, family, friends) I use my phone’s address book and sync with my computer. But there’s a lot of people I touch base with less frequently (sources, PR people, potential clients) that I’d rather not clutter my address book with.
To fill the gap, I’ve managed to use Evernote pretty successfully for keeping track of contact information and conversations. I use a Contacts folder and tag messages with keywords that will help me remember context later on. For example, in booking interviews for the upcoming Strata conference I tag correspondence and notes with “stata” and “big data” plus company names or general product categories (like “Hadoop”).
You can also use Evernote to keep track of business cards. Scan in business cards and save them to Evernote, and once they’re synced Evernote will use character recognition on the cards. This means you’ll usually be able to find someone’s contact information via their business card without needing to re-type it.
I have hopes that Evernote will become even better suited for contact management once they’ve refined the Hello App that was introduced in December of last year.
Put Notes in the Favorites Bar
If you’re using the desktop client on Windows or Mac, you should have a Favorites Bar that’s sort of like the bookmark bar in Chrome or Firefox. It comes pre-populated with several defaults, like all files that are created from Web clips or all notes that have file attachments.
You can create new favorites by dragging a note, folder or tag to the Favorites Bar. Simple, no? One caveat, though – this feature is only in Windows or Mac OS X 10.7 or later. For some reason, the Favorites Bar doesn’t appear in earlier versions of Mac OS X.
In some cases you may want to use Evernote, without uploading your data to Evernote. This might be because you have huge files that would put you over quota, or because you have sensitive files that shouldn’t be stored elsewhere. Whatever the reason, you can create a local folder for Evernote that won’t be synced.
When creating a new folder, the default is for a synced folder. But if you choose “Local Notebook” instead of “Synchronized Notebook,” your new folder won’t be counted against your quota. Of course, it also won’t be available via Evernote’s Web service or synced with your other clients if you’re using Evernote on mobile devices or other computers.
Note that you can’t change the notebook type after you’ve created it, but you can easily copy notes between folders. So there’s not much lost in creating a notebook as a local one instead of synced if you have any doubts about wanting to sync it with Evernote’s servers.
Next page: Shared Folders and More
When RWW webmaster Jared Smith sent me screenshots of yet another change to Google’s top navigation bar, I thought it was a bug. Then I got it, too. It’s a weird hybrid of the old, black nav bar with plain, gray text and the new, light one with the icons and Google search box. Sure enough, just now, Google announced the change, so it will be rolling out to all users soon.
The black bar, sometimes called the “sandbar,” only appeared in the middle of last year as Google began to redesign its interfaces, and the gray Google Bar was launched in November. Some users still have the sandbar, and others have the gray one. Now there’s a strange hybrid appearing, and it’s sort of the worst of both worlds.
The black bar worked because it was simple. The text links were clear, and the important services were all easily visible, with a drop-down at the end for the rest. It wasn’t pretty, but it was inoffensive and functional.
The gray Google Bar was more visually intensive. When Google introduced it, it sounded like the point was to give the user back some space by removing the black band at the top. The gray bar contained a search box for the Google service you were currently using, and to navigate to other Google apps, you used this crazy dropdown menu:
The icons helped, but it still wasn’t fast to navigate, because you had to open the drop-down menus.
What we’ve got now is some kind of hybrid. The search box is still there, but the black bar is back now, too. Instead of the drop-down under the Google logo, it’s among the text links at the top, and the drop down is just a list of black words that descends in the middle of the screen.
This inconsistency is starting to get crazy. Google’s navigation bar gets a lot of use, and it’s impossible to form habits with it constantly changing. The changes are inexplicable, too. Now the Google Bar is bigger than ever, but it doesn’t seem any easier to use.
What do you think of Google’s new, new Google Bar?
Source: Google’s New, New Nav Bar
As part of a carefully timed preview of the forthcoming Windows on ARM (WOA) operating system, which borrows the new “Metro-style” usage model from Windows 8, Microsoft released a video showing WOA running what were described as technical previews of four “Office 15″ applications – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. But the key question which Desktop for which application developers have been seeking an answer may have been obscured: As Microsoft adopts a new usage model with elements gleaned from the “Metro” style, will Office be moving away from the ribbon? The first clips of the new Office in action deliberately obfuscate the answer.
What we do see from shots of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint as demonstrated by Windows Principal Program Manager Scott Seiber completely obscures the title bar, assuming one is even present. Along the top edge are menu categories that are now presented, for the first time, in ALL CAPS, reversing a design decision made a quarter-century ago to avoid making software seem like it was SHOUTING at its user.
The full-color shading for the File menu suggests that Microsoft will continue its full-screen approach to loading, saving, and converting files, which premiered in the current Office 2010. Such an approach would be in keeping with the company’s new “Metro” design approach, where options are made very clearly visible with plenty of white space.
But as these screenshots clearly show, Office 15 will not be a “Metro-style app,” running in the fast and fluid new WinRT-driven environment being grafted onto Windows 8. Although technically these shots do not show an Office 15 preview for AMD- or Intel-based PCs, they were described by Microsoft Windows Division President Steven Sinofsky today as fully feature-compatible as their x86/x64 PC counterparts.
“The new Office applications for WOA have been significantly architected for both touch and minimized power/resource consumption,” Sinofsky wrote. “This engineering work is an important part of being able to provide Office software with WOA, as these are not simply recompilations or ports, but significant reworking of the products with a complete and consistent user experience and fidelity with their new x86/64 counterparts.”
At one point, the video (snapshot above) does depict the user right-clicking on a graphic object in PowerPoint (which, in multitouch, is accomplished by a tap-and-hold). This brings up a drop-down list, but also makes a pastel-shaded “FORMAT” menu appear. This behavior appears consistent with how PowerPoint 2010 works today. When you right-click on a graphic object, a new “Format” category appears, under a main heading “Drawing Tools” that extends into the title bar area. In the clips provided today, the title bar was obscured, so the “Drawing Tools” heading may actually be present and may also have been obscured.
Also in Office 2010, the Ribbon may be minimized until needed by way of an up/down carat button that appears in the upper right corner. That button does not appear in any part of today’s video, though conceivably it may also have been moved to the obscured portion of the title bar.
The Ribbon screen device, which first premiered with Office 2007, is not exactly compatible with the “Metro” layout approach, and for some users has proven to be more difficult with multitouch than it is for the mouse. Rather than the traditional drop-down menu that at one time was “written in stone” by the Common User Access specifications, the Ribbon divides a horizontal strip into segments by category, and places command buttons of varying sizes into each segment. The size apportioned to each segment may vary according to the width of the window, and may shrink itself as that width is reduced.
The reasons this issue is so important are twofold: 1) Developers of functions and add-ons for Office 2010 need to know whether they must begin the long, arduous process of redesigning for Office 2013 – or instead just give up and develop for some other platform. 2) An entire industry devoted to training employees depends on the stability of the Microsoft Office platform. If Microsoft made cosmetic changes to the Ribbon that we’re just not privileged to see yet, publishers can use in-house staff members to make new screenshots and quick rewrites. If it instead scrapped the tool altogether in favor of a menu bar that looks more like Metro, those publishers will have to make significant new investments in completely rewritten content.
A Microsoft spokesperson declined all further comment on Office 15-related issues for now.