Around the House

Your Brain Is the Last Place You’ll Look for Information

Your brain is the last place you’ll look for information – Phil Libin, Evernote creator

An indispensable tool for the Information Age, Evernote helps you quickly save and retrieve all the information that interests you. It’s like your own little subset of the Internet that you can curate, filter, and search from anywhere.

Here’s how I use it.

The Basics

After installing the free software, you create “notes” and file them into “notebooks”. Notebooks can then by further organized into folders.

For example, in my “Family Life” folder, I have a notebook titled “Home Improvement” which contains individual notes like the measurements of a kitchen window I want to replace, and a link to a new paint color visualizer tool by Sherwin Williams that I want to try out.

A free Evernote account allows you to upload 60 MB of data every month, which I have not hit yet. Premium Evernote is available for $5/month and provides 1 GB monthly uploads plus extras like priority support, searchable PDF’s, more sharing options, and no ads.

Note also that to use the web clipper tool – the easiest way to save web content to Evernote – you’ll give up some privacy as it can access your website data, tabs, and browser activity.

Curate Ideas

Ideas are great. I love ideas! Evernote is great for saving:

  • gift ideas
  • travel ideas
  • craft ideas
  • home improvement ideas
  • things to do ideas
  • blog ideas
  • more

For example, I land on a website for a local farm that offers farm stays. My daughter loves farm animals! I click the Evernote “Web Clipper” button in my toolbar, and save the page as a note in my “Things to Do” notebook. I add the tag “kids”, an optional classification that helps me refine search results later on.

Retrieve from Anywhere

Kids’ stats

Say I’m out shopping and see some nice school shoes on sale. What size is Brian wearing now…? Because I keep a running summary of each family member’s stats in Evernote, I can quickly pull up his current shoe size on my iPhone.

When traveling, save your itinerary, maps, confirmations and the like to a notebook and access them on the go.

Email to Evernote

Schools generate lots of important bits of information. My son’s school recently sent an email introducing a fundraising program with Amazon. If I click through their special link, the school earns up to 10% of the purchase.

I simply forwarded this email message to my unique Evernote address – and voila, the message is saved as new note.

Even better, you can use the subject line to tell Evernote where to file the note. For example, Subject: Shop with Amazon @School #kids would create a note titled Shop with Amazon in my School notebook, tagged with kids.

Scan and Save

Scan documents, toss the paper, and then drag and drop the image into an Evernote. Things like:

  • Product warranties and receipts
  • Software license keys
  • Member discount ID’s

Share Notebooks

You can share any notebook, publicly or with a specified person or group. I scan all business cards and save them to a “Shared Contacts” notebook, which I share with my husband.

Now, when he asks me for the plumber’s number, again – I can send him the link to this shared notebook.

Search, Search, Search

Why use Evernote, you say, when you can already save content that interests you without adding new software?

  • webpages can be saved to your browser’s bookmarks
  • documents can be scanned and saved to your computer’s file system
  • important emails can be saved in your mailbox

Answer: instead of searching three different sources, you search one. Notebooks mimic your file system’s folders, but you can’t tag content, and you can’t search browser bookmarks at all.

What Don’t I Save to Evernote

First the obvious – no passwords, or financial information.

Next, I don’t use Evernote as a to-do list. I find the tool is at its best when used to save and retrieve long-term information and ideas, not short-term action items.

Finally, how you use information will help determine where best to keep it. For example, I don’t keep a list of movies I’d like to see or books I’d like to read in Evernote. Instead, I save media to my Netflix movie queue and Amazon wish lists for books and music, where the information is more “actionable”.

Information is everywhere, and Evernote is a searchable, shareable, centralized place to keep information important to you. I’m continually impressed with the many different ways others have figured out how to use the tool, for both personal and business, which they showcase on the Evernote blog. It’s kind of like your brain, digitized.


  1. Cheryll Merritt

    09/20/2012 at 10:35 am

    Thank you so much. My husband insisted that I download the app to my phone, but I never found it to be terribly useful. But this … this is GENIUS!

    1. Samantha

      09/20/2012 at 10:50 am

      Thanks for writing in Cherie! Evernote is so useful. Wish we had this in high school 🙂 Let me know how you like it once you get going. I love to hear how others use it; there is always something new.

  2. Taking the Best of Technology and Leaving the Rest — Frugal Mama

    10/30/2012 at 1:28 pm

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