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Searching in Evernote - too many results

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I have been using tags for a long time with Evernote. But when I try searching for a note, I get so many results that I have to wade through, and most of them don't even seem related to my search inquiry. 

Is there a way to get results closer to what I am looking for? I have tried using two or three keywords only, but still get too many notes not even close to what I am looking for.

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Another key metadata is the date created/updated.

My default sort sequence is date updated.  So, when a search yields many results, I scroll to the approximate date I recall working on the note.

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It's a function of any database over about 100 records,  that precise searches get more and more difficult.  There are so many notes wit so many words that sooner or later any search will turn up a lot of hits,  regardless of the terms used.  The trick is to find the unique(ish) factors that might make your search more precise.  If you're looking for a receipt,  can you narrow it down by date,  or by seller.  or by item?  Even the location might be a key.  (Evernote will have ocr'd the address on a saved receipt if there was one...)

Regardless of your search precision,  any large database needs constant curation - day to day maintenance to tweak titles and tags and content so that next time you search it will be less difficult to get your preferred results.

I use temporary tags,  Shortcuts and saved searches to get back to my current subjects of interest,  and if along the way I notice that there's a better way to identify things,  I'll maybe do another search to find all the items in one 'class' and change the generic word(s) I'm using in a title / tag.  On occasion I've left little breadcrumb notes for myself to remind be that when I search for X,  I should also include A, M and Z;  and I may include the text of search I can copy and paste into the box to get a clean(er) list of hits.


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If you're searching for certain things frequently, create a table of contents notes that link to those notes. Then add your table of contents note(s) as shortcuts. I do this to access various frequent notes such as for fitness tracking, vehicle maintenance, health, etc.  Instead of searching, what I need is 2-3 clicks or taps away. 

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4 hours ago, ChipAHoy said:

I have been using tags for a long time with Evernote

How many tags would you say you have per note? Like suggested, your tagging system may need tweaking. At this time, with over 14K notes, I don't even search without two tags in the search criteria if I want to get to the note quickly and not go through a huge result list like you are saying.

Like my tag:"Receipts" will return 938 notes....so if it is a hotel or a restaurant, I have tags for those or for electronic purchases. Otherwise, it may really get cumbersome. So two tags minimum then couple of key words should do it.

I also always put verbiage into anything (a PDF or JPG etc.) I sent. So it is a receipt, I would put, this is when I purchased the XXXX because of this etc. Just to help my future self.

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Very helpful responses, thanks, everyone. The way I use tags is as keywords, which is what I understand tags to be. Not sure I understand how to create a table of contents, but maybe adding more shortcuts will help. 

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If you are getting too many results that don't seem related to your inquiry, that begs the question of why are those notes showing up, how can they be differentiated.  Oftentimes it's not the number of tags you have in total but the combination of tags.  For example I have a Statement tag on 4,026 notes which is unmanageable, but when paired with a company tag works nicely.  So if your tags aren't parsing your notes the way you want, rework your tags would be my suggestion.

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7 minutes ago, ChipAHoy said:

Very helpful responses, thanks, everyone. The way I use tags is as keywords, which is what I understand tags to be. Not sure I understand how to create a table of contents, but maybe adding more shortcuts will help. 

Create a table of contents by selecting 2 or more notes, then click on the "create table of contents note".    You can then build and maintain that note as you need to. You can also manually create a contents note list.

I personally wouldn't use "keywords" in your tags - unless they are something unique - example, if I want to know all the stuff I have "inventoried" in my house (ie stored away in boxes), instead of search for "some obscure item" that could be listed in a hundred different notes (I have over 36,000 notes in total), I search for "tag:zinventory itemname" -- as you can see "zinventory" is my tag name - it's not something common like "inventory" because that'll show up in many places - but it's given zinventory for uniqueness. I know it is what will return only things I've listed as "zinventory".  


Here's an example of my "frequently used notes" note that I have at the top of my shortcuts.  This is one single note that is a top level view of my important "stuff".  Anything not so important, I can find with searches.  All of these items you see listed here also have a tag called "!frequent" - so I can always search tag:!frequent to find what I need.



Each of those underlined items goes to a different note - which could be a basic note, or another table of contents type note.

Here's what happens if I click on my "2012 jeep wrangler" link in the frequently used notes list above:



If you right click on a note in your own note list you can "Copy Internal Link" - that lets you create links inside evernote to other notes in your own evernote account.

Doing so, I build my "jeep note" when I have it in for service and repairs - for example, I scan my repair/maintenance receipt into evernote, right click, select the "copy internal link" and then past it into my jeep note under "service history" section I titled - you'll end up with a manually created contents list like so:



Anyway... hope all that helps - or gives you some further ideas!  Evernote works great - but it's so open ended that yes, it can be a challenge to find what you're looking for as you build your database of notes.  But that open-endedness is what is great - you can build and customize the way you run evernote to suit your needs.

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I'd love to show you a shot of my tags list to show you how I use that, but a bug in the current version has many of my tags "invisible"... anyway.... instead of basic keywords, I have specialized tags - like previously described.

An example of my "travel" tags would be:

TRAVEL - yes, a keyword tag - but none of my notes are tagged with it as it is too general and would give too many results...  BUT nested under TRAVEL are specific tags like:

travel-scubadiving, travel-climbing, travel-hiking -- those are added to travel related notes that pertain to any of those adventures.

then I have location tags:

travel-australia, travel-usa, travel-canada etc.

under those, I keep drilling down to specifics ie


inside that I might even have specific cities.


This way, if I'm going to be in arizona, I can search "tag:travel-usa-arizona" and only have notes that I've saved about travelling to arizona show up...  or I could combine tags like "travel-usa-arizona and travel-climbing" to get everthing climbing related in arizona - excluding all my generic notes that might be about climbing or arizona.


Again, hope that helps or gives some ideas.  Happy to elaborate on either this or my table of contents notes if you need more ideas or guidance.

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On the topic of compound tags (e.g. "travel-usa-arizona"): I don't use them. My feeling is that if one continues diligently on this path, you get an exponential explosion of  unique tag names, without adding much in the way of expressiveness. I prefer single use/concept tags, e.g.: "travel", "usa", and "arizona". Tags can be combined in search to get the  same results as compound tags; for me, a search on "tag:travel tag:arizona" would yield the same results. I can search on all things travel using "tag:travel" (as can someone using tag "travel-xxx") or all things Arizona using "tag:arizona" (can't do that with the compund tag system).

I relate this to how the English language works (doesn't work so well mit Deutsch, leider :)? we have adjectives that work in combination to describe the world, rather than having compound adjectives.

It's all horses for courses, of course, and I realize that Evernote search isn't the same as spoken language. That's just the system that seems to work well for me...

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