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More accessible search filters and/or smarter search


SWSL

Idea

I know EN search is supposed to be great, but I've been using the internet since the beginning and am somewhat of a power user but I can rarely find what I'm looking for in EN using search.  Especially in Android.     It's amazing how seldom it works for me!   I KNOW something is there, but it's buried and I just want to search for a note but I will often get everything but what I'm looking for or nothing.   Then I start drilling down through my notebooks and there it is.   Mostly given up on search in EN.

I know it's me because there are a host of people on the forum who will tell me that it's great, they use it all the time etc. 

So, assume I'm somewhat stupid and have a poor memory for learning special search terms, but perhaps I'm a typical EN user.      One thing I've learned is that EN  search is not selective unless you tell it to be.  It just brings up every note with the words or letters you searched for, usually somehow the oldest and least useful.   It's kind of like the old search engines (Alta Vista?)  before google- if you searched for something, you'd get a lot of noise mixed in with what you were looking for and just be swamped with poor results.

I can think of two ways to make it better:

1) Intelligent search, more like Google:

  •  Put more recent and more "popular" results at the top.  Notes I rarely visit or that were last edited years ago would not show up far up the list from the note I made last week. 
  • Give the title of a note priority over the body.  If I search for "home AC"  show the note that has home AC as a title or part of that waay above a note that has "home" and/or the letters  "ac" somewhere in it's body.
  • Build some forgiveness into it like a search engine does.   Example:  I just looked up how to search within titles only again. intitle:  I had tried title: and failed.  Then I went to help and found it was "intitle" yet  it still failed, because my syntax was off by one space between intitle: and the term.  Wow.  I was floored that it was that literal without even adding quotes.   Build some humanity into this.  Google can find a term even if you don't spell it right.  Not to mention have a space in the search that is not literally important.  

2) Offer more sophisticated filtering in a menu form for what can currently only be effected by coding within the search box  (ie using code terms like "intitle:") - this is probably a far easier way for EN to help us.  A filter menu/icon  that drops down and has check boxes for most (or all)  filters along with any related limits.  ie 

Search Filters

  • "title only"
  • "body only"
  • "date last edited  _____to _____"
  • etc

I seem to remember that there is now a way to have Google search my notes....hmm...maybe that's the trick.. but it's not showing up lately on websearch although it's checked.

 

Thanks

 

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just posted a suggestion to add a simple dictionary and thesaurus check in 

while experiencing/trying to provide feedback about my own problem with search.

In another thread about failed search, there was also a "Green" post (EN staff)* about active work on search to improve lots of stuff.

After reading this post I think I'll need to tweak my suggestion to also offer the ability (maybe a checkbox) to instant toggle some of this extra checking in case people use their own tagging/titling methodology, and not have such a thesaurus search produce too many results. I do this style tagging for my own Windows filenames, since Explorer search is even worse.

 

(* - and sorry not sorry for me channeling some Blizzard customer service "blue" aggregration -- when there is official, demarcated feedback from the host company, it is a real joy of validation that people are being heard. I'm also loving this preview thing for my link I'm seeing in this android interface)

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  • Level 5*
13 minutes ago, SWSL said:

One thing I've learned is that EN  search is not selective unless you tell it to be.  It just brings up every note with the words or letters you searched for, usually somehow the oldest and least useful.

In addition to the text content index, we can search on note metadata; Tags, Dates, ....
I consider Tags "selective", and much more precise than text searches.
Documentation at https://help.evernote.com/hc/en-us/articles/208313828

>>Search Filters  ..."title only"

intitle:

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Hi- thanks DTLow. 

 I know how to find the documentation but I am not asking for help, I am making a suggestion for EN to improve it's interface and help regular users search successfully.  These people (us) are different from power users or programmers in that we benefit greatly from a path forward within the UI.

What I am suggesting then is a method that allows you to filter without needing documentation or memory.  Do a search for a product on Amazon or Ebay, checking the bar to the left and you will see that they have evolved such an interface that works for users without documentation or memorization such as I'm suggesting.

That is a good way to do it.  

And yep, "Tags" is one filter that is already present by the search box.  Never used it personally as it's not been my system approach to add tags.  Prefer to depend on notebook organization and/or search if it were more workable for me. 

cheers

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  • Level 5*
4 hours ago, SWSL said:

One thing I've learned is that EN  search is not selective unless you tell it to be.  It just brings up every note with the words or letters you searched for, usually somehow the oldest and least useful. 

Searching (finding results) and sorting (presenting results) are two separate operations. Evernote brings up notes that match your search filter; that set of notes is then are ordered by whatever sorting criteria you are using currently. There is no way to specify sort order in the search language, though that's been requested (by me, for one). And indeed, Evernote's sorting abilities are pretty much limited to a single attribute at a time, forwards or backwards. That could be augmented. Some kind of sorting by relevance would be also nice, but relevance is not always easy to specify, and it's situational (sometimes more recent notes are more relevant, sometimes they're not and some other criterion is).

Dropdown menus, checkboxes and other UI affordances are all very nice, but ultimately any search (or combined search/sort) specification almost certainly needs to be specifiable via a mini language (as is the current search language), which is the lowest common denominator for portability. UI stuff can hide that, but it can be tricky to figure out what went wrong.

Personally, my approach is generally to filter my notes down via a combination of notebook, tag, literal text or very occasionally special searches (e.g. todos, mime type, date range) to a smallish set of notes (< 10, the  "7 +/- 2 principle" holds here) so I can pick out the one I want by eye. I keep my notes sorted by most recently updated, so I get that sort of relevance for free. Tags do a fair amount of the heavy lifting, and are better than notebooks because a note can have multiple tags but only one notebook; in my approach, I categorize (i.e., tag) descriptively rather than hierarchically. But literal text searches factor in a lot too. "Simple search --> small result set --> pick the note" seems to work best for me.

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