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Automating EverNote

Tim H

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I love Evernote - I looked round for a different solution when I moved away from OneNote, and this is a fabulous solution for organisation and memory. I also folded everything I was doing for list management with ListPro into Evernote too.

Unlike many people, I don't use it so much for remembering where I've been and what I've explored - but it stores all my notes and to do lists. Many people seem to dump stuff in there and then use search to sort it all out. I prefer to have some organisation in my notebook.

I synch to Evernote and then to my Android phone.

There were one or two things I wanted to improve: so I did. Using a combination of logical thought and AutoHotKey, I created a working environment that responded to what I needed

1. Make Evernote more accessible.

Solution - pin Evernote to the Windows task bar (obviously)

2. Make Evernote even more accessible.

Solution - use AutoHotKey to create hot keys for my most frequently used notes. I have a hot key for each of my To Do lists, as well as a scratch pad for notes that occur to me as I write, as well as a log for how I am spending my time. Another hotkey brings up my most frequently used EN Notebooks, while another one brings up my current working set of documents.

(I found the easiest way to do this was to ascribe a unique tag to each of my notes that i wanted to attach to a hotkey. Then I use quite a convoluted way of launching EN to get to the tag search consistently).

3. Creating To Do lists - Evernote doesn't allow multiple checkboxes to be created out of a selection.

Solution: use AHK to create a checkbox and then drop to the next line, making it much easier to create a series of to do items

4. Highlighting To Do items - there are some cases where I would like to highlight an item, or to delete it while keeping a record of it (eg where I abandoned this task).

Solution: create hot keys that select an entire line and bold/strikethrough/italic/colour the whole line. I've also created hot keys to select and copy/cut/delete the whole line. Useful for word processors too. It might be nice to have multistate check boxes (See ListPro) for this.

5. Clip parts of a document to a single EN document. While you can clip to multiple documents and then merge them, that leaves headers for each note.

Solution: I have a hot key that copies to the Windows clipboard, saves the current window, opens a specific 'clipper' note, pastes it in and then restores the current window.

6. Provide subsets of documents for review.

Solution: tag documents for review and create a custom search if needed. Save that search to the quick access bar.

7. Only search current notes / create the concept of an archive for notes that are no longer in use.

Solution: a bit clunky, but tag old notes with 'Archive' then create a view called 'Working' and do all searches from there.

8. Sometimes notes get edited and I need an old version back - but I only keep one on line copy of everything.

Solution: regularly backup all my notes historically using ENscript export (and notify using a popup window)

9. Be able to read Evernote on a larger mobile device

Solution: could buy an ipad, but I use EN2KI to export to Kindle format.

10. Have an Evernote note open as a working space while doing something else, keeping it on top of the rest of the windows that are open.

Solution: use AHK to create a hotkey to lock a window on top. Works great for other stuff too

Some things outstanding/ideas for the future if the developers are listening....

It would be useful to be able to lock a series of notes to the taskbar (a sort of non-dynamic 'jump list') to get access to frequently used notes.

Getting EN to launch successfully and provide a place where EN hot keys work consistently was a problem. I end up launching (using enscript) and then using Ctrl F6 & Ctrl F7 to ensure that I am in the note window (ie change from thumbnail to snippet to thumbnail to get a consistent space to launch the tag search. Otherwise it does something different depending on which window you are in!

Android fidelity is still a bit weak - depending on what's been stored in a note the Android editor can be very very different - even if it's only simple text, the history is still there in some way so the editor is limited and behaves differently. As far as I can see it's not possible to edit a checkbox into the Android client either.

It would also be nice to be able to create more visual cues for the notepads. Colouring the little green icons would help, but being able to create/select graphic icons for each would be even better.

Although I do import output (eg images) from applications into EN (so I can use away from my laptop) that means that they are not connected. Being able to embed the application using OLE would help massively here, although I recognise that it's a 'one platform' solution. I am thinking in particular of mindmaps - I'd love to be able to keep the map image and then click through to launch the MM application when working on a client that supports it.

I know it isn't some people's way of working, but for me, being able to use one view for work and one for home would help manage my life better. We'd need a way to decide whether a notebook was home/work or both (and of course it should be more flexible than this). Having a way of viewing documents that are 'active' as opposed to documents that are part of my information store/memory would also be useful to minimise data overwhelm. And finally - of course, I don't use EN exclusively, and some of my content is stored in Open Office documents etc... being able to integrate EN into Windows search would help massively in trying to organise my heterogenous information store.

Awesome job, guys - long may it continue!

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