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(Archived) Search by Tag or just "Search"?


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  • Level 5

Some users can get by with simple Evernote searches and no tags. Just keep in mind that you might miss something. If missing a few notes is not a problem, then have a go at it with no tags.


I have several methods to increase the accuracy of my search results. The 3 most important are 1.) Titles that are detailed and have a consistent structure, 2.) tags (lower case, no_spaces) 3.) good understanding of Evernote's search grammar.

Tags have an important place in Evernote for some searches. Consider the different way words are spelled in different countries - color vs colour; center vs centre; aging vs ageing; sizable vs sizeable.  If you use a simple word search, you could miss the alternate spelling. Do you want to find Centre, France or the center of France?

Or consider people's names. I have many political editorials saved in Evernote. Here is a name that is spelled in several different manners depending on the media and/or location.

"Moammar Gaddafi"
"Muammar Gaddafi"
"Moammar Gadhafi"
"Muammar el-Qaddafi"
"Muammar al-Gaddafi"

I don't have to worry about all these different spellings, I just search for tag:"Gaddafi Muammar"


Titles and honorifics can be a problem for searches.

Commander In Chief (which one?)
President (which country?)
Obama (Barack, not Michelle)

Problem solved with a tag for Obama or Clinton

Tags also help if you are looking for a common word that has multiple meanings.

Lead poisoning can lead to health issues.
You may see a rainbow in May.
Scale the fish completely before weighing it on the scale.
The dove dove down to its nest.

edit: Evernote's OCR comes up with a lot of false positives on maps I have posted. So I try to tag all my graphics with a tag using the letter x. When I do a search, I often add -tag:x to the end of the search, which will suppress my notes with heavy graphics from showing up in the results.

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Why do I need to tag my notes?  Can't I just search for a specific word within a note and it will be (hopefully) found?

I have a lot of notes. Unlike GM, I tend to use more notebooks that are broad categories. (My main target notebook is "everything else".) I also rely heavily upon descriptive titles & keywords along with notebooks & tags to find my notes. I'd guess about 2/3 of my notes have no tags. Of the 1/3 that do have tags, they normally have only 1-3 tags.

I do have a tag for model/serial numbers. I also have a tag "software versions" which is dated screen caps of various software versions. This is especially helpful when migrating from one computer to another, upgrading an OS or just upgrading a particular app. I can quickly tell what version I was running & when. I also can quickly find receipts for paid software (and often include a screen cap of their upgrade policy) so I can quickly determine if I will need to pay for a software upgrade or if they let you upgrade free for life. This alone saved me from re-buying the latest version of an app a time or two.

Regarding people, I have a tag called "people notes" For me, specifid people (excluding family members) don't require their own tag b/c I can find their notes by including their name in the search. But I may include a keyword that is where I know them from. IE, the name of my husband's company, the name of the company I work for, etc. That way, if I want to remind myself of someone I met when my mother was in the hospital in 2011, I can search on the tag "people notes" & refine the search by including the hospital name.

Another tip I've posted about several times is to include misspellings. I know Shafers & Shaffers. So I include the person's name with the correct spelling. But use the other spelling as a keyword. This way I know I'll find the note I'm looking for, even if I forget which way that person spells their name.

One reason I use tags is when there is either no unique name to use as a keyword or there are several. IE, I have used a piece of software for about seven years. When I first bought it, it was called NeatReceipts. But I may have typed it as Neat Receipts at times. Then they changed the name to NeatWorks. But again, I may have typed Neat Works in my notes. Then they started going by Neat - too general & not conducive to finding notes that only apply to this software app. So I do have a Neatreceipts tag that I apply to all the notes that pertain the the software app. OTOH, I have also used ACDSee Photo Manager for about ten years. It does not require its own tag since ACDSee is a unique name that I include in all notes pertaining to this software app.

I also use nested tags. IE, I have a notebook on computer software/problems/issues. I have a parent tag called "Computer info & problems". Below that is a tag "Computer problems" & below that is (for example) a tag "new & expanded boot disk 20100303" which is applied to all the notes that are relevant to when I used Acronis to backup & restore my boot drive to a new, larger hard drive without having to reinstall the OS & all applications. In this case, the parent tag exists only to organize the child tags. I rarely search only on the parent tag of "Computer info & problems".

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Why do I need to tag my notes?  Can't I just search for a specific word within a note and it will be (hopefully) found?

I can find my Cox bill from May of 2010 quickly from over 61,000 notes by using:

intitle:cox 201005*

since the title of the note is Cox 20100508 (if the closing date of the bill is 5/8/10). It doesn't even have any tags assigned to it.

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  • Level 5*

Have you tried it? Just enter your word, without "tag:" in front of it, and you will find it. There probably are certain words that you can't search for (stop words), and of course it won't pick up misspellings. If you want to find a phrase, type in "this is my phrase" including the quotation marks. Then read section 08 in http://evernote.com/evernote/guide/windows/.


Wow, some people are too fast for me!

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  • Level 5*

It's a little-known fact that a simple text search will also search tags and note titles as well as note content. At least on the Windows client, these will be treated as wildcard searches. That is, a search for "text" would be equivalent to a search for "text* tag:text* intitle:text*"

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  • Level 5

Another specialized use of Tags:


I have tons of tags that use government acronyms. All these acronym tags have the prefix "acro-". 

The list has grown substantially since then, due the out-of-control regulatory environment promoted by the Obama nanny-state administration.


Here is a screen grab (using Tag Hunter) of a portion of my acronyms from a couple years ago.


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