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Rethinking tags: making them more accessible and useful


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Using tags to get around as Evernote is now borderlines on the nightmare. Maybe somebody can teach me something that I am missing and cannot find. Maybe there actually are already great highly-efficient ways to get around using tags. Maybe not. You tell me. I'm looking to improve my efficiency. Please help and/or make suggestions. Thanks!


What I would like to see is the ability to drag'n'drop a tag from an open note to the search bar and thus quickly find all the other notes tagged with the same. Or using a right-click on that tag and finding in the context menu a fourth option that searches for notes tagged with the same.* Or the tags themselves are links that will pull up a search result with all the other notes tagged the same. Something has got to be better than having to scroll three miles through a long list of tags in the sidebar to get to my not too often used but not too rarely used work and zebra tags.


*Or better still reveals a dropdown list of all the other notes tagged with the same. That is the one thing I really, really, really times infinity miss about TiddlyWiki, which had a plugin (or maybe it is built in now) that would allow this UI function. 


Hmm, maybe I am missing out on some keyboard shortcuts? There has to be some. It is the one program where I wear out my mouse. Like the keyboard shortcut to quickly pull up search and get typing. Ctrl-S? Nope. Ctrl-K? Nope, that's adding a hyperlink. Ctrl-F? Nope. It would be better too if I could remember to enter tag: before actually typing the tag. Even then that sort of blows for sloppy typers until Evernote's search bar has Chrome's omnibar's superior type handling capabilities.


Also, is there a great power-users blog/site out there that has a treasure trove of tips on Evernote efficiency? Wading through textbooks on [insert subject that bores you here which for me just might be dryer lint] which sounds more fun than browsing through EN's Knowledge Base, which I imagine contains some of what I am after.

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  • Level 5*

Excellent tip. Works if you search in a single notebook first, open the note, then go to all notes. Instantly find all the notes that have that tag. Haven't tried the multiple tags...

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Ahh, thank you, JMichael. I've once again located -- and finally bookmarked -- the keyboard shortcuts KB page, giving it the honor of placement in my bookmarks bar until I learn my lesson!


Since my post, I've perused Evernote's blog. Although I am surprised that the EN blog eschews the use of multiple tags :) it is much better than many corporate product blogs. It's wheat to chaff ratio looks good from my quick glance. The EN blog just might explain the dearth of Evernote fan sites that I thought I would run across on Google, so I'll have to set aside a day and browse the archives. Or rather the remnants of such (long abandoned) sites I figured I'd run across as I imagine they were quite popular in the mid- to late-2000s if ever. But nope, didn't really find any blogs primarily devoted to Evernote. Many, many productivity blogs, but that's not what I really need anymore. Just want to focus on becoming an EN power user.

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Oh, good post about tagging benefits. I'm a prolific tagger, using codes aplenty. Maybe Evernote has since posted this in their KB, I don't know, but maybe somebody else will find it helpful. I compiled the following list when I was trying to get the tags I use most often toward the top of the sidebar in the Tags section as well as when sorting notes by the tags column in list view as well as when creating a protocol for project notes that require a strict use of tags. It's a list that could be improved upon because I didn't go through the specially-accessed keyboard characters, but I didn't want to overcomplicate it for my purposes.


Alphanumeric Sorting Order and Hierarchy (in Evernote*)

  1. ! exclamation point
  2. " inches (double-quote) 
  3. # pound
  4. $ dollar
  5. % percent
  6. & ampersand
  7. ( left parenthesis
  8. ) right parenthesis
  9. * asterisk
  10. . period
  11. / slash
  12. : colon
  13. ; semi-colon
  14. ? question
  15. @ at, around, about
  16. [ left bracket
  17. \ back slash
  18. ] right bracket
  19. ^ carat (insert)
  20. _ underscore
  21. ` grave accent
  22. { left brace
  23. | pipe
  24. } right brace
  25. ~ tilde
  26. + plus
  27. < less than
  28. = equals
  29. > greater than
  30. 0
  31. 1
  32. 2
  33. 3
  34. 4
  35. 5
  36. 6
  37. 7
  38. 8
  39. 9
  40. Aa
  41. Bb
  42. Cc
  43. Dd
  44. Ee
  45. Ff
  46. Gg
  47. Hh
  48. Ii
  49. Jj
  50. Kk
  51. Ll
  52. Mm
  53. Nn
  54. Oo
  55. Pp
  56. Qq
  57. Rr
  58. Ss
  59. Tt
  60. Uu
  61. Vv
  62. Ww
  63. Xx
  64. Yy
  65. Zz

*The single-quote or apostrophe is missing. At the time when I compiled this list, I was using the list for other programs, too. And using ' as a leading character caused strange, inconsistent results so I excluded it from my master list. Sorry, I've forgotten where it is sorted in Evernote. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Using tags in Evernote is a never ending subject. One has to reflect and decide  on

(1) structure of tags
(2) naming of tags
(3) daily handling with favorites

I've been experimenting over the last  2 years with some thousands of notes, more than 200 tags, but less than 10 notebooks (I'm not a friend of many notebook for some reasons). I found many suggestions and discussions  in this forum. My current approach is as follows:

(1) structure of tags:

I use a combination of categories and tags. Example:


          evernote forum
          evernote GDT
          evernote literature
          evernote syntax
          evernote tipps
          project 2015 companyABC subjectXYZ

          ind automotive
          ind electrical
          ind enginieering
          comp Microsoft
          comp Brother
          comp XYZ
          media Economist
          media National Geographic
          media Vogue
          media Time
          pers Amiot
          pers Tulusan
          country Austria
          country France
          country Great Britain
          country USA
          city London
          city Paris
          city New York

Words with leading . (or ! or @ or..) are categories only, which are not used as tags but to achieve a certain structure.

(2) naming of tags

Every tag begins with a leading word (or acronym) to characterise the catagory followed by a designator.
The number of steps of this structure is of no importance: tags can be placed in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th etc. level.

What is the benefit? When tagging a new note the input of e.g. "evern" shows a list of all tags which start with "evern", sorted alphanumerically . Same happens when searching... That means a very "short" access to the tags. No need to keep all tags in mind but only the categories.
(New categories and/or tags should be pigeon-holed into the tag structure daily (preferred) or weekly.)

(3) daily handling with favorites 

90% or more of daily work with Evernote I use favorites. Example of a favorite list:

***INBOX***          =notebook
without tags         =saved search:  -tag:*
periodic               =tag  (3 notes with daily, weekly, monthly tasks)
tasks -7 to + 1      =saved search: -remindertime:day+2  remindertime:day-7  todo:false
tasks act week     =tag...
date today + 1     =saved search: remindertime:day -remindertime:day+2
date act week
project 2015 companyABC subjectXYZ      =tag
project 2015 companyPLU subjectDFG     =tag
Evernote syntax     =tag

This list can be sectioned optically by notes with e.g. "------- Projects ----- in title and added to the favorite list.

One benefit of the favorite list is that there is no sorting order - just move a favorite to any favored position.

The favorites with dates and tasks have not to be modified (only the checkboxes or reminder dates in the notes themselves). Other favorites like projects can be removed when the project is finished (the tag is still alive!!). Or add a tag, saved search etc. to the favorite list whenever you need daily/frequently access to the notes associated.
Sorting of the notes generally: creating date, descending
In this philosophy there is no need to reflect (much) about alphanumeric sorting order and special characters for sorting effects. The combination of categories and tags consists of  indexing  exclusively  with verbal exploitation, the tags have a fixed position in the classification. The tags only are connected to the notes in this model of two shells. The classification is not connected to the notes, but provides a (logical) structure for the tags. Therefore this structure can be modified and expanded without bothering the indexing and handling of the tags.


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