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mac (Archived) Feature Request: Smart Folders, Lists, Bundles

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However you want to phrase it, I see a need to enhance the “saved searches” of Evernote into something more dynamic that could be used to elegantly re-envision organization within Evernote. I’m thinking of something that is already utilized by anyone familiar with iTunes playlists and Aperture smart albums.

You could allow for every notebook to have smart folders or smart bundles. Numerous potential criteria could be utilized as possible filters to dictate what is shown or not shown in relation to that particular folder.

Items to consider for criteria:

  • Note Date Range (any notes created between the following times)
  • Note Name
  • Tag(s)
  • Media Attached
    • Images
    • Audio
    • Documents
    • PDF

    [*]Checklist Present (quickly pull a list of all notes with action item checklists)

    [*]Links

    [*]Location (by radius to a given lat/lon marker)

    [*]Location (by region... example all notes that pertain to a city, state, country, etc.)

This could drastically enhance the organization potential for Evernote users with copious notes without having to rely upon constantly setting up search criteria or relying saved searches.

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So basically, the criteria you mention are pretty much the same ones that you can use in a saved search (or any regular search). Are you just proposing a way to associate a saved search with a particular folder? Maybe have a saved search be the default view for a folder? How does this make setting these things up any less difficult?

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Yes, I see this as affiliated more with notebooks and allow drilling down within. I see it as a way to treat views or sub-organization within a notebook (folder). Example, I have a recipes notebook and want to have sub categories based on "Saved Search" criteria and and additional criteria as outlined previously. As users continue to add content and notebooks, it's a suggestion to more elegantly handle organization.

Things to consider:

  • Would it make sense to have numerous saved searches to sort through to find what you want? Example if I break down recipes into breakfast, deserts, entrées, salads, pastries.. etc... would it be easier to hunt them down in the listing for saved searches or render them as a dynamically generated grouping that you affiliate conceptually with a given notebook. All notes that fall in that main bucket of recipes could be tagged and then sorted down from there with the approach I'm suggesting. To me it seems more intuitive than trying to figure out what the search was from a list that applies to your entire collection of notes. It's merely filtering a notebook into groupings that make sense to you.
  • Are saved searches any easier? Saved searches are nice in generalities... but it's not an elegant solution... it has the feel of something engineers added, but has yet to be flushed out. What I propose could utilize functions used for that in a way that would be more intuitive on a per notebook basis to east organization and help find sub-groupings faster.

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It's still not clear to me exactly what you're asking for, but it seems that, while saved searches provide the mechanical implementation of rule-based note filtering, you want some UI magic to make the task of creating searches easier (i.e., picking the criteria that compose searches), and maybe some alternative way of storing / accessing them -- maybe you want saved searches to serve as some kind of virtual notebook (which they more-or-less do currently), but be able to be placed in the Notebooks tree?

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Yes, in a way it is just creating some UI magic to making searching for notes easier... although when rendered it should still appear just as though it was a notebook (just rendering in notebooks based upon criteria you define in its properties). It could then be rendered in the notebook tree underneath a notebook (I'm not certain if it would be a good thing to allow them as a primary tier item in the notebooks tree... but at least second tier almost as though it's nested under a notebook as it's primary).

Use search criteria create dynamic sub-notebooks, something that could fall under the primary notebook. Quite frankly it could replace the need to have nested notebooks which are supported on the desktop versions (and web I'm assuming), but not yet on the iOS client. Overall I see it as a way to allow in a larger sense notebooks to become more general. These smart notebooks or groupings through the use of criteria could provide more granular controls to organize within that notebook. By leveraging existing data in the notes such as dates, keywords, and most especially tags, you more easily organize a vastly expanding library of notes.

  • Notebooks become the home for basic subjects
  • Tags and other data add in detailed classifications
  • Smart Folder, Lists, Notebooks (whatever you call it) would be the filter for that detailed information within a notebook
    • Eliminating (possibily) the need to rely on nested notebooks where the note can only exist in that particular notebook even though that notebook may exist within another notebook
    • Allowing one note to be visible in multiple smart listings (maybe one note applies more than one smart grouping you've created)

Let me know if this is still note making sense. I'm just trying to consider an added bit of functionality that would make it easier for users to wrap their head around organization. To me the smart groupings would fit the bill. It's a bit overwhelming when you first dive into the Evernote experience because you can start dumping everything in... but then comes the eventual need to clean things out of a general folder or to consolidate notebooks so you don't have groups so specific that you have to search your entire collection of notes just to remember what notebook that note may have existed within. I've fought with the organization approach myself... do you go general with notebooks... do you go specific with notebooks... do you nest notebooks to clean up your collection... do you create a myriad of saved searches to handle finding what you're looking for... etc.

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Use search criteria create dynamic sub-notebooks, something that could fall under the primary notebook. Quite frankly it could replace the need to have nested notebooks which are supported on the desktop versions (and web I'm assuming), but not yet on the iOS client.

I can't tell if you're having a bit of conceptual difficulty with what Evernote is today, or you are pipe-dreaming for how it might be in the future. But there are no nested notebooks anywhere in Evernote, not on the desktop, not on the mobile clients. Stacks can be used to organize notebooks (and they can be searched on), but they do not themselves contain notes. You can currently use searches to create dynamically determined collections of notes, under a single notebook, under a stack, or across all notebooks. Searches can be saved, so that they are persisted in the database.

Overall I see it as a way to allow in a larger sense notebooks to become more general. These smart notebooks or groupings through the use of criteria could provide more granular controls to organize within that notebook. By leveraging existing data in the notes such as dates, keywords, and most especially tags, you more easily organize a vastly expanding library of notes.

You already have all of these capabilities, today. Notebooks are already general, as they can contain anything; you use criteria like tags, date, text searches, etc. to filter your collection of notes into smaller collections. Again, these can be applied on a single notebook, a single stack, or across all notebooks.

Saved searches would presumably be the basis for any "smart folder" analogue; what doesn't exist in the current UI is any way for mixing saved searches into the notebook tree implement that metaphor. And there's no really slick way to build searches, in the way a query builder for a database might.

Let me know if this is still note making sense. I'm just trying to consider an added bit of functionality that would make it easier for users to wrap their head around organization. To me the smart groupings would fit the bill. It's a bit overwhelming when you first dive into the Evernote experience because you can start dumping everything in... but then comes the eventual need to clean things out of a general folder or to consolidate notebooks so you don't have groups so specific that you have to search your entire collection of notes just to remember what notebook that note may have existed within. I've fought with the organization approach myself... do you go general with notebooks... do you go specific with notebooks... do you nest notebooks to clean up your collection... do you create a myriad of saved searches to handle finding what you're looking for... etc.

There are no hard-and-fast rules for organizing, except for the basic structuring components -- stacks, notebooks, notes, and tags (though strictly speaking, tags don't really afford structural organization); how you apply them is pretty flexible and up to the user. That flexibility can lead to problems for someone who hasn't really understood the fundamentals, or hasn't thought much about how they want to organize their data. Different people have different requirements of their data; what works for me wouldn't work for say, jbenson, who has a highly articulated tagging system, whereas mine is fairly simple. Smart groupings (or whatever you want to call them) probably wouldn't help with this automatically ; you still need to build the filter criteria that they are based on, after all, and that takes understanding of your scheme, just as you do with today's searches.

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Sincere apologies for making you assuming I'm having "conceptual difficulty with what Evernote is today." I did in fact mean "stacks." Nested lists have never, currently don't and will never exist in the future. Thank you for that clarification.

I appreciate your passion behind "Saved Searches" as that apparently is a perfect solution for you. I think the present UI for saved searches is significantly lacking... but whatever floats your boat. That's why I offered up the suggestion. Just think of them as "Saved Searches" that get listed under a notebook they apply to in the notebook tree. It may be a total impossibility and that's perfectly fine. I stem the idea from smart albums that Aperture employs as a tool for dynamically grouping photos. I felt it was an idea that could be effective in Evernote... as evident by your statements I should have never made any such suggestion at all.

Thank you for properly educating me in the matter. I'll continue to do my best to comprehend the fundamentals of organization behind Evernote and strive never to suggest such ridiculous notions in the future.

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No.

Saved searches work pretty well for me, but I never said that they're is the perfect solution. And I actually *did* suggest that a UI for making creating searches would be helpful, and also that it'd be interesting to be able to associate saved searches with specific notebooks. All of that is fine, and ripe for adding to Evernote in my book.

I never, ever, intimated that you ought not make suggestions; in fact, they're welcome here in the user's forum. If I tried to get conceptual clarity from your suggestions, it's only because I was trying to understand them better.

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I agree that there should be a nice UI for saved searches (for searches in general really). I see now that complex searches can be accomplished using the correct keywords and syntax, but a UI for this would be helpful.

It may even make sense to allow them to be "Smart Notebooks" like "Smart Playlists" in iTunes. That way they could be placed in to Stacks in a hierarchy if you so choose.

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I think such a feature should be obvious to an app that uses tags and other kinds of metadata included in the notes. I'm not sure why jefito is having such a hard time either grasping the concept or understanding why one would want to use it.

 

I would love to see this implemented. I'm trying to get away from using so many folders and using a clear set of tags instead. I still want to use folders, however, but keep them for projects. Smart folders would allow me to keep a note in more than one folder.

 

For example:

I could have a set of notes tagged "excel". I would tag notes of useful tips for excel. I could also use the tags "home" and "work" for indicating weather a project is a home-based project or a work-related.

 

I could then have a smart folder called "Work excel project A" that automatically gathers any notes tagged "excel" and "work". It could also automatically gather notes based on the GPS location-data of my office, a specific search term (such as the name of the project), and so on.

 

Here's the other thing; my "Home excel projects" smart folder would also have the notes of excel tips I tagged with "excel".

 

These folders could then live on across all of the versions of Evernote I use, web, PC, iPhone, iPad... I don't think saved searches can do this.

 

It really makes a ton of sense. 

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I think such a feature should be obvious to an app that uses tags and other kinds of metadata included in the notes. I'm not sure why jefito is having such a hard time either grasping the concept or understanding why one would want to use it.

 

I would love to see this implemented. I'm trying to get away from using so many folders and using a clear set of tags instead. I still want to use folders, however, but keep them for projects. Smart folders would allow me to keep a note in more than one folder.

 

For example:

I could have a set of notes tagged "excel". I would tag notes of useful tips for excel. I could also use the tags "home" and "work" for indicating weather a project is a home-based project or a work-related.

 

I could then have a smart folder called "Work excel project A" that automatically gathers any notes tagged "excel" and "work". It could also automatically gather notes based on the GPS location-data of my office, a specific search term (such as the name of the project), and so on.

 

Here's the other thing; my "Home excel projects" smart folder would also have the notes of excel tips I tagged with "excel".

 

These folders could then live on across all of the versions of Evernote I use, web, PC, iPhone, iPad... I don't think saved searches can do this.

 

It really makes a ton of sense. 

 

But, but, but...this is exactly what an Evernote search is.  IE searching on tags work, excel, project A.  That could then quickly/easily be made a saved search.  Since this capability already exists in EN, it's doubtful they would do this because...that's what tags are for. 

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Yes, saved searches work as described, but they are hardly an elegant solution. I didn't even know they existed until I Googled "evernote smart folders" and this forum post was at the top of the list. Then I had to hunt around in the Evernote web app to figure out how to use them. 

 

If saved searches could be "docked" on the left with the notebook and tag lists, then they would be much more satisfying to me, but even then, would you be able to be nested them like normal notebooks? At that point the nomenclature would be just stupid. A list of smart notebooks (highlighted by a different notebook icon) on the left makes for faster, and more obvious access to saved searches as well.

 

With smart noteboks being differentiated from saved searches, you could accomplish some pretty trick searches... You could search smart notebooks (with all the pre-searched criteria they have) along with tags and other metadata not included in the smart notebook... 

 

A 'smart notebook' or even 'search notebook' is more logical than a saved search, IMHO. 

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Yes, saved searches work as described, but they are hardly an elegant solution. I didn't even know they existed until I Googled "evernote smart folders" and this forum post was at the top of the list. Then I had to hunt around in the Evernote web app to figure out how to use them.

If saved searches could be "docked" on the left with the notebook and tag lists, then they would be much more satisfying to me, but even then, would you be able to be nested them like normal notebooks? At that point the nomenclature would be just stupid. A list of smart notebooks (highlighted by a different notebook icon) on the left makes for faster, and more obvious access to saved searches as well.

With smart noteboks being differentiated from saved searches, you could accomplish some pretty trick searches... You could search smart notebooks (with all the pre-searched criteria they have) along with tags and other metadata not included in the smart notebook...

A 'smart notebook' or even 'search notebook' is more logical than a saved search, IMHO.

Personally, I think the phrase "saved search" is very spot on. And the "smart folder" phrase does not mesh with Evernote terminology, since there are already notebooks (there are no folders in Evernote) and they notes can only live in one notebook. The bottom line is the feature exists & works well. The fact that it isn't exactly the way you wish it was, don't find them elegant, that you don't like the terminology or that you don't find them "logical" is I guess just one of those things.

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I think such a feature should be obvious to an app that uses tags and other kinds of metadata included in the notes. I'm not sure why jefito is having such a hard time either grasping the concept or understanding why one would want to use it.

Uh, my posts are from almost 2 years ago, when I wasn't familiar with the concept of "smart folders", since I am not a Mac user. We don't come out of the womb understanding all computer concepts, after all. But I think that I have the idea now, thanks.

That being said, what would be the main differences between saved searches and smart folders, aside from the name? Note that saved searches can be "docked" in the Shortcuts list, at least in the Windows client. And if saved searches can filter your note list, what do smart folders bring that's better? If you can combine smart folders with a saved search, then shouldn't be able to combine two or more saved searches, all things being equal (i.e., the work needed to implement such operations)?

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The difference would be this- ease of use. Smart folders, or notebooks, are not a Mac unique concept and are a fairly common UI paradigm for automatically collecting things with common metadata. In the case of evernote, that could be tags, location, time, etc...

 

It's a difference between searching and collecting. Yes, apparently saved searches accomplish the same thing, and if you can dock them to the left, great (although I don't think that's possible with the web app or mobile).

 

But the fact that I only discovered saved searches by searching google for "evernote smart folders" makes them too obtuse, IMHO.

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The difference would be this- ease of use. Smart folders, or notebooks, are not a Mac unique concept and are a fairly common UI paradigm for automatically collecting things with common metadata. In the case of evernote, that could be tags, location, time, etc...

In Wikipedia, the term "smart folder" redirects to "virtual folder" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_folder), which notes that they are very similat to the copcepts of "saved search" and "filtering"

 

It's a difference between searching and collecting. Yes, apparently saved searches accomplish the same thing, and if you can dock them to the left, great (although I don't think that's possible with the web app or mobile).

Not sure I see much of a difference: it's all filtering your note collection down to a subset based on content and metadata. About the only difference I can see is that they don't pretend to be folders in the same way that, evidently, they do on the Mac (the equivalent of notebooks in Evernote, I guess, since those are the only containers of notes in Evernote); you can't share them, you can't designate them as local or offline note collections as you can do with notebooks, and they don't appear in the stack/notebook tree. Maybe that's what you're driving at.

 

In any case, you can certainly dock these in Shortcuts in the web client; not sure about the Android or iOS clients, though saved searches can be put on the shortcuts list and synced to the Android client at least.

 

But the fact that I only discovered saved searches by searching google for "evernote smart folders" makes them too obtuse, IMHO.

There are are no smart folders in Evernote (nor any folders at all, actually). Not sure I follow how you get from there to "obtuse". The term "smart folder" appears to be a Mac concept, but that's just a name; "saved search"is another name for much the same thing, and other systems have their own names. That which we call a rose...

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After playing with saved searches for a bit I have figured out why they are not the solution for what we're looking for, and not just because I don't think it's the best UI paradigm...

 

Saved searches are great for what they are: searches. Yes, you can add multiple criteria, but adding criteria is filtering the search. It's a subtractive process (search for notes with tag: A that were also created on date: xx/xx/xx).

 

I think 'smart notebooks' could be great for automatically collecting things. You should be able to set criteria in an additive fashion. To my knowledge, saved searches cannot do this.

 

Example: Lets say I want to be able to automatically collect notes in one notebook named "Favorite meals". The criteria for collecting the notes would be all of the following:

  • tag: recipies
  • tag: memorable meals
  • source: evernote food
  • location: notes created at my favorite resturant
  • search term: "yum!"

Obviously notes that are tagged "recipies" are not likely to also be from evernote food, and a search cannot find two different things at once, it only filters criteria.

 

Does this make sense to anyone else? Is there a way to search additively that I'm not aware of? 

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Does this make sense to anyone else? Is there a way to search additively that I'm not aware of?

Of course any search is going to give you a subset of your notes, you can't have more than you started with, right? OTOH, you can use an "any:" search, in Evernote to add things to a smaller subset. See this Evernote Knowledge Base article on advanced search operators: http://evernote.com/contact/support/kb/#!/article/23245321

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