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BurgersNFries

organization How I use tags to replicate nested folders

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I think BNF's post does a great job explaining why tags do important things that (Evernote) notebooks or (physical/digital) folders cannot do. Obviously, if stacks work for a particular user, great, but I'll add my voice to BNF's tag gospel, because there's light there that (judging from the forums) a lot of users aren't seeing, and she and I both would love to see other Evernoters—especially those who read this forum—find better organization with the program. Sorry to pick on you, Brandie, but saying that stacked notebooks can be used "instead of tags" suggests they have the same or similar functionality, and I want to make clear for any users tempted to believe that without looking into the matter that, for the reasons BNF laid out, that's not the case. I'm curious about what you would do in this example BNF gave, which I've modified minorly, to change some vocabulary (with changes in brackets):

let's say the policy is for both cars. To use [stacked notebooks], I'd need to have two copies of the document - one in the Car A [stacked notebook] & one in the Car B [stacked notebook]. But with tags, I simply have the one document & use all three tags, "insurance policies", "car A" and "car B'. When I want to find the insurance policy for Car A, I still just search on ""insurance policies" and "car A".

Do you make two copies of the same note, or do something different?

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here is another vote for tags over notebooks in most cases.

notebooks are the equivalent of organizing a library by the color of the book covers. you make a decision and have to agonize over what to do with books that fall into an ambiguous category (is orange in red or yellow?). stacked notebooks add more complexity, like organizing all red books from large to small, but it is the same kind of thinking.

tags are the equivalent of putting books on the shelf in any order, but instantly reshelving them any way you want: by author, title, content, color, etc.

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I take it one step further. I keep tags for:

- High level descriptions/categories

- Note collections that I want to link together

In many cases, however, I just search for keywords in the notes. A good example is my cooking recipe collection. I used to have lots of ingredient tags (a habit I developed in Delicious) but I have now junked almost all of those tags. e.g. I have a "poultry" tag. I do not have chicken, turkey, cornish hen, etc. tags.

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- High level descriptions/categories

I think that this is pretty much what I do. A short phrase describing the note. e.g. "Software" "Development" "C++"., etc. Plus a small number of genric, catchall tags, e.g. "_Todo", "Task". I tend to keep it all pretty simple.

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- High level descriptions/categories

I think that this is pretty much what I do. A short phrase describing the note. e.g. "Software" "Development" "C++"., etc. Plus a small number of genric, catchall tags, e.g. "_Todo", "Task". I tend to keep it all pretty simple.

In that vein, I think many people, new to Evernote, don't realize the power of the EN search engine as it relates to accurate titles & keywords. That probably leads to the overtagging. So I'm adding this previous post into the mix as well:

Here are two previous posts describing what works best for me:

I chose keywords in titles over tags because title is more visible, regardless of the Evernote client you are using. I also didn't want to worry about the issue of tag maintenance, etc.

Me too. I think people new to Evernote have a tendency to over tag (I did) and not utilize the EN search engine. I have hundreds of documents in my EN & almost never tag them. But I'm diligent about using an accurate title. I always include the date of the bill/letter in YYYYMMDD format as well as the company or the name of the sender/recipient (if it's something I sent). So if I need to find the Cox cable bill from May of 2007, I'd simply do this search:

intitle:cox 200705*

and boom...out of thousands of notes, the one note I'm looking for pops up, no matter what notebook it was in. And no tags involved.

I find it too easy to get caught up in the process of organizing things, getting it just right, filing everything precisely. For me, that ends up being a big time sink.

I agree that can happen. Another reason I don't like using too many tags or worry about which notebook to put something in. (Although I do use more notebooks than some of the other heavy users.)

And I think it's probably easier if someone has background in organizing physical papers/notes/documents before jumping into Evernote b/c I think it's too easy for someone to blame EN (or any digital organization tool, perhaps) b/c they can't find something. OTOH, if you've been filing paper for a while, sooner or later you realize you need to have structure in your organization so that you always know to look for your AT&T cell phone bill under "AT&T" rather than "telephone" or "cell phone". Or however you decide to file it. It just needs to be consistent or else you spend time looking for something you already "filed."

I think this post by John Pierce (jmpsfs) is accurate & well thought out & applicable to this thread, too. (I Evernoted it.)

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BNF: Specific searches have been helpful at times for me, but one problem I have a lot is that, since so many of my notes are web clippings that include a lot of text or long OCRed PDFs, searching for any keyword turns up far more hits than I want. For example, just now, I thought of a word I don't think I've ever purposefully clipped or created a note about: "eagle." There were 26 results, almost none about the animal (which is what I was thinking of when I thought to search for "eagle"). Those 26 notes pulled up:

  • 4 hits on the animal
  • 4 hits on the band (fine, Eagles)
  • 4 hits on the Philadelphia Eagles
  • 2 hits on "eagle eye"
  • "eagle scout"
  • "If Obama Is Serious About American Indians, He'll Offer More Than Eagle Feathers"
  • "eagle7765" (commenter on a website)
  • Eagleton, Indiana
  • "WAREAGLE" (commenter on YouTube)
  • Eagle, Colorado
  • Los Angeles's Eagle Rock neighborhood
  • "spread-eagle"
  • "legal eagle"

It also picked up "Google" in an OCRed image and gave me a PDF and a web clipping, neither of which displayed the word "eagle" but somehow came up in the search anyway (what's up with that?).

This is why I use a lot of tags, maybe not as specific as "eagle," but definitely, in Owyn's words, high-level descriptions/categories, such as, for example, "Animals" or "Nature" or "Biology." (I'm not actually that interested in eagles or other animals; this is just an example. I'm glad I did the search, though, because I found this again.)

Do you have recommendations for how to group together, say, mentions of eagle, the animal? In a case that like (if a user were actually interested in eagles), would you recommend an "Eagle" or "Animal" tag? How do you find things that are grouped by topic when a search for that keyword will turn up lots of extraneous stuff?

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BNF: Specific searches have been helpful at times for me, but one problem I have a lot is that, since so many of my notes are web clippings that include a lot of text or long OCRed PDFs, searching for any keyword turns up far more hits than I want. For example, just now, I thought of a word I don't think I've ever purposefully clipped or created a note about: "eagle." There were 26 results, almost none about the animal (which is what I was thinking of when I thought to search for "eagle"). Those 26 notes pulled up:

  • 4 hits on the animal
  • 4 hits on the band (fine, Eagles)
  • 4 hits on the Philadelphia Eagles
  • 2 hits on "eagle eye"
  • "eagle scout"
  • "If Obama Is Serious About American Indians, He'll Offer More Than Eagle Feathers"
  • "eagle7765" (commenter on a website)
  • Eagleton, Indiana
  • "WAREAGLE" (commenter on YouTube)
  • Eagle, Colorado
  • Los Angeles's Eagle Rock neighborhood
  • "spread-eagle"
  • "legal eagle"

It also picked up "Google" in an OCRed image and gave me a PDF and a web clipping, neither of which displayed the word "eagle" but somehow came up in the search anyway (what's up with that?).

This is why I use a lot of tags, maybe not as specific as "eagle," but definitely, in Owyn's words, high-level descriptions/categories, such as, for example, "Animals" or "Nature" or "Biology." (I'm not actually that interested in eagles or other animals; this is just an example. I'm glad I did the search, though, because I found this again.)

Do you have recommendations for how to group together, say, mentions of eagle, the animal? In a case that like (if a user were actually interested in eagles), would you recommend an "Eagle" or "Animal" tag? How do you find things that are grouped by topic when a search for that keyword will turn up lots of extraneous stuff?

PFM...IMO, this is a bit of a bogus search/trick question, since you're searching on a word you've never searched on before but are wanting/hoping to isolate the results in your Evernote database. But I'll play along... Additional considerations are...are you looking for a specific note you vaguely remember? Or all notes that strictly relate to the bird?

Since you say you've never searched on "eagle" before, then it's not surprising you're getting a lot of false positives on a fairly common, single word. However, going with your example, if I wanted to be able to facilitate this search in the future (since visually searching through 26 note titles shouldn't take too long to identify the four that pertain to the bird), I would probably decide to make a tag "Eagle - the animal". (I actually do have a "Windows (home not OS)" tag that I use to differentiate between windows repair/cleaning/tinting/sunscreens notes vs the operating system.) I would identify the 4 of 26 notes that pertained to the animal & apply the newly created tag. (If all 26 notes had accurate titles, this would only take a few minutes.)

But let's say there are more than 26 (easily managed) results. Something like over 200 results, which are not easily managed. Also, keep in mind EN does not support -notebook in the search parameters. I'm going to replicate your example on my database. What I did is search my EN on the word "eagle". I have 44,713 notes. Searching on "eagle" gives me 248 notes. Now, how to isolate the notes only pertaining to the bird... Keep in mind while EN supports -tags, it does not support -notebooks.

  • I realize many notes are pertaining to local tennis tournaments...so I add -tennis "assuming" none of them pertain to the bird
  • that takes me down to 130 results
  • I create a "Eagle - the bird" tag & apply it to all 130 notes
  • I change my search to all notes/tag:"Eagle - the bird"
  • I eliminate other notes based upon notebooks/tags/titles such as computer info, songs to get, letters, funnies, again "assuming" none of them relate to the bird, although some of the funnies may have eagles in them & I'm not sure if you want that in your results or not.

I'm now down to 102 notes in less than 10 minutes. (I timed it.) Most of the resultant notes are emails from others. In my case, I get Goodreads emails updates daily so some of those emails pertain to book titles or authors. I can isolate those notes by adding "goodreads" to the search criteria & untagging them. I'm now down to 99 notes., when I return to my search on all notes/tag:"Eagle - the bird" (Most are still emails from others.) Now, reverting to my question above... are you looking for a specific not you vaguely remember? Or all notes that strictly relate to the bird? If I'm looking for a specific note I vaguely remember, I should be able to browse those notes & quickly dismiss a lot of them based upon title or notebook. If I'm wanting to find all notes pertaining to the bird, I may well have to read all 99 notes.

I hope this helps.

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Sorry if you thought the example was silly. I used "eagle" just because it was a way to simulate an issue I had, and I thought the notes it brought up were funny. I hope you didn't think I was wasting your time. And thanks for playing along—though I didn't expect or hope you'd replicate the same search!

Your system is helpful to see in practice, so thanks for sharing it, especially since I may have to apply it in the future. I'm still left wondering, though, why you generally suggest people avoid using many tags. My very non-scientific guess is that I spend less time finding notes I want by doing heavy tagging on the front end, in the web clipper (where I tag most notes with two to five different tags corresponding to topics of the notes), and then searching with tags, than I do using keyword searches without tags or than I would if, every first time I wanted to pull together a bunch of notes on a given subject I went through the steps you say that you did. I've seen you detail how you organize, for example, receipts and financial notes easily with in-title data, and that makes a lot of sense to me. I guess I just don't understand why you say "I think many people, new to Evernote, don't realize the power of the EN search engine as it relates to accurate titles & keywords," since, in my experience so far, searching by keywords often does not quickly give me the note or notes I'm looking for (whereas tags, or keywords plus tags, do that for me). No need to justify what works for you; I'm only asking for more clarity on how to use keyword searches to quickly and accurately pull up notes I'm looking for—and only if you care to help me further with this. Thanks.

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This is why I use a lot of tags, maybe not as specific as "eagle," but definitely, in Owyn's words, high-level descriptions/categories, such as, for example, "Animals" or "Nature" or "Biology." (I'm not actually that interested in eagles or other animals; this is just an example. I'm glad I did the search, though, because I found this again.)

Do you have recommendations for how to group together, say, mentions of eagle, the animal? In a case that like (if a user were actually interested in eagles), would you recommend an "Eagle" or "Animal" tag? How do you find things that are grouped by topic when a search for that keyword will turn up lots of extraneous stuff?

Eagle - That actually is a good example.

I would probably use the tag:animal for the note and then use the following search:

eagle tag:animal

I'm a political junky and half of my Evernote notes are web captures. The articles can be quite lengthy so searches end up with results similar to your Eagle example. I try to tag notes as I capture the info in order to narrow down the possible choices. For instance - take the name Obama - I have 3 tags - "Obama Barack"; "Obama Michelle", and "Obama Cabinet". I also have a tag for "Vacations Politicians".

So if I want to see how much money has been spent on Michelle Obama's jaunts, specifically her trip to Spain, I search for:

tag:"Obama Michelle" tag:"Vacation Politicians" Spain

Here is a link that shows how I use tags.

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Jbenson and I do the exact same thing (with a lot of the same material, it seems). Again, I'm not asking anyone to tell us we're wrong for doing what we do. It works for us, and that's what matters. I'm just curious to hear, from anyone who cautions against overtagging, how not tagging as much as we do could pull up notes as quickly and accurately as our tag-heavy systems do. If there's a better system, I'll be happy to hear it and save the time I currently spend tagging.

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Peter. I ran the same test. I found 22 of 6653 notes. It took me seconds to scan the note titles in List mode and determine that none of the notes were applicable to the bird.

I spend time up front to make sure I have good note titles. Normally at the time I clip. I spend little time later adding tags. e.g. About half the clips/auto-forwarded items I currently receive end up going to a "News" archive notebook with just a "news" tag.

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Jbenson and I do the exact same thing (with a lot of the same material, it seems). Again, I'm not asking anyone to tell us we're wrong for doing what we do. It works for us, and that's what matters.

That's pretty much the name of the game.

I'm just curious to hear, from anyone who cautions against overtagging, how not tagging as much as we do could pull up notes as quickly and accurately as our tag-heavy systems do. If there's a better system, I'll be happy to hear it and save the time I currently spend tagging.

Evernote just isn't set up very well to manage large numbers of tags, in my opinion, unless you are very systematic about organizing them, There are some nice tricks you can play, like using common prefixes to help organize, and which allow you to do AND/OR filtering. But for a person who is new to tagging, I think that it's easy to overdo.

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Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.

I agree with Owyn on the importance of a well structured title. For my personal stuff, here is the format I use religiously.

YYYY MM DD State City Company Person Action

2011 12 11 MN Rogers Target JLB Xmas gifts

But for the web clippings I prefer to keep the title exactly as it originally was written. Example:

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But for the web clippings I prefer to keep the title exactly as it originally was written. Example:

Agreed. But, it only takes seconds in most cases to confirm that the title is appropriate when clipped. Sometimes, particularly with selection rather than article clips, the default title is just not good enough.

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But for the web clippings I prefer to keep the title exactly as it originally was written. Example:

Agreed. But, it only takes seconds in most cases to confirm that the title is appropriate when clipped. Sometimes, particularly with selection rather than article clips, the default title is just not good enough.

Yup, but after Evernote crippled the Firefox clipper, I switched to Clearly.

Clipping with Clearly requires a manual sync before I can edit the title on my Windows client.

And usually, I will clip several different web pages at the same time.

I can multi-tag (Ctrl Alt T) faster than I can type and edit the titles. Especially when the title contains names like Moammar Gaddafi.

More importantly, I prefer the more snarky, eye-catching titles that are used by sites such as Drudge.

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Hmmm. I hadn't thought of that. As I use the the web client in Chrome as my default Evernote client recent clips are just 1 or 2 clicks away for me. Even from Clearly. In addition, Clearly clips are (currently) article clips. In most cases the default title is appropriate.

Hmmm. That actually is not true. I spend a lot more time policing titles for technical notes & for music notes. It still does not take me a lot of time. I worked out the standard patterns some time ago for my major use cases.

Anyway. Sermon -> Off. Bit like preaching to the choir. Or, arguing about dogma at the seminary. B)

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Owyn, I believe you use the Web because you have a version of Linux on your computer. So, your Clearly captures will show up faster because there is no need to manually sync the Web version. I do not use the Web, so I have to sync before I can see the Clearly capture.

And because there is no Due Date field, I rely on the Created Date for my future appointments, tasks, and reminders. This means the Clearly captures are a few screens down. The addition of a manual sync, and then scrolling down to find the new Clearly captures takes a few extra seconds and is a bit tedious.

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Sorry if you thought the example was silly. I used "eagle" just because it was a way to simulate an issue I had, and I thought the notes it brought up were funny. I hope you didn't think I was wasting your time. And thanks for playing along—though I didn't expect or hope you'd replicate the same search

To clarify, I think it's bogus/trick b/c you (I) collect/organize info on a certain topic/search/focus that we are doing at the time. And/or we may have auto feeds via email forwarding. Subsequently trying to search your (my) existing database is a totally different factor, IMO. IE, I may spend time collecting rice recipes. Then I may spend time collecting kidney diet recipes for my dog (many include rice.) But now, if I go back into my database & search on rice, it's a totally different deal - it's not focused on rice recipes or canine KD recipes. I will get my rice recipes, I will get rice recipes that are kidney diet recipes for my dog, I will get info on rice paper or Rice University. or "Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation", etc. You've not refined/expanded a search, you've totally changed the parameters & the results are limited to what you've already "clipped" into Evernote. I'm not saying this is a bad thing - just understand it for the skewed thing that it is.

I'm still left wondering, though, why you generally suggest people avoid using many tags. My very non-scientific guess is that I spend less time finding notes I want by doing heavy tagging on the front end, in the web clipper (where I tag most notes with two to five different tags corresponding to topics of the notes), and then searching with tags, than I do using keyword searches without tags or than I would if, every first time I wanted to pull together a bunch of notes on a given subject I went through the steps you say that you did. I've seen you detail how you organize, for example, receipts and financial notes easily with in-title data, and that makes a lot of sense to me. I guess I just don't understand why you say "I think many people, new to Evernote, don't realize the power of the EN search engine as it relates to accurate titles & keywords," since, in my experience so far, searching by keywords often does not quickly give me the note or notes I'm looking for (whereas tags, or keywords plus tags, do that for me). No need to justify what works for you; I'm only asking for more clarity on how to use keyword searches to quickly and accurately pull up notes I'm looking for—and only if you care to help me further with this. Thanks.

Well, whatever works for you works for you & you should go with that. But to answer your questions (I hope), when I started with Evernote, I'd tag emails from my manager. Later, I realized this was redundant b/c he has a fairly unique name. I do still put work emails in a separate notebook. But I just go to that notebook & search on his last name & I get all emails from him. (As well as one that are cc'd to him.) I work for a moderate sized company & all the people I get emails from have fairly unique names. So again, this protocol applies to all the emails I would need to pluck from Evernote.

Another example of overtagging is the first post in this thread. Using folders on a hard drive, I'd have a "cars" folder. But using tags, I have a "cars" parent tag but (normally) only use the specific car (IE Car A) tag. And the Cox bill example I included above...no need to tag it as "cox" or "cable" or "internet", "telephone", etc. Just the notebook "Bills" and the accurate title suffice. Since I include the date of the bill in the title, no year tag is needed.

Hope this makes sense...

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I'm afraid I phrased my questions badly and got a bunch of you saying things that you've said before and which didn't need to be repeated here, at least not for my sake. As Owyn said, "Bit like preaching to the choir. Or, arguing about dogma at the seminary." :) That said, I really appreciate what you've shared, and I actually do have a little better handle on what I was wondering about earlier.

But to answer your questions (I hope), when I started with Evernote, I'd tag emails from my manager. Later, I realized this was redundant b/c he has a fairly unique name. I do still put work emails in a separate notebook. But I just go to that notebook & search on his last name & I get all emails from him. (As well as one that are cc'd to him.)

That makes sense to me, and it's something I should probably internalize. For example, I have a number of tags for people I know. Most of them, of course, have names (at least full names) that are not going to end up in unrelated notes, so that's probably a waste. That said, I guess I stick with it for two reasons:

  1. Jbenson's Obama example: searching Obama will turn up a lot more than just clips about the president. Similarly, if I want to search for a friend named Tom Johnson, searching "Tom" won't give me what I want (because of false positives), and searching "Tom Johnson" may cut out a note I made in which I didn't use his last name. So I keep tags to be fool-proof—though I guess I could just make sure to be more consistent about keywords in note bodies.
  2. Since I use lots of tags to pull together topics I'm interested in, I've gotten used to scrolling through my tag list to look back into topics I haven't thought about recently but which I have tagged notes about. I don't have "Eagle" or "Animals," but I do have "Agriculture," "Cities," "Demographics," "Energy," "Immigration," "Photography," "Transportation," and a few hundred more of these general topic tags. Since I'm in the habit of using those to keep things organized, I keep it going even when I don't need to, thanks to unique keywords (such as with people's names).

Another example of overtagging is the first post in this thread. Using folders on a hard drive, I'd have a "cars" folder. But using tags, I have a "cars" parent tag but (normally) only use the specific car (IE Car A) tag. And the Cox bill example I included above...no need to tag it as "cox" or "cable" or "internet", "telephone", etc. Just the notebook "Bills" and the accurate title suffice. Since I include the date of the bill in the title, no year tag is needed.

Hope this makes sense...

Yep, that makes total sense and I, like maybe a lot of Evernoters, have done less of that with time. Again, thanks to all of you for your help and clarifications.

Unrelated note: Jbenson, are you trying to plan your next vacation so you "happen to run into" the first lady? :D

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Unrelated note: Jbenson, are you trying to plan your next vacation so you "happen to run into" the first lady? :D

I'd love that to happen, especially if she and her husband are put into early retirement.

Unfortunately, I don't think I could afford the places she frequents.

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All I can say is I really hope you're not supporting your hometown candidate. Ok, better shut up and get off politics now... :D

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All I can say is I really hope you're not supporting your hometown candidate. Ok, better shut up and get off politics now... :D

I support her for Congress, but not for the Presidency.

I lived most of my life in Massachusetts, so I cringed when she said:

"You’re the state where the shot was heard around the world in Lexington and Concord.” while she was .....in New Hampshire.

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Here's an example where notebook organization is more important than tags. I have a notebook called "Contacts" which is simply an export of all my contacts from my Outook. Therefore, if I do a search for "Larry" in that specific notebook I will get contacts only (every one I know called Larry). However, when I do a global search for Larry I get a bewildering series of notes all of which have a mention of Larry. I would have to weed through 50 of them to find the contact that I need. On the other hand, I am going on a cruise to the Caribbean and have tagged all cruise related notes as "cruise 2012". However, when I want to add information about a specific port I add a specific tag" Cozumel" or "Caymans". In this way I can use tags to bore down to as detailed info as I need.

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Sure, but you can skin that poor, flayed cat with tags as well. E.g., you could use a tag named, say, "Contact", and then use a search like: "tag:Contact Larry". I'm not saying that this is a better solution for you, but in this case, notebooks don't provide much more expressiveness than tags, if any.

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Here's an example where notebook organization is more important than tags. I have a notebook called "Contacts" which is simply an export of all my contacts from my Outook. Therefore, if I do a search for "Larry" in that specific notebook I will get contacts only (every one I know called Larry).

This is also easily done only with tags. Just add a tag "contacts". (shrug)

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This is a good example of using tags but it doesn't cover everything.

You showed how to use tags to organize different notes about different topics and then how to mix tags to see notes which are at intersection of multiple topics, ie related to multiple topics. It's cool. It's useful in a lot of cases.

This doesn't replicate nested folders and subcategories. There are a lot of times when you need to organize notes about a topic into true sub caregories, not simply separate or related categories. And to keep it all and see it all in one place, not in many separate places. When you want to split a certain topic into sub topics which are only related to this topic.

This is not really possible to do elegantly in evernote with multiple tags. First of all there are no subtags on mobile versions and even on the desktop sub tags are more of a interface feature and tags and sub-tags have only hierarchical structure, ie a sub tag can only be a child of a single parent tag instead of non hierarchical structure in which a sub tag would have unlimited parent tags. It's possible to implement and then it would make tags really flexible but it's just not there...

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This doesn't replicate nested folders and subcategories

I use structured Titles to handle this case.

e.g. I have a lot of notes related to Evernote. Most of these notes are in a single notebook. All of these notes have the tag "App_Evernote". The only additional tags I regularly use for these notes are "bug" and "tip".

The titles have the approximate form:

Evernote - <Client>|<Source>[/<Function>] - <Description>

Some recent examples include:

Evernote - Skitch/iOS - Skitch for iPad is Here! « Evernote Blogcast

Evernote - Windows/Sync - Test changed password at service (Sync Failed)

Evernote - Blog - How to Easily Track eStatements with Evernote and Gmail | Cloud Productivity

Evernote - Web/Clipper - Clearly Arrives on Firefox « Evernote Blogcast

The <Description> portion is normally the default title for the clip.

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This doesn't replicate nested folders and subcategories

I use structured Titles to handle this case.

e.g. I have a lot of notes related to Evernote. Most of these notes are in a single notebook. All of these notes have the tag "App_Evernote".

The titles have the approximate form:

Evernote - <Client>|<Source>[/<Function>] - <Description>

Some recent examples include:

Evernote - Skitch/iOS - Skitch for iPad is Here! « Evernote Blogcast

Evernote - Windows/Sync - Test changed password at service (Sync Failed)

Evernote - Blog - How to Easily Track eStatements with Evernote and Gmail | Cloud Productivity

Evernote - Web/Clipper - Clearly Arrives on Firefox « Evernote Blogcast

The <Description> portion is normally the default title for the clip.

This would work but it's not very convenient to maintain, when you want to rename or move things around. Another issue is that this allows only hierarchical structure.

Again as I've said there are currently no elegant solution to do this exactly in evernote only.

What I would do in your example is I would have a single note in evernote which would be called "using evernote" and it would contain a mind map or an outline or something where I would organize everything. This note could also have multiple tags like "evernote", "gtd", if it's related to some project i'm working on then it would also be tagged as the project name. So it's still a non hierachical structure which is very cool.

I wouldn't use it exactly in your certain example though because it doesn't need to be organized as a single topic. I would actually just keep all notes under evernote tag because they are all just related notes and not exactly sub notes.

I would tag Skitch note as "skitch" because it's a separate app.

But it's just an example and certainly what you do could replicate subcategories but just not elegantly, ie too much work. And there is no elegant solution at all.

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I think in terms of major use cases.

In this example the use case is:

Specific to Evernote and requires:

- Managing personal knowledge base

- Tracking bugs

- Providing support to forum users

The single tag "App_Evernote" allows me to select all notes which apply to the use case.

The structure after that is easy for me to apply when I create a new note/clip and contains enough keyword information in the Title to quickly sort or search for needed information.

e.g. I have a "Evernote Bugs (Web)" saved search.

tag:App_Evernote tag:bug intitle:web todo:false

I use other approaches for other user cases.

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I think in terms of major use cases.

In this example the use case is:

Specific to Evernote and requires:

- Managing personal knowledge base

- Tracking bugs

- Providing support to forum users

The single tag "App_Evernote" allows me select all notes which apply to the use case.

The structure after that is easy for me to apply when I create a new note/clip and contains enough keyword information in the Title to quickly sort or search for needed information.

e.g. I have a "Evernote Bugs (Web)" saved search.

tag:App_Evernote tag:bug intitle:web todo:false

I use other approaches for other user cases.

I see. This is a good example

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This is a good example of using tags but it doesn't cover everything.

I started this thread b/c many people new to Evernote seem to think a limitation of EN is the inability to have nested/sub notebooks. That's what this thread is/was about. (Hence the subject line.) I've yet to see any example posted by anyone where nested/sub notebooks worked for storing/finding files & Evernote tags failed.

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This is a good example of using tags but it doesn't cover everything.

I've yet to see any example posted by anyone where nested/sub notebooks worked for storing/finding files & Evernote tags failed.

Sure, that's because notebooks are even more limited than tags :)

There is nothing you can do with them which isn't possible to do with tags.

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Here is visual example about why you don't exactly replicate nested subtopics with tags and instead only see notes at intersection of different topics/tags. Those are different cases but you merged them into one and overlooked another.

Bhr7S.jpg

This skitch app on iPad is really useful :)

A lot less text to get the point across...

Evernote basically has 2 level structure in terms of depth. Tags is the topmost level and notes are the second level and it doesn't go deeper than that. It's flexible but also very limited in terms of depth.

Now whether any more depth is necassary or not is another question.

The fact is that it's just not there at all. I belive that if used reasonably it could be useful.

There is no elegant way to have this structure in evernote because there are no real non hierarchical sub tags/sub notes (doesn't matter how we would call them). I think adding sub notes would make sense because you could still keep tags hierarchical and not add any sub tags at all.

Owyn made a good example of how this could be done by naming notes in a certain way but this is not easy to maintain because when you change parent category name you would also have to rename all its child notes.

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Ummm. Sure it is. Create a unique tag for the items you want to group. Or, add some unique keyword/id to the note title or body.

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Ummm. Sure it is. Create a unique tag for the items you want to group.

You can't really turn a sub topic into a top level topic. When you do it - it's not a SUB topic anymore. It's just a separate topic, you would lose the parent-child relationship.

Or, add some unique keyword/id to the note title or body.

Owyn made a good example of how this could be done by naming notes in a certain way but this is not easy to maintain because when you change parent category name you would also have to rename all its child notes.

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Ummm. Sure it is. Create a unique tag for the items you want to group. Or, add some unique keyword/id to the note title or body.

Exactly.

Evernote basically has 2 level structure in terms of depth. Tags is the topmost level and notes are the second level and it doesn't go deeper than that. It's flexible but also very limited in terms of depth.

I've yet to see any example posted by anyone where nested/sub notebooks worked for storing/finding files & Evernote tags failed.

With tags, you can go as many layers/levels down as you want.

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@burgersnfries, you missed my point! :)

Yes there are sub tags on the desktop version but they are only hierarchical. Look at the pic - what I've drawn is impossible to do in evernote. It's non hierarchical structure...

There is no reason to have only a single parent tag for each tag. In the same was as there is no reason to use only a single tag for each note.

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Arrgh. Was going to write up a response to the latest example, but it's gotten too conceptually confused for me to feel that I could make any hay out of it. Sorry. Good luck.

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Yeah, I'm out too. Spent much time going 'round & 'round on the old board on this topic. I stand by my statements but am unwilling to spend more time on this topic.

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Arrgh. Was going to write up a response to the latest example, but it's gotten too conceptually confused for me to feel that I could make any hay out of it. Sorry. Good luck.

Yeah it is kinda hard to get, I agree. Well that's not really my problem though.

I just showed what couldn't be done in evernote and why. That's all. I don't expect this to be implemented.

Basically it's a networked kind of structure. It's how the web is organized.

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No, actually, the Evernote system is pretty simple. And tags are very flexible. The confusion is not in the Evernote system.

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No, actually, the Evernote system is pretty simple. And tags are very flexible. The confusion is not in the Evernote system.

I agree. I don't see what you are disagreeing with. Evernote is simple which has it's pros and cons.

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This discussion is becoming one about "elegance" or "magic".

There is no free lunch.

If you need to *reliably* select some set of notes, then, you will have to do something to make it happen.

In the example pictured you show a set intersection.

The top level could be defined by a e.g tag "TopA"

The second level could be defined by e.g tag "UniqueA"

The "boxed" notes are defined by:

all: tag:TopA tag:UniqueA

which could of course be a subset of:

tag:UniqueA

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This discussion is becoming one about "elegance" or "magic".

There is no free lunch.

If you need to *reliably* select some set of notes, then, you will have to do something to make it happen.

In the example pictured you show a set intersection.

The top level could be defined by a e.g tag "TopA"

The second level could be defined by e.g tag "UniqueA"

The "boxed" notes are defined by:

all: tag:TopA tag:UniqueA

which could of course be a subset of:

tag:UniqueA

That's correct, they can be selected simply by looking at tag:UniqueA. Except there is no need to use intersection at all. It doesn't matter if you select tag:TopA or not. It could be done in evernote currently.

What could not be done :

tag:UniqueA is a child tag of tag:TopA and tag:TopB and tag:TopC.

Basically my point was that intersection of topics and sub topics are different cases. Another point was that a child tag can't have multiple parent tags. That's all. :)

To make things unlimitedly flexible all that has to be done:

Make tags non hierarchical / add sub notes.

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Agreed. That relationship can not be defined due to both the service schema and the limits of the search grammar.

The relationship could be enforced by appropriate encoding of the data.

Again, TANSTAAFL.

...

There has been lots of previous discussions about limitations of the search grammar.

I have even been involved in several of them.

However, I am more concerned with getting things done with what is available. A little thought about recurring use cases can usually result in an efficient and reliable way to handle them.

....

Out of this topic for now. That's a 30.

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Yeah, I'm out too. Spent much time going 'round & 'round on the old board on this topic. I stand by my statements but am unwilling to spend more time on this topic.

thanks for starting the thread. i have to say that i have had nothing but positive experiences with tags, my notes are far better organized than they ever were in my personal wiki (voodoopad) or in my folder hierarchies on my hard drive. i guess your mileage may vary, but as far as i am concerned, evernote has developed a fabulously simple and robust way to keep stuff organized and get things done. i am out of this thread too. i can't really contribute more to this discussion except to say that the system works well.

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Agreed. The relationship can not be defined due to both the service schema and the limits of the search grammar.

The relationship could be enforced by appropriate encoding of the data.

Again, TANSTAAFL.

...

There has been lots of previous discussions about limitations of the search grammar.

I have even been involved in several of them.

However, I am more concerned with getting things done with what is available. A little thought about recurring use cases can usually result in an efficient and reliable way to handle them.

....

Out of this topic for now. That's a 30.

Yeah basically there is a way to get unlimeted flexibility with tags and use unlimited parent tags for any child tag (almost, because they wouldnd't be parent exactly but related).

Simply create a note and call it "related tags". Tag it with all related tags. Bam! Problem solved.

That's not the point I was making though at all which burgersNfries missed but whatever LOL

Which was - notes at intersection of different topics and notes in subtopics are different cases.

The system works, maybe not as elegantly as it could but there is nothing better so let's focus on what we can do with what we have

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May: What are the boxes in your diagram (the things you say Evernote cannot do)? Sorry I didn't understand that.

I'm also one of tags' biggest defenders, but (as I think May discussed--I've also been a little confused here) I've been somewhat frustrated that I can't assign a tag to more than one parent. For example, I've done some writing for, and have an ongoing gig with, Website X. So I have a "Website X" tag that I'd like to place under both my future (as in, ongoing projects) and past (as in, old notes for reference) tags. I can't, so I've gotten used to doing what BNF and others advocate: tagging a note with "Website X" and "Future" or "Past" as appropriate, and not worrying where I put the "Website X" tag in the tree. But that means that the tag tree is not as visually helpful as it could be, since I wish I could see all applicable parent-child relationships there. I think there's no workaround here to get what I want, but if someone sees something I'm missing, please let me know!

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Yep, that's just the way that tags are -- unique in the system. You can get around it by adopting a practice like encoding the hierarchy in the tag name, thereby making unique tag names for what would normally be the same tag (e.g., you might have tags names "Application-Microsoft", "Application-Mac", "Application-Linux" to tag what you might otherwise tag with "Application" and one of either "Windows", "Mac" or "Linux"), or just live with the fact. The former seems like too much bother for me, and I don't use tags as hierarchies, so I don't do any of that. Subtags usually just wind up under the first parent tag that seems appropriate. But others -- and jbenson2 is the paradigm example for me (your cue, jb!) -- have fairly elaborate systems in the nature of the former. He's explained it a number of times in the forums.

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Yep, that's just the way that tags are -- unique in the system.

Yeah, I know. And it makes sense. I guess I just wish we could have multiple aliases, if you will, on the tag tree to the same tag. Feature request?

And no need for jbenson or any others to re-explain that type of naming for my sake. I've heard it before and understand it. I don't like it because it requires me to type a lot more (say, "App-Ev" before getting to "Evernote" than just "Ev," as I currently do), but maybe I'll get to a point where I have to do that. Thanks.

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I got my dictionary from the Department of Redundancy Department. :)

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I actually spend a lot of time explaining this to users - generally in the genre of "Oh no, I've hit my 250 notebook limit and I don't know what to do!". So I go about explaining how to change from a "Notebook" based system to a "Tag" based system.

The real key, as has been reiterated multiple times here, is to use *unique* names for your "Notebook Tag" names. For example, if you were going to have a notebook named "Recipes", but you feel that you might have a tag called recipes (and notes with that tag might also live in another notebook), then you obviously can't have a "Notebook Tag" named "Recipes". Instead, try prefixing "Notebook Tags" with "NB_" or something to set them apart. (like: NB_Recipes).

Additionally, remember that you *will* need to have unique notebooks to "share" items with other people. So if you want to keep certain things "private to other people" (or, realistically, "only share certain things"), create notebooks for *those* items you wish shared, and share that way.

And, of course, once you're done with the Notebook-to-Tag conversion, you can then go up to 100 "Folder Tags" deep, as opposed to just one with a Notebook. And you can cross search.

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May: What are the boxes in your diagram (the things you say Evernote cannot do)? Sorry I didn't understand that.

I'm also one of tags' biggest defenders, but (as I think May discussed--I've also been a little confused here) I've been somewhat frustrated that I can't assign a tag to more than one parent. For example, I've done some writing for, and have an ongoing gig with, Website X. So I have a "Website X" tag that I'd like to place under both my future (as in, ongoing projects) and past (as in, old notes for reference) tags. I can't, so I've gotten used to doing what BNF and others advocate: tagging a note with "Website X" and "Future" or "Past" as appropriate, and not worrying where I put the "Website X" tag in the tree. But that means that the tag tree is not as visually helpful as it could be, since I wish I could see all applicable parent-child relationships there. I think there's no workaround here to get what I want, but if someone sees something I'm missing, please let me know!

Boxes are just notes or sub notes.

It doesn't matter how we call things it matters how we use them.

In your example websiteX tag is a subcategory. Active projects and old projects are both parent categories.

Of course you could just look at notes at intersection of tags like BNF suggested and treat all those tags as separate topics.

But then you lose parent-child relationships. This is not helpful when they are important and you want to see them. As in your example when you want to see which tags are children of active projects and which tags are children of past projects. There are many other examples.

That's my main point - what BNF suggested is one case in which all tags are just separate topics and parent child relationships are not important. In this case it's a good example but it doesn't cover cases in which parent-child relationships are important.

The topic is called "how I use tags to replicate nested folders" which is actually misleading in my view. It's not about nested folders (parent-child relationships), it's about how to find notes at intersections of different topics. I've illustrated this in my pic.

As in your example when you want to see "WebsiteX" as a subcategory of "active projects" tag...

so I've gotten used to doing what BNF and others advocate: tagging a note with "Website X" and "Future" or "Past" as appropriate, and not worrying where I put the "Website X" tag in the tree. But that means that the tag tree is not as visually helpful as it could be

Yes, so you have no way to see which tags are children of your "active project" tag and which tags are children of your "past project" tag. In your example it's important, in BNF example about bills it's not. The problem is that both are valid examples but you will run into problems because evernote doesn't have parent child or any other links between tags and sub tags.

You can use sub tags but they are not helpful when you need a subcategory to be under multiple parent categories. It happens quite often when you want to organize all information in your life.

Tags themselves actually have a hierarchical structure which is similar to how file system works. That's quite a big limitation.

I think this is because tags aren't even supposed to be used to define categories/folders and to structure and organize things like this. They are supposed to be used only to group things together by a certain criteria. That's why hierarchical structure is fine for them.

As long as you use tags like this - tag "color" and sub tag "red", "green" then everything is great but when you start using tags to define categories like tag "active projects" and sub tag "websiteX" then you would run into problems because "websiteX" might have other parent categories.

So in a way, by following my logic, you are actually doing the correct thing by

tagging a note with "Website X" and "Future" or "Past" as appropriate, and not worrying where I put the "Website X" tag in the tree.
because Website X isn't really a sub tag exactly in your case. It's a subcategory.

The problem though is that you can't use nested folders and organize things into subcategories exactly by using tags without running into problems like this.

To solve this we need to either:

make tags non hierarchical

or allow links between tags

or make it possible to create sub notes/whatever

Any of those solutions would work and there is not much difference between them in terms of the end result.

Again it doesn't matter how we call things.

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Yep, that's just the way that tags are -- unique in the system. You can get around it by adopting a practice like encoding the hierarchy in the tag name, thereby making unique tag names for what would normally be the same tag

Btw no, this is irrelevant

you missed the point of Peterfmartin.

You can encode as much stuff as you like in the tag name and it would accomplish absolutely nothing when you want to link a sub tag as a child tag of multiple parents (keep a sub tag in multiple places).

I actually spend a lot of time explaining this to users - generally in the genre of "Oh no, I've hit my 250 notebook limit and I don't know what to do!". So I go about explaining how to change from a "Notebook" based system to a "Tag" based system.

The real key, as has been reiterated multiple times here, is to use *unique* names for your "Notebook Tag" names.

Also I get what heather says but it's again a solution to a different problem. I'm not sure if this was just an additional comment though. I think this stuff just confuses a lot of people LOL

I mean even the simple system of evernote is confusing for a lot of people so...

Maybe a part of the problem though is that evernote forces users to use tags in ways which tags are not supposed to be used (see my post above)... When you make a system too simple... Here is quote from David Allen

"There's an interesting phenomenon which was explained to me once as a key cybernetic principle: in order to create simplicity amidst complexity, your system must be equally complex. The corollary to that would be that if you're trying to manage something very complex with too simple a system, it will over-complexify it! And that's just what I've seen over these many years as a coach and educator. People's lives are way more sophisticated, intricate, and multifaceted than the systems they are using to manage them. A calendar and to-do list pale as puny weapons against that kind of universe. In some ways their incompleteness and insufficiency just make the situation worse."

Anyway I have to add that Evernote system is fine as is. Could be better but that's out of our control pretty much anyway.

The important thing is that it works. I mean it's good enough for me personally but yeah, there are limitations.

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On the old board, there used to be several, extensive threads that showed how tags replicate nested folders. I don't think they got migrated to the new board.

This is one thing many people new to Evernote have a problem with - the lack of sub folders. IMO (and apparently Evernote's), tags can replicate nested folders but are much more flexible.

Tags replicate nested folders this way. I have two insurance policies. One is for car A & one is for Car B. On my hard drive, they may be stored like this:

Cars --> Car A --> insurance policies --> Car A insurance policy

repairs --> repair documents here

license/tags --> license/tag info here

Car B --> insurance policies --> Car B insurance policy

repairs --> repair documents here

license/tags --> license/tag info here

Or maybe I store them this way so that all my insurance policies (home, life, auto, medical) are stored in the same folder:

Insurance policies --> Cars --> Car A --> Car A insurance policy

Car B --> Car B insurance policy

Health -- > husband

wife

children

Both of these situations can be replicated in Evernote by using these tags:

  • insurance policies
  • car A
  • car B

Car A insurance policy is tagged "insurance policies" and "car A". Searching on those two tags will give the same exact results as if I had the documents stored in sub folders on a hard drive. I don't even need to apply a "car" tag

The reason tags are much more flexible than sub folders is because let's say the policy is for both cars. To use sub folders, I'd need to have two copies of the document - one in the Car A sub folder & one in the Car B sub folder. But with tags, I simply have the one document & use all three tags, "insurance policies", "car A" and "car B'. When I want to find the insurance policy for Car A, I still just search on ""insurance policies" and "car A".

Going back to the original post: based on the above tagging example, do you recommend a Stack and Notebook structure like this:

Documents (Stack) --> Insurance (Notebook)

I'm learning and understanding the importance of tags, and I also agree that it is the way to go. Gmail and online search is the same way for me and others: we type in searches now faster than clicking a label or a folder (except in Windows, where typing a search in the search box is sooo slooooow!). I would prefer a universal way of doing things that will last forever OR for a long time. I type searches in Google and Gmail daily, almost every hour of the day that I'm online, so doing the same (even with different interfaces) means I'm doing something on the same level on different platforms and learning it more.

I see there are very strong schools of thoughts (at least 2 that I notice :) ) on these Evernote forums, and in the end, I feel like I can simply focus on learning and optimizing things more, from both schools, for a simpler way of working with Evernote and my life whenever possible. Regarding my question above about how documents and stacks should be, I'm trying to figure out how you all do it so that I can organize tags better with notebooks and stacks.

I want to rely fully on search box to find stuff OR clicking something easily to organize things, though right now, I've not tagged anything (less than 100 or so notes with any kind of tags I think) compared to having many several stacks and notebooks.

I'm an Evernote noob in terms of organizing Evernote with tags and other better methods (compared to all of you), and I feel like while I'm getting into the good habit of putting things into Evernote, I'm still working and finding out ways to organize my stuff better. Tagging seems to be the way to go: now I've to figure out how to organize my Stacks and Notebooks (and not overdo them) to make tags more prominent (while also having a folder system to look at the structure visually).

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You don't have to use Stacks if you don't want them. My personal view is:

  • Notes are for very specific information - usually a single action item or reminder
  • Notebooks are for broad categories - for instance: All types of Insurance
  • Stacks (if needed) are for very broad categories - Personal or Work

Example:

Stack - Personal

Notebook - Insurance

Note - Car insurance policy (taggged with Ins-car)

Note - Medical insurance - new policy on Jan 1 (tagged with Ins-Med)

Note - Check out new home owner insurance umbrella policy costs (tagged with Ins-Home)

And be sure to use a title in the note that include key words, such as Blue Cross, statement, policy, or bill

Jump in and get your feet wet. Then you can start tweaking the format as you become more familiar with Evernote.

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Stacks are nice because they're the only way that you can search multiple notebooks at once (excepting the All Notebooks case). They're also handy for hiding notebooks that aren't used all that often -- just keep them closed in the Notebook tree.

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If I place 9 notebooks within a stack (and add in the top level stack notebook), does this mean I've used up (of the 250 allowed notebooks) just 1 notebook (the top level stack) OR I've used 10 notebooks (the top level plus the 9 subnotebooks in the stack)?

I'm referring to this from the Evernote website:

Stacks are a great way to add an additional level of organization to your Evernote notes. Each stack you create will count as one of your 250 allowed notebooks.

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The second case. 10 of your allowed 250 notebooks.

If I place 9 notebooks within a stack (and add in the top level stack notebook), does this mean I've used up (of the 250 allowed notebooks) just 1 notebook (the top level stack) OR I've used 10 notebooks (the top level plus the 9 subnotebooks in the stack)?

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Since the increase to 250 notebooks (~18-24 months ago?), I don't recall anyone hitting the limit. And several of us have thousands of notes.

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Yeah I doubt I will ever hit the notebook limit. If anyone of my notebooks have less than 15 notes and aren't being updated frequently I just move those notes to a different notebook.

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You know what BurgersNfries? You are simply awesome for posting this.

I was tripping thinking " Evernote is kinda awesome, but this not having sub-notebooks is kinda killing it for me"

For whatever reason I used tags a few times for a quick search on my phone but never thought of using them ALL the time to substitute sub-folders/notebooks.

You Rock.

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You know what BurgersNfries? You are simply awesome for posting this.

I was tripping thinking " Evernote is kinda awesome, but this not having sub-notebooks is kinda killing it for me"

For whatever reason I used tags a few times for a quick search on my phone but never thought of using them ALL the time to substitute sub-folders/notebooks.

You Rock.

Thank you! I'm glad you found this helpful!

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"The reason tags are much more flexible than sub folders is because let's say the policy is for both cars. To use sub folders, I'd need to have two copies of the document - one in the Car A sub folder & one in the Car B sub folder. But with tags, I simply have the one document & use all three tags, "insurance policies", "car A" and "car B'. When I want to find the insurance policy for Car A, I still just search on ""insurance policies" and "car A"."

I like tag based structures....but what I've asked from En that I think would make this immeasurably easier is for any item to have a longpress or menu option to bring up all tags linked to that item.

That way I have the virtual physical structure of 'subtasks' right there.

I go to insurance policies (that could be a notebook, tag, or search item...and if I have 10 various insurance policies tagged,all 10 tags are exposed (somehow) clickready to go.

This is how tags would replicate subnotenooks for me.

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"The reason tags are much more flexible than sub folders is because let's say the policy is for both cars. To use sub folders, I'd need to have two copies of the document - one in the Car A sub folder & one in the Car B sub folder. But with tags, I simply have the one document & use all three tags, "insurance policies", "car A" and "car B'. When I want to find the insurance policy for Car A, I still just search on ""insurance policies" and "car A"."

I like tag based structures....but what I've asked from En that I think would make this immeasurably easier is for any item to have a longpress or menu option to bring up all tags linked to that item.

That way I have the virtual physical structure of 'subtasks' right there.

I go to insurance policies (that could be a notebook, tag, or search item...and if I have 10 various insurance policies tagged,all 10 tags are exposed (somehow) clickready to go.

This is how tags would replicate subnotenooks for me.

Right click on tags in the left panel and select "hide unassigned tags". Does this solve the problem?

You're going to see only all related tags this way instead of all tags.

This wouldn't work on mobile but there is a workaround to do something similar and actually more flexible on mobile with the use of "index" notes as a manual front-end and just list all related sub-tags there basically and tag this index note with all related tags and then use this note for navigation. It's something I'm experimenting at the moment btw. It turns Evernote into something a bit more wiki like...

Another option is to just use naming convensions and encode hierachies into the tag names.

Or even just nest all related tags under each other... (wouldn't work on iOS)

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Some more of my thoughts on this topic...

It's important to organize tags into parent child relationships... 

 if you're using only multiple flat tags to replicate sub-tags/nested tags you end up with 2 problems:

Problem 1. 

You have to manually tag a note with a sub-tag and then also with all parent tags instead of just tagging it with a sub-tag and having all other parent tags applied automatically. 

For example off the top of my mind - let's say you have tags(not the best example but just to give you an idea):

- Stuff to buy 

          - appstore 

                   - ipad 

                           - apps to buy 

Whenever you tag something with the tag "- apps to buy " you'd have to also remember to tag it with all other parent tags, i.e. "- Stuff to buy ", "- appstore", "- ipad" and etc. 

It's not a huge problem but still worth mentioning. A workaround is to encode hierarchy in tag names and then use search with a wildcard but it doesn't work well with long names...

Problem 2.

This is the real problem. Whenever you use this method of tagging, i.e. just flat multiple tags with no parent child relationships (real sub tags) then you can't really browse all those tags in any meaningful way pretty much. I mean when you would look at the tag "stuff to buy" for example you would never see the tag "- apps to buy". There would be just no connection whatsoever because all tags are just kept in a flat list, i.e. the tags themselves wouldn't be organized.

There are workarounds for this issue though of course, i.e. nesting tags in the desktop client but this way you could organize tags only in a single way... and it's an artificial limitation, this limitation has no place in the digital world. We can organize notes with multiple tags after all but not the tags themselves... Another problem is nesting tags doesn't work on iOS at all.

But it doesn't really matter.

I actually сould use a workaround anyway which makes it possible to organize tags with non hierarchical parent child relationships, i.e. each tag can have multiple different parents and it works on all platforms, including iOS... i mentioned it in my previous post, it's about using index notes.

Anyway this is what I think at the moment. I think this tag issue is confusing for a lot of people for a very good reason, i.e. our brains just don't work the way Evernote tagging/notebooking/overall organization system is designed.

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I am one of the people who can't stand the lack of depth in folders and I think it is a serious drawback. In fact it is the only reason I constantly am debating going back to OneNote.

The fact is, it is irrelevant whether you CAN or Can not replicate folder structure with tagging. The fact is, for some users it is more cumber some and effort intensive to do so with the material they are organizing and taking notes on.

I am a professional User Experience designer and Application Architect, so I can tell you that this is not an opinion, it is a fact.

Assume this conceptual organization of data

Project Group 1

Project A

Project A topic 1

Project A topic 1 A

Project A topic 1 B

Project A topic 2

Project B

Project Group 2

I have used Evernote to replicate this with Folders and tags, and it does work, but it is effort intensive.

If i am in the middle of something and just want to make a quick note on Project A topic 1B I have to...

- click create new note

- Type in a title

- Type in my note

- type in all of the tags in the tag hierarchy from "topic 1B" all the way up, or at least most of the way up.

While not a deal breaker, typing those tags is a pain and I often don't do it because I'm in a hurry, which leads to a less than ideal space.

Now if I could have just selected my folder and clicked create a new note in that folder, that hierarchy would have been auto preserved for me. Now something like this could indeed be handled with Tags, but it is not being done that way currently.

As an end user advocate, the question of which is theoretically better is irrelevant. This is a consumer driven product and if consumers want the ability to use folders like PCs have done for years, then give it to them. It isn't a 1 or the other debate, give us both and give users flexibility over how to use it.

Evernote, you have a great product and I am sure you have a user experience team already, but if not please give me a shout I have several simple UI enhancement suggestions that I won't go into detail on here but I think would improve ease of use and flexibility of the tool.

Derek Smith

User Experience Designer

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I am one of the people who can't stand the lack of depth in folders and I think it is a serious drawback. In fact it is the only reason I constantly am debating going back to OneNote.

I don't see any signs of it changing any time soon.

The fact is, it is irrelevant whether you CAN or Can not replicate folder structure with tagging. The fact is, for some users it is more cumber some and effort intensive to do so with the material they are organizing and taking notes on.

I am a professional User Experience designer and Application Architect, so I can tell you that this is not an opinion, it is a fact.

That might be a fact (albeit a pretty vacuous one; all it takes is for one person to make it true), but you should note that it's also a fact that it can be very cumbersome and effort intensive to deal with nested hierarchies.

As an end user advocate, the question of which is theoretically better is irrelevant. This is a consumer driven product and if consumers want the ability to use folders like PCs have done for years, then give it to them. It isn't a 1 or the other debate, give us both and give users flexibility over how to use it.

Evernote's software, Evernote gets to make the design decisions. The market decides if the decisions are good or not (this seems to be my day for saying that). One size may not fit all, your mileage may vary, and contents may settle during shipment.

Evernote, you have a great product and I am sure you have a user experience team already, but if not please give me a shout I have several simple UI enhancement suggestions that I won't go into detail on here but I think would improve ease of use and flexibility of the tool.

Share them here in the user forum. Evernote staff will read them. Of course they might get pecked to death by the Evernote Fanboi Ducks contingent, but hey, it they can't stand up to a little discussion, how good could they be?

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In addition to what Jeff said,

I have used Evernote to replicate this with Folders and tags, and it does work, but it is effort intensive

IME, once you have accumulated many files/notes, it's often labor intensive to retrieve those notes/files. Was that filed under "Mother", "Journal", "appointments", etc? Folders give you one option only. Tags give you many. This has already been discussed at great length on the board, so I'm not going to elaborate any further.

As an end user advocate, the question of which is theoretically better is irrelevant. This is a consumer driven product and if consumers want the ability to use folders like PCs have done for years, then give it to them.

Ah, yes, the "we've never done it that way before" argument. Well, just because we've "always done it that way" doesn't mean there's not a newer, better way.

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@Derek

welcome to the forums! it's good to see you here with suggestions for improvement.

while i agree with you in theory that it would be great if evernote had [insert feature here], i am not sure i accept your conclusion about the "fact" that it is more cumbersome with its current structure. it is an opinion that i am sure some people have, just as i think the rigid onenote structure makes it difficult to create notes and make connections among them.

anyhow, it's nice to debate these things. personally, with my own organizational system, i avoid notebooks and tags entirely (i've written all over the place about it, so i won't repeat the details here), because i agree with you that it is a pain to mess with them. a more intricate notebook system wouldn't make it any less of a pain, though. and, like the op, i find tags to be much more powerful than notebooks.

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I find tags to be trouble-free, but maybe because I am not trying too make them into what they are not (folders). Yes, you can kinda sorta add some folder functionality using tags, but Evernote isn't really built to support it that well, and it's really just forcing the metaphor.

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Derek, something like WorkFlowy.com might be more helpful in your use case.

  • Project Group 1
    • Project A
      • Project A topic 1
        • Project A topic 1 A
        • Project A topic 1 B

        [*]Project A topic 2

      [*]Project B

    [*]Project Group 2

Created with WorkFlowy.com

</p>

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I actually have a really good solution for this issue, i.e. organizing notes into hierarchical or networked "tree" structures. I just need to document/explain it... I haven't seen it described/mentioned anywhere... It works, it's awesome (imho), it's convenient to use. Doesn't involve random codes or note links. It's just not an obvious and pre-digested solution, like onenote

But in short, The approach BNF described in this thread (using flat tags) is a foundation but you can take it one step further and organize tags with (index) notes. This gives you unlimited flexibilty and all of the pros of tags and hierarchical or networked structures (If/whenever you need them) and without any of the cons. You navigate notes/tags/categories/sub-categories with search. There are no limitations whatsoever and it works on all platforms. And you can even export all your notes in html without loosing any organizational structure.

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I actually have a really good solution for this issue, i.e. organizing notes into hierarchical or networked "tree" structures. I just need to document/explain it... I haven't seen it described/mentioned anywhere... It works, it's awesome (imho), it's convenient to use. Doesn't involve random codes or note links. It's just not an obvious and pre-digested solution, like onenote

May, this sounds very interesting. I think you mentioned it in another thread as well.

Do you plan on publishing your solution any time soon?

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I actually have a really good solution for this issue, i.e. organizing notes into hierarchical or networked "tree" structures. I just need to document/explain it... I haven't seen it described/mentioned anywhere... It works, it's awesome (imho), it's convenient to use. Doesn't involve random codes or note links. It's just not an obvious and pre-digested solution, like onenote

May, this sounds very interesting. I think you mentioned it in another thread as well.

Do you plan on publishing your solution any time soon?

Yep, someday... ;)

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I really like Evernote and yet I am with the we need to be able to nest more notebooks crowd. As a photographer I am very aware of the power of tags or keywords and use them. I am an OCD paperless scanning machine I HATE PAPER and scan anything that is important straight to Evernote. One of my biggest problems is that I would like to keep financial information in a notebook named by year. Something like Travel then inside 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, you get the idea. Inside those years are other notebooks named for whatever works for me. I find it fast to drill down to the year of the thing I am looking for and eventually delete the entire notebook in one fell swoop when I no longer need it. I do tag notes with dates but it can be laborious and prone to my human error. Not having a folder tree makes the whole Evernote way of doing things very proprietary and would prevent me from migrating to another system in the future unless the tags are written into the metadata and can be read by another program. Evernote is great to capture ideas as the come flooding into the brain and boy to I have a lot of flooding. I use as much GTD workflow technique as I can before procrastination sets in, I get it so to speak. As a file management system it is not perfect and calls for some creative thinking to make it work rather than a boring old fashioned parent/child file structure. Why can't we have it both ways and to each his own? Don't get me started on the inability to sync with a calendar ;-D

Ciao

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I really like Evernote and yet I am with the we need to be able to nest more notebooks crowd. As a photographer I am very aware of the power of tags or keywords and use them. I am an OCD paperless scanning machine I HATE PAPER and scan anything that is important straight to Evernote. One of my biggest problems is that I would like to keep financial information in a notebook named by year. Something like Travel then inside 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, you get the idea. Inside those years are other notebooks named for whatever works for me. I find it fast to drill down to the year of the thing I am looking for and eventually delete the entire notebook in one fell swoop when I no longer need it. I do tag notes with dates but it can be laborious and prone to my human error. Not having a folder tree makes the whole Evernote way of doing things very proprietary and would prevent me from migrating to another system in the future unless the tags are written into the metadata and can be read by another program. Evernote is great to capture ideas as the come flooding into the brain and boy to I have a lot of flooding. I use as much GTD workflow technique as I can before procrastination sets in, I get it so to speak. As a file management system it is not perfect and calls for some creative thinking to make it work rather than a boring old fashioned parent/child file structure. Why can't we have it both ways and to each his own? Don't get me started on the inability to sync with a calendar ;-D

Ciao

i agree that we ought to be able to endlessly nest notebooks. i don't understand why the option is unavailable. but, this is the way evernote wants to go.

working with what we have, i think there is a tremendous amount of flexibility, and if i remember correctly, the metadata gets stored in the note when you export, so you won't lose it.

the problem, of course, is that other programs will not be able to do much with it. tags become just words. personally, i prefer to hard code organization with dates and keywords in titles, note links in index notes, and random codes (see the shared notebook in my signature for more). tags and notebooks, of course can still be used.

in your case, tagging with the year would give you a way to easily browse the notes (no different than a notebook). dates in the titles would arrange all of the notes chronologically (fiddling with the "created" attribute would too, but i prefer it in the title). an index note with note links would give you hierarchical organization (also, the ability to order notes as you please). the best of both worlds.

even if we had nested notebooks, i probably wouldn't use them.

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Yeah. I am a strong proponent of structured titles. Most of my notes include a YYYYMMDD publication/capture date in the title.

The information is visible in any client, sorts well, and does not depend on any specific notebook to work.

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i agree that we ought to be able to endlessly nest notebooks. i don't understand why the option is unavailable. but, this is the way evernote wants to go.

I've started to think that the reason is because Evernote doesn't think that arbitrary nesting of notebooks is something that will play well on mobile devices. That's just an intuition, not based on anything too concrete. It's probably from using Evernote on the Kindle fire, which is a tablet, but somewhat cut down in screen size.

Edit: I don't think it's the only reason, by the way.

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i agree that we ought to be able to endlessly nest notebooks. i don't understand why the option is unavailable. but, this is the way evernote wants to go.

I've started to think that the reason is because Evernote doesn't think that arbitrary nesting of notebooks is something that will play well on mobile devices. That's just an intuition, not based on anything too concrete. It's probably from using Evernote on the Kindle fire, which is a tablet, but somewhat cut down in screen size.

it is interesting that the ipad, which has a large user base and the screen size to take advantage of them still lacks nested notebooks. maybe this is why. that said, other apps do a great job with nested folders...

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it is interesting that the ipad, which has a large user base and the screen size to take advantage of them still lacks nested notebooks. maybe this is why. that said, other apps do a great job with nested folders...

When I say 'arbitrarily nested notebooks', I mean a system that's like your system file directory/folder tree, and not stacks, which are not notebooks (a stack does not contain notes), and not arbitrarily nestable; in fact, they're not nestable at all. No Evernote client has arbitrarily nested notebooks (and that's really what I was talking about); that Evernote for iPad doesn't support stacks is odd and unhelpful to those who use stacks, but -- I think -- it's a temporary situation.

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I've started to think that the reason is because Evernote doesn't think that arbitrary nesting of notebooks is something that will play well on mobile devices. That's just an intuition, not based on anything too concrete.

I agree to an extent. I don't know if it's strictly limited to the device, but I do think from the get go, they realized nested notebooks would not play well across all the platforms.

I really like Evernote and yet I am with the we need to be able to nest more notebooks crowd. As a photographer I am very aware of the power of tags or keywords and use them. I am an OCD paperless scanning machine I HATE PAPER and scan anything that is important straight to Evernote. One of my biggest problems is that I would like to keep financial information in a notebook named by year. Something like Travel then inside 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, you get the idea.

Yes, nothing new here to see.

I find it fast to drill down to the year of the thing I am looking for and eventually delete the entire notebook in one fell swoop when I no longer need it.

Easily done with tags - has been discussed at great length already on the board.

I do tag notes with dates but it can be laborious and prone to my human error.

Pretty much anything can be erroneous do to human error. Even putting something in the wrong folder or misspelling a file name.

As a file management system it is not perfect and calls for some creative thinking to make it work rather than a boring old fashioned parent/child file structure.

EN's focus is not a file management system. It's an information collection, organization & retrieval tool.

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I've started to think that the reason is because Evernote doesn't think that arbitrary nesting of notebooks is something that will play well on mobile devices. That's just an intuition, not based on anything too concrete. It's probably from using Evernote on the Kindle fire, which is a tablet, but somewhat cut down in screen size.

Edit: I don't think it's the only reason, by the way.

I disagree that it because of issues or limitations of mobile devices.

DropBox is able to provide nested folders without any problems on iOS.

I haven't seen Google Drive on iOS yet, but I suspect it will provide nested folders as well since this is how it is structured on the Web, and on Windows and Mac clients.

My *guess* is that this is simply an arbitrary design decision by Evernote, made long ago, and despite a large demand from their users, Evernote refuses to provide this capability. This is just my opinion. I have no inside knowledge of how Evernote makes design decisions.

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I agree with JM, the limitation is unnecessary, Omnifocus on iPad allows you to go as crazy as you like with nesting, Dropbox is probably the best example though since it's also completely cross-platform and has a web app

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Note to people who believe that my thoughts on reasons why Evernote are doing X (not providing nested folders, in this case) are the same as me agreeing that they should be doing X: they are not. Frankly, they can do whatever they want, and I don't really care: if I find it useful, then I'll use it; if not then I'll find something else.

So we can flog this dead horse until the cows come home (hey, it's barnyard metaphor Wednesday), but ultimately Evernote still gets to define the architecture of their product, whether anyone thinks that they should add nested folders, arbitrary Boolean search, animated tag display or whatever. And we still get to choose whether what they actually do provide is useful or not.

(but yes, browsing nested folder structures on small screens, heck, even on large screens, sucks rocks, Dropbox notwithstanding. I use Dropbox too, and Dropbox != Evernote).

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Sorry to intervene with a stupid question, no doubt. When using tags, how do you perform the search? You can't click three tags to get what is classified under those tags...

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Sorry to intervene with a stupid question, no doubt. When using tags, how do you perform the search? You can't click three tags to get what is classified under those tags...

Depends which client you are using.

e.g.

In the Windows client you can Ctrl-click tags in the left nav panel to add the tag to the search criteris.

In any client you can add "tag:value" to the search criteria via keyboard, e.g. "tag:tag1 tag:tag2" etc.

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Sorry to intervene with a stupid question, no doubt. When using tags, how do you perform the search? You can't click three tags to get what is classified under those tags...

You can type them into the search control using the tag: search operator, for example: tag:X tag:Y tag:Z. In addition, at least on the Windows client, you can Ctrl+click on different tags, and they will be added to the search criteria; for example, Click on tag X, then Ctrl+click on tag Y, then Ctrl+click on tag Z.

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at least on the Windows client, you can Ctrl+click on different tags, and they will be added to the search criteria; for example, Click on tag X, then Ctrl+click on tag Y, then Ctrl+click on tag Z.

I use the mac client, sorry for not mentioning.

Mac does the same. Cmd+click on multiple tags to select them. The notes in the note list will then be the notes tagged with both of those.

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I've started to think that the reason is because Evernote doesn't think that arbitrary nesting of notebooks is something that will play well on mobile devices. That's just an intuition, not based on anything too concrete.

I agree to an extent. I don't know if it's strictly limited to the device, but I do think from the get go, they realized nested notebooks would not play well across all the platforms.

I really like Evernote and yet I am with the we need to be able to nest more notebooks crowd. As a photographer I am very aware of the power of tags or keywords and use them. I am an OCD paperless scanning machine I HATE PAPER and scan anything that is important straight to Evernote. One of my biggest problems is that I would like to keep financial information in a notebook named by year. Something like Travel then inside 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, you get the idea.

Yes, nothing new here to see.

I find it fast to drill down to the year of the thing I am looking for and eventually delete the entire notebook in one fell swoop when I no longer need it.

Easily done with tags - has been discussed at great length already on the board.

I do tag notes with dates but it can be laborious and prone to my human error.

Pretty much anything can be erroneous do to human error. Even putting something in the wrong folder or misspelling a file name.

As a file management system it is not perfect and calls for some creative thinking to make it work rather than a boring old fashioned parent/child file structure.

EN's focus is not a file management system. It's an information collection, organization & retrieval tool.

I understand that evernote is a collection tool for data. I could send emails out of evernote to gmail and put time sensitive dates on a gcal calendar, I could replicate a folder structure in Dropbox or on my system locally with automatic backups then use logmein to retrieve data if I am not near my system. A lot of replicating of work that could be solved by nesting in evernote if you ask me. I don't care if they ever implement nesting, I was saying it would be a nice bonus. As far as GTD goes, I do tag with months and days and years, over and over again. Dropping them all in a notebook with that information and then one big massive group tag would be a nice plus. If one wishes to use a type of tickler file then one needs to tag for future dates as well. The big plus for me is the OCR engine in evernote and the ability to grab anything on my computer, create projects, forward emails to evernote, use my phone or iPad to capture something and have it all sync. As I was tagging and organizing I said to myself, am I painting myself into a corner with a proprietary system and this is why I chimed in.

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A lot of replicating of work that could be solved by nesting in evernote if you ask me.

It doesn't matter what any of us (users) think. The bottom link is that it's doubtful EN will add nested notebooks any time soon, if ever. So if this is a deal breaker or makes you uncomfortable with using the system, then Evernote may not be the right tool for you. OTOH, if one can break out of the mold of using nested notebooks/folders ("We never did it that way before"), the rewards are great, IMO. Some people seem to think you need nested folders/notebooks if you have a lot of notes/files & that the EN system is only good with a few notes. From my own experience with my PC (prior to even using Evernote) and many drives & many folders/sub folders as well as my experience with Evernote, I would say the more data you have, the more restricting & cumbersome nested folders are.

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Nesting notebooks could still be helpful in some cases. it's not very useful since you can just use Tags to group notes. You can organize notes hierarchically with Tags as well. But there are still viable uses.

Notebooks and Tags (and even folders) are pretty much the same thing (a way to group notes), the biggest difference is that each note can't have multiple Notebooks assigned. This limitation has both pros and cons, and not just cons. 

For example Notebooks (contrary to tags) are a perfect attribute to sort notes consistently by TYPE because each note can be only in a single notebook. Notebooks are useful for this because a note can't be both a tweet and an article at the same time, or an image and video and etc., you get the idea... 

You can use tags for this but then you loose the ability to sort notes consistently by Type (not just search/filter).

Nested Notebooks could be used as sub-types in this case. Just an example and it has nothing to do with folders.

Anyway while it's not absolutely necessary there's still no good reason to NOT have the ability to nest Notebooks in my view.

Sure, there are lots of workarounds but so what? I don't really need nested Notebooks but some people find nested Notebooks useful so why impose arbitrary limitations?

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While we are in agreement about nested notebooks (why impose arbitrary limitations?), I disagree about your examples for how to use them as "type." A tweet can be a facebook post, an email, or even a blog. Instead of replicating an attribute that already exists for organization and searching, a truly unique need would be something like a project that collects together notes from a variety of sources. This can only be replicated by an extremely complicated advanced search, and for some things, even this might not help. A simple notebook solves everything.

But, more importantly, notebooks have one unique function that sets them definitively apart from tags: only notebooks can be shared. I think we ought to have shared tags, but we don't, so for the time being, you have to use notebooks for this. unfortunately, shared notebooks cannot use nested ones. Too bad :(

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Nested Notebooks could be used as sub-types in this case. Just an example and it has nothing to do with folders.

Evernote does not have folders. I'm working under the notion that people who use the phrase "folders" are talking about "notebooks" in Evernote. And while I agree that notebooks can cause a note to be "isolated" b/c it can only occur in one notebook, I've often found that to be not all that useful. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. But certainly nothing that couldn't be cured with a tag. And to go one step further, you can currently use the -tag option while searching but not the -notebook option.

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And to go one step further, you can currently use the -tag option while searching but not the -notebook option.

Yeah, that's why use titles for Types instead of notebooks. Notebooks would be more convenient for this though.

A tweet can be a facebook post, an email, or even a blog.

maybe a tweet can contain a link to a blog, but that's not the point.

The key here is that any note could have only one type which describes its essence (kind of, not exactly, of course) but a note could also have many additional tags.

a truly unique need would be something like a project that collects together notes from a variety of sources.

this would be a Tag or some other search. A type is something to sort notes by after you have already filtered them. I used both filtering and sorting at the same time in my example.

Again, it's just an example.

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