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(Archived) HOWTO: Tags & saved searches - recursive?

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After reading all the forum posts I could find about recursive searching, there doesn't seem to be any way to do it in Evernote. To be specific, I can't find a way to build a saved search out of another saved search. (This isn't actually recursive, but that's the best way to describe it.) This is not a feature request exactly, but a question about whether I am missing something. Here's an example of how I would find this useful:

  • Start with a tag called ":DUE", which indicates that this note has a due date
  • Now go through all the currently active notes & add tags like ":May", ":Jun", ":Aug", etc. to indicate what month that note is due
  • To find only the notes due in August, start with a previously saved search called "Due Dates" (all have the ":DUE" tag) and then search on that subset with the correct tag

This example is rather trival, but you get the point. The power of searching on saved searches would be in the complexity you could quickly & easily address WITHOUT changing the back end structure or the UI. On the code side, you would have to create a class of temporary objects to hold the index pointers, but that kind of thing is clearly there already (to hold tag pointers).

Alternatively, someone to do something clever like Taggy, but I'm trying to work with what I have. Can anyone think of a way to "simulate" nested saved searches?

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If you want to find all the notes due in August, you can search for "tag:DUE tag:Aug". Or are you looking for a shortcut to avoid typing in "tag:DUE" every time you need to do this search?

I suppose you could build twelve saved searches —one for each month of the year. That would at least save you the extra typing. Or use dedicated tags like "jan-due," "feb-due," "mar-due," etc..

Or maybe I've gotten turned around altogether and this isn't what you want at all.

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Depending on your client (I use the Windows client), you can always augment a saved search with new tags by Ctrl-clicking on a tag in your tag panel. This just adds the selected tag to the current search.

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jefito: yes, one can always narrow a search with more tags. My goal is to leverage saved searches to avoid creating a bazillion very specific tags.

tardis: actually, I do have a similar saved search setup right now. However, I could see the # of saved searches getting out of hand doing that, so am trying to do "building block" parts of searches & sticking them together to get the specific results I want.

Thanks!

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You do not need to create a bazillion very specific tags. You just need a few specific ones, which you can then combine to create a bazillion combinations, as needed. You seem to want to save the day using saved searches, but it sounds like you're going to wind up making a bazillion saved searches, which is not much of a trade-off. The note list is always the result of a search. In general, you can't combine Saved Searches to make a valid saved search, as some of the combinations would then not be valid searches. For example, a normal search is "AND", and an any: search is "OR". Those could not be combined. Or two searches referencing different notebooks.

This is not a feature request exactly, but a question about whether I am missing something. Here's an example of how I would find this useful:
  • Start with a tag called ":DUE", which indicates that this note has a due date
  • Now go through all the currently active notes & add tags like ":May", ":Jun", ":Aug", etc. to indicate what month that note is due
  • To find only the notes due in August, start with a previously saved search called "Due Dates" (all have the ":DUE" tag) and then search on that subset with the correct tag

This seems very similar to what I suggested. Starting with a saved search, I just added simple tags (you can use the Ctrl+click method to add attributes, for that matter) to isolate what is wanted.

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jefito: It is true that a bazillion saved searches would be no better than too many tags. However, after fooling around with the search syntax, there appears to be no way to do something like: "Search in Stack A for tag B and XOR it with a search in Notebook C for everything with an attachment" ... where C is part of A. Searching on a saved search, then adding together the search results would let you do this.

Perhaps you could also do it by moving notebooks in and out of stacks, but it would be messier, and you couldn't save it for quick reference.

Since we're only at about 600 notes so far, this isn't a big problem. With 10K notes, it could well be.

Thanks for the feedback!

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However, after fooling around with the search syntax, there appears to be no way to do something like: "Search in Stack A for tag B and XOR it with a search in Notebook C for everything with an attachment" ... where C is part of A. Searching on a saved search, then adding together the search results would let you do this.

Jefito's point, if I understood him correctly, was that the Evernote search engine is currently incapable of performing that search, so it's no surprise that there isn't a workaround way to get it done with saved searches.

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jefito: It is true that a bazillion saved searches would be no better than too many tags. However, after fooling around with the search syntax, there appears to be no way to do something like: "Search in Stack A for tag B and XOR it with a search in Notebook C for everything with an attachment" ... where C is part of A. Searching on a saved search, then adding together the search results would let you do this.

It's true -- and also a not infrequent topic of forum discussion -- that Evernote's search grammar doesn't support arbitrary Boolean AND/OR/NOT expressions. Since all filtering of the your notes in Evernote clients (which is what is used to generate any note list) must be expressible in terms of that search grammar, no combination of saved searches can give you what you want, if and until the underlying search grammar is changed. Which they appear to be reluctant to do.

That's not so say that a 3rd-party application couldn't do something along the lines of what you're suggesting, but I haven't seen any that do that yet, except (I think) maybe for NixNotes, a 3rd-party Linux client.

@peter -- Yep, you got it. Thanks.

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Guys: Thanks! I suspected as much, but thought I'd ask just in case.

We'll work with what we've got for now. Who knows... maybe I'll write an app in my spare time.

Now where is that spare time, anyway... <starts looking under desk>

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Now where is that spare time, anyway... <starts looking under desk>

That's one thing the Evernote search has never helped me find.

Now, moving from jokes to a real question: Why does a search for "spare time" turn up this note? I see one instance of "time" and none of "spare," let alone "spare time"

EDIT: Searching on the web, I now see where it says "spare time." Unfortunately the Mac client doesn't show that to me: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/10450950/Spare%20time.jpg.

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Is there a summary of syntax for editing saved searches? I want a search that returns any notes containing either 'A4* Grid*' or 'A5* Notebook*' (this will retrieve all my Livescribe notebooks) but that means I need to OR searches on note text.

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@markh: Here is a summary, from the knowledge base: http://evernote.com/contact/support/kb/#/article/23245321 If you really want to dig in, you can go to the Search Grammar page: http://dev.evernote....rch_grammar.php, All searches must be expressed in terms of the search grammar, but you should note that the clients often do not transmit your search as typed exactly; sometimes they will add a '*' wildcard for normal text terms (i.e., you type "A4" and the search transmitted is "A4*"). But this should be enough to get you started.

Edit: BTW, to do 'OR' searches, use the "any:" search term. For example: any: A4* A5*

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For those of you on a Mac, your files are indexed by Spotlight, and there are apps like HoudahSpot that have all sorts of nice search features. I don't know if any of them would be for you, but point the app to your Evernote database and you can easily do searches from outside of Evernote. You can use HoudahSpot's keyboard commands or the Tray to search while still having Evernote open in front of you, so it doesn't take you too far from your notes.

This does not address the OP's question, or the discussion about advanced search grammar, but does suggest a way to accomplish the end result without having to think too much about organizing your account to work within the parameters of Evernote's searches. The Evernote search features are very robust, and easily accessible to the average user, but there are surely specific use-cases that could benefit from other approaches. I wouldn't be surprised if there were third-party apps already working on this.

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