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GrumpyMonkey

How to Optimize Your Evernote Experience

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Still beating off alligators - no real time to do a real swamp survey at present. As a quick overview though -

(1)

I can't really say I did anything wrong (that's my story, anyhow); though I'm doing things now very differently from when I started. That's all experience, trying things out to see if they work (my success rate has been in minus figures on occasion) and learning how Evernote can be used. Oh, and the various developments of which we now have the benefit since I started.

I don't think there's a right and a wrong way to use this software - just the one you're comfortable with in your own special circumstances. I'm a 'silver surfer' who's been playing with tech for nearly 40 years, and -according to Mrs G- an inveterate hoarder (all that stuff's still useful!) of things and information. I have a classic bad memory. I would kill for the ability to hear about something and 'know' where and when I saw it - a friend of mine can always remember which month's edition of which professional magazine he saw a comment about some new professional development. And he remembers where he filed the paper. I just dump everything into Evernote and search. It's not efficient, but it works for me and I hope the Big E can come up with faster searches in future.

(2)

I currently have the advantage of being a Fenestrist1,2 and a Fandroid who seem to have advance copies of most of the recent goodies, so operations are pretty smooth: scan any paper that comes in, title and tag it appropriately, dump it into the mash. There are a few shared notebooks and some individual projects with their own storage for varying periods, but 95% of my 10,292 (and counting) notes are in the default book. The Android was being an active helper in both storing and retrieving notes until I hit the buffers on storage recently. Offline notebooks means you can look up stuff offline. Not having it means I normally can't see pictures or PDFs and searches are.. variable. I have to decide what to strip out of my default notebook - but I've already used a lot of the tagged content in one way or another offline. The saga continues...

We are looking at Evernote as a potential thumbnail index for some 1,000's of 35mm slides - there's very little visible text, but a little OCR could be useful and the collection could then be sorted by reference number, date (where it exists) and any one of several tags for 'family' 'holiday' 'work' etc.. I use Picassa though for digital and film photography, and a quick scan of each slide would give me enough of a thumbnail to locate the originals when necessary. More to follow.

(3)

My future plan is also pretty much what it's always been. Every search gives me lots of hits - so chances to weed out the old stuff that's no longer relevant, improve titles and tags that hark back to my first steps in paperlessness3 and refine the tagging system as I go on. I'll combine notes, add commentary and delete some content - what I have now is source material; what I hope to achieve is more edited content.

I'm still dealing with a lot of history, but I hope there's a time coming soon that I can concentrate more on the quality of the output with purely maintenance levels of input. With new tech in a few years' time I'm sure my terminal will be floating behind me by then and reacting to thought instructions - and probably capable of writing its own support tickets. I hope the devs can include some witty repartee like we get in the forums..

1 - I invent words, too..

2 - Someone who uses WindowsTM, as opposed to someone who designs the ones you can fall out of.

3 - Yup, me again..

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Great info, GM. Like Gazumped, I'm still working on getting more papers out of my closet & into EN/shredded or tossed & haven't really stood back to evaluate my EN usage. I would agree with you wrt YYMMDD prefacing of notes. I do this quite often, as well. I do think having a very large number of notes (I've exceeded 51,000) inhibits my use of EN on mobile devices. Not 100%. But certainly enough that if I know ahead of time I may want something on my iDevice, I will add it to Dropbox, rather than use EN. But would I change my usage of EN for that reason? No. Another workaround I've used is to use my iDevice to connect to my computer (on 24/7) & use EN remotely.

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Great info, GM. Like Gazumped, I'm still working on getting more papers out of my closet & into EN/shredded or tossed & haven't really stood back to evaluate my EN usage. I would agree with you wrt YYMMDD prefacing of notes. I do this quite often, as well. I do think having a very large number of notes (I've exceeded 51,000) inhibits my use of EN on mobile devices. Not 100%. But certainly enough that if I know ahead of time I may want something on my iDevice, I will add it to Dropbox, rather than use EN. But would I change my usage of EN for that reason? No. Another workaround I've used is to use my iDevice to connect to my computer (on 24/7) & use EN remotely.

Thanks BNF and Gazumped. As always, I learn a lot from your posts. I am kind of resigned to the fact that mobile devices are just not ready yet for what I want to do, and I am willing to have lower expectations of the applications and devices. This applies to everything, not just Evernote. I do most of my work on the iPad, but it is targeted, and certainly requires much more forethought than when I am on the Mac. As for connecting remotely, it is an option, but not a terribly pleasant one, and I often work offline, so not a dependable one either.

Searches are slow for me, even on Windows. How come I never see BNF (with far more than me in here external brain) complaining about this? If you look around, it is really difficult to find anything with even a fraction of Evernote's speed or flexibility when it comes to searches, so I don't want to sound like I am complaining too much, but it is slower than I would like. Certainly, I noticed a huge difference going from 1,000 to 10,000 notes.

In addition to slow searches, one of my problems on the Mac is the size of my Evernote footprint. I am working with Evernote now to figure out how to improve things, but I am over 25GB now (this seems to be about double what it ought to be), and I am running out of storage space on a regular basis. I am having trouble finding things to move off of my drive (128 GB), and as Evernote on the Web is insufficient for my needs, I am in a bind. The discomfort is magnified by the periodic re-indexing of my entire account that occurs after the computer fills up and Evernote crashes. Ideally, we'd have offline/online toggles for notebooks on the desktop platform, but I have seen no hints that this is coming anytime soon, even though I have heard that they are inevitable. My guess is that I won't see them this week. LOL. So, it is either stop using Evernote on the Mac sometime in the near future (I think I will find more stuff to move off before that happens), or delete things. I am leaning towards deletion, because that would kill two birds with one stone.

Going back to what I think I did right, I am really pleased with how well my YYMMDD + keyword system is working out. It is amazing to me (I amaze myself?) how organized I am with so little effort. Part of the credit, of course, goes to Evernote, because they have the "intitle" search grammar. Without that, I would be in trouble (BBEdit, for instance, doesn't have this, as far as I know). I just put together a report on a program I am coordinating, and it took hardly any time at all, because everything was there for me in Evernote.

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One thing I wish I'd done differently - but not entirely related to Evernote...

Back in the day when DOS/Windows files had a hard time with spaces in file/directory names (%20 anyone?), I got into the habit of using the underscore in file names rather than a space. Just made things easier & fewer keystrokes, when referencing the file name. But in my early EN days, when dumping all my previous scans & documents into Evernote, I didn't always take the time to replace the underscore with a space & I probably would not change that, even knowing what I know now. Currently, my workflow is to simply assign the file name as I want it to be, including spaces. Then when I dump it into Evernote, the title is defaulted to the file name & I don't have to change it. Last week, we traded in one car on a new one & I'm confirming all the docs that were in the glove box & marked as "scanned" are indeed in Evernote. Alas, they all still have the underscores in the titles, so the task is a tad bit harder. (But not much.) But as I go along, I'm replacing the underscores with spaces.

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One thing I wish I'd done differently - but not entirely related to Evernote...

Back in the day when DOS/Windows files had a hard time with spaces in file/directory names (%20 anyone?), I got into the habit of using the underscore in file names rather than a space. Just made things easier & fewer keystrokes, when referencing the file name. But in my early EN days, when dumping all my previous scans & documents into Evernote, I didn't always take the time to replace the underscore with a space & I probably would not change that, even knowing what I know now. Currently, my workflow is to simply assign the file name as I want it to be, including spaces. Then when I dump it into Evernote, the title is defaulted to the file name & I don't have to change it. Last week, we traded in one car on a new one & I'm confirming all the docs that were in the glove box & marked as "scanned" are indeed in Evernote. Alas, they all still have the underscores in the titles, so the task is a tad bit harder. (But not much.) But as I go along, I'm replacing the underscores with spaces.

That reminds me, I used to take notes without spaces in the note titles (doing this for years before I moved to Evernote, because spaces in filenames used to be a no-no). 120908journal, though, becomes a problem in Evernote. When I realized the error of my ways (Evernote doesn't do searches from the middle of a word), I inserted spaces. There are still a few stragglers wandering around in my account. I wish I had done that differently, but wishes are not fishes, and I had to do that in the days before Evernote anyhow, so I guess it was a small price that had to be made when I moved everything into Evernote :)

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I just passed my four year anniversary of using Evernote, and I passed the 10,000 note mark, so I thought I would take a step back and evaluate what I am doing so that I can optimize my experience. I was hoping I could hear more about what other people are doing in their accounts. Want to take a stab at one or all of these questions?

(1) What do you wish that you had done differently over the time you have been using Evernote?

(2) What are you doing now?

(3) What do you plan to do in the future?

I'm only a relatively new user, coming up to my second anniversary in November, with ~4500 notes (see some interesting stats), but I'll have a go at the GM's questions:

(1) I wish I'd put more stuff into EN earlier on. In the last 12 months I've become accustomed to going straight to an EN search whenever I am trying to locate something I thought I had, whether it be a document, piece of correspondence or interesting news article clipped from the web. However, I am still frequently disappointed when the piece of info is pre-Evernote and I then need to spend 2-3 times longer digging through my filing cabinet, piles of paper or my PC to find it! Despite continued exposure to the ideas on the forums, I haven't changed my tagging or notebook system since I started, so my thought processes must have been pretty robust and I'm rarely unable to find something once I'm confident it is actually in Evernote.

(2) Presently I am endeavouring to retain practically everything in Evernote. Some of the few exceptions to this would be my numerous 'working' spreadsheets and the files generated by proprietary software, which are better-suited to the file/directory structure (in my mind, at least) and are therefore in Dropbox. For anything else, EN is the default location. I have not yet found any issues arising from database size, although a regular log-out and defrag (in Windows) certainly helps speed things up. I'm hoping computer technology develops at a faster rate than the rate of increase of my database - hopefully by the time I'm up to 5-10GB I'll have a solid state hard drive to help with access speeds!

(3) For the future I intend to carry on as is! I'd love for EN to have better geo tools on the desktop - I love the ability to see notes by location on the Android client. I often recall notes based on where I made them and the current latitude/longitude search tools are desperately unwieldy compared with browsing notes on a map. In general, I'd love more visual tools for organising notes - I remember one of the EN devcup entrants displayed notes using a network of tags, which I really liked (site now offline, I believe).

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This is a great topic and I want to add my 2 cents:

1. I have reduced the number of notebooks over time and now have only 2: work and private.

2. With over 8,000 notes, I do not see any noticeable slowdown of search speed. I hope it stays that way.

3. No photos or voice notes in my EN database, simply too storage hungry.

4. I have a tag "delete later" which I assign to notes which are temporary and can be deleted in the future. I wish I had used that tag from the beginning because it provides for nice shrinking of the database and weeding out old stuff.

Wern

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(1) What do you wish that you had done differently over the time you have been using Evernote?

I'm pretty happy with the model I started with, a few notebooks, a few tags, decent note titles and search.

(2) What are you doing now?

A mixture of work and personal - some notes that hopefully will last forever, some will get deleted in 10 minutes time.

What I'm not doing is trying to force everything I do into Evernote, it's good at what it's good at and there are other apps that are better at other things.

I also make sure to backup my Evernote data in a couple of different ways - my data, my responsibility.

(3) What do you plan to do in the future?

More of the same.

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Great comments everyone. Thanks!

At this time, the iPad app (for example) is severely restricted in several key respects (some likely to be addressed by Evernote over time, and some a consequence of working in iOS on a device with limited processing /storage / memory). I thought I'd put some ideas about how to optimize your account for this environment, in particular.

- This is more of a technical issue, rather than a big idea, but I was reminded in another thread about the value of having shared notebooks in your account if you tend to go on the road / be out of the house a lot with your mobile device. As far as I know, if someone shares a note with you, or you share one with them, there is no way on the iPad to get that note into your Evernote account. You can view it in the browser, but you cannot "save" the note. If, however, a note is put into a publicly shared notebook, then you can "join" the notebook and see it in your account. A minor issue, to be sure, but one of the (many) bottleneckes you encounter in iOS (with any app, really), and it is good to know a workaround.

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(1) What do you wish that you had done differently over the time you have been using Evernote?

I'm pretty happy with the model I started with, a few notebooks, a few tags, decent note titles and search.

(2) What are you doing now?

A mixture of work and personal - some notes that hopefully will last forever, some will get deleted in 10 minutes time.

What I'm not doing is trying to force everything I do into Evernote, it's good at what it's good at and there are other apps that are better at other things.

I also make sure to backup my Evernote data in a couple of different ways - my data, my responsibility.

1. Only modification for me is a third group of temporary notebooks. The additional notebooks rise & fall between 5 & 10 notebooks. I really prefer visual search, things that I want access to in the near future go here. When it's time has passed, I tag the keepers, make sure the titles are helpful, move those to be saved to the archive, delete the useless & the notebook.

2. I add a lot of notes that of absolutely no future value. I don't keep them, honestly I don't understand the urge to keep them. I will never have a use for the picture of the parking lot column at the airport where my truck is, after I'm sitting in the truck.

Regards,

Gary

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Here is a summary of my ideas for optimizing your Evernote experience. I'll try to keep adding to this over time. I've got links to plenty of resources for new users on my website (http://www.princeton...note-links.html), but these suggestions below are focused more on making Evernote the best experience for you over the long haul -- assuming that you will spend a lot of time in the app and will be generating a lot of notes. You won't run into any issues with 10 notes, but with 10,000, you want to make sure you have a plan in place to keep it all working smoothly.

Should you put PDFs into your account?

Consider stripping out the text and putting that into your account instead. You can put the PDF in Dropbox just in case you need to see the original document. For example, if you have a library of several thousand PDFs for your research, you only need to find occurrences of words and phrases, and you don't need to worry much about the formatting, then this could make a big difference for you, because:

- it will reduce the amount you will need to upload each month.

- it will reduce the size of your database on your local hard drive.

- it will enable you to search inside the note on mobile devices.

- it will enable you to include the contents in offline searches with mobile devices (PDFs are not included in the search results if you are using a mobile device without a connection even if the PDF is included in an offline notebook).

Which client should you use?

The various Evernote clients have their own strengths and weaknesses, and I happen to enjoy using all of them, but the Windows one has the most functionality, so I can recommend that without reservation. One benefit of working with a Mac is that you can install Windows using something like Parallels, and have the benefit of using both desktop versions. This is what I do, and it has been a great boon to my productivity. In addition, if you use something like Logmein on your iPad, you can remotely access your Mac desktop and use Windows from there. Pretty cool, eh? Hook up an external keyboard and you are ready to go. Here is a screenshot to give you an idea of what the differences are between my accounts with the Windows and Mac interface.

https://www.evernote...06-299cdc4b791e

How should you set up your account?

Design your organizational system around the strengths / weaknesses of the Evernote client you are using the most. The Windows client has the most functionality of any application at the moment, but if you plan on using the Mac one as well, then designing your system around the ability to sort by tags, for example, would be a bad idea, because the Mac version cannot do this. Likewise, if you rely on reverse sort orders, you will not find this on the iOS client, so you'll want to keep these differences in mind and develop workarounds, if possible. In my case, I take a minimalist approach to organizing, and much of it is based on consistently titling my notes YYMMDD + keywords.

http://www.princeton...ganization.html

What should you put into your account?

I focus more on making notes of "notable" things instead of noting everything. Jamie Rubin has got some good advice on going paperless (http://www.jamierubi...s-the-question/). I am still a "completist" and scan everything, but I only have a handful of attachments in Evernote. I store most of my stuff in Dropbox, including web clippings. If Evernote develops the ability to toggle notebooks offline / online on the desktop versions (we already have them on the mobile ones), then I might change my mind on this, because I could leave most of my stuff on the cloud, and wouldn't have to worry about how much space Evernote is taking up on my local drive.

Should you use the appstore version or the home brew one on the Mac?

The home brew one gives you more functionality, and I see no benefits whatsoever to using the appstore one. Here are instructions for backing up, uninstalling, and reinstalling the app.

http://discussion.ev...-x/#entry173494

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Some great tips here. I'm not quite the power user that you guys are (755 notes so far), so I don't have search issues. I have lots of notebooks because I like to browse. Pictures are important to me, so I'll keep using them. I'm not a good tagger, but I love the idea of a "delete later" tag. The main PDF files I have are scanned receipts that are related to specific topics, like "home maintenance."

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Some great tips here. I'm not quite the power user that you guys are (755 notes so far), so I don't have search issues. I have lots of notebooks because I like to browse. Pictures are important to me, so I'll keep using them. I'm not a good tagger, but I love the idea of a "delete later" tag. The main PDF files I have are scanned receipts that are related to specific topics, like "home maintenance."

Hi. Thanks for the post. Sorry to be so slow in responding. I agree with you about the "delete later" tag. That is a good idea. As far as "power users" go, I'd say anyone who has hundreds of notes could be considered as one. My guess would be that most people probably have fewer than 100 notes in their accounts :)

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Great thread.

I've posted a related topic on the following link.

I think your right…reviewing the forums, one would have to assume that most EV users do not have that many notes so do not encounter these issues.

With over 9000 files in my library, the recent updates on both Mac and iOS have left me somewhat disillusioned.

Having attempted and failed to re install the Mac Client (because I couldn't) and I now use Clever HD on the iPad in preference. Great product

I think however EV recognise that V5 is going to take some bedding in and I will do everything I can to help as I do love the environment when one takes into account browser plugs ins, 3rd party product integration etc.

To be fair, Apple had a similar behemoth until recently ….called iTunes.

Offline Notebooks on the Mac would make a massive difference … with the option to DL attachments (similar to iCloud) on demand on a case by case basis similar to an IMAP server.

I don't know if I'm a power user….however I am a committed/professional Cloud user and having used both Google Docs and EV for many years, finally committed full time to EV about a year ago for my day to day work.

Not being able to re install it has been frustrating. Thank god for Gmail and Pocket!

Maybe Evernote should use some of that VC money and buy the latter..or at least the dev team!!

Im sure they could fix both the Mac and Web clients which I would ahve to say have set a new benchmark for this style of curation tool.

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Should you put PDFs into your account?

Consider stripping out the text and putting that into your account instead. You can put the PDF in Dropbox just in case you need to see the original document. For example, if you have a library of several thousand PDFs for your research, you only need to find occurrences of words and phrases, and you don't need to worry much about the formatting, then this could make a big difference for you, because:

- it will reduce the amount you will need to upload each month.

- it will reduce the size of your database on your local hard drive.

- it will enable you to search inside the note on mobile devices.

- it will enable you to include the contents in offline searches with mobile devices (PDFs are not included in the search results if you are using a mobile device without a connection even if the PDF is included in an offline notebook).

GM, I think you are over-reacting to the storage of PDFs in Evernote. I believe it was an issue for your account mainly because you tried to store so many very, very large (>10MB, many >100MB) PDFs which were scanned images.

I store a lot of PDFs and have not had any of the problems you mentioned. But most of my PDFs are NOT scanned, but text-based created from source docs like MS Word. I do have some scanned PDFs that are only a few pages (<10p, <10MB). I think I mentioned long ago that Evernote is NOT a good tool to store a large number of very large PDFs like you might have for a scanned library.

Mainly I don't want readers of this thread to be mislead with respect to storing of PDF files. I believe EN works fine for the storage of PDF files for most use cases. Just don't try to scan and store the Library of Congress in EN. ;)

EDIT: Just wanted to add this:

I just tested this in EN iPhone 4.4.1, and it DOES search inside of attached PDF files.

Edited by JMichael
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Hi JM. Thanks for joining the thread! I wouldn't say I have the Library of Congress, but I do have many, many file cabinets and bookshelves worth of digitized dead trees in my tiny external hard drive :)

(1) I recommended that people *consider * stripping out the text, and I don't believe that was "misleading" in any way. I am suggesting an option, and I even prefaced this by explaining that I have an admittedly large number of PDFs. If you have a free account, in particular, I believe my advice could be very helpful. In addition, people with small storage amounts (low-end MBAs, iPads, IPhones, orthe Nexus 7) have to think carefully about data management, and this gives them another tool. As with any of my "hacks," they are somewhat extreme in their pure, concentrated form. However, they might have something to offer if you dilute them for your particular situation.

(2) I don't have 4.4.1, but when I tested searches offline (no Internet connection) with it a while back, PDFs were not found. I just tested it with the most recent update and confirmed this. An additional point to note is that Evernote will jump to the location in the text and highlight it for you, but it will not do this for PDFs. Because of this, even when I had PDFs in my account, I routinely stripped out the text and pasted it into the note with the PDF so that the content would be searchable / findable.

EN works great with PDFs! This is not meant in any way to be a criticism to Evernote, but rather to recognize some of the problems you may encounter when going paperless, or committing large numbers of PDFs into your account. Knowing these things ought to help people adjust their workflows for their use cases.

If Evernote introduces selective sync onto the desktop clients, then I will definitely reconsider my approach, though (as I said in #2) I will still be stripping out text. This made a huge difference in optimizing my account, and I highly recommend giving it a try.

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I wish I'd had access to something like AutoEver before - that can move stuff out of the (unwanted) Notebooks lots of iOS apps create. I'll set up more of that in future and see if anything breaks - because the app can't access its moved notes.

I wish I'd started using Journal For Evernote on iOS earlier. Can't fix that now. :-)

I hope to consider the lifecycle of notes better - and prune stuff judiciously. Not for storage space but for retrievability and freshness of information.

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(1) I recommended that people *consider * stripping out the text, and I don't believe that was "misleading" in any way. I am suggesting an option, and I even prefaced this by explaining that I have an admittedly large number of PDFs.

GM, my main point was not just having a large number of PDFs, but the main issue is that each of your many PDFs were very, very large files, all over 10MB and many over 100MB. All of my PDFs are < 10MB, with the large majority <2MB.

I just don't see a an issue with lots of relatively small PDF files.

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(1) I recommended that people *consider * stripping out the text, and I don't believe that was "misleading" in any way. I am suggesting an option, and I even prefaced this by explaining that I have an admittedly large number of PDFs.

GM, my main point was not just having a large number of PDFs, but the main issue is that each of your many PDFs were very, very large files, all over 10MB and many over 100MB. All of my PDFs are < 10MB, with the large majority <2MB.

I just don't see a an issue with lots of relatively small PDF files.

Of course, you have found a system that works for you, and that is great. Others may not be so fortunate.

My PDFs vary in size quite a bit from tiny one "page" receipts to 2500 page books. It isn't the size of each PDF, or the number that is the problem, but my relative lack of storage space. Others will have a lack of upload allowance. And, some people will prefer to avoid the long initial sync times by keeping their accounts small. The message I want to convey is not that certain PDFs are better than others, but that leaving them out is a viable option for optimizing your account.

By the way, I am a "completist" (Jamie Rubin's term), and scan every piece of dead tree I get. Others will be more discriminating. But, however many PDFs you have, and whatever size they are, there are clearly benefits to stripping out the text.

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Of course, you have found a system that works for you, and that is great. Others may not be so fortunate.

My PDFs vary in size quite a bit from tiny one "page" receipts to 2500 page books. It isn't the size of each PDF, or the number that is the problem, but my relative lack of storage space. Others will have a lack of upload allowance. And, some people will prefer to avoid the long initial sync times by keeping their accounts small. The message I want to convey is not that certain PDFs are better than others, but that leaving them out is a viable option for optimizing your account.

GM, I do not disagree that users who have a similar use case / workflow as you do that storing a very large number of very, very large PDF file in EN causes a problem. It is definitely an issue that EN should address by providing us with options for either selected local storage and/or storage on external drives. I could certainly use both. :-)

However, I would guess that my use of PDF files is closer to that of the typical user that your use is.

You have to remember that, being the legend that you are within the EN community, what you write carries a lot of weight with a lot of users.

So, I just want to make sure that they understand the limited use case where it may be better to NOT store the PDF files in EN.

I would also point out that while storing the text in an EN Note solves one problem, it creates several others:

  • Additional work to extract and store the text in EN
  • Maintaining a link in EN Note to the actual PDF file
  • Having two places to store the same data

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Hi JM. Fair points about my uncommon use case, though I maintain that it is still a great tool to have in your tool box no matter how many PDFs you have. At the very least, it ensures that searches work as expected when not connected to the Internet with iOS. Automator makes the process effortless. Titling the note the same as the PDF makes it easy to find elsewhere, but as I said, you can combine both the text and the PDF if you'd like.

The only point it looks like we agree on is the two storage locations. That is not so great, and I would much prefer to have it all in one place, so I do look forward to the day we get selective sync on the desktop versions.

Legend? Hah! More like the guy who spends way too much time on the forums :)

You raise a good point. Seriously, though, I do try to preface any of these suggestions by saying something like "please consider" or "this is what I would do" or I try to warn people that my suggestions might be a little extreme, and provide links to less extreme approaches whenever I can. I also adapt my approach to fit the circumstances / interest of other forum members, so you'll see me suggesting my mixed text/PDF approach elsewhere on the forum as well. I'll make my caveats and the like more prominent in the future.

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GM, I'd be interested in your thoughts on this approach for managing a large PDF library:  Integration of Zotero & Evernote

 

While I have not used it, Zotero seems to offer a lot of great features for research and scholarly writing, including the storage and easy reference to large PDF files.  See this post by Amie Harpe Longstreet for more info.

Hi JM. Zotero is a pretty impressive program that a lot of scholars use. I would recommend it to anyone interested in citation software, but for myself, I prefer to do my bibliographies by hand. In part, this is related to my research field, which is in the humanities (we footnote with page numbers), and involves foreign languages with English translations (I haven't found a citation manager yet that can handle this properly, and you always have to go through and redo everything manually, so it is just better to get it right the first time and copy/paste that). In addition, libraries and other sites regularly mis-catalog my sources with incorrect characters, mistaken publication data, etc., so automatic import of citation data is a recipe for disaster in a dissertation.

 

My way is definitely more laborious, but it works for me. The good news is that anyone can get started with Zotero, and if they ever want to extract their information and put it into Evernote, it is just a copy/paste away! I have a few thousand citations, and it is no big deal. At least, it wouldn't be if Evernote changed its policy for dealing with sync conflicts on iOS devices! But, that is a topic for another thread http://discussion.evernote.com/topic/29069-conflicting-modification/?p=164208  :) At any rate, a citation manager integration would be cool, but I don't think it would fit my particular needs.

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Here is a summary of my ideas for optimizing your Evernote experience. I'll try to keep adding to this over time. I've got links to plenty of resources for new users on my website (http://www.princeton...note-links.html), but these suggestions below are focused more on making Evernote the best experience for you over the long haul -- assuming that you will spend a lot of time in the app and will be generating a lot of notes. You won't run into any issues with 10 notes, but with 10,000, you want to make sure you have a plan in place to keep it all working smoothly.

Should you put PDFs into your account?

Consider stripping out the text and putting that into your account instead. You can put the PDF in Dropbox just in case you need to see the original document. For example, if you have a library of several thousand PDFs for your research, you only need to find occurrences of words and phrases, and you don't need to worry much about the formatting, then this could make a big difference for you, because:

- it will reduce the amount you will need to upload each month.

- it will reduce the size of your database on your local hard drive.

- it will enable you to search inside the note on mobile devices.

- it will enable you to include the contents in offline searches with mobile devices (PDFs are not included in the search results if you are using a mobile device without a connection even if the PDF is included in an offline notebook)

 

Hi GM, 

 

Thanks for all your advice in all the forums. I'm completely new to EN and was wondering if you could help me understand a key point about pdfs:

 

Q. What is the difference between storing a pdf file inside EN (is this an attachment that can be opened elsewhere?) vs extracting the text from a pdf and only storing this in EN? 

Q. If I extract the text, will the EN text version be linked to the pdf file I keep in my dropbox?

Q. How do I actually (a) strip text from a pdf vs (B) add a pdf as an attachment? (I can get pdfs in EN, but I do not know which way I am saving them!)

 

I'm sure these are very basic questions, and I have tried to find answers elsewhere. But I'd be very grateful for any help to get my head around this!

 

My aim is to have all my pdfs (currently stored in a dropbox folder) searchable in EN (so I can access via ipad and mac). I've attempted pdf annotation in the past with limited success, and I have basically given that up as a viable notetaking option. But I have heard that EN allows one to take notes beside pdfs (or, I'm assuming, beside the stripped pdf text) -- is this right, and is this all in a single note?

 

Currently, when I'm taking notes from a pdf journal article, I make a MS word file in which I same my thoughts/highlights, and then save this file with the same fie name + "notes" in the title. This is cumbersome but works, but I assume EN would let me do this more effectively?

 

Again, thanks for all your comments and I'd be very grateful for your or others thoughts!!

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