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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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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? 

 

A PDF saves the layout and pictures.  Text saves the words only without page layout

 

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

 

No

 

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!)

 

Open PDF

Open note

Highlight / copy / paste

Close all

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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!!

 

 

Hi. Welcome to the forums!

 

There are a couple of things to consider here. If you are really into annotating PDFs (it sounds like you are), then stripping the text out of them is probably not the best solution for you. I am glad to say that Evernote has advanced by leaps and bounds over the past year, and you can do a whole lot more things with PDFs on your desktop and on the iPad. 

 

That said, they still have a critical problem (for me). I work with many thousands of PDFs, with some of them being quite large (scanned dead tree stuff). They don't fit in Evernote (over the 100MB limit for attachments) and even if they did, Evernote still compels you to download your entire Evernote database onto your computer, so I don't have enough space on my computer for Evernote. It is truly unfortunate, but until we have selective sync, I simply cannot put more than a handful of PDFs into my account.

 

The good news (for you) is that I am an outlier in this regard. Very few of my colleagues have gone down this road, and because they mainly use relatively small PDFs (from online journal databases and the like) they probably will not encounter this problem for some time yet. 

 

Personally, I prefer taking notes separate from my PDFs, so I actually think the current method you have sounds quite nice. I have one note for the original text (author + year of publication in the title) and one note for my reading notes (YYMMDD + reading + author + year of publication in title). I link these two with an Evernote note link. The only difference here would be that my "original" is a textified version of the PDF. 

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Thanks, this is a really interesting topic! I'm a relatively new user of Evernote. I've had it for about a year but have only around 750 notes, so it's good to see what you would all do differently. I've actually tried a few of your approaches beforehand, such as GrumpyMonkey's DDMMYY at the title of each note, but found that didn't work for me. More often I'm not looking for specific notes but rather something on a particular topic, so I find it most useful to preface each note with something like Call, Meeting, Email, Web Clip or PDF. I do intend to use Evernote more often from now on though, so I'll take note of how many PDFs I have in there.

 

I'm a Zotero user as well, but I don't actually integrate the PDFs into Zotero. I find it makes it run too slowly. Instead I just enter the reference in there and keep PDFs in dropbox (organised alphabetically by lead author surname) and then put any notes on the article either straight into a word document or into Evernote if it's more generic reading. I suppose that's an example of using three technologies where one would suffice, but it works for me.

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I just recently crossed the 3000 note mark and here's what worked and didn't work for me:

 

Worked:

 

- Noting nearly everything regardless of size (with the exception of videos and "non-information" photos such as holiday snaps). Everything still fits on my devices and will until they are replaced. UI reaction time is ok, too. So far, Moore's law has been on my side here, and I expect it to stay this way if I don't feel the urge to archive my movie collection on Evernote.

 

- Tagging notes with "received", "outgoing", "reference", "minutes" (or none of those if, well, they are none of those, like idea sketches). This helps a lot if you're looking for documentation on what you sent vs. what someone sent you, look up earlier agreements/promises made, as well as to filter out stuff that's non-personal (i.e. reference material).

 

Tagging notes with @read or @todo or @waiting-for (or none of those, I do have more specific contexts which I rarely use). These mainly help me to filter out stuff which is transient. I clip a lot of reading material much of which I end up not reading, and @read makes it easy to clean up out-of-date stuff, stuff that I did read which simply didn't help me much, or articles on topics which turned out nonrelevant. If, on the other hand, a piece of reading material contains valuable information, I'll remove the @read tag turn it into a "reference" note (often including text describing with the main message I extracted)

 

- Note title format "TYPE COMPANY/PERSON TOPIC KEYWORD1 KEYWORD2...". E.g. "Letter Mom's Gas Company Increased Fees 2013 Utilities". I don't like too much to use content-specific tags. Also, I'm using Evernote's created date (instead of the note title) for the day on which correspondence was received/sent. This way, I gain valuable screen real estate for the "real" note title.

 

Use only very few general content-related tags, e.g. "finance", "spouse", "health", "career" in the private domain. That's about it.

 

Separate work and private notebooks (that's all of them). I try to keep filing effort to a minimum, and it works out pretty well so far. I keep stuff related to doing my current job in the work notebook (personal minutes, templates, etc.). General stuff about my line of work goes into the private notebook, tagged "career".

 

Inserting tag-like keywords in the body or title of the note. In my language, even complex terms are often spelled together (income tax would be one word, like "incometax"). Evernote refuses to find such a note by searching for "tax". That's why I tend to add a few redundant keywords to the note to make it easier to find when using alternative search terms. E.g., I would add keywords like "tax, IRS, return, form".

 

Didn't work:

 

- Work-related GTD Contexts in Evernote. There's just too much change going on too often. At the end of the first year, I ended up just deleting about 70% of the todos after they were made obsolete through some other developments. Any effort managing them was simply wasted.

 

- GTD Tickler tags in Evernote. I just didn't look at them when I should have. I'll use Evernote reminders for this now (hooray!)

 

Convincing my spouse to use Evernote. Well, my spouse appreciates the availability of information, but just prefers to remember things the old-fashioned way. At least Evernote makes it easier for me to act as the secretary of the household, I guess... ;-)

 

 

----------

 

So, all-in-all, it's a success story!

 

One topic that's becoming more and more relevant is that the precision/recall ratio is getting worse. I'm getting more and more false positives on searches. But that's mostly because I'm simply too lazy to select the correct notebook or to filter for things like type of note (such as "received" vs. "reference") or a particular time span. I blame google for that lazyness. :-)

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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!!

 

 

Hi. Welcome to the forums!

 

There are a couple of things to consider here. If you are really into annotating PDFs (it sounds like you are), then stripping the text out of them is probably not the best solution for you. I am glad to say that Evernote has advanced by leaps and bounds over the past year, and you can do a whole lot more things with PDFs on your desktop and on the iPad. 

 

That said, they still have a critical problem (for me). I work with many thousands of PDFs, with some of them being quite large (scanned dead tree stuff). They don't fit in Evernote (over the 100MB limit for attachments) and even if they did, Evernote still compels you to download your entire Evernote database onto your computer, so I don't have enough space on my computer for Evernote. It is truly unfortunate, but until we have selective sync, I simply cannot put more than a handful of PDFs into my account.

 

The good news (for you) is that I am an outlier in this regard. Very few of my colleagues have gone down this road, and because they mainly use relatively small PDFs (from online journal databases and the like) they probably will not encounter this problem for some time yet. 

 

Personally, I prefer taking notes separate from my PDFs, so I actually think the current method you have sounds quite nice. I have one note for the original text (author + year of publication in the title) and one note for my reading notes (YYMMDD + reading + author + year of publication in title). I link these two with an Evernote note link. The only difference here would be that my "original" is a textified version of the PDF. 

 

 

Hi everyone, and thanks for all the very useful feedback!

 

I'm having more success with EN now: using it to write/store my notes on pdfs, as well as pdf files themselves (which for now I'm duplicating in dropbox). While there is redundancy in this workflow, it is a trial to see how much space pdfs will take on EN. Having files in dropbox is still very useful too, as dropbox will sync pdfs with many iPad annotation apps (unlike EN to my knowledge) -- and annotation is still something I need/like to do with certain pdfs (esp. when marking up translations on documents printed in other languages).

 

I've a couple of questions that I'd really like to get your thoughts on please:

 

1) What is the best way to put EN links between EN documents? For example, if I am linking a pdf article and my notes on that article, should I put a link in each note to the other note, or just in one?

 

2) Can I link EN notes to dropbox pdf files?

 

3) In another thread, GM mentioned keeping a "master bibliography for everything that links to the reading notes, the text versions of PDFs, and the PDF files." How can this be created?

 

4) Various people have discussed ways to automate the process of pdf importation, note creation, (and sometimes tagging). I have read about the Mac Automator, EN import folders, or other apps/services that enable users to setup rules, however I have not stumbled upon a sufficiently explanation to help me out! Would anyone here know where to look? -- My aim is to automate or simplify this process: when I import a pdf into EN (either text or pdf itself) I routinely create another note called "identical title +notes" and tag this second note with the same set of keywords. How can I make this happen automatically, if at all? (Or, am I doing something redundant for EN search facilities?)

 

Again, thanks you all for the help!

 

  

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whoa essayists! 

 

Please get to the point.

 

Here's my problem/question:

 

Evernote startup can take 30 minutes. Mac OS X 10.9, Windows 7, iOS 7

Syncing is painfully slow.

Searches are miserably slow.
Frequent hangs. See attached graphic
 
Total removal and reinstallation on Windows 7 and OS X machines modestly improves performance for ≤ 48 hours before Evernote resumes sluggishness.

 

Monthly usage is 240 MB. 

85% PDFs, photos

3 shared notebooks

100+ tags

 

What's the fix?

 

Thanks

  

post-58740-0-68087400-1385386609_thumb.p

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whoa essayists! 

 

Please get to the point.

 

Here's my problem/question:

 

Evernote startup can take 30 minutes. Mac OS X 10.9, Windows 7, iOS 7

Syncing is painfully slow.

Searches are miserably slow.

Frequent hangs. See attached graphic

Total removal and reinstallation on Windows 7 and OS X machines modestly improves performance for ≤ 48 hours before Evernote resumes sluggishness.

 

Monthly usage is 240 MB. 

85% PDFs, photos

3 shared notebooks

100+ tags

What's the fix?

 

Thanks

  

 

I'd start a support ticket (see the link in my signature below), because it doesn't sound like this is a large database problem, but something else entirely.

Hi everyone, and thanks for all the very useful feedback!

 

I'm having more success with EN now: using it to write/store my notes on pdfs, as well as pdf files themselves (which for now I'm duplicating in dropbox). While there is redundancy in this workflow, it is a trial to see how much space pdfs will take on EN. Having files in dropbox is still very useful too, as dropbox will sync pdfs with many iPad annotation apps (unlike EN to my knowledge) -- and annotation is still something I need/like to do with certain pdfs (esp. when marking up translations on documents printed in other languages).

 

I've a couple of questions that I'd really like to get your thoughts on please:

 

1) What is the best way to put EN links between EN documents? For example, if I am linking a pdf article and my notes on that article, should I put a link in each note to the other note, or just in one?

 

2) Can I link EN notes to dropbox pdf files?

 

3) In another thread, GM mentioned keeping a "master bibliography for everything that links to the reading notes, the text versions of PDFs, and the PDF files." How can this be created?

 

4) Various people have discussed ways to automate the process of pdf importation, note creation, (and sometimes tagging). I have read about the Mac Automator, EN import folders, or other apps/services that enable users to setup rules, however I have not stumbled upon a sufficiently explanation to help me out! Would anyone here know where to look? -- My aim is to automate or simplify this process: when I import a pdf into EN (either text or pdf itself) I routinely create another note called "identical title +notes" and tag this second note with the same set of keywords. How can I make this happen automatically, if at all? (Or, am I doing something redundant for EN search facilities?)

 

Again, thanks you all for the help!

 

  

1. I would copy the note link and put it into the note if you don't mind taking the time to do it. The PDF gets a link to the notes, and the notes get a link to the PDF. However, you could just use titles. The title for my notes on a PDF would be "131125 reading doe john 2013" and the PDF would be called "doe john 2013". As long as you are consistent with the titles, why bother with all of the links?

http://www.christopher-mayo.com/?p=367

2. Yes. Share the Dropbox link, copy, paste into Evernote.

3. Search to get your stuff sorted properly, select all, make a table of contents.

http://www.christopher-mayo.com/?p=488

4. I don't know the answer. This is about as automated as I get. When I am ready to take notes on a reading, I create the note.

http://www.christopher-mayo.com/?p=551

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Let me share you my experience. my evernote mac client ( os10.8 latest, evernote latest 5.5.1 ). 

in single word,

PDF, huge pdf, matters the speed. 

i'm using evernote premium. 

 

in these 3 months i have uplodaed many pdfs into evernote. i has not been aware of this as the cause because it has been happening a little by a little. but for these a few weeks i felt mac client too slow. even making a note ( command + n ) makes 10 sec wait to show up the blank note. 

 

 and then i googled and came to this article. and so i tried, to compare and see the root cause of my case, and then this was helped a lot. 10 times faster. 

i searched with resource type pdf. and and save attachemet to a folder to backup, then removed all the pdf files. it had about 200 pdfs. and some are very huge. some are not text base but jpg base and was like 300MB ( designer portfolio file ). i am a developer.... and not sure why binary contents makes the indexiging or something speed for general  actions to use client. but this was happening. 

 

maybe if you remove all the binary files ( like photos ) then it makes further more faster than not only removing pdf.

 

note that, the first sync after i remove the pdfs, evernote client took sync for 5 hours. it was almost hunging. my mac is fullspec macbookpro ( 15 retina quad core i 7 2.8GB + ssd ) and network speed is top in Japan (30MB/s). 

 

it is sooooooooo important the speed issue is.

 

 

actually i am a developer and can write some code for myself to use evernote api. with some tools like ifttt and zapier, wappfolf, clludhq, we can like, if pdf is saved into evernote, then move the pdf file to dropbox, and make preview image and save the preview to evernote, and make link to the dropbox original path ) kind of thing. 

 

of using found or search triggerer to dropbox web ui would work for my usage. if you use evernote as the indexer of everyhthing. ( i think evernote is the indexer not the binary stroage engine, to point everything, including the text which is the human made indexing ruleset ) 

 

 

anyway, one word, remove pdfs, and do not store pdf in evernote. even only 100 pdfs, it makes big difference. 

 

maybe evernote premium pdf search functionality is the cause, tho.

 

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anyway, one word, remove pdfs, and do not store pdf in evernote. even only 100 pdfs, it makes big difference. 

 

maybe evernote premium pdf search functionality is the cause, tho.

hi. thanks for posting your experience!

i'll post an update to the thread here. i have a lot of pdfs (i suppose hundreds of gigabytes), so it would take me years to get them into evernote, at which point i would have too much data for my local drive on my macbook to hold, and the database would be impossibly slow. it's a major issue if you are thinking long-term. i've asked for selective sync to reduce the burden (processing and storage) on local devices (the macbook), but so far, nothing.

textification helps. however, i am currently using a much more efficient system that is lightning-fast and requires almost no organizational effort.

http://www.christopher-mayo.com/?p=2033

the only downside is that content is not accessible anywhere, especially if you are offline with a mobile device. without evernote, things in the cloud can get complicated. then again, evernote has its own problems handling the data, so I guess it is a wash: shoving pdfs into evernote or keeping your pdfs on an external drive (see link above) end up hitting similar bottleknecks. overall, my system has the benefit of being much less effort.

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(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?

 

(1)  

a. I wish I had started clipping from the web sooner. My account is richer and varied as a result. I have the opposite “predicament” to most people. I curate and place everything really carefully into Evernote. I would simply put more stuff into my account and grow and learn with my growing database. The “related notes” feature and Google “simultaneous search” work beautifully as a result. The more stuff you put into your account, the greater the need to come up with ways of dealing with and organizing the influx – which one figures out step by step.

 

b. Also, many ideas fit better in an outlining app (such as WorkFlowy), I wish I had discovered WorkFlowy sooner. It is the best “companion app” I can think of. It goes hand in hand with EN. I would not try to make everything fit into EN… but use EN for the strengths is really does have. I find Evernote irreplaceable in many ways.

 

(2)

a.  I bombard my account with good material. I give EN a good run for its (my) money.

   

b. I’ve learned to use Evernote in “symbiosis” with other apps. For example… I send many ideas to a “10 ideas a day” notebook via an iOS app called SnapEntry (previously used FastEver). One can set a default notebook, which is nice… so all my ideas for a specific project I’m working on go into that notebook via the 3rd party app. I often like to include screenshots and images. That’s where EN is invaluable. An outliner (in this case, WorkFlowy) does not hold images. So… what I do is keep an outline in WorkFlowy (List within a list within a list….) with all the text-based ideas that I transfer from Evernote. Once I transfer the material, I delete it in Evernote. I keep the notes which contain extensive reference material (clipped from web) or images in EN, and in the body of the note, I tag it with #wf. Not that I need to know it’s there… but when I’m occasionally sorting through my “ideas” notebook, I use the saved search syntax -"#wf" to exclude any ideas I have already transferred to WorkFlowy. THEN… in WorkFlowy, I represent that idea in an outline, using the note title in EN, plus an #Evernote tag, to signify that it is there. The ideas I keep in Evernote are relatively few compared to what ends up solely in WorkFlowy. But the thing is that it works for me. I also go through a curation process of eliminating the crappy ideas that seemed so great at one point… the wonders of rehashing and sorting through stuff on occasion! Another thing: I like to export my entire WorkFlowy list to an Evernote note once in a while. That way, my database is more “complete” and consolidated.

 

(3)

I plan to keep branching out and not trying to force Evernote to do my bidding all on its own. People gripe about how terrible EN is as an outliner… “The bullets don’t work properly… you can’t collapse… etc.” Outliners are great. It would be a pity if Evernote were to swallow up that market. It’s great when we come to grips with the idea of workflows that combine awesome tools from different services. It’s all in the mind. 

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As GM has learned, Evernote is not a very good place to store very large (>> 100MB) PDFs, and certainly not good for lots of these PDFs.

Another con for Evernote is the lack of encryption for Notes/attachments.

 

I have been using DropBox for file management, and it's a great place for large PDFs, EXCEPT that encryption is limited there also.

 

I'm currently looking at Wuala and SpiderOak since both offer Zero Knowledge keys.  They operate similar to Dropbox, but with strong encryption.

In addition, Wuala offers a single app/interface to manage both sync'd files (like DropBox) and Cloud-only files.  I really like this concept because if you have some large files you don't want sync'd to your local hard drive, you can do so.  You can do this with DropBox, but you don't have the convenience, ease-of-use of a single interface.

 

I am testing Wuala now, and it is currently my favorite.

 

Here's a good review at Lifehacker.com.

 

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While I wait for someone who's brain is actually awake to respond to the plea for help I just made elswhere on the forum, I'd like to take a moment and Thank:

➡ Grumpy Monkey for starting this thread way back in September 2012. *EDIT: Sorry about that, GM!

➡ Koji Toukubo for reviving it today.

➡ GM and Frank.dg for their latest contributions to it.

And a huge thank you to every single user that has posted on this particular thread from it's inception. With extra kudos and points to GM (and others) for so clearly laying out format to provide such insightful commentary!

As you likely all know, I've been trawling through old threads on this forum since I first joined late last year. All in the effort to understand and effectively utilize what was at the time, to me a very foreign type of software. One that I literally stumbled across after getting my first true smartphone and discovering it had nearly the same computing powers (relatively speaking) as my laptop!

I got this phone out of neccessity as relying on my MS fogged brain to remember important things *when* I needed to - not three days later - and frankly had no clue smartphones could do much more than take take really ugly basic notes, check email, have basic calendars and surf social media! Our kids are grown and I could not understand what the duck they were doing on them that kept their attention for hours on end!

Anyway, rambling here. Sorry. The point is, that I know know that many new users who come on this forum are everybit as green as I was. The reason I don't think this thread caught my attention during any of my late night trawling sessions is the title...

"How to Optimize your Everynote Experience" sounds like a sales pitch for advanced user features no newbie as green as I was would even think to open. (Sorry Gaz, but it does.) Instead, it turns out this thread is a goldmine of detailed, well explained How To Ideas for organizing and using Evernote!

We should be pointing new folks here. Even better would be to rename and turned it into an open, pinned thread!

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p.s. Evernote, you really *need* to pay these and a few other faithful users for the business I guarantee they've brought you, and saved from your CS bungles. Posts like the ones in this thread are far better PR than all your advertising and far more helpful than any of your current user documentation!

 

Just a thought... I wonder if Evernote has ever employed anyone from these forums. I know they took on Brett Kelly who wrote the Evernote Essentials book. What some have contributed here would more than make up a book :-)

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Hmm, that's a good question. I don't know if they have or not. There are a few different user authored manuals, but as far as I know they are all independent of EN.

And yes, a couple of us have mentioned more than once that the power users should be paid heaps of money by EN to redo the Knowledge Base and then train staff how to keep it updated from a user's POV, not a dev's.

p.s. Evernote, you really *need* to pay these and a few other faithful users for the business I guarantee they've brought you, and saved from your CS bungles. Posts like the ones in this thread are far better PR than all your advertising and far more helpful than any of your current user documentation!

Just a thought... I wonder if Evernote has ever employed anyone from these forums. I know they took on Brett Kelly who wrote the Evernote Essentials book. What some have contributed here would more than make up a book :-)

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And yes, a couple of us have mentioned more than once that the power users should be paid heaps of money by EN to redo the Knowledge Base and then train staff how to keep it updated from a user's POV, not a dev's.

 

A couple of years ago several of us suggested that Evernote create a wiki that could be maintained by users.

It could be controlled by Evernote, with the ability to make final edits and control access.

There were quite a few Evangelists and power users that I'm sure would have frequently contributed.

 

But they declined, saying that they were working hard on staffing a documentation group.

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The wiki idea never really panned out, though GB and Evernote put some thought into how it could work. I am not sure why it didn't take off. I didn't end up contributing much to it. Maybe because I enjoy conversations more than monologues. That could just be me.

I'm not aware of any Evangelist joining the herd, though there was a time when I was interested in doing so. In the end, we couldn't quite find a place for me and match my skills to what Evernote needed. I thought about writing a manual as well, but in my humble opinion, the product changes so quickly across so many clients, it would be ideal to have someone on the inside (like Brett) doing it. For example, I would have devoted at least a chapter to public sharing, but we lost that a few days ago (it is back now, but we don't know how long, because we aren't in the loop).

I have expressed a strong opinion about the need for detailed, well-written documentation. No, I don't count the KB as anything even remotely as handy as a manual. The last Evernote manual was 2011 or so (I think). It was nice, but even then it was unable to keep pace with changes.

Getting back to the thread topic (I started this thread and quite liked my title at the time, but Wordsgood is probably right that it may be a little unappealing to new users), when I have large PDFs, I put them into SpiderOak. It has zero-knowledge encryption and I am quite pleased with it. However, I kind of expected Evernote to have raised the limit from 100MB to at least 500MB, maybe even 1GB by now. The fact that attachments have to remain so small is a real pain when you are paperless. There are workarounds, of course, but they are clumsy.

I should note that Evernote is much improved over days of yore, when even a single search would take a very long time as the app incrementally tried to find each and every letter you typed into the app. On the Mac, we couldn't turn off incremental search (still can't, in fact). Every client is significantly improved since I first began this thread. Yet, there is still a whole lot more that can be done. To be honest, I am not sure use cases like mine (fully paperless) are going to ever fit into the Evernote model. They would simply need to jump decades ahead (at this pace) in terms of storage capacity, speed, and so forth. And / or they would need to implement some kind of aliasing ("indexing" of other data). I don't see it happening.

As I mentioned above, it turns out that Mac has given us the tool we need (Spotlight) to make information management work. In combination with other apps like Evernote, which Spotlight indexes, you have a tremendous amount of power in your hands.

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What I will say next will have a number of users probably react indignantly if not in anger, to put it mildly, particularly the power users who have had Evernote for a number of years. But I am prepared for that so here goes.

 

I cannot understand the benefit of having these huge databases of information: 10s of thousands of notes & 100s of gigabytes, if not terabytes. Yesterday I read on GM's site that he has 3.2 million items @ 2.7 terabytes of info !! And there must be others like him.

 

You can look for ever faster software to find what you are looking for, such as Spotlight or similar ones. But you only search for things you know you have. And I am sure that people who have those enormous oceans of info don't even know what they have & therefore never look for it. Even if you look for info related to issues, rather than specific files, and will therefore touch more info that way, you will still only dig up a small fraction of what is in that ocean. I make this statement because I have a paltry 1300 notes myself & am lucky if I can remember 500 of those.

 

Let's take the example above & assume GM, who is probably much more intelligent than me, can remember 10 000 of his notes. That leaves 3.19 million he does not know about & therefore does not use. On the other hand, let's assume he regularly deals with 1000 issues that he searches notes for, and that each search yields 1000 notes, assuming no overlap between the notes. That means he regularly gets to see 1 million notes, still leaving 2.2 million untouched, therefore unknown, therefore no longer of any use. In other words, 70% of his database, or 1.9 terabytes, are idle, probably forever.

 

Would one not contribute more positively to the optimisation of one's Evernote experience by curating, culling, cleaning one's database regularly, rather than just keep dumping into that bucket & looking for more storage space all the time & more clever software to deal with what has in all likelihood become a virtual cesspool? I know from some of his previous writings that GM does not delete any bit of info that he puts into his database, just in case ....

 

I do not mean to offend anyone nor single out GM for criticism or making a laughing stock of him. I hold him in too high esteem for that & have taken on board some of his organisational ideas he published in the past. My other fellow users/commentators are also people whose ideas I appreciate & whom I enjoy sparring with, so no offense meant, honestly.

 

The thing is that I am increasingly amazed that, because there is good information management software out there, such as Evernote of course, people let themselves get sucked into this mindset of "oh, I'll just drop it in that bucket so I am always well prepared & have everything at my finger tips".

 

Having information available does not necessarily mean one is any the wiser for it, nor more productive, nor better informed, nor even happier to have that info.

But that's just my opinion ...... (to quote someone else).

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Hi Dutchpete,

 

I don't have the time to read all of your post this afternoon, or digest the later part of it, but I think you may be a tad narrow minded. No offence meant, but it does describe the situation fairly well.

 

I am nothing like in the league of Grumps, but do have 18,000 Notes. Of those about 14,000 are business Notes. I have a requirement to access those at any time, anywhere, because I don't have a great memory!

 

A customer can call me and discuss a previous job we did in 2006 and I can bring up the Note that relate to that conversation, including the quotation and the discussions I had with the supplier or suppliers along with their prices, discounts and pdf datasheets.

 

I am sure others have similar compelling reasons for having huge amounts of data in their Evernote or similar database. It is surely this variety of needs that makes a note taking application so interesting and incredibly useful? More importantly it surely means we each have a different requirement for how much data we store? I for example could not imagine the need for a note taking application if I only had 1300 Notes. But to you it is obviously invaluable and probably like my needs makes the product you use priceless?

 

Best regards

 

Chris

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@C6REW: you are obviously a business user, which is in a different category than the home user, which is what I am referring to, and should have said so in my post.

I don't mind if you don't have time to read all my posts, everyone does what they can, when they can. Obviously this was is important enough, or titillating enough to get you to react before anyone else, for which I thank you. Thank you also for reminding me of the different categories of users.

 

I still maintain that both categories keep far too many notes on record because there are a not insignificant number that become obsolete after a while.

 

I still feel that many people toss anything & everything in that bucket, which in my opinion erodes their Evernote experience in the medium to long term also. I realise this is a contrarian view. I maintain that clean-up operations are essential for both business & home users. And that is my main point in the context of Evernote experience. Maybe that is narrow-minded, but I am convinced I have a point & those who reject that upfront maybe equally narrow-minded.

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One thing that slows down Evernote --not the program itself, but the way I interact with Evernote-- are old, stale, useless notes from long ago. 

 

When I create a note that I know I won't need in the future --a list of what to pick up at the supermarket today, for example-- I add the tag, "temp." Once every few months I delete all notes with the "temp" tag. That helps keep my Evernote database fresh.

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Good points, Pete!

A couple things to remember though...

The number of notes one keeps can multiply exponentially if you are saving small, short notes as opposed to large multi-page ones. EN seems to handle shorter notes better, in my experience.

Users like GM keep vast amounts of research as part of their occupations. Long before digital files were the norm, I too used to have to keep, track and organize massive amounts paper documents as part of my job. The research arm of my office made my files look like childs play. Paper or digital though, it *is* both possible and feasible to collect, archive and *use* large amounts of data without having to remember more than a few basic tips to search and retrieve it at any given moment. It takes requires a a system that includes a combination of discipline, set standards and flexibilty all at once.

But it can be done! I can think of a number of different professional and personal reasons for keeping such extensive records.

I am actually in the process of trying to catch up on over a decade of chaos that has taken over my household while I was busy trying to be a caregiver for several ill family members, their household & lives, as well as my own household and family, all while myself being on disability and too ill too work anymore. If I'm ever able to get the help I need to deal with the physical aspect of restoring my once imacculately kept and run household, I have plans (still in the starting phase) to create and use a combination of digital storage and paper binders to deal with all aspects of our daily lives. I sort, catalogue and archive any and all data - paper & digital - in such a way that it can easily be used by *anyone* should the need arise. (Which, given my personal situation, could happen as soon as the next couple years.)

As I'm sure is the case with many other EN users are - GM, for example - my preference is to have ALL things related to any aspect of my life, documented and/or catalogued in a an easily searchable method. Yes, it might seem like overkill to many folks, but being obsessively detail oriented, is just my natural preference! I'd rather have too much infomation, duplicate systems or data, than to be caught without having what I might need 5, 10 or 30 years down the road!

The ubiquity of PIMs, tracking and cataloguing software currently on the market, is a great thing, IMO. I would like to see a lot more true competition for EN, than just OneNote and the small start up apps mimicing EN that keep coming up, but then seem to keep appearing on the market only to die out within months or a few years at most.

Despite what I see as a major decline in EN's product and business model over the last several months, I still think they are far and away the best at providing digital storage accessible across all platforms, via cloud.

Unfortunately though, I now have little faith in their devotion to the very consumer base that has made them so wildly successful in under 10 years...the consumers who bought into the PIM concept. They seem far more interested in shifting their focus to provide corporate services. From what I've seen here on the Forum, they aren't doing all that well providing for the needs of the tens of millions of single, Premium users, and their seeming quest into the business world seems to be falling flat.

It seems to me, that only stiff competition will be enough for the company leadership to refocus the company direction enough to keep their existing customers, never mind successfully branching out to to break into the the corporate market.

Anyway, I've rambled off topic so will stop here.

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There are some practical benefits to keeping lots of notes too - I've said before (sorry if this is old news) that I used to have a 'reference library' that included file cabinets,  an impressive amount of wall-to-ceiling shelf space,  press cuttings in folders,  receipts and all sorts.  Most of that was work related,  but a sizeable chunk was interests - clippings from photo and electronics mags,  that sort of thing.  All of that has occupied a room,  a garage and (in one house) the loft space.  DutchPete's reservations about practicality are all well founded - that pile of stuff was a pig to get new information into,  and even worse getting useful stuff out - partly because recent items were in their own pile on the floor somewhere waiting to be 'filed'.

 

However all of that now resides on my laptop and is editable/ searchable a darn sight faster than the real world version ever was.  My physical records are currently 4 Lever Arch folders.  And one of those is empty...

 

I understand the urge to keep everything lean and mean,  but it requires a lot of discipline and time to keep it going.  I just cull my stuff when I search for information and find some of it is out of date - the OOD items get deleted or archived and I get back to work...

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... But you only search for things you know you have. And I am sure that people who have those enormous oceans of info don't even know what they have & therefore never look for it. Even if you look for info related to issues, rather than specific files, and will therefore touch more info that way, you will still only dig up a small fraction of what is in that ocean. I make this statement because I have a paltry 1300 notes myself & am lucky if I can remember 500 of those.

I search for items in my EN account all the time not knowing or remembering specifically what I have in there.  I go there before I Google a topic to see what I might have saved.  I put information into EN specifically so I "don't" have to remember it.  Using the GTD terminology it is my trusted system.  I rely on search to dig out what I need.  I'm aware of the scaling issue and on the edge of that problem myself so I am careful about what I put into the system, but I put everything that I know I will need, or think I may need at some point into EN.  When in doubt, it goes in.  I think you are missing out on the advantages of the service If you choose to only use EN for items that you know you have.

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Very interesting topic indeed!

 

I agree with everyone here to a certain degree:

 

I cannot understand the benefit of having these huge databases of information: 10s of thousands of notes & 100s of gigabytes, if not terabytes. Yesterday I read on GM's site that he has 3.2 million items @ 2.7 terabytes of info !! And there must be others like him.

 

Would one not contribute more positively to the optimisation of one's Evernote experience by curating, culling, cleaning one's database regularly, rather than just keep dumping into that bucket & looking for more storage space all the time & more clever software to deal with what has in all likelihood become a virtual cesspool? 

 

Having information available does not necessarily mean one is any the wiser for it, nor more productive, nor better informed, nor even happier to have that info.

But that's just my opinion ...... (to quote someone else).

 

Dutch Pete... you really cracked me up with "... a virtual cesspool". I need to read more stuff like this :-) ... Although, it's a good thing that GM is not hitting Evernote with 2.7 terabytes of info. I don't think he would find getting all of that into Evernote useful. Maybe 2.6 terabytes will suffice. 

 

I agree with you that it is not beneficial to hoard everything we get our hands on in Evernote. Some people do this mindlessly... but I am sure that GM knows what he needs in Evernote and what is cluttering it up. It seems like his jumbo-size PDFs are the main issue. When we hit a brick wall, we're just going to have to try something else. 

 

Personally, the only PDFs I keep in Evernote are ebooks (or any other material), which I like to mark up and annotate with Skitch. 

 

I have hundreds of PDFs of English class material that I have created. I keep those in Dropbox, not because my EN account can't handle them (they are single-page worksheets)... but because I prefer the Air print option in iOS, combined with the Dropbox layout on iPad for flipping through textbooks and printing specific material. Purely preference. Having saif that, I have some of those notoriously oversized TOEFL books scanned in. Some over 100mb. Now those would be a problem in Evernote. The thing is that I feel I don't need to have any of my English teaching material show up in Evernote searches... so I keep it separate. The conversation class material I draw up is so varied. It refers to just about everything under the sun... as well as having certain keywords repeated quite often... and as a premium Evernote user, that material would only clutter up my search results on literally any given topic.So I've come to grips with what material I really need/ want in Evernote.

 

Having said that, as of today I have 20,118 notes in my account. ALL of them necessary for my purpose. I will explain in my answer below... 

 

 

 

I am nothing like in the league of Grumps, but do have 18,000 Notes. Of those about 14,000 are business Notes. I have a requirement to access those at any time, anywhere, because I don't have a great memory!

 

I am sure others have similar compelling reasons for having huge amounts of data in their Evernote or similar database. It is surely this variety of needs that makes a note taking application so interesting and incredibly useful? More importantly it surely means we each have a different requirement for how much data we store? 

 

One does have an easy way of switching between business and personal notebooks. You know that... and I absolutely agree that people have "...compelling reasons for having huge amounts of data in their Evernote..." No question  that each of us have different requirements for how much data we store:

 

Of my 20,118 notes, (a fraction of which I am constantly "culling" as Dutch Pete puts it):

  •  804 of those notes are individual TV series episode subtitle files, divided into their own respective notebooks according to TV series and shared on the site you will find in my profile page here. They all need to go into my account simply because they are all needed in shared notebooks... and such a database is incredibly useful to find almost any idiomatic expression, phrasal verb, false cognate, etc from a fairly large pool of information. That is a growing database, which does not pose any problem whatsoever, because it is 100% text based. 
  • 17,965 of my notes give me my very own private Peanuts comic strip database, for pretty much the same reason stated above. The individual comic strips are fairly small in size. I make damn good use of Evernote's OCR capabilities here. I can find absolutely any phrase or combination of words I please within the images... instantly. I have no issues on desktop, iPhone and iPad. 

Basically, we have to be cognizant of what we're putting into Evernote and how it will affect both our search results and computational speed... also, I choose not to download all of my info to iPhone. The images are already indexed in the cloud, and the search results are comparative to the web and desktop versions for my comic strip database. I must point out and emphasize that I personally have zero, (zilch, nada) problems with my account freezing on any platform. It is super speedy for the things I determine I want in Evernote. 

 

By the way, I wrote a post a short while ago on my blog (in my profile), entitled, "Build a Geeky Database in Evernote". 

 

Additionally, I do not use Evernote to house video clips, photos and the like. Evernote does not have a gallery feature like Dropbox, Picasa, Flicker etc... which incidentally do very well at displaying and categorizing our photos and videos. However, I do an awful lot of selective web clipping for the side projects I'm working on... which all contain images. I would say that I have a fair range of material type in my account, including a couple of podcasts:

 

  • ...which leaves me with exactly 1349 notes not related to my geeky database. I have started moving a lot of appropriate information to WorkFlowy to plot in an outline... needless to say that those 1349 notes consist of invaluable material... almost every last one. I work hard at keeping things organized and uncluttered. All in all, it seems to be working out for me :-)

 

 

 

I still feel that many people toss anything & everything in that bucket, which in my opinion erodes their Evernote experience in the medium to long term also. I realise this is a contrarian view. I maintain that clean-up operations are essential for both business & home users. 

 

I totally agree... and as you have seen above, I am pretty much down to a minimum of what I need/ want in my account. 

 

 

One thing that slows down Evernote --not the program itself, but the way I interact with Evernote-- are old, stale, useless notes from long ago. 

 

When I create a note that I know I won't need in the future --a list of what to pick up at the supermarket today, for example-- I add the tag, "temp." Once every few months I delete all notes with the "temp" tag. That helps keep my Evernote database fresh.

 

Nicely put! Another thing I do to curate Evernote content is to send much of the stuff I read to Pocket (as a go-betweener and read-it-later app)... and the stuff I want to keep as reference material, I send from Pocket to Evernote for archiving. 

 

 

The number of notes one keeps can multiply exponentially if you are saving small, short notes as opposed to large multi-page ones. EN seems to handle shorter notes better, in my experience.

As I'm sure is the case with many other EN users are - GM, for example - my preference is to have ALL things related to any aspect of my life, documented and/or catalogued in a an easily searchable method. 

 

Most of my notes are shorter/ information light... perhaps that's why I do not run into any problems. I really work hard at coming to grips with what goes where (Dropbox/ Flickr/ Evernote etc.) One has to be decided on where they need their material... and, if need be, use a third party platform to search multiple of your databases. 

 

 

I understand the urge to keep everything lean and mean,  but it requires a lot of discipline and time to keep it going.  I just cull my stuff when I search for information and find some of it is out of date - the OOD items get deleted or archived and I get back to work...

 

Gazumped, your entire answer sums it up!

 

 I think you are missing out on the advantages of the service If you choose to only use EN for items that you know you have.

 

 

I agree wholeheartedly. Let's revisit this thread in a decade. Let's see if we remember our valuable notes archived in September of 2014.

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Dutch Pete,

Don't know quite what to do with this one. The whole point of EN is to store stuff. Stuff within the range of I will definitely need it to I might need it. Case in point: I am sitting in a garage (really, right now) having some work done on my car. A question arose about something we did three years ago. iPad in hand I can pull the invoice. Did I think I would need that invoice today three years ago? Don't think so. I know I have some stuff, mostly from the early years ,that should go. Effort to get rid of it is not worth the effort. Per Gasumped, I delete it when the mistakes appear in a search.

I guess my point being water seeks its own level. To paraphrase Justin E. Wilson, Cajun chef, "the size of DB you have should be the size of DB you like."

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I still feel that many people toss anything & everything in that bucket, which in my opinion erodes their Evernote experience in the medium to long term also. 

There are a lot of books and online guides for Evernote that suggest users do exactly that. And as we have seen from the experiences of GM and some others, that can be too much for EN to handle in those extreme cases. GM's case is particularly unique in that he has many books scanned in; and this is further complicated by his having very limited local storage. But even for more 'normal' use cases, I can see how being a 'completist' and going entirely paperless will eventually result in a database that outpaces current technology.

 

I create lots of text-based notes, but am more critical when putting in pics, scans and attachments - I ask myself if having this in EN is really beneficial.

 

One thing that slows down Evernote --not the program itself, but the way I interact with Evernote-- are old, stale, useless notes from long ago. 

 

When I create a note that I know I won't need in the future --a list of what to pick up at the supermarket today, for example-- I add the tag, "temp." Once every few months I delete all notes with the "temp" tag. That helps keep my Evernote database fresh.

I also use a temp tag for exactly the same purpose. Plus, as gazumped noted, it's not a big deal to delete obsolete notes when you come across them in searches.

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one of the reasons i started this thread is to bridge the gap between evernote's promise (remember everything) and its reality (everything won't fit, and even if it did, the app would not be able to function). surprisingly, the only application i have ever encountered that can handle all of my stuff is spotlight, a free search program integrated into the mac's os. it is, quite frankly, amazing. i've written about it on my site.

although evernote has lots of limits, one of its redeeming features is that everything is indexed by spotlight. this means that you can just put the stuff you need synced to mobile devices, for example, into evernote and leave the rest out. if evernote had encrypted notebooks, that's what i'd be doing right now, but because the stuff i need synced is confidential, i am personally unable to use it. for the use case mentioned above with toefl materials and so forth, evernote seems like a great solution.

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Edited to add below response to Coffee:

You know, Coffee, that is a great idea! Can't believe I didn't think of it myself. Oh well, thanks for posting. I'm going to incorporate this into my workflow!

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GM, do you, or perhaps any Windows Users reading this, know of a free or very cheap Spotlight equivilalent for Windows?

 

A google search will reveal a number of good Windows search apps, but none are likely to search for Evernote Notes.

 

EN Mac stores the actual notes as files on the Mac.  This allows Mac Spotlight to search them.

 

EN Win stores everything, including attachments, in an actual SQL database (sql-lite if memory serves).  So EN Win Notes are not available to Windows search of files.

 

The solution here is for Evernote to improve the EN Search capability.  While you guys may think you have large EN databases to search, they are small in comparison with the size of databases searched by businesses for years.  Most of that DB technology has been available for the desktop for years.  Evernote just needs to use it.

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I cannot understand the benefit of having these huge databases of information: 10s of thousands of notes & 100s of gigabytes, if not terabytes. Yesterday I read on GM's site that he has 3.2 million items @ 2.7 terabytes of info !! And there must be others like him.

. . .

 

 But you only search for things you know you have. 

 

First of all, I think you are making a gross exaggeration of the size of the Evernote database needed by almost all Evernote users, save a very, very few.  

  • I have not seen any reports of needing "100s of gigabytes".
  • Text, and PDFs created from text, actually require very little space.
  • To require anywhere near "100s of gigabytes" you would have to be storing very large documents/books created from scanned PDFs without any compression.
    • If you need that type of storage, then Evernote is NOT a good solution for you.

Second, saying "you only search for things you know you have" doesn't make any sense.

  • That is exactly what Evernote is designed for, to be your "extended brain", to "remember the things you don't"
  • By using Tags and/or Title search, you can find things you have completely forgotten about.

    Some examples:

    • Receipts for tax deductions
    • "How To" Notes (like how to search in Evernote  ;) )
    • Things (software, hardware, etc) that you'd like to checkout later (I have a Tag "TBE", meaning "To Be Evaluated")
    • Things you need to follow-up on, for reading or action (I have tags "FU.Action" and "FU.Read")
    • and the list goes on . . .
  • Searching for things you have forgotten is like using a library card catalog -- you don't know/remember what's there, but you know the general subject area, author, vendor, etc

Finally, the speed and storage capacity of computers today were hard to imagine even a decade ago.  So I have no doubt that as we continue to accumulate Notes, the PC and Mac hardware, along with external storage devices, will continue to rapidly evolve and increase.  The only real question in my mind is whether or not Evernote can keep up with this.

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Here is one reason that EN Mac might require an excessive amount of storage on your local drive (HD or SSD).

Evidently EN Mac creates a PDF from PPT attachment for inline viewing.  But the PDF is hugely excessive, as several users have reported:

 

 

When I was cleaning my Library/Cache, I just found these.

 

Evernote generates my 4.8 MB ppt to a 1.24 GB inline preview PDF.

Another 5.5 MB pptx to 595 MB pdf.

Another ...

 

Can EN stop doing these stupid things.

 

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To everyone who responded to my post: 1st of all thank you for the time of thinking about my remarks & responding.

 

Dumping everything into Evernote is indeed what the company encourages you to do, which is aptly reflected in their slogan. But as Grumpy Monkey has proven, Evernote cannot handle large databases. And while GM might be an extreme case, the trend in our technology-driven society is to accumulate ever more information, irrespective of whether it is relevant or useful. I also understand this trend as I am just as much part of it as anyone else.

 

But demanding ever more storage space costs money, and we all want to spend our money as efficiently as possible. This is particularly pertinent for SMEs. Whenever an employee comes to see me to ask for more storage space like a larger hard drive I ask 2 questions:

  • how do you manage your information
  • show me what you have done to free up space on your computer because I am sure you had, and possibly still have, information that does not need to be kept.

 

The point I tried to make in the earlier post is that it is important to try to keep the growth of the database in check. Apart from the fact that there is a cost associated with expanding storage space, a mountain of data also clutters what we get to see. We can find our data with sophisticated search mechanisms, but the search also turns up a lot of irrelevant stuff the more data we have. And while we may accept that, it reduces our productivity.

 

Fortunately most of you understood my point, with some people agreeing with me that they are indeed careful & keep a check on the data that is kept permanently. I know that we cannot always foresee if & what type of info we might need in future, and often it is better to be safe than sorry, as a number of you pointed out.

But chucking anything & everything into that bucket willy nilly does not augur well for an optimised evernote experience, in my modest opinion. But, as someone pointed out above, it requires discipline to stay on top of it all. Discipline is a commodity in short supply.

 

Perhaps Evernote's slogan should be: remember anything you like, as long as it is not everything.

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The point I tried to make in the earlier post is that it is important to try to keep the growth of the database in check. Apart from the fact that there is a cost associated with expanding storage space, a mountain of data also clutters what we get to see. We can find our data with sophisticated search mechanisms, but the search also turns up a lot of irrelevant stuff the more data we have. And while we may accept that, it reduces our productivity.

 

I think you're missing the point of Evernote for most of us.

 

For most us, unlike GrumpyMonkey, it is unlikely that in our personal lives we will generate/accumulate huge amounts of documents, web clippings, etc in terms of what today's computer storage systems can easily handle.  I have over 11,000 notes with lots of PDFs (all << 100 MB) and yet my EN Mac DB is only about 5.2 GB. (about 1% of a typical 512 GB drive)  That's after about 3 years of actively putting stuff into Evernote.

 

I don't think we need to worry that much about what we put into Evernote -- just be reasonable.  I throw away most documents (paper and electronic) that come my way, and don't put anything into Evernote that I wouldn't have put in a file cabinet in the old days.  Doesn't require much thinking.  But I do error on the side of putting into Evernote if I think there is any possibility that I might need it or want it in the future.

 

 

Whenever an employee comes to see me to ask for more storage space like a larger hard drive I ask 2 questions:

  • how do you manage your information
  • show me what you have done to free up space on your computer because I am sure you had, and possibly still have, information that does not need to be kept

 

I think you're stuck in the old days when disk space was expensive.

I hope you realize the the cost of your employee's time is probably much greater than the cost of disk space.

And you run the risk that the employee will delete just that key document that might save your a s s in the future.  :)

 

As far as "search also turns up a lot of irrelevant stuff", if you know how to use Tags, create descriptive Titles, and construct good searches, then your searches will not turn up many false positive or irrelevant stuff.  See  The Benefit of Using Tags.

 

I've got enough to worry about without fretting over what I put into Evernote.  :) 

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As far as "search also turns up a lot of irrelevant stuff", if you know how to use Tags, create descriptive Titles, and construct good searches, then your searches will not turn up many false positive or irrelevant stuff.  See The Benefit of Using Tags.

I think this is key. Yeah, if you just clip and dump into Evernote willy-nilly, you're going to need to limit yourself to only adding things you know you have, because if you forget you have it, you have no clear way to find it. But curating your database with tags, descriptive titles, and notebooks in a consistent way (having a method) vastly expands what Evernote can store and retreive for you. Do I remember every book quote I put in Evernote? Heck no! But when I use my "tag:book tag:quote" saved search, I have every single one of them there, ripe for the picking. 

 

I'm a minimalist, and while I err on the side of saving (just in case!), I still only just hit my 5000 note milestone today after using Evernote since 2009. I don't think I need to worry about what I put in there or don't put in there (yet, at least).

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@JM: without realising it, you are confirming my point. To quote you in your last post:

 

.... just be reasonable.  I throw away most documents (paper and electronic) that come my way, and don't put anything into Evernote that I wouldn't have put in a file cabinet in the old days.

 

So instead of cleaning up afterwards you are keeping it as clean as you reasonably can upfront. If it really did not matter to you what you put into EN you would not even take the trouble of filtering out the "easy" stuff but just chuck it into EN.

 

And I never said that one should not err on the side of caution and not put it into Evernote if one thinks there is any possibility that one might need it or want it in the future. Do not extrapolate my thinking in the wrong way please.

 

And as far as that employee is concerned, it is not the only one, it is a whole team. And I am not talking about that 1 hard disk but all of team's hard disks & then there are the servers that also need to be upgraded or replaced. So, you are right stating that it does not cost much to add extra space is true when we talk about an isolated case, But certainly not in the context of a company, so I am afraid you do not see the full picture there. But you are probably not familiar with budget responsibility, it seems.

 

I do agree with you on 1 other point: personal databases are unlikely to grow to the size of GM's database so there is room for manoeuver there. But then again, Evernote is not just for individual use but for business use too, like GM's. I did say GM's case was extreme, but perhaps not so in a business context.

 

So, with all due respect, who is really missing the point of Evernote if we look at the bigger picture?

 

By the way I am fully aware of tags, good note titles, notebooks & saved searches, and i dare to surmise that my knowledge of Evernote is not much lower than yours, if at all.

 

@chirmer: yes, like I said, on a personal level & certainly with only 5000 notes you don't need to worry about anything. And if your searches deliver what you are looking for in a reasonable amount of time, then your system works for you. And that's what counts at the end of the day.

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@DutchPete, we will just have to agree to disagree.  Your assumptions about my background are totally invalid, and you have started to make personal accusations.  So, let's just not go there.  I think we have beat this subject to death, IAC.  Each person can draw their own conclusions.

 

Have a nice day!  :)

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@JM: I agree to stop here.

 

You answered very extensively in a number of mails, which was interesting and constructive, and for which I thanked you. No, I did not thank you personally because I did not want to answer each post individually, but I had the courtesy to thank you in a collective way.

 

I urge to read your last post again to realise that it is you who started to make assumptions about me, my capabilities, knowledge, and contact with the rest of the world. In fact, you even went as far as using vulgar language Mr. JMichael. I am not interested in polemics & do not treat fellow forum users with disdain or in a vulgar way. I am interested in an honest, open & constructive exchange of views.

 

But when someone becomes personal like you did in that last post, I will not leave that unanswered. If you want to play it rough you have to expect something in return.

 

Having said all that I think it is better to leave things as they are.

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@DutchPete, Just one little thing... In the case of Grumpy Monkey... And many others, I think we need to differentiate between a business account and personal account... I know you know the difference... I doubt he needs a business account to handle any amount of terabytes. I know you know that too... The nature of what he does as a professor and researcher is more of a lifestyle than a profession. Same with me... So "business" and "personal" notes all need to be referenced as one consolidated whole. His case is not so uncommon.

I think the main point here, unless you were being paid to coach someone as to the use of their Evernote account, is to live and let live. You've made some great points. Everyone has, in fact. It seems to me that all who've participated in this thread do seem to have a good head on their shoulders. The way people set Evernote up and their individual needs is too personal and specific to make generalizations. Unfortunately, it is not possible to make one big grand blanket statement. It would never cover all use cases mentioned. All we can do is make suggestions based on very specific problems presented. I think everyone here has found something that works... And if the wiggle room is not enough, we're all growing, learning and adjusting as the months and years roll on.

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@DutchPete, Just one little thing... In the case of Grumpy Monkey... And many others, I think we need to differentiate between a business account and personal account... I know you know the difference... I doubt he needs a business account to handle any amount of terabytes. I know you know that too... The nature of what he does as a professor and researcher is more of a lifestyle than a profession. Same with me... So "business" and "personal" notes all need to be referenced as one consolidated whole. His case is not so uncommon.

I think the main point here, unless you were being paid to coach someone as to the use of their Evernote account, is to live and let live. You've made some great points. Everyone has, in fact. It seems to me that all who've participated in this thread do seem to have a good head on their shoulders. The way people set Evernote up and their individual needs is too personal and specific to make generalizations. Unfortunately, it is not possible to make one big grand blanket statement. It would never cover all use cases mentioned. All we can do is make suggestions based on very specific problems presented. I think everyone here has found something that works... And if the wiggle room is not enough, we're all growing, learning and adjusting as the months and years roll on.

 

Hi Frank, I totally agree with you. The idea behind my post was to engage in some sparring with whomever wanted to do so. And I have been very pleased with the response I got. Many of the people that responded I know from other posts & I respect them a lot. If I did not respect the participants in this forum I would not have bothered to post in the 1st place.

 

Like I said to Chirmer in my penultimate post, at the end of the day what matters most is what works for each one of us. Everyone has their own tailored system & that is good. Nevertheless, we can learn from each other, sometimes by asking questions, sometimes by exchanging views. But never by getting personal, which some people seem to forget, and I do not mean you when I say this !!

 

Anyway, thanks a lot for your post because it puts things in perspective a bit more.

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@DutchPete,

 

OK... it seems like we all agree... or agree to disagree.  More or less. It would be great to talk about other ways of optimizing one's Evernote experience beyond the points already mentioned. Beyond the logic of what we do and don't put in to our account: 

 

  • Any thoughts on how others use 3rd party Evernote (or otherwise) applications to optimize their workflow
  • Novel ideas on squeezing more out of Evernote (I have lots to share... but I'm more interested in others' unique use cases)
  • Not just ideas that keep us from making a mess of things... but more of the ideas that take us from good to better 

Optimizing one's experience is broader than just fighting fires :-)

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  • Any thoughts on how others use 3rd party Evernote (or otherwise) applications to optimize their workflow

This is a great point. One of Evernote's strengths is its inclusion in other apps and services. For me, IFTTT is a biggie. I currently have 10 recipes active and in use, which let me archive my Facebook activity (photos, statuses, shared links, etc.) to EN, one archives any Flickr Likes (which I use to save Creative Commons or Public Domain images to EN), another lets me add the IFTTT phone number to a call and it'll record the call to Evernote (theoretically - I haven't actually tested this one yet), my Tweets, etc. It makes having Evernote as a backup/log of your life and social networks much easier.

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This is a great point. One of Evernote's strengths is its inclusion in other apps and services. For me, IFTTT is a biggie. I currently have 10 recipes active and in use, which let me archive my Facebook activity (photos, statuses, shared links, etc.) to EN, one archives any Flickr Likes (which I use to save Creative Commons or Public Domain images to EN), another lets me add the IFTTT phone number to a call and it'll record the call to Evernote (theoretically - I haven't actually tested this one yet), my Tweets, etc. It makes having Evernote as a backup/log of your life and social networks much easier.

 

I must admit that I have shied away from IFTTT so as not to clutter up my account... but as I start to use twitter more and more for research purposes, combined with an attempt at networking... I find it necessary to favorite tweets that I wouldn't necessarily need to archive and keep as reference. I'm still toying with the idea of an IFTTT recipe to do what you do... and not have to sort through multiple favorites in Evernote to keep the ones I want. But definitely - that's a way to keep the favorites I want for reference separate (from my favorite list in twitter). I would be interested in hearing more about this. 

Have you ever tried saving iOS screenshots to Evernote via an IFTTT recipe? Obviously we take screenshots for a reason. it's nice to have those in Evernote and create a reminder for specific screenshots we want to follow up on later. It beats having to add from within the Evernote app... plus it's a convenient way of getting them specifically to Windows desktop (through EN desktop client) to edit in AI or something similar if needed. At one stage I was using Gneo, a task app fully integrated with Evernote... and I could send my secreenshots to a notebook in the Gneo stack in EN (IFTTT recipe), then sync to Gneo... and they would automatically become part of my to-do workflow. I've since moved on... but I thought that was a little piece of magic. 

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@jm

i disagree that it is easy to distinguish important from unimportant stuff. perhaps i missed that class in school, and, as a result, my many filing cabinets and bookcases were filled with stuff.

the word "hoarder" comes to mind, though i am also rather tidy, so it is a tough combination. fortunately, by scanning, i can be an e-hoarder without causing myself too much grief, though i admit scanning a lifetime of dead trees took a while.

anyhow, i am a "completist" in the words of jamie rubin, and i prefer to digitize it all. i've only recently stopped putting in receipts for coffee and the like. if you are a completist, you might find it difficult to operate within evernote's constraints.

@ chrimer

actually, the opposite. i have no hope of organizing all of my stuff, and no idea what most of my 2.7 terabytes of data contain. yet, things can be found quite easily. just last week i was asked to produce an insurance form from ten years ago, and a few seconds later, there it was. i had no idea it was in there, and i certainly wouldn't have thought this particular one was important, but it will probably save me hundreds or thousands of dollars. i won't say that this happens all of the time, but it does often enough that i am glad to be a completist.

@ frank

i started the thread with the word "optimize" in the sense of shrinking down something to save space and increase performance. i'd recommend another thread to talk about better organization, efficient or productive use, etc. optimize i its broad sense could mean anything, and then it makes it a little difficult to focus on the problem here -- inefficiencies at scale.

i can assure you (jm?) that there are plenty of us out there with lots of data. i run into them all the time. all it takes is a few dozen gigabytes to encounter major issues with evernote. evernote is apparently bumping us up to 4gb a month, and you can purchase at least one extra one each month, so we are talking about as much as 60 gb a year. that will cause some major headaches for people, i think, if evernote doesn't deal with this. we ought to have had selective sync by now, for example. in the meantime, there are a few ways we can optimize our accounts. not ideal, but workable for some people, i hope.

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@ frank

i started the thread with the word "optimize" in the sense of shrinking down something to save space and increase performance. i'd recommend another thread to talk about better organization, efficient or productive use, etc. optimize i its broad sense could mean anything, and then it makes it a little difficult to focus on the problem here -- inefficiencies at scale.

 

 

Yep... there is a 3rd party application section I saw... so it would not make sense to thresh that out there... but I must say that even though your initial answers to the 3 questions you posed are in line with shrinking and space saving, etc, I really took them as open ended question related to optimizing our experience in general (It does seem then that many of the initial posts did not fall in line with that either. I took the time to read them and found them interesting)

 

"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?"

 

Perhaps just a coincidence that what I happened to contribute as my first post in this thread had mostly to do with growing my database through web clipping. 

 

I did not try to hijack the topic... it was mostly an attempt to redirect the downhill slide of slightly tense debate towards the end into something more productive. I should not try to be the Catcher in the Rye. I would do better to observe the "Prime Directive", to use a Star Trek reference :-)  

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@jm

i disagree that it is easy to distinguish important from unimportant stuff. perhaps i missed that class in school, and, as a result, my many filing cabinets and bookcases were filled with stuff.

 

I'm not sure that I know what you mean here.  Are you talking about deciding what to put into Evernote?

You didn't take triage 101?   ;)

 

I find it pretty easy.  

There is the obvious stuff (spam) that goes straight to the trash.

There is the obvious stuff that goes into Evernote.

If I have any doubt, it goes into Evernote.

 

I don't spend much time deciding.  Most of my "Evernote time" is spent web clipping and scanning what few paper documents/receipts I still get.  

 

 

i can assure you (jm?) that there are plenty of us out there with lots of data. i run into them all the time. all it takes is a few dozen gigabytes to encounter major issues with evernote. evernote is apparently bumping us up to 4gb a month, and you can purchase at least one extra one each month, so we are talking about as much as 60 gb a year. that will cause some major headaches for people, i think, if evernote doesn't deal with this. we ought to have had selective sync by now, for example. in the meantime, there are a few ways we can optimize our accounts. not ideal, but workable for some people, i hope.

 

I'm sure there are, but it depends on what you mean by "lots of data".

I'd be very surprised if there were very many users who have "100s of GB".  I'm excluding people like you who are trying to create their on personal library of scanned books.  I told you a long time ago Evernote was not a good tool for that.   ;)

 

Frankly, other than scanning books or storing large, high-res photos, I don't know how you would generate 60GB of information a year.

 

I did a little checking with google ("how much text will 1gb hold") and found several sources that calculate that 1GB will store about 130,000 pages of text.  Remember, web pages are just HTML (text), usually with only a few images that are usually low res.  There are exceptions, of course.

 

Looking at my own collection of PDFs, I found many were ≤ 20KB and 3-4 pages.  Statement PDFs ranged from 56-74 KB.  All were << 100 MB.  

 

Here's my table to show number of PDFs and Pages per GB:

 

1GB-will-Store.gif

 

Even the smallest of 28,340 pages/GB seems like a very large number of documents to me.  I really can't imagine generating that many pages a year.

 

 You're certainly welcome to do your own research and calculations.

 

Having said that, I agree Evernote must deal with their scalability issue.  It's just a matter of time before all of us active users accumulate large Evernote accounts.  Some, like you, will get there sooner, others of us, later.  

 

There are two things I am counting on:

  1. Storage will get larger and cheaper.
  2. Compression technology will get better.
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One way to optimize your Evernote experience is to compress your PDF files before attaching to Evernote.

 

I just created a PDF of web page that was mostly images.  The PDF size was 170MB.  

I used Adobe Acrobat X Pro, using the File > Save As > Reduced File Size option and it reduced the file to only 6MB !!!!

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One way Adobe compresses files is by reducing the resolution of pictures and stripping out any unwanted (by Adobe) code.  It's a great utility,  but use it with caution if you might need the full-resolution pictures again.  Adobe is also good at shrinking file sizes by replacing pictures of text with the actual characters,  so a simple OCR is often very effective at shrinking content.  My scanned files typically reduce by 50% on OCR.

 

There are other forms of 'compression' of course - zip and 7z files are normally much smaller than the original,  but aren't indexable by Evernote once reduced.

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It is now about 3 years since I left DevonThings Pro and used Evernote Premium.

There are a lot of items I think that are better in Evernote than in DevonThings, first of all assembling notes and retrieving them regardless how many Evernote or osx updates there were in the mean time. 

But there is still one thing that is realy annoying: Evernote is still very, very slow in finding notes. Ok tagging makes it a bit faster, but that improvement is not very impressing, and tagging takes time, much time!

Guru noticed, that stripping the texts with some scripts and leaving the pdfs outside would make things better. I don't think that's the great hit with  > 13,000 notes distributed in 23 notebooks I have already collected in Evernote.

For some days now I am experiencing with Diigo. Seems to be very fast and shows a fine ability to mark texts and images on the fly.

I am using them both and hope to find  a synthesis that's up to my standards.

I' d like to hear from you very experienced users and Gurus where you arrived now in the year 2016.

Yours sincerely Werner L. Ende 2016-05-14 22.57.07 MET

I am sorry if there are errors in my english texts. 

Please consider:

English is my secondary language

and German is my first language.

  

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