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Archiving Notes in Evernote

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Hi All,

 

Need advice on Best Practice with Evernote.

 

What should I do once I'm done with a note. 

 

Do I delete and get rid or is best practice to archive?

 

What are the recommendations around archiving in evernote?

 

Thanks

 

Adam.

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Adam,

 

Don't know that there is a best practice.  It depends upon what you want to do with EN.  There are other threads in the forum that addressing archiving, if that is the way you decide to go.  Quick summary of options I have seen:

  1. Leave notes in place when done
  2. Delete notes when done
  3. Move notes to  "Done" Notebook(s) when done
  4. Tag notes with "Archive" or the like when done

Personally I leave them where they are.  Maybe I will clean up but don't think it's worth the effort for me at this point (27k notes).  Options 3 and 4 enable exclusion of the archived notes when searching.  If I wanted to archive, I would use option 3.  Easier to have a stack of current notebooks and not worry about a -tag:archive search.  Though if you have a lot of notebooks, which I don't, option 4 might be better.  FWIW.

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There are no best practices with Evernote. There may be best practices with how to use Evernote with your workflow / use case. There is no true archiving function in Evernote. Desktop client users can export notes to disk, and remove them from your account; that may serve.

 

Ask yourself these sorts of questions: What does it mean to be 'done with a note"? Is it worthwhile keeping around as a historical record? What would it mean if you wanted it back, and you'd deleted it? Is keeping it around going to hurt performance? Would it hurt your workflow?

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The question seems to warrant a good reading of David Allen's "GTD" book (or something similar). It's great to grapple with and come to terms with these basic questions - since they relate to productivity in general - no matter the app you're using. 

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Good point Frank.  

 

For me, GTD or task type items pose that "Well, I might need to remember this some day..." question.  And you know the one you delete is the one you will need, Murphy has to rear his head.  Removing notes is even less clear for non-GTD items for me.  So rather than go through the brain damage, tags and search are my friends.  

 

I will do the occasional pruning when something truly dead shows up in a search, mostly a result of bad habits early on in my journey with EN, but I don't go out of my way to purge or archive.  Don't think time saved exceeds the time invested.  My use case anyway.

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So here's what I just came up with, because I've been wanting to declutter my Evernote but still maintain some organization should I need the notes later on. I use Dropbox for many things, so I have created a Dropbox folder called Evernote Archives. In that folder, I have subfolders using the name of the Notebook in Evernote that I want to archive. Since Evernote only lets you archive Notes and not Notebooks, I wanted some way to keep these organized like I had in Evernote should I ever need to bring them back. In cases where I am using Notebook Stacks, I create a folder in Dropbox with the name of the Notebook Stack, and then have subfolders in there named after each Notebook in the stack, and then export the Notes to the appropriate folder in Dropbox.

I'm really good about using notebooks to organize projects, topics, etc., especially since I do some consulting work as well as teaching.  Here's a real case that I just did.

I have Client ABC that I did some work for a while back, but I don't have any work coming up with them for the foreseeable future. I have a Notebook Stack for Client ABC, so let's call that ABC Notebook Stack.  In the Notebook Stack, I have Notebooks by major area of the project such as Technology Requirements, User Interviews, Software Solution Research, Cost Estimates, etc., and each of those Notebooks has a bunch of Notes within them. As I start to archive this information, I'll create the following foldersin Dropbox:

Dropbox/Client ABC

Subfolders:  Dropbox/ClientABC/Technology Requirements (all of the Technology Requirements notes get archived here) 

Dropbox/ClientABC/User Interviews (all of the notes from the User Interviews folder get archived here)

You get the idea after this. 

The notes are very easy to import back into Evernote, but when you do, you'll want to make sure that you set up your Notebooks agan in Evernote so you know where to put them. Something really cool about exporting and importing is that if you use Tags with your Notes, the Tag data gets exported with your Notes which can serve you well later for searching. 

I hope you find this helpful.

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Nice set up.  A thought.  You could create a second EN account, most likely a free basic one.  Replicate your notebook structure in the new account and import your ENEX files into it whenever you decide to archive notes.  That way you would have the same capabilities to access the data as you do in your current account. And if premium you can switch between accounts in the desktop client.  FWIW.

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The way I do it:

Tag the note with the notebook name: notebook.myNotebook

Tag the note with the stack name: stack.myStack

Tag the note: Archived

Move the note to the Archives notebook

This way it is still searchable, you can recreate the notebook scrutcture, and you can exclude from a search with -tag:archived

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On 2017-03-05 at 오전 11시 11분, Eduardo Estefano said:

Tag the note: Archived

Move the note to the Archives notebook

Given that you tagged the note, why the move to a different Notebook?

I'm more of a tagger than a notebooker, but I don't want to change anything I set up for the note organization.  
I just want to flag the note as archived 

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I usually do this when I finish a project and in the end delete the original notebook  

I have short lived consulting projects and I share the notebooks with clients. Something like:

Client-Finance

Client-Sales

etc. 

I break the information into notebooks because they are shared with specific people. 

Then I place my Clients Stack of notebooks in my Favorites

At the end of the project I Archive and delete. 

I am a mixed tag and notebook user. 

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1 minute ago, Eduardo Estefano said:

At the end of the project I Archive and delete. 

Got it.  You achieved archiving both the note and the notebook 

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6 hours ago, DTLow said:

Given that you tagged the note, why the move to a different Notebook?

I'm more of a tagged than a notebooker, but I don't want to change anything I set up for the note organization.  I just want to flag the note as archived 

You don't need to use the -tag:archive option if your primary use notebooks are in a stack and the Archive notebook isn't.   May not be @Eduardo Estefano use case but it could be for some who archive.

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@csihilling now I am curious. Won't the archived notes show up in the result if I don't exclude them with -tag:archived ?

is there a difference in search results if the notebook is in a stack or not? 

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2 hours ago, Eduardo Estefano said:

@csihilling now I am curious. Won't the archived notes show up in the result if I don't exclude them with -tag:archived ?

is there a difference in search results if the notebook is in a stack or not? 

This may work if you don't have too many notebooks.  Put all of your prime notebooks in a stack, call it Main or whatever.  Leave the Archive notebook out of the stack.  Then any searches using the Main stack as context won't need the -tag:archive operator since there won't be any notes with archive in the Main stack.  Only works if you can put your non archive notebooks in a stack.  If it doesn't fit your use case, then no help.  Make sense?

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Makes sense. But I would like to confirm how exactly this scope restricts searches in general.

As far as I know there is no "stack:" operator in the search. So EN would have to have some logic behind it that would somehow limit the search scope. 

For example, if I have Stack A, Stack B, Stack C and 5 notebooks outside of stacks, including the Archive notebook.

How does EN limit the search scope in this scenario?

 

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8 minutes ago, Eduardo Estefano said:

As far as I know there is no "stack:" operator in the search. So EN would have to have some logic behind it that would somehow limit the search scope. 

May depend on the client: In the Windows client, "stack:A" works fine. For other clients (Android and the web), this doesn't seem to work. I can't speak for iOS or MacOS. I think it's just a bit of user-friendliness that the Windows folks added -- it's useful, but not a good thing if you use other clients as well, e.g. when you use it in a saved search. Seems like it would be a nice thing to have everywhere.

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11 minutes ago, Eduardo Estefano said:

For example, if I have Stack A, Stack B, Stack C and 5 notebooks outside of stacks, including the Archive notebook.

How does EN limit the search scope in this scenario?

Per @jefito re stack search, you can also select from the search explanation drop down.  

All searches are based upon some notebook context, so any search will be based upon the stack selected.  If you select Stack A as context then only notes from notebooks in Stack A will be in the search results.  As long as your archived notebook isn't in any of the stacks you won't see any archived notes in the search results.

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On 2/15/2017 at 5:16 PM, marctampa said:

I have Client ABC that I did some work for a while back, but I don't have any work coming up with them for the foreseeable future. I have a Notebook Stack for Client ABC, so let's call that ABC Notebook Stack.  In the Notebook Stack, I have Notebooks by major area of the project such as Technology Requirements, User Interviews, Software Solution Research, Cost Estimates, etc., and each of those Notebooks has a bunch of Notes within them. As I start to archive this information, I'll create the following foldersin Dropbox:

Dropbox/Client ABC

Subfolders:  Dropbox/ClientABC/Technology Requirements (all of the Technology Requirements notes get archived here) 

Dropbox/ClientABC/User Interviews (all of the notes from the User Interviews folder get archived here)

You get the idea after this. 

The notes are very easy to import back into Evernote, but when you do, you'll want to make sure that you set up your Notebooks agan in Evernote so you know where to put them. Something really cool about exporting and importing is that if you use Tags with your Notes, the Tag data gets exported with your Notes which can serve you well later for searching. 

This seems very inefficient. Why not just tag the notes accordingly? Then there's no need to create all these subfolders underneath Dropbox/Evernote Archives. And no need to create all the notebooks in EN should need to import the notes back.

As you note, the export and import functions preserve tags. Use that to your advantage and you can stop messing around with all this folder and notebook creation. 

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On 2017-02-15 at 오후 2시 16분, marctampa said:

export the Notes to the appropriate folder in Dropbox ... The notes are very easy to import back into Evernote,

I was wondering about the need for the exporting/importing

I simply want flag my notes as archived
- I don't want to change the organization setup
- I don't want to move the notes anywhere
  I like having them in EN; easily accessible

So I simply apply a tag  !Archive to the notes
I also prefix obsolete tags with an x so they sort to the bottom of the list and are out of the way

I'm currently at 10K notes using 8Gb.  No issues with this volume

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I'm very new to EN, and after seeing this discussion my question is, "Is there a way to automatically make searches not include archive tags?" It seems to me that the whole purpose of archiving something is to remove it from searches so it doesn't get in the way of current content. So NOT including the archive items for me would be default, and then if I ever want to include archived items I would want to specify it. I don't want to have to type -tag:archived every time I do a search. Can you please set me straight on this? Thank you.

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10 hours ago, glenn-lincoln said:

Is there a way to automatically make searches not include archive tags?

No
Currently all notes are automatically included in a search unless specifically excluded
My experience is with Mac/IPad; I’ve heard Windows has additional features

>>It seems to me that the whole purpose of archiving something is to remove it from searches so it doesn't get in the way of current content. So NOT including the archive items for me would be default,

Note:
Evernote has no built-in archiving process
We were just making use of Evernote features to

  1. Identify notes we wanted archived  (tag)
  2. Exclude those notes from a search   (-tag:)

>>I don't want to have to type -tag:archived every time I do a search.

I use a keyboard shortcut to make this easier
Also, I use saved searches via a shortcut, so I only have to set this up the first time

A toggle button in the search box would be an ideal solution

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Only the trash (possibly combined with an archive tag) will not show up in your regular searches

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4 hours ago, eric99 said:

Only the trash (possibly combined with an archive tag) will not show up in your regular searches

Good point, but I do see a downside in using Trash as an archive tool

  1. I don’t want to move my notes anywhere.  I spent the effort at organization and I don’t want to throw that away
  2. I want the option of including/excluding archived notes from a search.  If I use Trash as an archive, there is no option.

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21 hours ago, glenn-lincoln said:

I'm very new to EN, and after seeing this discussion my question is, "Is there a way to automatically make searches not include archive tags?" It seems to me that the whole purpose of archiving something is to remove it from searches so it doesn't get in the way of current content. So NOT including the archive items for me would be default, and then if I ever want to include archived items I would want to specify it. I don't want to have to type -tag:archived every time I do a search. Can you please set me straight on this? Thank you.

Well, if you are new to EN I would give it a while and see what you think.  Use cases vary, I'm up to 34k notes after 9 years and have no need of an archive function.  Doesn't mean others don't need it, just doesn't make any difference to me.  Most of my searches are displayed in reverse date order so anything that might get archived is on the bottom of the list anyway.

IAC, if you do need archiving a simple workaround, pending EN adding archive functionality, is to use a text expander like PhraseExpress to add -tag:archive to a search.  So you hit some hot key combo and the text gets inserted.  YMMV.

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16 hours ago, csihilling said:

IAC, if you do need archiving a simple workaround, pending EN adding archive functionality, is to use a text expander like PhraseExpress to add -tag:archive to a search.  So you hit some hot key combo and the text gets inserted.  YMMV.

Thanks. I will look into this. I know that Evernote tries to be minimalist, but some archiving function that doesn't interfere with searches seems pretty obvious.

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20 hours ago, csihilling said:

Most of my searches are displayed in reverse date order so anything that might get archived is on the bottom of the list anyway.

I guess this is more important to me as a new user because my goal is to become paperless. I want to scan a lot of documents in and they will all have about the same date on them. As I proceed with Evernote, and I put things in as I receive them the input date will be more relevant.

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5 hours ago, glenn-lincoln said:

I want to scan a lot of documents in and they will all have about the same date on them. As I proceed with Evernote, and I put things in as I receive them the input date will be more relevant.

We need a Subject Date field.  Metadata already includes Creation and Modification dates

My solution is to add Subject Date to the title
for example        2017/07/20 Receipt Vndr-SaveOnFoods Milk, OJ $-21.55
I use a script and default it to Current Date but I can change it as required

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22 minutes ago, glenn-lincoln said:

I guess this is more important to me as a new user because my goal is to become paperless. I want to scan a lot of documents in and they will all have about the same date on them. As I proceed with Evernote, and I put things in as I receive them the input date will be more relevant.

Yeah, I went through the same process as you as I became paperless.  Emptied out multiple file cabinets of statements, tax stuff, and the like.  Most of the notes got tags and a date in the title per @DTLow, 20xx.xx - Amex for example, which helps hone down the search set.  

Anyway, it doesn't appear archiving is high on EN's priority list at this point (though they could announce it tomorrow for all I know).  I would recommend you set up your system assuming no archive process from EN and see if you think it will work for you before you invest too much time.  

I can say paperless and no archiving can work well for some use cases.

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3 hours ago, csihilling said:

Yeah, I went through the same process as you as I became paperless.  Emptied out multiple file cabinets of statements, tax stuff, and the like.  Most of the notes got tags and a date in the title per @DTLow, 20xx.xx - Amex for example, which helps hone down the search set. 

Thanks to you and DTLow for your advice. I will take it to heart.

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You are welcome.

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Vote on this request. It is already there for 4 years and people are still voting.

It would be great to see Evernote adding this functionality. I don't want to have a "workaround with tags":

 

 

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