Friday, March 16, 2012

Is it Evernote or Nevernote?

Evernote, like the elephants that their logo is based on, is great at remembering things. Unfortunately, I use elephants as a reference just as often...
Image: YaiSirichai /
I really like the idea of Evernote. A single place to put all of the notes, pictures, websites, and everything else in your life. What could be better?

I've "used" Evernote for approximately 3 years now. I faithfully clip items and store them in the software, I save webpages, I take pictures of things I might want to reference. I also downloaded the iPhone App and snap pictures on the go into it.

I do all of the things that Evernote is supposed to be good for, except one. I don't actually reference any of that material, ever. 

Why not? Well, I've discovered a few things about the product.

  • It is great at searching, but poor at displaying results.
I find trying to find specific items in the Evernote annoying. Results are cluttered and hard to quickly scan for the right result.
  • It isn't good at showing relationships
A lot of information that I store is only useful if the relationships can be quickly seen between the individual bits. Evernote pukes out all of the bits without any of the context that makes them useful.
  • It isn't great at taking or manipulating screenshots.
The Evernote screenshot utility borderlines on useless compared to other tools. I have completely switched to Screenpresso for taking and manipulating screenshots. (That is a great utility by the way.) It integrates into Evernote as well.
  • It doesn't organize thoughts well.
I am a recent convert to XMind (mindmapping software) as a way to gather thoughts. I find that my mind works in a [loosely] structured way. Searching for my thoughts proves difficult in Evernote. Perusing for my thoughts in XMind is much more intuitive.
  • Information gets stale.
At first I liked the idea of saving websites for future reference. But, I quickly realized that most of the information on websites is organic and continues to be updated and improved. In most cases the information that I want will either still be available online or a better version will be available next time I want it. 

So what are the alternatives?
I use XMind for gathering thoughts, project information and design ideas, I use Screenpresso for taking screenshots, and I use the original sites for web content. Anything else can live in email, browser links, or documents. 

I'd say that I'm switching to these alternatives but the truth is that I never really switched to Evernote in the first place. It is the equivalent to the pile of paper on my desk that will never get organized or used in any meaningful way. Maybe I should recycle that stuff too...

Question: Are you an Evernote fan? Give me your positive or negatives feelings about Evernote below? 

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