One of the most frequent complaints that users who try to use Evernote to manage their documents have is that it had no concept of “sub-notebooks”. Yes you can fake it by using tags, and you could make the argument that if you rely on search, you don’t need sub-notebooks anyways, but the fact remains: people like their folder structures.
The company has clearly heard the feedback because they have just introduced a new feature: Evernote Stacks. At the time of writing, it is available in Evernote 4.1 for Windows and in Evernote 2.0 Beta for the Mac (Mac users, if you want to try it out, click on the “Update to Beta versions” checkbox in the Software Update tab of the Evernote for Mac preferences. Then, check for updates – remember that this is beta though!).
Are Stacks Sub-Notebooks?
Well, not exactly. They are, however, a way to organize your notebooks and give you a level of organization that you didn’t have before.
Let’s say that you have notebooks for “Home Maintenance”, “Home Documents”, and “Insurance”, and then you also have a small business and have a notebook for each of your clients. You can create stacks to organize these more effectively. Here is the “Before”:
Let’s start with organizing our home stuff. To create a new Home stack, you can either drag the Home Documents notebook onto the Home Maintenance notebook to create a new stack, or right click on Home Documents and choose Add to stack > New stack. Let’s drag it:
You can see we now have a new stack called “Notebook Stack”. Right-click on the new stack and choose Rename and call it “Home”.
Now that we have our new Home stack, I’ll drag Insurance into it. We’re well on our way to getting organized.
For the business ones, I am going to do the same thing and call the stack “Business”. You might think it would make more sense to create a Clients stack, right? I’ll discuss my decision in a bit.
There we go, we’re nice and organized. I can keep the Business one closed when I am doing my Home stuff, and vice versa.
Also, you can just search within a stack which is great.
From this point forward, if I want to create more Notebooks inside a stack, it is easy. I can just right-click on the stack and choose Create Notebook in… and it will create the notebook right in the stack.
Limitations of Stacks
Stacks is a great improvement over what was there before, but there are a few things to be aware of from using-Evernote-as-a-document-management perspective.
The first is that you can’t have a stack within a stack. So, for example, you can’t have a “Business” stack and then inside it have a “Client” stack and then inside it have your client notebooks. You will still need to do some playing with tags if you want to achieve that effect.
Also, keep in mind that stacks are just a visible representation of your notebooks. They are not true “sub-notebooks”. For example, you can’t have an “Insurance” notebook inside a Home stack and an “Insurance” notebook inside a Work stack. You’ll need to give them different names.
All in all, this is a great improvement to Evernote and I am looking forward to it coming to the Mac in non-Beta form and to the mobile versions.