Tag Archives: evernote

How To Automate Evernote

How To Automate EvernoteA few weeks ago, a gentleman named Kosio Angelov contacted me about a new book he has released that takes you through how to “automate Evernote, save boat loads of time, and make your life easier and more organized”.

Nothing like a modest claim. On the flight down to Macworld I finally had to read it on my iPad, and it is quite good. Kosio’s book is called How To Automate Evernote.[1]

It is a quick read (76 pages) without a bunch of filler. I like how it is broken down between universal tips, Mac tips, and Windows tips. That way you don’t need to waste your time with tips that don’t apply to you.

If you are a super Evernote power user already, there are a lot of things you will be familiar with, but my test for these types of books is “did I learn something new?”

I’m happy to learn that I did pick up some ideas that I hadn’t thought of doing before. There’s some clever stuff in there, especially around calendars and import folders.

You can learn much more about How To Automate Evernote on Kosio’s site. It’s $7, so whether that is worth it to you depends on how much you want to supercharge Evernote.


  1. That’s a referral link by the the way. If you pick up the book you’ll be buying me a coffee so thank you.  ↩

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How To Scan Business Cards With Evernote iPhone And Add To Your Contacts

Evernote iPhoneThe Evernote iPhone app recently added the ability to scan business cards and create a note with the information from the card.

Did you know that you can have the information automatically added to your phone’s contacts?

The option is a little buried, so this video shows how to set it up.

View the video below, or click here to watch it on YouTube. If you are able to, I recommend that you watch it with HD turned on.

This video on scanning business cards in Evernote is part of a series of quick videos on paperless tips and topics. View more in the series here.

(Photo by Heisenberg Media)

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How To Move Evernote Database To A New Computer

Evernote ProjectorSo you are an Evernote user and you want to move your database to a new computer. Maybe you’re moving from Windows to Windows or Mac to Mac, or maybe you’re switching to an entirely new platform.

Moving Evernote can be easy, but there are some things you should think about before you start to make sure that you don’t lose data.

Evernote Web Users

A surprising number of Evernote users only use Evernote via the website. In fact, in many cases people don’t even know there is software you can install.

If that is you, everything you need is already stored on Evernote’s servers. Just start using Evernote via your web browser on the new computer, and you are good to go. The most you may need to do is create a new shortcut.

Mac Or Windows Users – Synchronized Notebooks Only

If you are a Mac or Windows user and all of your notebooks are synchronized, it means that they are on Evernote’s servers already. There are ways you can move your data over to a new computer (more on that later), but by far the easiest way to go is:

  1. On the old computer, make sure all your notes are synchronized. If need be, hit the Sync button.
  2. On the new computer, Go to the Download page on the Evernote website and install the Mac or Windows client.
  3. When you log in with your userID and password, all your notes will synchronize down to your new computer. If you have a large database, this might take a while.
  4. You’re good to go!

Mac Or Windows Users With Local Notebooks

If you have some or all of your data in local notebooks, it means that they are not synchronized to Evernote’s servers, which means that the data exists only on your computer.

In other words, if you are going to lose data when moving to a new computer, it is probably going to be in these local notebooks.

One option is to move over your Evernote data files entirely (more on that later), but Evernote’s recommended way to go is the following:

  1. Follow the instructions above to migrate your synchronized notebooks to your new computer.
  2. On your old computer, right-click on each Notebook and choose Export Notes. Save in ENEX format, and if you are asked, check to preserve tags. Save to a thumb drive, Dropbox, or whatever method you have to copy the files over to the new computer. It would be nice if you could just export all your local notes in one shot, but unfortunately the ENEX format doesn’t preserve the notebook structure. You need to make one ENEX for each Notebook.
  3. Rinse and repeat for each local notebook.
  4. On your new computer, go to File > Import Notes. It might have slightly different terminology depending on whether you are on Mac or Windows.
  5. Import the ENEX files one by one. You may need to rename the Notebook afterwards, as it puts the word “Import” before the name.
  6. You’re done!

Note: If you use internal note links, this method won’t work. You’ll need to move the data files (see next section). If you have no idea what internal note links are, you don’t need to worry about it.

Moving Data Files

It is possible to move the Evernote data files. I typically don’t recommend this unless you really know what you are doing, because you can mess things up.

However, if you really want to…

Windows

The Windows Evernote database is contained in one big file called username.exb. Of course, replace with your own user name.

There are many Evernote forum threads describing the process of moving the database to a new location. Here is one of them, and here are the instructions from user Wenn:

  1. In EN go to Tools > Option > Open database folder.

  2. Copy the username.exb file and store it somewhere on your harddisk (or stick)

  3. Install EN on your new computer

  4. Do step 1 again (on your new computer) and replace the username.exb file with your backup.

  5. Disable internet and Open EN

  6. Check if these are the notes you require and then sync.

Mac

The Mac database is a bit trickier, because the location of the database depends on where you downloaded Evernote from.

Here is an Evernote forum thread which describes where the Mac files are stored. As user Metrodon says:

If you downloaded directly it’s in ~/Library/Application Support/Evernote
If you downloaded from the app store it’s here ~/Library/Containers/com.evernote.Evernote
And, if you have an iMac with a fusion drive, it might be here
/Library/Containers/com.evernote.Evernote/Data/Library/Application Support/Evernote/account//

Install Evernote on the new computer, quit the app, rename or move the existing folder, and then copy over the folder above from the old computer.

Do A Test

If you still have your old computer, compare note counts and do some random testing of notes to make sure things have moved over correctly. The greater the percentage of notebooks you have synchronized, the easier all this will be.

(Photo by othree)

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Evernote Descriptive Search

Evernote Descriptive SearchI am a heavy Evernote user, and my primary way to find the note or document that I am looking for is to use the software’s search functionality.

It has always worked very well, but the syntax has always been slightly arcane. If you knew the magic words you could get what you were looking for, but it was just something else you needed to learn.

I was elated and surprised to see the release of Descriptive Search, which for now is only on the Mac platform but I assume will be coming to Windows soon.

The company did a blog post describing it, but even more useful is this knowledge base article which gives some more examples.

If you’re not sure what Descriptive Search is, it is the company’s attempt to translate plain English (for now) searches into Evernote searches.

For example, one of the biggest wins is how easy it is to find notes that contain a PDF. Previously you had to do some pretty wacky search syntax, but now it is as easy as typing notes with pdf.

Evernote Descriptive Search PDF

This is a fantastic addition to Evernote, and I am sure it will get even better over time. If you’ve tried it, how is it working out for you?

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Fix For ScanSnap Evernote Failed to start up Evernote for Mac Message

Failed to start up Evernote for MacAt the moment, a number of people are having problems using the Fujitsu ScanSnap’s built-in “Scan To Evernote (Document)” functionality. I’ve received many emails, the forums have a number of complaints, and the people who are hit by the issue are getting the following error message:

Scan To Evernote (Document)
Failed to start up Evernote for Mac.

Make sure that the selected application is installed correctly.

For some, a bit of voodoo-like rebooting or re-installing appears to have fixed the issue, but for others nothing has helped.

I stumbled across this blog post by software developer Aaron Douglas: Fix ScanSnap on Mac not opening Evernote properly. In it, he figures out what exactly is wrong and how to fix it (at least until the next Evernote update).

Turns out Evernote is broken. EvernoteHelper.app is an embedded application that runs while Evernote is running (or while it’s in the background) and if you’re set to English, its name is the same as the main Evernote application. Technically, the CFBundleName is being overridden in the InfoPlist.strings file.

If you have no idea what you just read, don’t worry about it. Check out his blog post for the step-by-step instructions. It’s slightly technical, but not too too bad.

One note: awesome DocumentSnap reader Jeff Knouse pointed out on Twitter that in Step 2, you need to be careful to select the entire string all the way to the end. It might not be obvious that there is more that you don’t initially see.

Did this tip work for you? Please leave a report in the comments.

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Saving Money And Consolidating With Evernote

Evernote BlocksIt is always helpful to see examples of how others have taken the plunge to go paperless.

I came across this article by Jason Frasca where he described a big transition for his company:

How I Saved More Than $20,000 Using Evernote To Run My Business. (How’s that for a headline?)

Evernote increased productivity exponentially. First, with the ability to share notes, either with one click email or sharing the Notebook. We were able to go paperless in a streamlined, efficient manner. Second, to be paperless and read assignments on smartphones and tablets anywhere was not only efficient but profitable. Now I had the ability to take every case to the field. Send new cases to investigators as they were opened, and update older cases with critical information on the fly. This was a game changer for the way I ran production and case assignments. The fact that Evernote was cross platform meant I installed a corporate BYOD policy as Evernote accommodated every device. Third, offline Notebooks was critical to me. We traveled to remote areas on a regular basis, where cell phone service was spotty at best. Offline notebooks made this whole paperless system possible. Without Evernote offline notebooks, I would not have been able to go completely paperless the way I did.

In the end, it appears he moved four different systems into Evernote. Not bad.

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Send Only Non-Sensitive Documents To Evernote

BroomI am becoming increasingly enamored with the Technical Difficulties podcast by Gabe Weatherhead and Erik Hess.

They do a great job tackling a single topic every episode.

A recent show is about a topic that is, of course, near and dear to my heart: Scanning.[1]

During the episode, Gabe described his scanning workflow, and how he decides what goes into Evernote vs. what gets saved to an encrypted disk image:

Gabe: You put in a piece of paper and hit the scan button. For me, most everything goes to Evernote unless it has sensitive information like Social Security Numbers, Bank Routing Numbers. Those I don’t put into Evernote.

Erik: OK, so you’re totally away from your computer. You walk up to your pedestal of scanning and you just put the paper in and you hit the button. And… how does it know “Oh, there are Social Security Numbers on this so I shouldn’t dump it into Evernote.”?

Gabe: No, it still requires a human. We don’t live that far in the future. It still requires me to decide this is sensitive so this goes into the stack next to the scanner that I’ll process manually later…

This got me thinking: why can’t we do something like that? On the Mac, a tool like Hazel should be perfect for this, so I whipped up a test workflow. Something like this might be possible on Windows with File Juggler, but I haven’t tried it.

First, Make a List

You’ll want to take some time to think about what you don’t want to go to Evernote. Take a look at your bills and other sensitive documents. What numbers (for example, SSNs, SINs, credit card numbers, bank account numbers) do you want to filter out, and how do they show up on your documents?

Next, Set Up Hazel

I set up a Hazel workflow that watches for documents in my scan inbox folder and examines them – if any of those documents do not contain the text from the list I made in the first step, it sends them to Evernote and deletes them.

If the documents do contain that sensitive information, it just leaves them alone for your future processing.[2]

Hazel Nonsensitive Rule

The second condition is a nested condition. To create one of those, hold down the Option key when you go to hit the Plus icon beside the “Kind Is PDF” line.

Inside that nested condition, you will replace my dummy numbers with the text you came up with in your “sensitive stuff” list.

In the Do the following… section, it will run an Applescript to add the document to Evernote.

Here is a screenshot of that step when I hit Edit Script:

Hazel Evernote AppleScript

Here is that code for your copying-and-pasting pleasure.

tell application id "com.evernote.evernote"
    activate
   create note from file theFile
end tell


Limitations

There are some limitations to this approach. The first: for all this to work, your documents need to be searchable before processing. If you do your OCR later (which I believe Gabe does), this probably will not help.

The second: you need to make sure your list in the Hazel rule is accurate. Otherwise things may go to Evernote that you didn’t intend. The easiest way to do this is to check your OCRed text when building the rule. Here is the way I do it.

Do you process sensitive documents differently than non-sensitive? What do you do?

(Photo by VH Hammer)


  1. By the way. Whenever I listen to a podcast about going paperless, scanning, Evernote, and the ScanSnap, I end up yelling at my iPhone about the things the hosts are getting wrong. This is the first podcast I can remember that nailed everything.  ↩

  2. If you don’t know how to work this Hazel thing, I hear there is a pretty good webinar about going paperless with Hazel.  ↩

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Create An Evernote Mac Import Folder Using Automator

AutomatorFor some reason that I will never understand, the Windows version of Evernote has included the ability to define an import folder for years, but that functionality has never made its way to the Mac version.

The easiest way on the Mac is to import to Evernote using Hazel, but if you don’t use Hazel you can do it using built-in technologies such as Automator and Applescript (don’t worry, it’s not that hard!)

The video below shows how to set it up. At one point you will need to paste in some code, so here you go:

repeat with this_item in the input
    set the item_info to info for this_item
    tell application id "com.evernote.evernote"
        activate
        create note from file this_item
    end tell        
end repeat
return input


Make sure you paste that that between the on run… and end run sections. Leave those intact.

I set this up on OS X 10.9 Mavericks. I’d love to hear how it works for you if you are on a different version of the Operating System.

View the video below, or click here to watch it on YouTube. If you are able to, I recommend that you watch it with HD turned on.

This video on setting up an Import Folder in Evernote for Mac is part of a series of quick videos on paperless tips and topics. View more in the series here.

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Video: Evernote PDF Markup, Rotation, and Annotation Summary

A few days ago, Evernote released an update (5.4.3 if you’re counting) for Mac that includes some nice new features that have flown under the radar. They aren’t in the Windows version yet, but hopefully soon.

They are:

  1. You can rotate or delete specific pages from an attached PDF, right from within Evernote.
  2. When you are annotating/marking up an attached PDF, you can generate a nice summary of all of the annotations.

I made a little video that shows how they work.

View the video below, or click here to watch it on YouTube. If you are able to, I recommend that you watch it with HD turned on.

This video on annotating PDFs in Evernote for Mac is part of a series of quick videos on paperless tips and topics. View more in the series here.

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My Thoughts On The ScanSnap Evernote Edition

ScanSnap EvernoteSince the 2013 Evernote Conference, I have received many many (did I mention many?) e-mails asking me what I think about the new ScanSnap Evernote Edition.

I understand why this is. I’ve written many posts about the ScanSnap, and I’ve written many posts about Evernote, so I am solidly inside the Venn diagram for this thing.

Frankly, I have resisted posting about it because there hasn’t been much information about it. I had to miss the conference this year, and I haven’t tried it myself.

Evernote has now fleshed out their FAQ page, so it is more clear how it all works.

The Hardware

The ScanSnap Evernote Edition is clearly a re-branded ScanSnap iX500 with a more “Evernote-y” look and a green light instead of ScanSnap blue.

The Software

The big change is the software. There is a “ScanSnap Manager Evernote Edition” that I understand the Evernote folks had a big hand in designing.

When you install it, it asks you to choose a default notebook for Receipts, a default notebook for Business Cards, and a default notebook for Documents.

It runs in the background, and when you scan, as far as I can tell it will detect the type of document you are scanning and then upload it to the appropriate notebook in Evernote.

By the way, in the interests of science I installed the ScanSnap Manager Evernote Edition and tried using my iX500 with it. No luck. Drat.

Scanning Outside Evernote

When the device was first announced, my first thought was “what if you want to scan outside Evernote?”

It appears that there is an Advanced menu where you can tell ScanSnap Manager to save your scans to a certain folder. It doesn’t appear that you can set it to scan to other applications, but I could be wrong on that.

My Thoughts

I want to reiterate that I have not tried the ScanSnap Evernote Edition myself, and I have not been able to get Evernote to answer any questions about it.

If your destination for scanning is Evernote 99% of the time, it appears that this is an extremely seamless and easy to use experience. The hardware is certainly a no-brainer, being a rebranded iX500.

Personally, I like the flexibility and future proofing of being able to scan to wherever I want, including Evernote, so I would stick with the regular old ScanSnap iX500. You know your usage best.

Has anyone tried or considered it? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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