Evernote Gets Stacks

Evernote Gets Stacks

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”:

Before Evernote Stacks

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:

New Evernote Stack

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.

Evernote Home Stack

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.

Evernote Stacks

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.

About the Author

Brooks Duncan helps individuals and small businesses go paperless. He's been an accountant, a software developer, a manager in a very large corporation, and has run DocumentSnap since 2008. You can find Brooks on Twitter at @documentsnap or @brooksduncan. Thanks for stopping by.

Leave a Reply 18 comments

Ruth Rickard - January 13, 2017 Reply

I was looking for something like stacks but as couldn’t work out how to rename several notebooks and put everything related in there. Stacks would be the answer! I’m up to date with Evernote and it won’t do it – select notebooks, right click, use CTL key, drag, search the menu, can’t get anything…

ndara - July 24, 2014 Reply

great! my question well answered. I like it.

@muchrejoicing - April 30, 2013 Reply

Was hoping Evernote was able to nest notebooks. Saw "stack" and didn't know what it was. Googled. Came here, and was very happy to find my answer. Thanks!

    Brooks Duncan - April 30, 2013 Reply

    Great, thanks for letting me know @muchrejoicing!

daibhidh - February 17, 2013 Reply

Thank you for a clear explanation of stacks.

I've been using multiple tags and wanted to see if I'd been overlooking something. This has been helpful.

I don't like to have too many notebooks–using your file-folder analogy, it's like having lots of folders at the top level of the hierarchy. (This is not a criticism of those who prefer that, just a description of what works for me.)

I do use a lot of saved searches, which can do a lot of work for you. Example of what you'd type in the search box:

notebook:projects tag:work tag:acme -tag:proposal

"Look in the PROJECTS notebook for everything that has the tag WORK and the tag ACME but that does not have the tag PROPOSAL."

Once you've done that search, you can save it (click the magnifying glass icon in the Windows version), and then re-use it whenever you'd like from the saved search list.

    Brooks Duncan - February 18, 2013 Reply

    Great tip, thanks daibhidh!

DocumentSnap Time Machine | Tips To Learn How To Go Paperless | DocumentSnap Paperless Blog - December 16, 2012 Reply

[…] Evernote Gets Stacks Stacks are Evernote’s implementation of a hierarchical notebook structure. […]

drkblog - November 19, 2012 Reply

Sigh. When can we SHARE stacks?????

Jayne - March 24, 2012 Reply

Thanks for this, I seem to have made a stack by mistake! How do I unstack? I prefer to see all mt notebooks at a glance..

    Brooks Duncan - March 24, 2012 Reply

    Hi Jayne, just right click on the Notebook and there should be an option there to "Remove from Stack".

Paperless – How I Teach From The Cloud « Mister Norris - November 28, 2011 Reply

[…] utilized the stack feature so that I have two main stacks in Evernote, private notebooks and work related notebooks. In the […]

Laurie Cope - October 5, 2011 Reply

The unique naming of notebooks is a problem, I need to have a few notebooks named the same in different stacks, its a real problem having different names for each one. I tend to pre-pend the second notebook with the letters of the stack name… e.g. notebook SEO in stack Research, is called R SEO, and SEO notebook in Work stack is called W SEO. Not great but cant think how else to do it.

    Brooks Duncan - October 5, 2011 Reply

    Yeah, I've run into that too. Thanks for the tip.. great idea!

Lorne Pike - May 14, 2011 Reply

Thanks for this! I started using Evernote before stacks made an appearance. It's good to get a better understanding of how I can use them within my own system. Much appreciated!

    Brooks Duncan - May 14, 2011 Reply

    No problem Lorne, thanks for your feedback!

Jose Ortiz - January 20, 2011 Reply

Useful info, thanks!
Did a quick seach on "stacks" on the Evernote website and found nothing.

    Brooks Duncan - January 20, 2011 Reply

    Thanks Jose, glad it helped!

    Brooks Duncan - May 14, 2011 Reply

    No problem Jose, thanks for your feedback. I actually get quite a few people coming here from searching "evernote stacks" so I guess they need to improve the documentation a bit!

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