Evernote is note-taking software that helps you create and organize digital notes—and keeps them synced across all your devices. You can use it as a digital filing cabinet to organize all your notes, whether they're recipes, strategic plans for work, or a daily diary. It's a powerful organizational tool to assist with any number of projects for work or your day-to-day life.
This tutorial will show you how to get started with Evernote and explain how to use the basic features:
Evernote Pricing: Free for Evernote basic; from $7.99/month for Evernote Premium, which offers advanced features like digitizing receipts, searching PDFs, and seeing version history of your notes.
Connect Evernote to 1,000+ other apps with Evernote's Zapier integration.
Getting Started with Evernote
To join the millions of other users on Evernote, create a free account. Go to Evernote's homepage, and click Sign up in the top-right corner of the page.
Once you've done that, you may want to download the desktop or mobile apps too. You don't need them to use Evernote, but since Evernote will sync across all your devices, it can't hurt.
Note that in this tutorial, all the screenshots are from the web version of the app, but it's similar enough across platforms that you should be able to follow along on any device.
A quick note about the plan options. The free account (Evernote Basic) won't limit you in how many notes you take or how long you can use the product. But the premium version has extra features, like the ability to create contact notes from photos of business cards, providing automated suggestions to related notes, and integration with more software like Slack and Microsoft Teams. There's also a business version if you're working with a large team.
For this tutorial, we'll focus on what can be accomplished with the free version, and where a paid plan is required, we'll call that out.
Throughout this tutorial, we'll be referring to some of the key features of Evernote. So we're all on the same page, here's a quick glossary:
Note: A note is where you write your content. Think of it as a blank sheet of paper ready for your creative inspiration—one you'll file away in a binder after you write it.
Notebook: A notebook is a collection of notes—following the analogy, that's the binder.
Tags: Tags are descriptive words you can add to link your notes. For example, you might want to tag a recipe note with the meal that it's appropriate for,
dinner. You can name tags however you'd like.
Shortcuts: Shortcuts are quick links to your favorite notes—the ones you come back to over and over. They appear under the Shortcuts section of the sidebar.
How to Create Notebooks in Evernote
Before you start writing, it's a good idea to create some notebooks to sort out where your notes will live. You can organize your notes however you want, and you can always add more notebooks, rename them, or move notes from one notebook to another at a later time. But having some notebooks to start is a good way to get familiar with the system.
Click on Notebooks in the left sidebar to view the notebook list. Then click New Notebook.
Name your notebook. In this example, we'll name it "Dinner Recipes." Click Continue.
Next, we'll create a couple more notebooks along this same theme. In the image below, we've created "Breakfast Recipes" and "Dessert Recipes." You'll see them all in your notebook list.
If you're using Evernote in a downloaded app, you can further organize your notebooks with stacks. This allows you to group multiple notebooks into one pile, saving you some clutter on the menu. Simply drag one notebook on top of another to create a stack. Note that this feature isn't supported in the web version.
How to Create and Organize Notes in Evernote
Now you're ready to start creating notes in those notebooks. To create your first note, Click New Note in the left sidebar. Then select the notebook where you'd like that note to live, and click Create.
Once you're in the note, you can always move it by clicking the three dots in the top right and selecting Move to…
Alternatively, you can also place a new note in a notebook by clicking on the notebook in the left sidebar, and then clicking New Note. The note will automatically be placed in the notebook you're clicked into.
How to Write Notes in Evernote
Now that you've created a note, it's time to get to writing. First, write in a title where the text says "Title." Then add your note in the white space below. For this example, we've created a simple recipe for scrambled eggs.
Evernote is a lot more than just basic text. You can add rich media such as images and audio files, or create tables and link out to online content. Formatting the text should be familiar: It's just like using any document software or other WYSIWYG text editor. If you don't see what you're looking for, click the three dots to the right of the formatting toolbar to find more options. Put together a combination of all these tools, and you can have a fancy note like this low carb beef stew recipe.
If you really want to dig deep, click Templates after you create the note, and you can start with a pre-made layout for anything from a calendar to a project budget to a meeting agenda. If you're feeling stuck, these templates are a great place to start.
To see the notes you've written, click Notebooks in the left sidebar and then click the notebook that contains your note. You'll see your note (and any other notes you've created).
How to Add Shortcuts in Evernote
Of course, you'll want to organize your notes in other ways too. Since these scrambled eggs are sounding delicious, you'll plan to make them for breakfast every day this week. To make the note as easy to access as possible, you can create a shortcut.
Click on the button with three dots in the top-right corner, and select Add shortcut.
Now the note will appear under Shortcuts (with the star icon) in the left sidebar.
How to Add and Filter By Tags in Evernote
You can also add tags to your note to make it easier to find with searches or associate it with other notes you'll write.
To add tags, select your note, and look toward the bottom of the note. You'll see Add tag in gray text. Click this field, and begin typing out your tags. Tags are created after you press
return or after you type a comma.
For this example, we'll make the ingredients tags:
milk. In the future, if you start to type any of these words again, Evernote will suggest these tags as you type them. That way you won't create two similar tags when you only need one. If Evernote suggests a tag, just click it to add it to your note.
Remove tags by clicking the down arrow on the right side of the tag itself and clicking Remove. Or, if you want to see all your notes with a given tag, click that same arrow and select Filter by Tag. Then, you'll be able to see all the notes with that tag. Alternatively, you can click Tags in the left sidebar to see all your tags and all the notes associated with them.
How to Search in Evernote
Once you have a lot of notes, you'll want to make use of the search feature. Click into the Search all notes… field in the sidebar. Type
eggs and press
return. A column will appear to the right under your search term, and you should see your note.
Keep in mind that the search function will search all the text related to a note to find it: the title, the body text, and the tags.
How to Share Notes in Evernote
Once you've perfected that recipe, you might want to share it with people. You have the option of sharing an entire notebook (all your dinner recipes) or just one note (your beef stew recipe).
To share the entire notebook, click Notebooks in the sidebar and then select the notebook you want to share. All the way to the right, click on the three dots and select Share notebook…
Type in the email addresses of the person or people you want to share it with. (Separate multiple addresses with a comma.) Click Can edit and invite to modify the permissions you're giving these people, and finally, click Send Invitations.
Now, under Dinner Recipes, you'll see a green icon with two little people. Click on this icon at any time to review who you've shared the notebook with and what permissions they have.
If you want to share just one note, go to the note and click Share in the top right. The rest of the process is the same, except that on this screen, you have the option to enable a shareable link that you can send to others to view your note.
With or without an Evernote account, anyone can view that link in their browser.
Take Evernote to the Next Level
As you dig in more to Evernote, you'll start to use its more advanced features. Here are some examples: