(First in a series.)
The more time I spend on my computers – 2013 MacBook Pro running 10.9 (primary) and 2009 iMac running 10.6.8 (supplementary) – the more I learn which applications work for me, which don’t and which are truly invaluable. This series is about the last category; you could call it my Desert Island Desktop Apps list.
Evernote is first up because… well, I love this app and have pretty much since I first installed it in 2009. I keep just about every piece of loose info I have in digital form in here, which is exactly what it’s designed for. In fact I have two Evernote accounts, the first for personal data: everything that could possibly matter, written-down thoughts and quotes from others and vital documents I might someday need to produce, all that. A huge chunk of it is data representing my life history, from my birth certificate to mileage logs for my last sizable road trip and everything in between short of full blog entries about my past.
Those entries along with every other one I’ve written since I started blogging in 1999 comprise the second Evernote account, though I rarely go into that one. Or haven’t, because switching between accounts on the desktop client can be time-consuming and a pain in the ass without Evernote Premium. Now I’ve got that again maybe I’ll visit the second account more.
I treasure Evernote primarily for removing a huge amount of paper from my life. I’ve come to hate paper: it gets lost, it’s difficult to organize efficiently let alone find the exact piece you want, it’s not portable in quantity, and all too often it’s hard to read. (Especially when covered with my handwriting.)
Evernote handily overcomes all these issues. Put something in it and it’s yours forever, easily locatable with a simple text search or using tags. It syncs to the cloud so your info is readily available no matter how many times a day you switch locations or platforms. Organizing your content works great – at least for an inventory geek like me – through the notebook/stack structure, with tags allowing for even more flexibility. The desktop client is a sweet little paragon of efficiency, its interface more and more pleasant to use with each new version. And perhaps most of all, I never have to look again at my deteriorating scrawl. I knew those high school typing lessons would pay off someday.
I use Evernote somewhere between twenty and fifty times every day. The Content folder in Application Support for my primary account currently stands at 2.71GB and I’m always adding more, which is why I moved back up to Premium; it’s a great deal, allowing up to 1GB/month of uploads at $45/year. (It also reportedly offers OCR for images, though I haven’t tested that yet.) I don’t even bother with productivity software any more; I tried a bunch of them including Things, but now with me already so often in Evernote it makes the most sense to keep my endless to-do lists and project notes there.
Evernote becomes even more valuable when I consider the looming shift to mobile computing. It’s already the only of my top desktop apps I regularly use on smartphone and tablet, even if just for keeping shopping lists handy, and I expect that to only increase. With the mobile interface so similar to the desktop client, I barely notice when I transition back and forth.
A friend who handles Evernote’s PR calls me a power-user, which I guess I am. I’m not hyperbolizing when I say I don’t know how I’d get along without it.