Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Library 2.0: Evernote – Another Free and Useful Web 2.0 Tool

by Roy “Todd” Vandenbark, Part-time Temporary Special Project Developer, Library Information Technology Services

Do you ever have a flash of inspiration yet lacked the means to record your idea? If you manage to record your inspiration, do you sometimes forget where you saved it among the multiple devices many of us own? Or have you been somewhere or seen something that you wanted to remember later? If so, then the Web 2.0 application Evernote may be just the tool you need.

Evernote is a free software application designed to help you capture information in any form, anytime, anywhere, using your preferred electronic device, and make it searchable and accessible. It is available online at www.evernote.com, and comes in versions for Windows and Mac computers, and many mobile devices including Windows Mobile phones, the iPhone, and iPod Touch. And Evernote organizes everything based on tags you add to each item, allowing you to search for items and group them into “notebooks.” You can publish any of your notebooks for others to see, and once published, it will be given its own unique URL and indexed by search engines. Way powerful!

Start by creating a free online account, and then add the “Clip to Evernote” button to your Web browser, just below the button bar. Evernote Web currently supports Firefox 2, Firefox 3, Internet Explorer 7, Safari 3, and Flock Web browsers. As you surf the Web and find items you want to remember, click and drag to highlight the item, and then click the button to add them to your library. In the resulting popup window, add one or more tags to the item to help you remember it and make it searchable in your account. If you want to remember an entire page, just click the button.

In addition to the tags you add to a new item, Evernote tags it with a number of useful attributes, date created, date modified, source, and the category of what it contains. The “contains” categories include images, audio, PDF, link, and to-do items.

Searches generate results as you type in terms and can be narrowed by clicking on different tags and attributes in the left sidebar. Evernote allows you to save searches and the results can be narrowed based on tags and attributes.

Download the software to your desktop or laptop computer, enter your account information, and you can drag-and-drop image, audio, PDF, or link files to Evernote. If you use more than one computer, install Evernote on each of them and you can search, view, and retrieve your notes wherever and whenever you want. The software will automatically synchronize and update your list of items each time you log in. If the computer you are using does not have Evernote, use the Web-based version to save information, or you can email clippings directly to your account.

Install Evernote on your mobile phone, and you can save photos directly to your library. Evernote’s recognition technology includes optical character recognition (OCR). It can recognize text in print, graphic images, and even some handwriting. Snap pictures of whiteboards in lectures, business cards, or labels of items you wish to buy and it will be available to refer to later, without the worry of lost notes or forgotten information.

Evernote offers two service plans, free and premium. The free account allows you to upload up to 40 MB of information per month, and is limited to images, audio files, link files, and PDFs. Notebooks published from any free account will include advertising in the margin. For $5 per month, or $45 per year, you can upload up to 500 MB of information in any file type, and they are secure socket layer (SSL) encrypted for added security during transfer. In addition, advertising is turned-off for premium users. The Web site offers some documentation and searchable support, and it includes a number of helpful tutorials.

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