What is Evernote?

Today we’re looking at Evernote, a popular note-taking app available on iOS, Android & the web. The write up proved a popular in 2015 and it has such a variety of educational (and personal) applications that I thought it worth revisiting this year!

The app allows you to create a record of anything from simple shopping lists, to notebooks full of research images, files and notes for your course, all synced over the web for you to access wherever you happen to be. The video embedded in this section gives you an introduction to how Evernote looks, and some of what it can do. It’s well worth taking a minute to watch this!

What does the app look like and how do I use it?

Evernote has a consistent look and feel across the web and the mobile apps so you’ll know where features are wherever you are using it.

Once you have downloaded the app on your chosen platform, you’ll be able to sign up to an account, and then you can begin. You can create things called: Notes, Notebooks and Stacks.

The easiest way to think of these are that Notes are stored in Notebooks, and Notebooks are stored in Stacks. Stacks are groups of Notebooks that may have a related theme or topic. For instance you could have a Stack of Notebooks with distinct themes, but which all ultimately relate your dissertation. This structure is the key to utilising Evernote to it’s full potential, as once you have everything in Evernote, it’s all searchable!

Diagram explaining Evernote file structure

Note, into Notebook, into Stack, it’s simple really!

We should mention the elephant in the room (i’m here all week): cost. Whilst there are paid tiers Plus, Premium and Business, the good news is that for most people the free ‘Basic’ option is more than sufficient for average use. If you really get on with Evernote then it might be worth paying for the increased upload space and extra features but it’s certainly not necessary.

Another pretty cool thing you can do is link your Evernote account to IFTTT (If This Then That) which is an online service that links up your various different apps with each other. For example, you may like to save your favourite tweets to Evernote, or perhaps save all screenshots you’ve taken on your iPhone to a specific notebook within Evernote. IFTTT makes this easy (and automated), we would encourage you to check out the website as there are lots of other uses both for Evernote and IFTTT.

How could this app help me?

You really get out what you put in when it comes to Evernote – jump in head first you might find it invaluable to your daily workflow.

One practical example is that each note that you add can be tagged with any number of terms or phrases that you can later use to sort through your notes. For example, if you were using the app to collect research for your dissertation, you could add a tag to mark every webpage, photo, article and lecture note you save, with it’s topic. Then, when you come to write down your ideas, you’ll have a list of your researched topics and their corresponding notes at your fingertips.

It works for collaborative working too – you can share notes with other Evernote users, allowing you to contribute for example in a group research project, or perhaps compare notes on a topic you have learned about in that day’s class.

Ideas for Evernote:

  • Create audio and visual aids for revision.
  • Search an index of all your work – time saved looking for that note you made at the beginning of term!
  • Collaborate with peers on both your work and your notes from class.
  • Use in class with students as an informal ePortolio.
  • Encourage collaboration amongst students (and staff).
  • Organising your own work.
  • Present notes on screen – to use in class or for your own research (paid feature).

If you (student or staff member) would like to dig a little deeper into the uses of Evernote, this article is an honest account of how a former Evernote skeptic makes use of the app in every walk of life.