Evernote: Secret weapon for writing anywhere

Evernote: Secret weapon for writing anywhere

Summary: Having a hectic daily schedule, I often end up writing wherever I happen to be, using one of my mobile gadgets. One secret weapon in my arsenal makes it all work seamlessly.

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TOPICS: Browser, Mobility, Wi-Fi
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Whenever I write about working mobile, since I often detail using some gadget or another, I hear from readers who ask why I don't just carry a laptop everywhere. That's a logical question, but real life doesn't unfold the way we plan. The reality is that in my busy life I often write in moments of opportunity, using whatever gadgetry I have in hand. The key ingredient to my mobile writing is the note-taking service from Evernote.

My life is hectic, with five adult children between my wife and me, all with families of their own and activities demanding frequent calendar checking. When a rare half hour of free time presents itself, I like to spend it writing about tech. It is how I unwind, and I enjoy those moments.

I rarely have a laptop with me at times such as those but I do have either a smartphone or a tablet of one type or another close by. That's why Evernote is such a great tool for writing, as there is a native app for iOS and Android that is available on all gadgets I use and that syncs to the cloud.

The editor in Evernote is full featured, but I use it as a simple text editor for my writing sessions. I use either the on-screen keyboard or a keyboard/case if I have one with me. I also find myself using dictation on the iPhone 4S quite a bit as it works very well for dictating articles into Evernote. I use the entry method that is available at the time.

All I worry about during these mobile writing sessions is getting the article down "on paper". Neither Android nor iOS can handle the specialized WordPress system we use on ZDNet, so I save final editing and publishing for when I'm back at a "real" computer. The objective is to write the text of the article on either the iPhone 4S or whatever tablet I am using.

Writing with Evernote is a joyful experience. The editor doesn't get in my face, and presents a blank page for me to simply write on. I can write fast and furious or slow and thoughtfully, whatever fits my mood. When I am done with the remote session Evernote saves the article to the cloud, where it is available to me on every mobile device or computer I use.

Projects in progress are always available to me through Evernote, so I can proof and edit them as desired over time. This is easy to do no matter what mobile device I might be using at the time. Tap the note, edit, and save it.

When I am ready to edit and publish using the WordPress system, I open Evernote on the computer and copy the entire article. Those who use WordPress are familiar with the problems many editors have with text pasted from other systems. Weird characters are often the result of such efforts, but there is a way around it. Rather than paste the text in the WYSIWYG editor in WordPress, I paste it in the HTML editor. This strips off any invisible control characters that might be in the copied text.

I then do my final editing of the article, add any links and images, and hit the publish button. This system works well for me no matter what gadget I use for the writing. I make good use of unexpected free time, and I get stuff done I wouldn't otherwise. I could use other cloud systems just as effectively, but I find Evernote's free service to do everything I need so that's what I use.

This article was written on the patio of my stepdaughter's house, where I found some free time while sitting with her Yorkshire terrier, KC. The entire article was dictated into Evernote using my iPhone 4S, much to the delight of KC who thought I was speaking to him.

I find dictation on the iPhone 4S to be very accurate, as long as a few best practices are followed. Speaking should be done a little slower than normal speech, although not by much. I speak clearly, and do a paragraph at a time to give the conversion to digital text a better chance. This forces me to think clearly about each paragraph, and I find that to be beneficial.

Evernote is also good for doing research for writing projects, as it is built to make capturing information of all types easy to do. I can snap pictures using a phone/tablet camera, and save them straight to my Evernote notebook. I can add text notes as needed. I can capture web pages for future referral, and the link is automatically entered into the note. I also use the audio note function in Evernote to record interviews. The interview is saved to the cloud and available for referral on all my devices.

I have been using Evernote for years, yet it always impresses me with how useful it is for my work. I can write anywhere, using whatever method is best for that particular situation. It is one of those technologies that just works.

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Topics: Browser, Mobility, Wi-Fi

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28 comments
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  • RE: Evernote: Secret weapon for writing anywhere

    Nice article James. I enjoy using Evernote as well and the ability to dictate text on the iPhone 4s is going to be a huge time saver. I enjoy you're writing and have been following you're work for years
    pstmstr
    • RE: Evernote: Secret weapon for writing anywhere

      @pstmstr Good luck with that the 4s dictation has a ways to go yet.
      slickjim
      • RE: Evernote: Secret weapon for writing anywhere

        @Peter Perry - You may want to try the mobile version of Dragon Naturally Speaking. I have it on my iPHone4 and it works very nicely. Then copy and paste. Also for iPad2 and maybe iPad1, but I am not sure as I don't have an iPad1.
        Forensics1
      • RE: Evernote: Secret weapon for writing anywhere

        @Peter Perry You may want to try the mobile version of Dragon Naturally Speaking. I have it on my iPHone4 and it works very nicely. Then copy and paste. Also for iPad2 and maybe iPad1, but I am not sure as I don't have an iPad1.
        Forensics1
    • RE: Evernote: Secret weapon for writing anywhere

      @pstmstr "you're" is short for "you are". It doesn't mean "belonging to you". The word you want is "your"
      JohnOfStony
    • Translation:

      @pstmstr "Nice article James. I enjoy using Evernote as well and the ability to dictate text on the iPhone 4s is going to be a huge time saver. I enjoy you are writing and have been following you are work for years."

      Fixed. Oh, wait--! No I didn't. Hold on for a second.

      "You are writing and have been following you are work for years."

      Um...

      Are you a work? Ha ha haha--! *grin*

      If I'm an employer and I see "you're" in your resume, I will not hire you permanently. :) (Okay, I'm just kidding.)

      Perhaps I'm not. I laugh at those who mistake "your" as "you're." Plus, that looks kind of silly as anyone can read "you're" as "you are."
      Grayson Peddie
      • RE: Evernote: Secret weapon for writing anywhere

        @Grayson Peddie

        I take it you are American, so you are probably shortsighted and ignorant. Have you ever though about it that @pstmstr might not be a native English speaker?
        Hansieslim
  • RE: Evernote: Secret weapon for writing anywhere

    I have used Evernote and liked it but never really used one note and I am curious how they compare.
    slickjim
    • RE: Evernote: Secret weapon for writing anywhere

      @Peter Perry
      I have tried using OneNote across devices and it is what drove me to Evernote! I had a lot of trouble with consistency between my laptop, the cloud, and my iPad. Evernote is not perfect, but it is a lot better than OneNote for cross platform use, especially if you throw linux into the mix!
      pastorbobbyp
    • RE: Evernote: Secret weapon for writing anywhere

      @Peter Perry One Note is complicated, tricky, not intuitive, and does not work across multiple platforms. Evernote is easy, intuitive, and works everywhere.
      Forensics1
      • RE: Evernote: Secret weapon for writing anywhere

        @Forensics1 Evernote is NOT the way to go if you use Linux. It does NOT work here......unfortunately. I am currently trying Google Docs.
        saalikr
  • RE: Evernote: Secret weapon for writing anywhere

    The problem with typing on phones is not the software it is the very low speed of typing compared to a full keyboard. My thinking is faster than my touch typing, but still it works well for creative writing. But on a phone, I feel so stifled that I can not write anything decent.
    ehabh
  • RE: Evernote: Secret weapon for writing anywhere

    I have six hundred Evernote memos storing everything from what it was that Aunt Mimi told me I absolutely must see the next time I'm in Prague (the "cities" folder) to my friends reviews of Chinese restaurants in town (also the "cities" folder) to a snapshot of the receipt for my new sandals ("receipts") to dirty jokes ("jokes") to diary entries ("Day Pages") to the frequencies associated with CB radio channels ("Misc" folder) to all the things that drove me crazy about my ex ("People") and what my Dad mentioned in May he really really would like to have for Christmas (also "People".)<br><br>They're ported over from my old Palm Pilot Memo database that I started fifteen years ago. Invaluable.
    daniel@...
  • There are more than two mobile platforms.

    Evernote is available for Windows Phone 7 as well.
    ParrotHead_FL
    • RE: Evernote: Secret weapon for writing anywhere

      @ParrotHead_FL
      Thanks ParrotHead_FL, I was just about to go to Marketplace to find out if it was....I love the Mango!!
      shawn@...
  • RE: Evernote: Secret weapon for writing anywhere

    Thebig use I have for Evernote is one not mentioned, but seems blatantly obvious...college. As an IT student, almost all of my courses have me behind a monitor. With Evernote, I can take notes for each class, while in class and review them on my laptop, phone, or tablet. The sync is almost instantenously available everywhere. Here's a big plus for me...I type WAY faster than I can write. With Evernote, I don't worry about missing something because I'm trying to jot it down on paper. there are no notes to lose and when the time to study comes, I just search a phrase and am taken to the notes where it is used.

    Not to sound like a fanboy, but I have ben impressed with the functionality of this app for a long time.
    the_crow1@...
  • RE: Evernote: Secret weapon for writing anywhere

    I hope all you people who store your notes, articles, etc. in the cloud realize that you're running the risk of losing them all. Simply put: the cloud is not secure and totally dependable.

    You would be better off simply saving the notes on your mobile device and transferring later to a desk top.

    You will get burned by the cloud. It is not a question of if, but when.
    Shara8
    • RE: Evernote: Secret weapon for writing anywhere

      @Shara8 Right because cell phones are known for their dependability and reliabilty. The data never gets lost, it never gets wet and never has a day where it just dies.
      the_crow1@...
    • RE: Evernote: Secret weapon for writing anywhere

      @Shara8 If you have the desktop client set up, you have a local copy of all the data on your computer.
      Gritztastic
  • RE: Evernote: Secret weapon for writing anywhere

    "The editor in Evernote is full featured," Evernote is nice, however, I do not think that the editor is "full featured". I use it because I can have it on all my devices, however, from a user exprience and overall functionality OneNote is by far better...it's just the UI/UE/UF of EverNote perspective falls short compared to OneNote.
    ItsTheBottomLine