Now that it’s 2017, has the time finally come to join the digital revolution and begin using one of the many note taking apps that are available? Pocket calendars, spiral notebooks and sticky notes have had their day, but living in a paperless world does sound appealing! After all, the back of a napkin isn’t really the best place to be scribbling down that million dollar idea of yours. Who better to explore this type of software than Sean Henderson, a busy father of four? Sean is a long-time DACS member and a past presenter, and at the March 7th DACS general meeting he showed us how he uses Evernote, OneNote and a few other services to stay organized.
Sean started with Evernote, which has been around since 2008 and will give you the ability to store formatted text, webpages, photographs, voice memos, and even handwritten notes. Evernote is an exceptional tool for keeping long-term information and it can also work as a possible camera replacement. The software provides a lot of precision and flexibility for clipping the data you need from web pages and saving them directly as notes. Sean uses Evernote to move photos and other content from his phone to his computer. He explained that one of the strengths of Evernote is that it works consistently and has excellent grouping and tagging capabilities. The tags give you the ability to traverse sideways instead of just up and down, as one does with file folders. Evernote is also one of the more robust note-taking products available, so with that comes a steeper learning curve. Sean recommended watching one of the many tutorials available, at https://help.evernote.com, as a way to become familiar with it.
Our speaker felt that Evernote wasn’t the best tool to use when working with grids and tables. He also told us that one of the disadvantages to Evernote is that the pricing and features change over time. The basic version of Evernote is free, gives you the ability to store 60 MB of new uploads each month, and allows you to sync your data across two devices. Evernote Plus is $34.99 a year, lets you upload 1 GB of new data each month, and allows you to sync your data across all of your devices. Evernote Premium is $69.99 a year but provides you with the ability to upload 10 GB of new data each month and will also sync across all your devices.
Microsoft’s digital notebook solution is OneNote, which was introduced as a part of the Microsoft Office 2003 suite. It works best on a Windows computer or device, but there are apps available for the Mac, iOS and Android devices. OneNote does offer more features in the Windows app along with integration with the other Microsoft Office products. Sean told us that there is an online version of OneNote with extensions available for all the popular browsers. You can start off by creating a note on your laptop and later updating that same note on your phone. You can type, write, and even draw your ideas with the feel of pen to paper. OneNote also makes it easy to collaborate on a project in real time with other people.
Sean pointed out that if you have Send To One Note running in your Task Bar, you can use this option to quickly save your notes in one step. You used to need to buy the Microsoft Office suite to get the full version, but now it’s available completely free, provided you store your notebooks in the OneDrive cloud, which means you must have an internet connection. The paid-for version of OneNote gives you the ability to work offline.
If you need a simpler, more streamlined way to track some shorter term information, then Google Keep might be the answer. Sean told us that he and his wife share their grocery lists in Google Keep. He did a quick demo for us by creating a short grocery list and then giving access to the list to someone in the audience, who updated the list and we saw the live changes show up on Sean’s grocery list. You can also use Google Keep to snap a quick photo and save it as a note. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Google Keep’s search capability is consistent and high quality, working well in both its desktop and mobile apps.
Sean told us about some other ideas for organizing information, such as using your computer’s operating system, since this is suited for the task by design. You can also use your email program, which might make sense if it is the home of the bulk of the data you care about. Sean suggested using wikis as another way to quickly create and link pages since they are collaborative by nature, which makes them great for working with other people.
If you aren’t using any of these apps already, it just might be time to put that old Moleskine notebook away and jump on the digital note taking bandwagon once and for all. Won’t it feel good to be able to finally throw away all those business cards, receipts, and other scraps of paper cluttering up your house? Thanks to Sean for introducing us to so many different tools to help us tackle our next project, plan an exciting trip, and maybe even begin to write that book we’ve been thinking about. Sean Henderson is a Microsoft Certified Professional and is currently working for a company in Norwalk as a Business Intelligence Analyst.