Evernote is a great—and free—tool for genealogists and almost everyone else. Installed on Windows, Macintosh, Android, or Apple iOS systems, it is primarily a system for recording, storing, and retrieving notes about any topic. It shares your notes amongst all your systems—desktop, laptop, and handheld alike. I say it is PRIMARILY a system for storing notes, but it has many other uses as well. A smartphone user can even take pictures or videos with the phone and then store them directly in Evernote. Even Google Glass can store pictures and videos into Evernote. In fact, Evernote will store text notes, email messages, pictures, videos, audio, web pages, and more. I suspect every user of Evernote has different needs and methods of organizing things. I consider this to be the beauty of the program; you can configure it to work the way that YOU want.
While I use Evernote for many different purposes, I use it for genealogy primarily to record my research notes and especially for my “to-do list” of FUTURE research tasks that need to be conducted. For instance, before entering the Penobscot County Courthouse, I search for the words “penobscot county” in Evernote, and it immediately shows every note I have that refers to this county. If I want to find tasks I have previously assigned to myself as “to-do tasks,” I enter a search of
to-do penobscot county
That quickly narrows the list down to only those tasks I added to my to-do list. I can narrow it even further by a search for:
to-do penobscot county courthouse
Entering new notes into Evernote can be either tedious or very easy to do, depending upon the method used. For quick notes, I enter them directly via the keyboard. However, if someone sends me an email message that requires follow-up at a later date, I simply forward the message to Evernote, and it is automatically stored.
I am often surprised how many Evernote users are not aware of the “forward to Evernote by email” feature. Yet it is available to all Evernote users.
When you sign up for an Evernote account, you are given a unique email address that works with the program. You can find this address at any time in the desktop version of Evernote: click on TOOLS, then ACCOUNT INFO. Your email address will look similar to this: email@example.com. You can forward any email message to Evernote by sending it (or click on FORWARD) to this email address. The message should appear within Evernote within a few minutes.
To find the email address in the Apple iOS version (iPhone and iPad), open Evernote, touch the SETTINGS icon (which looks like a gear), then touch GENERAL, then scroll down and touch EVERNOTE EMAIL ADDRESS. The Android version is a bit different: open Evernote, touch your name near the top of the screen, touch ACCOUNT INFO, and you will see the email address displayed about two-thirds of the way down the screen.
Of course, the assigned email address is a bit cryptic and difficult to remember. One way to find the address in the future is to store it as a note in Evernote! When you want to forward an email to this address, you can search for the note as described earlier. Even better, storing this address in your address book will save mouse-clicks when you are in the middle of an email message.
To store this address with your other contacts, from Evernote’s SETTINGS menu, choose ADD TO CONTACTS below the email address. After that, any time you want to store an email message in Evernote, simply open the message and click FORWARD as usual; then follow the prompts to search for and insert your Evernoteemail address. The exact instructions will vary from one email program to another, but searching for and inserting email addresses from the address book is usually a simple operation in all email programs.
Note: The above steps work for most email programs. For a few others, you may need to copy your Evernote email address and then paste or enter it into the email program’s address book.
When you’re ready to forward a message to Evernote, you will find it helpful to give the subject line a word or phrase that will help you find it quickly in Evernote. To do so, once you click on FORWARD, change the subject line of the email message to whatever you want it to be when it is stored in Evernote. You can also place the forwarded message directly in an existing Evernote notebook by specifying that notebook in the same subject line; just add an @ symbol followed by the name of your destination notebook. Another neat tip is to add a # sign followed by the name of one of your existing Evernote tags. If you want to use multiple tags, proceed each one with the # sign.
For instance, to send the email message about Maxime Theriault to my Evernote program’s genealogy notebook about the Theriault family, I could use a subject line of:
Maxime Theriault christening record @genealogy #theriault #to-do #acadia #aroostook
Note that you can insert multiple tags, if desired. Both the notebook name and the tags must already exist within Evernote. Also, this feature will not work for notebook or tag names that contain an “@” or a “#” in their name.
(My French-Canadians all lived in Aroostook County, Maine, for the past 150 years or more. I use a tag of “Aroostook” for records believed to be in that county.)
Try it! If you use it a few times, I suspect you will soon become accustomed to adding email messages to Evernote. Those notes will also include the name and email address of the person who sent the information to you as well as the date and timestamp of the email message. That’s all handy information to preserve.
For instance, just below this article you will see a number of links. The left-most link is labeled EMAIL. Click on that link and enter your Evernote email address. The article will appear in your Evernote database of notes within a few minutes. In the future, if you ever forget how to send email to Evernote, simply open Evernote and search for:
send email to evernote
I bet this article will be displayed within a very few seconds, giving you full instructions.
I find the email-to-Evernote function to be one of the easiest methods of preserving notes and to-do action items.
For more information, look at http://blog.evernote.com/blog/2010/03/16/emailing-into-evernote-just-got-better.