Thursday, November 14, 2013

My Favourite Apps - #2 - Evernote

One of the things I think most people do when they first get a smartphone or tablet is using it to take notes, whether it's in a sermon or at a conference or just jotting down thoughts and ideas. I know that many of you are sold out on using beautiful leather bound journals to chronicle your greatest musings, but so often once those notes are written they never get read again, and eventually the journal goes onto a shelf or into a drawer when it's full and you need a new one. There's something very attractive about the idea of having all those notes available electronically, so that you can look at them, search them and use them wherever you are.

In my experience most people with an iPad or iPhone start off using the built in Notes application. It's OK, but after you've got quite a few notes it becomes pretty hard work finding something you thought you wrote two years ago. It's also very limited in that you can only have plain text in a note, no photos or web links or numbered lists or bold or italic or anything similar. If you're like me you then move on to pages, the Apple equivalent of Microsoft Word, which although much more powerful still really doesn't hit the mark and in many ways is too complicated simply for taking notes.

That's where for me Evernote is so brilliant for keeping track of all your thoughts and ideas.

First if all it allows you to write notes with all the formatting options you could hope for, without the complexity of a full blown word processor. It also makes it incredibly simple to include photos, web links and even chunks of a web page. All this makes it brilliant as a holding ground for ideas and research - I use this all the time when something I see or read seems applicable for a future sermon - I can just create a note for it or add the thoughts to an existing note. You can also easily add tick lists to give you to do lists, and set alarms on notes so that they pop up as way of a reminder.

Then you can sort those notes into folders which you can then search. You can also apply tags to notes so that you can find all the notes with a given tag. This means you're much make likely to make future use of the notes you've written.

Finally all the notes you write get stored "in the cloud", which in practical terms means that you can access them from your phone, your tablet and your PC, and changes you make on one device will be visible on the others. In practice this is really useful. I usually writes notes on my iPad, but if I'm travelling somewhere and have an idea but only have my iPhone I can still add the thought to the existing note for that sermon, rather than having to create a new one and then merge them at some point in the future.

All in all a really useful app, which although quite complex in what it does actually works in a way which is very intuitive and a joy to use. As you may be able to tell I'm a big fan!



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