12 Evernote hacks and apps for power users

Evernote is all about productivity. These 12 Evernote hacks and apps can help you save time, find files faster, track travel, transcribe voice notes to text and much more.

01 evernote intro title

Excellent Evernote apps and hacks

If I were to compile a list of my top five apps and cloud services, Evernote would be near the top. It's not perfect. (For example, the interface can take some getting used to — is all that green really necessary?) However, it is an endlessly adaptable, imminently useful database of information you can tap into anywhere you have an Internet connection.

The following 12 apps, hacks, and cloud services make Evernote even more useful, in ways that just might surprise you. And for more similar tricks, read "13 Evernote tips for businesspeople."

02 evernote to onenote

Exchange or sync Evernote files with Microsoft OneNote

Microsoft continues to make OneNote more appealing, particularly for people with Surface tablets and the associated pens. I've found several ways to automatically sync Evernote notes in OneNote using IFTTT recipes or Zapier "Zaps," with varying results. There's also a free software tool, Ever2One Converter, which converts Evernote notes to OneNote, but it doesn't automatically keep them in sync. I haven't found a tool to automatically sync OneNote notes to Evernote, and importing OneNote content into Evernote can be a hit-or-miss affair. An option that worked for me is to export an OneNote notebook as a PDF and then add it to Evernote.

03 otixo

Quickly search files on Evernote, other cloud services

Default search tools on mobile devices and desktop computers typically look only for locally stored files. If you use Evernote, Dropbox, Box and Google Drive, you need a tool that can search content in multiple cloud services. Otixo does the job well, and it lets you drag and drop files between connected cloud services. Otixo is Web-based and offers free apps for Android, iOS, and Windows. However, its free plan is fairly useless, except as a trial. Your best bet is the $48-a-year Premium plan, which lets you connect up to five cloud services, or "Spaces" in Otixo-ese. Another option is Xen.do, which searches an even larger variety of cloud services, with a free option and paid plans starting at $9 per month.

04 glympse

Use Evernote to track your travels

Want a record of your vacation wanderings? Get the free Glympse app for Android or iOS. Glympse is designed to make it easy to share your GPS location in real time with friends and family, but you can also opt to record your routes for your own purposes. For example, you might want to relive that long walk you took next to the bay in San Francisco or the new running route you mapped along the Charles River in Boston. After you link your Evernote account in the app's settings, Glympse automatically saves your treks and tag them "Glympse." (Glympse works on Android Wear, but not, as of this writing, Apple Watch.)

05 instapaper

Sync Instapaper and Pocket articles with Evernote

The bright light from your tablet or smartphone screen can make it difficult to fall asleep. (Believe me, I speak from experience). One way around this bedtime-reading quandary is to save articles during the day that you want to read later using Instapaper, then use the "Dark mode" in its Android and iOS apps. (Dark mode displays white text against a black background, instead of the other way around.) Instapaper lets you link your Evernote account, and it's easy to add articles to your Evernote archives. Unfortunately, some formatting may get compromised along the way, from website to Instapaper to Evernote, but it's not enough to lose sleep over. Instapaper competitor Pocket also has a night-reading mode, and it lets you save to Evernote.

06 consumer reports

Use Evernote to scan magazines

Now that you know you shouldn't read on your tablet at bedtime, you might want to go back to reading magazines. One of my favorites bedtime reads (don't laugh) is Consumer Reports. It's interesting enough to engage me, but doesn't keep me awake from overstimulation. In nearly every issue, I find sidebars, ratings charts, and other bite-sized information I want to keep for access later. For example, CR recently published a helpful chart that lists the organic fruits and vegetables you should buy instead of their non-organic variety. It's great for quick looks in the supermarket produce aisle. At night, I dog-ear the CR pages I want to save, and in the morning I use Evernote's Scannable iOS app to digitize and add them to Evernote.

07 evernote apple watch

Put your shopping list on your Apple Watch with Evernote

I've used many to-do list apps, but Evernote is one of the best when it comes to checklists, especially on an Apple Watch. For example, I recently created a shopping list using Evernote's iOS app on my iPhone, which automatically syncs with my Apple Watch. When I arrived at the drug store, I launched Evernote on Apple Watch and then opened my drug store checklist. As I put stuff into my shopping cart, I tapped to place a check mark next to the item in the Evernote checklist on my watch. It was convenient and cool. And after you check items, they aren't cleared from checklists, so you can reuse lists in the future. Evernote checklists work well for all types of projects, too.

08 fitbit evernote

Use Evernote to archive weekly Fitbit updates

Every week, Fitbit emails its users weekly progress reports, which show total steps, distance, floors climbed, calories burned, weight change (if you have a Fitbit Aria scale), and average sleep duration (if you wear Fitbit to bed). The email also shows who ruled your Fitbit leaderboard that week and any badges you earned. I archive these emails in an Evernote notebook, labeled 'Fitbit,' so I can quickly compare how I did, say, last week compared to the same week a year ago. You can use IFTTT recipes to automate the process, but the ones I've tried don't do a very good job. Instead, I clip Fitbit (and other) email using Powerbot for Gmail, which also saves to Dropbox and OneNote.

09 evernote voice to text

Transcribe your voice into text notes with Evernote

Evernote doesn't convert audio recordings into text. However, if you create new text notes in Evernote on Android or iOS, you can tap the microphone icon and start talking, and your words appear as text in the notes. To add punctuation, just say "period" at the end of a sentence, or "new paragraph" to start a new paragraph. You should expect some grammatical mistakes, such as "it's" when it should be "its." If you need an audio recording transcribed into an Evernote note, dictation services such as Quicktate use human transcriptionists and charge $1.25 and up per week; pay-as-you-go plans are also available. TranscribeMe! is another option, and its website offers estimates of transcription costs.

10 evernote categories

Use Evernote to sort notes by category, importance

There are many ways to sort Evernote notes. One system I developed is to tag notes with both categories and priorities. For example, I clip travel articles I read online using the Evernote Web Clipper browser extension. I then assign one of three tags to each article: "Travel A," for articles that are relevant to upcoming trips; "Travel B," relative to trips in the next year or so; and "Travel C," for articles on places I want to visit in the future. You can also use this for other purposes, such as creating a "to-do" notebook and prioritizing each note you add.

11 filethis

Auto archive online statements with Evernote and FileThis

Going completely paperless is easy thanks to FileThis, a cloud-based service with mobile apps. FileThis automatically fetches your latest PDF statements from banks, health insurers, retailers and credit card companies, and drops them into a designated Evernote notebook, where they can be searched and accessed for tax planning and other purposes. FileThis also connects to Dropbox, Box and Google Drive, among other services. I'm a huge fan of FileThis — it's one of those things you wonder how you lived without. I pay for the Ultimate plan ($50 a year), which is well worth it, but you may be fine with the Premium ($20 a year) or free plans.

12 evernote moleskine

Go analog (and digital) with paper notebooks

Not everyone wants to be all digital, all the time. Evernote's partnership with Moleskine, the well-known paper-notebook maker, gives you the best of both worlds. You can jot ideas, thoughts, to-dos, sketches or whatever you want in Evernote Moleskine notebooks. Then you place one of the notebook's supplied "Smart Stickers" beside your jottings to tag them for Evernote. The stickers have default tags, which you can change. The airplane sticker, for instance, adds a "travel" tag to your notes. Finally, you use your smartphone camera and the Evernote app to scan your notes; Evernote uses optical character recognition (OCR) so they're searchable. It works well, provided your handwriting is legible. Sure, it's often easier to type stuff directly into Evernote, but sometimes pen and paper is more convenient.

13 zapier

Create WordPress blog post drafts

If you like IFTTT, you'll appreciate Zapier, a Web app that automates workflows. Zapier integrates with Evernote and countless other cloud-based services (via APIs) to create desired actions between two services. I'm impressed by the sheer variety of cloud services you can connect, including Toggl, a little-known tool that I use for time tracking. There are about 200 Evernote "Zaps" (workflows) you can choose from, such as the ability to create a new WordPress blog post draft from notes in a designated Evernote notebook. Or you can create your own Evernote Zaps. Zapier is a freemium service. The free plan lets you run 5 Zaps; for more, you need one of the paid plans, which start at $20 per month.