Evernote's Windows overhaul adds speed, finesse

The fourth major version of Evernote is coming to Windows users, and brings with it some big UI enhancements and a speed boost that makes the old version seem, well, old.

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn
3 min read
Evernote logo

As an Evernote user on several platforms (Mac, PC, iPad, iPhone, Android, Web), I've always felt as if the software has had a Jekyll-and-Hyde divide between its offering on the Mac and PC. The Mac version ran better, and had a more consistent interface, while the PC version looked and ran like it had been pieced together out of spare parts.

Luckily, that's about to change.

Evernote is set to release a new version of its note-taking and Web-clipping Windows software this morning that improves speed, looks, and functionality. In short, it leapfrogs the old version, and then some.

The biggest change you'll see up front in Version 4.0 is that the interface has been given a thorough overhaul. Central navigation items that once took up two rows now take up one. It's the same story for the side bar, which contains your list of notebooks, tags, attributes, and saved searches; these items now take up less vertical space, letting you see more on laptops where your screen real estate may be limited.

Along with the app's core navigation, the editing interface--where users spend most of their time composing, has been thoughtfully trimmed down. The formatting menu is identical, but v4 gives the buttons a uniform look, as well as ditches the tagging and source URL options, which previously could not be minimized. This change gives you a considerable boost in workspace--especially if you're working in full screen.

Evernote 4.0's new look.
Evernote's look has been tweaked substantially in version 4.0. You'll now find much more vertical room for your work with a slimmed-down navigation menu. Screenshots by Josh Lowensohn/CNET

But looks are one thing--it's the speed where you can really tell a difference. The application now launches almost immediately, even on some legacy hardware. It also takes up less memory, which in some casual testing was about five times less than the previous version with one note opened and in edit mode. Even more impressive is the built-in search tool, which now provides instantaneous results. Just these three things right here make the software much more enjoyable to use, whether you keep it running all day, or simply want to fire it up to find something you wrote or clipped a long time ago.

Windows 7 users also get a few perks, including support for Windows Jump Lists and automatic geolocation detection. This geolocation item is particularly neat, as with the old version you'd have to manually plug in your latitude, longitude, and altitude. Now, you can click a button and it taps into your computer's coordinates, or whatever home position you've plugged in as the default. It's also nice to have Jump List support, as it means no more fumbling to find Evernote's task tray icon to do something like clip a screenshot, or start a new note.

Earlier this month Evernote picked up $20 million in a Series C round of financing, led by Sequoia Capital. The company now has 4.7 million users, and is available on eight different platforms including its browser interface. Its last major interface overhaul on Windows came in September 2009, and brought some of the features and functionality over from the company's Mac version.

Version 4 of Evernote will show up as an automatic update for all users of v3.5 in the next few days. But if you're itching to get your hands on it today, you can simply download the new version directly from Evernote.