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EverNote (beta) review: EverNote (beta)

EverNote (beta)

Jeff Bertolucci
3 min read
EverNote, which is still in beta, is an innovative note-taking program for Windows XP, 2000, and tablet PC systems. It's a repository for typed notes, handwritten comments, sketches, images, and Web links. Like its competitor Microsoft Office OneNote 2003, EverNote is built for everyday note takers--students, for instance--who find a conventional word processor too rigid for collecting and storing digitized information. EverNote's simplicity is its best feature. Its "endless tape" interface, a virtual roll of paper that acts as a central storehouse for your data, is a breeze to learn. Notes are time-stamped and searchable by date and content, making last monthÂ’s brainstorming session or random doodling easy to find. The beta version is a bit rough around the edges, though, and lacks some key features, including the ability to archive older notes. Still, itÂ’s a great start. EverNote is free, unlike $99 OneNote, so we recommend giving it a try. EverNote is easy to download and install. In our tests, the installation process took less than five minutes. EverNote's interface resembles an endless roll of paper divided into individual sheets, one for each day of notes. Atop each sheet is the date and time the page was created, as well as four icons that provide fast access to popular features such as tools for categorizing or applying passwords to individual notes. We found EverNote easier to learn than OneNote 2003, which uses a three-ring-binder motif with multiple tabs (layers), which can be confusing to navigate.

Novices will take to EverNote right away. You can type inside each note, use EverNote's basic drawing tools to create sketches, drag and drop text and images from a browser, insert passages from documents, and so on. The result is a mélange of content from a variety of sources, not just plain-vanilla text.


EverNote (beta)

The Good

Lets you drag and drop text, images, and Web links; built-in handwriting recognition; powerful search and categorization tools; it's free.

The Bad

No spelling checker; won't archive older notes; no audio or video recording.

The Bottom Line

EverNote is a great alternative to OneNote for note-taking and Web-based research. It's a bit rough around the edges (there's no spelling checker), but since it's free, we recommend it.

EverNote recognizes handwritten text (top) and includes templates (bottom) for expense reports and other tasks.

But wait: Can't you drag and drop Web content and links into a word processor, too? Yes, but EverNote has vastly superior organizational skills. It automatically categorizes notes by date and includes a scroll bar that makes it easy to browse a weekÂ’s or monthÂ’s worth of notes. Unlike OneNote 2003, EverNote doesnÂ’t let you enter notes anywhere on the page, but sticks to the linear, top-to-bottom format used by word processors. For tablet PC users hooked on the stylus, a free-form, anywhere-on-the-page approach would be better. Also EverNote will soon charge users who want to synchronize notes between their Windows PCs and PDAs.

EverNote is an excellent tool for proficient typists who take notes during meetings, in conferences, in classrooms, or even over the phone. Online researchers will like EverNote's ability to automatically reference information pulled from the Web. Whenever you copy text or an image, EverNote includes a link to the source page. OneNote 2003 does this too, but traditional word processors don't.

EverNote 1.0 displays an "endless roll" of notes. The Time Band (right) and Categories Panel (left) tools help you locate and organize information.

EverNote may not match the convenience of pen and paper, but its notes are far easier to browse. The SmartSearch box in the upper-right corner allows keyword searches, and you can search handwritten notes (such as those created with a stylus or mouse), which EverNoteÂ’s on-demand, built-in character-recognition technology automatically converts to text--not surprising, since the EverNote company has specialized in handwriting recognition for PDAs and tablets. We also liked the Time Band, a right-side column that makes it easy to jump to notes from a particular date.

The current version of EverNote isnÂ’t perfect, though. For example, EverNote doesnÂ’t have a spelling checker, nor can it record audio and video clips and embed them in notes.

EverNote provides free e-mail support via its Web site--quite generous considering that the program is free, too. Unfortunately, e-mail response time is quite slow; our queries went unanswered for at least a week. The company also provides an online forum where you can ask questions of other EverNote users. Phone support isn't available.

EverNote provides free e-mail support and includes a query form on its Web site. Response time is slow, however.

By comparison, Microsoft Office OneNote 2003 users get one free e-mail or phone query, after which they must shell out $35 per support request. Microsoft also has an online forum for OneNote users.


EverNote (beta)

Score Breakdown

Setup 8Features 8Support 7