Evernote allows you to create, edit, and categorize notes that you can type in or clip off of web pages (including text, images, formatting, and link). It also allows you to view and edit these offline.

Ever since I started Freewaregenius I have had to do a lot of research about a wide variety of free software. To keep notes, I was (and still am) using a hierarchical-notes outliner program to store and categorize all the information and links that I need to keep.

The problem with most of these hierarchical notes programs, however, is that they are not designed to clip web content and preserve it in its original state; typically the formatting and images would disappear, the links would expand and would literally take over the entire text.

Evernote is similar to Google Notebook in that it is designed to clip content off the web, maintaining it in its original state. There are differences between the two, however, which mainly stem from the fact that Google Desktop is a web service while Evernote installs on your hard drive and saves all notes and web clippings locally.

Evernote Screenshot

Evernote will install a plugin into IE and Firefox that will enable you to clip any content by highlighting it and either right clicking “Add to Evernote” or clicking the Evernote button on the browser toolbar. You can also download plugins for Outlook and Thunderbird. Here are some of the most notable features Evernote has to offer:

  • For each note you take it will store and display the original URL for reference (and traceability).
  • You can edit any note in any format; supports pasting images, dragging and dropping files . You could also lock a note to prevent it from being edited.
  • Evernote will keep track of all the “versions” a note went through as you change it, which you can bring back at the press of a button. Very impressive.
  • The Evernote explorer-like category view is simply excellent (and, moreover, allows you to categorize notes within multiple category tags). Evernote also includes a “timeline” that you can click on that keeps track of your notes based on when they were added into the system.
  • Evernote offers built in note templates types, including To-dos, shopping lists, contact forms, expenses, phone messages, source code, etc. An “ink” note option allows you to scribble on screen and will snap your scribbles to grid; one would imagine that this kind of note is useful for tablet PC”s. You can also create or import more notes templates.
  • Evernote features a search box; very handy for honing in on exactly what you want among the mass of accumulating research.
  • You can view your notes as a list of collapsed notes or as expanded notes.
  • You can perform a number of operations straight from the note view, including emailing, printing, and exporting to file. You can also drag and drop to an IM client.
  • Comes with a built in spelling checker.

My Evernote wishlist: a bookmark manager; seems like if you are a serious user of Evernote you would want your bookmarks right there as well.

Differences between free and paid versions: paid version allows synchronization of data across multiple PCs via USB, handwriting recognition for notes, and searching handwritten notes. All of which are specialized functions which, if you need them, you might as well pay for them.

The verdict: this really is an excellent program. After working with Google Notebook for a number of weeks I finally switched back to Evernote. My main reason for this was the ability to view my notes offline, as I found that in many situations not being able to get to my notes was a real hassle (in some cafes, on the bus; 90% of the content on Freewaregenius is created on the bus to and back from my work).

Moreover, being installed on the hard drive gives Evernote a definite advantage in being simply less cumbersome that Google”s web app, with much better performance overall. More than this, with to-dos and PIM-like functionality, Evernote, in my opinion, is simply a cut above Google Notebook. I highly recommend it.

Version tested:

Compatibility: Windows 2000, XP, XP Tablet Edition.

Go to the download page to download the latest version 1.5 (approx 11 megs). The program home page.