An update on Evernote, after about a decade part 2


Evernote is great. = an anecdote. The plural of anecdote is “data” and purpose of this article is to analyze the data on my Evernote journey, out loud and share the impressions of value in use over time.

Member since May 2008 (119 calendar months), but did not start adding notes to Evernote until July 2009 when I listened to the passage of GETTING THINGS DONE covered in the previous post. So I’ve been an active user of Evernote for 105 months of the 119 months I’ve had an Evernote subscription. After my “Aha! I should use Evernote as my reference fling system!” I broke my 14 month string of zero captured notes. Here is a raw time series:

Here are the data by month. October to February is moving time (5 times in 10 years) where I scan like crazy to recycle paper and avoid moving atoms. Bits are lighter. 

Notes By Month
Month Max of EverNotes/Mo Average of EverNotes/Mo Count of Mon
Jan 542 260 10
Feb 906 243 10
Mar 381 192 10
Apr 369 167 10
May 600 187 11
Jun 458 152 11
Jul 637 186 11
Aug 464 174 11
Sep 364 149 11
Oct 1,260 382 11
Nov 808 206 11
Dec 1,173 487 11

In earlier years, before Evernote went to a 10 GB upload limit per month, I could scan more documents than I could upload in a month. So for 2011 I was waiting until the end of the month, then uploading as many documents as I could. Evernote for a while then, allowed me to buy more uploading capacity, and I did that several times.

Notes By Year
Year Max of EverNotes/Mo Average of EverNotes/Mo Count of Mon
2009 464 147 12
2010 1,090 139 12
2011 1,260 328 12
2012 1,177 291 12
2013 238 128 12
2014 906 316 12
2015 222 150 12
2016 808 260 12
2017 1,012 284 12
2018 440 382 12

Avg. Notes By Month and Year
EverNotes/Mo Year
Mon 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Jan 68 542 276 165 113 132 238 370 440
Feb 61 71 110 88 906 216 219 194 323
Mar 53 381 184 117 179 154 255 216
Apr 27 65 118 100 369 208 154 298
May 46 37 120 132 600 138 132 290
Jun 31 68 109 167 458 124 118 140
Jul 165 20 98 637 165 139 142 149 155
Aug 464 15 50 311 94 222 57 120 234
Sep 36 18 137 174 100 364 130 242 143
Oct 10 25 1,260 1,177 238 228 157 160 183
Nov 127 212 56 163 81 127 116 808 167
Dec 80 1,090 1,173 111 84 91 222 522 1,012

How to track how many notes you have by Month in Evernote. Expand this image:

Trick #1 is to set the Evernote client to “Snippet view” so that you see the monthly note totals, and Trick #2, is to type “created:YYYYMMDD” in the search dialog. Evernote will then show you all the notes since the date you entered. So to find all the notes since 20100101 (the example above) you type in created:20100101 and then look at the top of the notes list, for the count for the month. I regenerated the notes count from scratch for this post (long ago I could count by hand!) 10 years is 120 data points. Easy.

  • Three “I likes” for Evernote:
    • The web clipper add in for web browser is great, the single most important thing for new Evernote users to do, is to install WebClipper.
      • But web clipper does not always work. Internet formats are ever changing and WebClipper is always a little behind. But web clipper alone makes Evernote worth the investment.
    • Evernote allows reference files to be wherever you have a computer.
    • I love using OneNote and Evernote together. This drives my friends a Microsoft a little crazy, but I don’t see Evernote and OneNote as competitors.
  • Three “I wishes” for Evernote:
    • Evernote had an imaginative simulated note metaphor.
      • If you’ve seen the HP Sprout demo videos on Youtube, they have an interface for graphics that is projector/touchpad based:

and I wish that Evernote had this kind of interface to manipulate notes

  • Three “I wishes” continued:
    • Evernote had a cross between data validation, and hard drive defrag.
      • I’m almost 100% PDFs stored in Evernote, and it *feels* to me after using Evernote after a decade, that PDFs have a tendency to multiply like rabbits. Cloned rabbits. Multiple copies over time.
      • I have lost notes, and figured out that the notes were lost a few times over the past 10 years (the “shepherd’s pie recipe debacle of 2015”), but mostly, I just have to trust Evernote.
    • For high quality Android clients
      • Evernote is worth having on a phone so you can capture picture notes. But don’t try any heavy lifting.
      • On Kindle Fires of recent vintage, Evernote android app is un-useful. Kindle Fires just do not have the storage capacity (even with a 128 GB memory card) or CPU speed to manage Evernote.


ScanSnap GTD Tricks #1: Next Action Stamp


As I was depositing a check with my ScanSnap this morning, I had the idea that I should post a few ScanSnap GTD tricks. Then Joe Terrana posted a comment to the 2014 Getting Started with Getting Things Done post, with a cool *new* trick.


Go to Amazon, then order this custom rubber stamp, and then follow the instructions to “Contact Seller” and send them “Next Action” as the message for the stamp.

Then once the scanner arrives, you can stamp paper with “Next Action” scan the paper into Evernote (Click here to subscribe to Evernote), and then after Evernote does optical character recognition (OCR) on the stamped part of the note, you can search for “Next actions” and find all of your scanned next actions.

Very slick.

Very Simple!

Thank you Joe for the ScanSnap GTD Trick #1.

bill meade

p.s., I had the idea, since Evernote also attempts to recognize hand-written characters, that I could scan a note card with “Next Action” on it, and perhaps achieve the same result as using a custom rubber stamp. Here is what the card looks like:


Expecting Evernote to be able to read my handwriting is not a fair test, I know. But, it seemed like a fun trial. Evernote’s explanation of how OCR works says that it take a “few minutes.” I’ve always assumed that Evernote takes “over night” to complete OCR operations, so we’ll see how long it takes for this note:

  • 1st check on indexing status: 20 minutes later … not indexed.
  • 2nd check on indexing status: 11 hours later … not indexed.
  • 3rd check on indexing status: 23:10 later … not indexed.
  • 4th check on indexing status: 33 hours later … INDEXED!!!!

However long it takes, I’ll update this post after Evernote indexes the card to see if it is possible to simply write “Next Action” and have OCR recover the magic GTD words.

You can tell if an Evernote note has been indexed by clicking on the i at the upper right of the note:


And then looking at “Attachment Status” 3/4 of the way down the dialog box (red arrow).

While it is true that GTD indexing can be measured in minutes 33 * 60 = 1,980 minutes. It is not a safe workflow to depend on Evernote scanning documents immediately.

Success … kind of

After my index card was OCR’d by Evernote, I am able to search for the word “Next” but alas, “action” in my hand writing was not recognized. :-(


I was not able to determine precisely how long it took for Evernote to do the text recognition.

Lesson Learned:

You can buy a self inking stamp, and Evernote will read it. Thanks again Joe Terrana for giving me the stamp idea, so I could have the stepping stone idea of just writing “next action” on the card.

It would be smart to create a sample card for yourself, scan it, and then see if Evernote can recognize your hand writing. In fact, if you’ve already written “next action” on a 3×5 card that you scanned into Evernote, you might be able to test this out today. Just search on the GTD Magic Words! 

Be careful what you wish for …

Keith posted a reply to the blog post on Ever-noteCards pointing me to This post is a quick look at CardDesk.

What is it?

CardDesk is a bolt-on web interface to Evernote that allows you to drag your notes from the left column, and drop them on a cork board, where they turn into electronic note cards. Here is what CardDesk looks like pointing at my “Graphics” notebook where I’ve pulled out four notes and turned them into cards:

Cards are organized into groups by creating desktops. The cork board above is one desktop with four notes on it. It *appears* that the desktop is limited in size to your screen size. Notes can not be moved off the edge of the screen. You can also zoom out from the desktop to make it larger, but you can’t grab a desktop and pan across it like a Google map. This allows you to put a card at the edge of the desktop, but once there, you can’t zoom it up in size. Zooming in takes you back to the top left corner of the desktop.

You can edit notes by double clicking them, which opens Evernote web. Oops, time to get on with how it works …

How Does It Work?

CardDesk is a web application. Not a plug-in to Evernote desktop on your computer. You authorize CardDesk to access your Evernote account, and when you drag a card from a notebook, it can take time for the note to download to CardDesk. So, best to have a big internet pipe.

Cards can be removed from the desktop by selecting “Remove Cards” at the top of the desktop. Right clicking on a card does not control CardDesk, you see just the normal browser options.

To make a note a card, you hover your mouse over the left edge of the CardDesk window and your Evernote notebooks pop up to allow you to scroll across your notebooks and see your notes. You can “pin” CardDesk’s menu so that it stays open. But, if you have not organized your Evernote system into notebooks, you’ll have to do a lot of scrolling or querying to find your notes.

And … you can’t text query your Evernote tags. You have to open tags (bottom of list at left same as in the Evernote client) and clicking on them. Once you find the note you want to make into a card, you drag it to the desktop (cork board).

What Are The Problems?

  1. CardDesk is not yet deep indulgent or complete.At present, CardDesk is a toy app. Shortcut notes are gone (big deal for me) from upper left. Once I create desktops in CardDesk I won’t be able to access them inside Evernote on my computer. Cards are rigidly stuck in orthogonal relationship to one another (upper left hand corners of all cards are always at the same rotation).

    Even though a toy app, CardDesk is the best integrated web app that I’ve seen touch Evernote.

  2. CardDesk’s grouping capabilities for notes, are too limited. CardDesk can’t compete with paper 3×5 cards.I’m looking for a note card manager that can allow me to spread out many cards, and then drag them around into groups. I think of this as “letting the cards talk to each other.”

    This is a natural planning tool from Mr. Edmundson, David Allen’s high school English teacher (GTD Chapter 3, p. 72). And, CardDesk can’t yet approach cards talking to each other.

    For example, you can’t drag a notebook to CardDesk to get all the cards on the desktop at once. Further, you can’t select all the cards in a notebook and drag them to the desktop at once. CardDesk currently sticks you with dragging notes one by one. Ugh for a big project.

    Electronic note card programs are dying from the lack of breakthrough ways to extend human powers of grouping. Evernote’s “related notes” function is currently the best card tool for automatic group finding. Yet, just a baby step in the direction of a killer app for conceptual grouping of information.

  3. No Thing 2 (click and do the scroll down)Being able to morph cards from computer screen to paper, mark them up, and then import them back to the computer, is a killer capability for mental-antiques like me who have to write on paper. And CardDesk isn’t in the ball park of this functionality yet.

CardDesk is a step in the right direction, but for now, I’m staying with physical 3×5 cards.

bill meade