How to Find Your Stuff in Evernote

I have written previously on how to get your stuff into Evernote. In fact, I have expounded on ten different tools, including my two favorites: emailing and scanning. This is all well and good. But how do you find your stuff when you need it?

Girl Looking Through a Magnifying Glass - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/izusek, Image #3551768

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/izusek

In this post, I want to share four different techniques for finding your stuff in Evernote. Honestly, it is so simple to get started, that Evernote doesn’t even include a section on this in their Getting Started Guide. However, don’t let this fool you. Evernote provides a robust set of tools for finding almost anything—easily and on-demand.

If you are just getting started with Evernote, I suggest that you buy Brett Kelly’s remarkably practical e-book, Evernote Essentials, 4.0. It will save you HOURS of learning Evernote on your own.
  1. Click on a notebook or tag and visually scan your notes. This is the easiest way to find your stuff. Just click on one of the notebooks or tags in the left-hand sidebar. Then visually scan the notes. This works fine if you don’t have a lot of items. As you add more notes, it becomes increasingly difficult. However, it is still a useful tool, even with the more advanced techniques (keep reading).
  2. Type a search term into Evernote’s search box. This is the the technique most people use right away. It’s similar to Google, so you already know how to do it. Just start typing a search term. Evernote will start narrowing down the results in real time. If you click on a notebook or tag first, Evernote will limit the search results to those within that notebook or tag group.
  3. Familiarize yourself with Evernote’s basic search operators. This is where Evernote begins to shine. For example, if you type:
    red white blue

    Evernote will return notes that contain red, white, AND blue. In other words, this default is an “and” search. However, if you type:

    any: red white blue

    Evernote will return notes that contain red, white, OR blue. This turns an AND search into an OR search. Note: The word “any” must be the first word in this type of search.

    You can also explicitly search for tags by typing:

    tag: receipts

    If you want to reference tags that consist of multiple words, you must enclose them within quotes, like this:

    tag: “post ideas”

    If you want to search for all notes that don’t have a specific tag, you can use the minus sign:

    -tag: paid

    This will return all notes (in my case, “bills”) that are not paid. There are numerous other “operators” you can use. You can find a complete list here. It is worth clipping this page to Evernote, so you always have it at your fingertips.

  4. Save routine searches for lightening fast retrieval. This is the really cool part. Once you construct a search, you can create a “Saved Search” and re-use it whenever you need it. Just construct the search and select File | New Saved Search. Evernote will prompt you for a name, and it will be available to you with a mouse click from that point forward.

    I have Saved Searches for my Life Plan Documents (e.g., my Life Plan itself, my Ideal Week, and my Annual Time Block), Unpaid Bills, Reimbursable Expenses, Guest Posts, etc. Basically, any time I create a search, I ask, “Could I use this search again?” If so, I save it.

Someone once said, “My memory is perfect. It’s my recall that is broken.“ With Evernote, if you understand these basic search techniques, even your recall can be perfect.

Questions: Have I missed any Evernote search techniques? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://www.warriorshepherd.com/blog Dave Hearn

    Michael, 
    “New Saved Search” is grayed out for me… do I need to have the pay version for this feature?  

    • http://www.warriorshepherd.com/blog Dave Hearn

      Sorry, my bad, figured it out! (You have to have a search term entered in the search box first, duh)

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        Good. I was just about to answer you.

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    Thanks Mike for your series of posts on evernote. It encourage me as I am getting ready to go paperless in our department.

  • http://twitter.com/B_Schebs B_Schebs

    I don’t have any new search ideas, but I am really looking forward to see what other cool tips you come out with.  Thanks Michael

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    One feature that I wish Evernote had is to OCR (Optical Character Resolution) handwritten or scanned notes so that I could cut and paste the text into new documents. For instance, after a meeting, I need to transfer my handwritten notes into a document that I can send to my co-workers. I can scan in or take a photo of my notes and get the image in Evernote. Their OCR can search the text and find words, but it currently doesn’t allow me to highlight the text so I can copy and paste into my word processor. There are third party apps that do this, but it would be nice to see it included in the product.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, that would be cool. I agree.

  • http://jeremysconfessions.com Jeremy Statton

    I just started scanning documents into Evernote and I love it. I was able to get rid of the large filing cabinet in my office and now I just use a much smaller one. With the easy search features, there are documents that I have not seen in years that could be useful and now much easier to find instead of digging through the cabinet.

    • Jmhardy97

      Jeremy,

      I did the same thing and Evernote has made me a more organized person. Just by following the simple steps of Evernote, I am much more organized and detailed with my filing.

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      I understand completely!  I have files full of documents that I never have used because they are too hard to dig though and find in the filing cabinet.  But with EN, I’m using them much more easily! It’s great having access to what I know I have (or didn’t) and just didn’t know where to look for it.

  • http://chriscornwell.org Chris Cornwell

    the depths of evernote just simply amaze me. I need to just jump in and start using it to its full potential.

    • http://www.forward-living.com W. Mark Thompson

      I’m with you, Chris. I actually tried to jump in and start using it’s full potential. But found myself wading around in the shallow end. Gotta get used to using it first. Sticking with it though. I’ll be on the diving board pretty soon. 

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        And it’s a lot like an iceberg in the pool.  I thought I knew it well, but more and more I’m finding that there is so much beneath the surface…

  • http://www.powerfeedback.com/ Scott Gingold

    I wish that Evernote offered an IMAP email client, especially one that worked and played well with Google Apps (Gmail) for business. I could easily see this and Evernote seamlessly interacting with one another.

    • http://refreshmentrefuge.blogspot.com Gina Burgess

      Me too! I love the program, but it is allergic to Outlook 2003

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        What problems are you having?  I use Outlook 03 and haven’t had a bit of trouble…  Maybe I’m not trying to do the same things as you though…

        • http://refreshmentrefuge.blogspot.com Gina Burgess

          Jeff, Outlook just freezes up and I get a message that the program has encountered an error would I like windows to search for a solution? (No solution and they’ll let me know when one is found.) It won’t respond to anything and I have to force close it and restart my computer. That didn’t happen until I downloaded Evernote and it hasn’t happened since I uninstalled it. The funny thing is, I had downloaded it a few days before I started using it and only after I started using it did the problem with Outlook start happening. Then it took a few days before I realized it was Evernote causing the problem.

          It just might have been a download problem, but I’m afraid to reinstall it because it might be conflicting with another program and it just shows up in Outlook. I am not using Business Contacts because it doesn’t work with Windows 7, so it isn’t that.

          • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

            Weird.  I’m using Windows 7, Outlook 03, without business contacts, and haven’t run into anything remotely like that.  I’m at a complete loss….  Thanks for the description though, I’ll know what to do if something starts happening.

          • http://refreshmentrefuge.blogspot.com Gina Burgess

            Well, now I’m just plain jealous!

          • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

            Lol!  I can’t understand it.  There must be some other software/hardware that’s causing the conflict that’s different between our computers.  Crazy technology!

          • http://refreshmentrefuge.blogspot.com Gina Burgess

            :D So true! I may try downloading again to see. It’s just scary when you only know enough to get yourself in deep trouble :)

          • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

            I completely understand!  Good luck!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Have you tried forwarding your email to your Evernote account? It is super-easy and very useful.

      • http://www.powerfeedback.com/ Scott Gingold

        Sorta. Based on another post you did on this subject recently I did locate my Evernote email address and do forward certain things over. I was afraid to make a wholesale change from Apple Mail (Google Apps for Biz is my provider) because of the volume of mail that I receive. Also, I was concerned that I would be creating outgoing mail in one program (i.e. Apple Mail) and receiving it another (Evernote).

        • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          I think your missing something, Scott, in your understanding of who Evernote works with your email. Evernote is more like a filing cabinet. You only forward emails that you want to refer to later. I don’t send everything there. Evernote certainly hasn’t replaced Apple Mail for me.

          • http://www.powerfeedback.com/ Scott Gingold

            Gotcha :) I was originally saying it would be great if at some point Evernote offered its own IMAP email client that worked in unison with Evernote. I really like the program, and thanks to your great posts on it, I have the paid version of it!

          • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

            I bought it pretty quick too!

      • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

        I know you’ve covered this in another post already so this conversation just reminds me of the need to explore the email process again. I usually copy and paste emails. This would certainly save time. Perhaps next time I’m tempted to copy and paste, I might save time by spending time.

        • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

          Super easy, and you can send to the notebook and use tags in the subject line to save even more time.

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        LOVE this feature!

  • http://twitter.com/MarkEntzminger Mark Entzminger

    tags: “MichaelHyatt Aweseome Evernote Brilliant”  - File>New Saved Search

    Thanks for the post.  Learned something new already today.

  • Joe Lalonde

    Thanks for more Evernote tips. Reading them makes me excited to use Evernote.

  • http://davidsantistevan.com David Santistevan

    Fantastic. I didn’t realize the searching got so detailed. Thanks Mike. Has Evernote completely replaced Microsoft Word for you?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I never use Word unless I absolutely have to. If I need a full-blown word processor, I use iWork Pages. But all my blog posts start in Evernote. Thanks.

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        I’m in the process of transferring my work from Pages to EN.  Trying to move all my saved posts over and create templates for new posts, as I have time.  Summer is so busy for me, but it’ll happen soon!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the help Michael.  I have been more intentional about using Evernote in the past month.  I am still at the stage that I can look through my notes, but It is growing.

    I have the book about this on my list, but haven’t gotten to it yet.

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      Definitely worth the time and $$$!

  • http://www.forward-living.com W. Mark Thompson

    Never heard of Evernote till I found you and your blog. But I’ve started using it now. Haven’t gotten so proficient that I’m to the “search for stuff” stage yet. But I know as I use it, I’ll find some great tips waiting for me back here. Appreciate the tips and training!

  • Bill Prettyman

    Michael, thanks for all the interesting Evernote posts. If the web page I want to clip to Evernote is longer than the screen, how do you clip it? I can only seem to keep copying and pasting as I scroll down the page.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I am only familiar with the Evernote Chrome extension. It clips the entire page (or post) no matter how long it is.

      • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

        The same is true for the Internet Explorer extension – super easy; right-click –> Add To Evernote; done.

        • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

          Or… Install the clipper tool bar.  One click.

  • Anonymous

    I am just getting into the swing of things with Evernote (yes you finally convinced me of Evernote’s worth with all your post).  The search parameters are nice to know and are a great way to search and knowing these will make it easier.  I will also set up some routine searches as well since there are several that I do often.  While tags are great, I am finding that with the search function that the tags are not as important as I thought it was.  By the way, I was trying to find a good scanner (that I can afford) and came across this
    http://www.neatco.com/ do you know anything about this?  The software seems like what you get with Evernote, but the scanner seems like it would be beneficial since it scans front and back.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I am not familiar with this scanner. Sorry.

      You’re right about tags. Evernote indexes everything inside the note. So the only time you really need a tag is (a) if you want to associate a term with the post that is not in the actual note itself or (b) you want another mechanism for secondary organizing.

  • http://www.extremejohn.com Extreme John

    I say that Evernote is a must have for creative and practical business owners.  As a business owner, Evernote is a lot like a digital personal assistant, that will remember all my thoughts and words. I use it a lot and I highly recommend it to organize and edit notes once or twice a week. 

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      Between EN and Nozbe, I’ve become much more productive, thanks to Michael Hyatt!

  • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

    Thanks for the search tips – I hadn’t seen the advanced search operators yet.

    Question for those using the iPad app:  Is there a way to apply styling to text (like bold, italics, etc.) from within the iPad app?

    • http://twitter.com/B_Schebs B_Schebs

      I have not yet found a way. I am using Evernote 4.0.4

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      I haven’t explored them yet, but I did see the search operators on the EN blog.  Great source of info.

      Don’t have an iPad………..yet.

      • http://stevencribbs.com Steven Cribbs

        Father’s Day, combined with birthday, was nice to me…  So, I am now exploring the many ways to use it – including using Evernote!

        • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

          Awesome!  Slightly jealous…

  • http://boomylabs.com Shyam Subramanyan

    Thanks for the tips…did not know that I could save searches. I would have expected a “save search” button right on the toolbar.

    Here are couple of other ways to search Evernote from the browser that I have found useful.  You could add Evernote.com as a search engine in Google Chrome preferences and search your notes from the Chrome location bar.  Second, you can turn on “simultaneous search” on your Chrome Evernote extension setting and google searches will also return your Evernote hits as well. I think these are possible with Firefox as well…

    • http://refreshmentrefuge.blogspot.com Gina Burgess

      Yes, I discovered this by accident in my Firefox browser.

      • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

        What is Chrome? Just kidding. Accidental seems my main learning mode. I think that’s how I found Michael’s website in the first place.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, this is true. I use Chrome, but I had forgotten about this. Thanks.

      • Anonymous

        I use Chrome and I like the Evernote add in for it.

    • http://twitter.com/B_Schebs B_Schebs

      This is just Amazing.  If only I talk my office into allowing us to download things like Chrome and Evernote to our work computers.

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        I feel your pain.  I finally got our church staff onto a Nozbe group account.  Increased productivity several times over.  Now EN…

  • http://refreshmentrefuge.blogspot.com Gina Burgess

    Mike, your series was crucially helpful for me when I decided to download and start using it. I found it very helpful and looked forward to great, organized posts and even books… but, I had to uninstall it because it caused a lot of problems with Outlook and my computer kept freezing up. I guess I’ll have to wait until I upgrade from 2003 to 2010 Office…

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I’m sorry to hear that. Hopefully, you can upgrade soon and begin using Evernote again.

      • http://refreshmentrefuge.blogspot.com Gina Burgess

        Hopefully so, since it is such a time saver–once you learn the program!

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      I’m using Outlook 03 with EN.  No problems at all.  What kind of issues were you experiencing?

  • http://LookingForPurpose.com Dylan Dodson

    I have never used evernote, although all your posts on it are starting to persuade me to try it out!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Great! It’s free to get started.

    • bethanyplanton

      You won’t regret it. 

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      I started this year (free version) and love the system.

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      Worth the time!

  • http://jbdeaton.com J. Ben Deaton

    Michael, I am really enjoying this series. One related question: how do you feel Evernote will scale once you have been using it at your current pace for, say, 5 or 10 years? Do you have a method for “archiving” notebooks for completed projects? I have been using it more and more, but one of my concerns is whether eventually I’ll have so many notes that it’ll become untenable. Thanks for all your valuable insight. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That’s a great question. I don’t know that I have a good answer, other than storage space is becoming cheaper and cheaper.

      I don’t have a method of archiving, other than bills, which I tag as “paid.”

  • bethanyplanton

    Every time you write a post on Evernote, I am impressed with all it does. It is such a great tool. 

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      And so much more than meets the eye!

  • http://alexspeaks.com Alex Humphrey

    I just started using evernote today, so there’s not a lot for me to search yet. However, I did copy this into my “evernote” notebook so I could review it later =D

  • Jmhardy97

    The more I learn about Evernote, the more I love it. I am a fan and I continue to add to it everyday.

    Jim

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I am the same way.

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    Have you missed any? That’s a question for someone else. You’ve given me more ways to find stuff than I figure I need at this point. Fortunately, when and if a problem arises, I can easily search for Evernote on your blog and find the solution.

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    I love the search functions.  They are extremely valuable.  I’m in the process of learning just how valuable the saved searches can be.  Thanks for the great tut.

  • Ben Komanapalli

    I do use the ‘favorites’ option on the iphone app. It helps me to quickly get to the notes that I see regularly. Eg. My workouts, to do list, school assignments etc. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I like the Favorites option, too. Very handy.

      • Ben Komanapalli

        I was never able to find the Favorites option on the desktop? Is it only for the iphone app or am I missing something?

        • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          Yes, just on the iPhone app. (I haven’t checked other devices other than the desktop Mac client.)

  • http://wewannado.com Ryan K

    I have started using Evernote more and more with your advice. Didn’t know about the search tip so thanks!

  • Earlboston

    Is there any way to search audio notes other than the title?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Not that I am aware of.

  • Anonymous

    I loved the Evernote Blog Series. I am using this tool now more and more. Thanks for making it so easy. A Great Teacher make the learning an easy and memorable experience. Thanks again

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  • http://twitter.com/gotofritz fritz

    Nice post. I have some more search tips here for those interested
    http://blog.gotofritz.net/geekery/advanced-evernote-search/

  • Mikehardin63

    I need to be able to search for one term, and then any of two others. Example:

    People AND (Dogs OR Cats)

    The syntax above doesn’t work in evernote though.  Is there a way to do this?

  • http://blog.cyberquill.com/ Cyberquill

    You can also use do a regular Ctrl+F search (in Windows; not sure as to the Mac equivalent) in the Note Panel to locate all instances of a particular search term within a note, the advantage being that you can then simply hit Enter and click from one instance of the search term to the next. 

    Because when you type your search term into the Evernote search window instead, although all instances of the search term in the note are highlighted and Evernote automatically scrolls to the first occurrence of it in the Note panel,  in order to locate all additional instances of the term, you’d have to scroll through the note by hand to catch them, which is a bit cumbersome.  

    I find this worth mentioning because I just tested Evernote myself, and it took me almost 24 hours to figure out that I could use the Ctrl+F function, too.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      It is similar on the Mac, except the keyboard shortcut is ⌘-F (command-F). Thanks.

  • Rykmann

    How can I search a pdf document in a note? I have tried using the operator –  note: notename that returns the following, “match all of the following: contains words starting with: note.”

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  • Rschamess

    I’ve been looking for how to get Evernote to show up as a shortcut in my Finder.  So that, for instance, if I’m in gmail and want to attach a file (on Evernote) to an email, a shortcut will show up in “Places,” like it does for my Dropbox.  Yes?

  • Dsockrider

    I am looking for a way to search for notes that I emailed out of evernote…to others… any suggestions would be appreciated.

  • Irene Griffey

    I had Evernote on my old computer.  Have new Windows 8 on new computer.  Please tell me how to get to “my stuff” stored in Evernote on my old computer.  Where is my stuff?  I can’t find it!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Your stuff is in the cloud. Once you log in on your new device, all your Evernote data will appear.

  • Connie M

    Thanks for the great info! I have been using evernote for a while, but I just installed it on my new windows 8 laptop. I can not find a search bar anywhere on it. Do you know if they hid it somewhere on this version? I am sure it it hiding in plain sight and I will feel silly when I find it, but I can’t seem to make it happen right now. Thank you!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I don’t use Windows 8, so I am afraid I can’t help you. I would post your question on the Evernote Discussion Forums. Thanks.