How to Get Your Stuff into Evernote

It is no secret that I am a big fan of Evernote. It is one of those amazing tools that can radically boost your productivity. I use it probably more than any other program other than Mac Mail. It has enabled me to realize my dream of a paperless office.

Evernote Import Diagram

But Evernote can also be initially intimidating. The program is so deep and feature-rich that new users hardly know where to start. It is like buying a Swiss Army Knife. I personally used it for two years for little more than typing meeting notes into it.

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.

Now, after several months of really exploring the program, I have discovered ten different tools for getting my content into Evernote:

  1. Type It. You can create a note and start typing. I find this particularly helpful for brainstorming, taking meeting notes (especially on the iPad), outlining a speech, or even—as I am doing now—writing a blog post.
  2. Email it. You can forward any email to your unique Evernote address, and it will show up in your default notebook a few seconds later. I do this several times a day. I often add additional comments to the note and tag it.
  3. Scan it. While I have gone paperless in my office, not everyone else in the world has. As a result, I still must process paper. If I determine that I need to save a copy of the letter, invoice, invitation, etc., I scan it directly into Evernote with my ScanSnap scanner. I then toss the paper into the recycling bin.
  4. Clip it. When I encounter an interesting blog post or web page, I use the Evernote extension for Chrome to clip the entire page directly into Evernote. When I do so, I can assign it to a notebook and add any relevant tags. Evernote has these extensions or add-ins available for most browsers.
  5. Paste it. Sometimes, I don’t want to save an entire email message or a web page. Perhaps I just want to save a quote, an image, or some other interesting item. No problem. I just select the text, copy it to the clipboard, and then use a keyboard shortcut to save whatever is on the clipboard to a new note.
  6. Drag it. If I have a file I want to save to Evernote, I can select it in Finder and then drag it to the Evernote icon on the dock. Evernote then creates a new note with the file attached. Note: With the free version of Evernote, you are limited to image, audio, ink, and PDF files. With the premium version, you can attach any kind of file.
  7. Print it. If you are working on a file in another program and want to save a copy in Evernote, you can select File | Print and then (at least on a Mac) “print” a PDF of the file to Evernote. Note that when you save a PDF to Evernote, it becomes fully searchable.

    Screenshot of Save PDF to Evernote

  8. Record it. Admittedly, I don’t use this much, but you could use this to record a note to yourself, a phone conversation, a meeting, or a lecture. (Make sure you first familiarize yourself with the laws pertaining to recording these various items.) This option is especially handy on the iPhone when you want to record an idea but aren’t in a position to type it.
  9. Photograph it. This is particularly useful with the iPhone. I use it all the time. Recently, for example, Gail and I were shopping for a couple of side chairs for my home office. We took pictures of the ones we liked and stored them in Evernote. It was the a simple matter of reviewing them when we got home. I have taken pictures of medications, license plates, and printer cartridges, etc. As an added bonus, Evernote indexes all the text in the picture.
  10. Automate It. This is a bit technical, but I found it worth the effort. You can create a new “Mac service” that allows you to right-click on a file in Finder and send it directly to Evernote. You can also create an Auto Import folder using the Mac’s “Folder Actions.” Once you set it up, any file you save or drag into that folder will be immediately added to Evernote. I didn’t know what any of this meant until I set it up, using the links I have provided. It took me about 20 minutes to do it.

You don’t have to use all of these techniques, of course. However, I think it is worth familiarizing yourself with them, so you know what tools you have in the tool chest. You can then select the appropriate tool for the job. My goal has to make these second-nature, so that I can quickly add items to Evernote and keep working on the task at hand.

Question: Which of these tools do you find yourself using the most? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • Sbmike

    Have not been able to find an answer to this, but can believe I am the only person where this is an issue.  Is there any way to import my notes from mac lion mail or mac mountain lion notes application to evernote?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Not that I am aware of. However, I found a forum thread here. It might give you some ideas.

  • Fabio

    Just a question: could i use Evernote to save taken notes  from ebook i’m reading on a Ebook Reader (Android OS) ?

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  • Brandon

    Just wondering if you have found ‘Clearly’? It is also a Chrome plugin which will clean up a website before you send it to Evernote. Takes out ads and unwanted extras.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      It is slick. However, I found myself not using it. I uninstalled it yesterday. ;-)

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  • http://www.zachlavalley.com/ Zach LaValley

    Outstanding post.

    Don’t forget “Screenshot into Evernote”. Click the little elephant in the tool bar (top-right for Mac, probably bottom right on PC), and then click “Clip Full Screen to Evernote”. This is a fun and fast one. I guess it could fall under Photographing Into Evernote.

  • http://www.DavidASpecht.com/ David A Specht

    Here is a quick question… I am using Pages, Evernote and Dropbox. I want to save my Pages documents directly into Evernote. Is there a way to do that in one step? Right now, I save Pages documents in a folder (usually in Dropbox) and then drag them into a note in Evernote. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      That is the only way I know to do it. Sorry.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      David,
      Hey— I think step #7 solves that problem right? If you hit print (although you are not printing) and click the little pdf button at the bottom (see Michael’s image) and hit save PDF to evernote. I hope this is what you were looking for?

    • http://www.zachlavalley.com/ Zach LaValley

      David, you can also set up an automated action on ifttt.com

      It allows you to set up a little trick so that when you save something to a designated place in your DropBox Public folder, it will also put a link to that file in a new Evernote note.

      But, are you trying to save a PDF or an actual .pages file to Evernote?  Or just the content of the document into Evernote? And will you be editing it? If so, you’d need to re-send to Evernote each time.

  • Martin Hamilton

    Importing of .vnt (vNote) files would be a very nice feature. I have about 100 of these exported by email (one by one grrr) from my old Samsung phone’s Memo app and sitting on my PC’s hard drive waiting for a new home. Will it be Evernote?

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  • sony

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  • Teresa

    Great info, slowly making my way through your productivity posts and the evernote essentials ebook.
    What are the shortcuts, or how do you set them up, for sending what’s on the clipboard to evernote? Also, how do you send recordings to evernote?

    Thanks.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      You can setup the keyboard shortcuts in the Preferences screen. You can record directly from within Evernote. Thanks.

  • Michael Pierce

    I use a slight variation of the Drag it method. When working with a document (Excel, Numbers, Word, etc.), I just grab the document icon from the application title bar and drag it to the Evernote icon in my dock. Evernote then creates a new note with the document already attached.

    Similar to your approach, but without having to save the document to your hard drive and then access it via Finder. Very handy when opening attachments from email (Outlook won’t let me drag the attachment to Evernote without opening the file).

  • D

    My memory on my ipad is pretty well all used up. I use evernote for my counselling session to type and record. How do I export my sessions notes/recordings on to my mac at home and free up space on my iPad?

  • Gary Rudd

    Exactly the information I needed! Did NOT know about the clipboard to evernote shortcut – brilliant! (Yes I see I am 3 years late to the dance but!!)