For a while now I have been using a little tool / service called Instapaper. It’s a free web site that lets you store Web links for reading later. I use it a lot as I am constantly inundated during the day with new stuff to check out online. A new application, a tech resource, that new funny YouTube or Break movie, a book I want to buy and so on. If I spent the time during the day to check these things out in detail, I wouldn’t get any work done. With Instapaper, I had a Javascript bookmarklet in my browser. If I saw something online I needed to look into later, I just press the little bookmarklet and a link to that page is automagically saved to my account. Then at night, or while I waiting at the dentist office or whenever I had time, I could go back and read up on all those interesting tidbits. While Instapaper is nice, it is very simple. Bookmarklet, and a white web page with links. Nothing wrong with that, just simple.

Yesterday I found a new site, Evernote. It’s like InstaPaper on steroids. Evernote offers the functionality of a bookmarklet that saves web links to a free online account, just like InstaPaper. But EverNote doesn’t stop there. First, it doesn’t just store the web page link, it stores the page itself. So you can actually just read that page right in Evernote. You can also store pictures and audio. When you save pictures, Evernote scans them for words and stores those as keyword with the picture, making searching more effective. You can also assign tags to anything you save for categorizing items and again better searching. Evernote also has tons of ways to store the things you need to remember. I already mentioned the bookmarklet, which they call the “Web clipper.” In addition to the clipper, Evernote also offers desktop applications for Windows and Mac with super simple and clean interfaces. They also offer an iPhone application, and an application Windows Mobile devices. With all these options, it’s incredibly easy to save almost anything from anywhere.

The best thing about Evernote is that all of this, 40Mb/month of storage, and the applications to access your information is all free. They do offer a Premium account for $45/year ($5/mo). The premium plan gets you 500Mb/month of storage, SSL encryption, priority image text recognition, better tech support, and removes the ads (which I haven’t seen any of so far). Oh yeah, and a free t-shirt comes with the premium plan.

So you’re probably thinking that Evernote sounds nice, but you’re not sure you would find it useful. Here’s a few idea of ways I used it and ways I’ve seen or read about other people using it:

  • Save Web pages that you want to read later
  • To-Do list
  • Save white board notes
  • Snap and save pictures of business cards, wine labels
  • Wish list tool – save items from online stores or pictures of products from real stores that you want to buy / receive as a gift (music, books, tools, etc)
  • Save Code snippets or commonly used math formulas
  • Save digital receipts for online purchases / bill payments
  • Store software serial numbers (although for security, you may want to go premium for this use)
  • Save important instant message conversations (you know the ones where your boss promises you a promotion!)
  • PDFs of documents to read or review

So, do you use Evernote now? Could you use Evernote? I’d be interested in hearing how you do or think you could use this service. Also, if you have better suggestion, I’d be open to hearing about it. Just keep in mind that in addition to being better than Evernote, it would have to also have a better icon (I love the elephant!)

Evernote Screen

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