Why I use Evernote: A reporter’s confession

Reporters are pretty terrible at keeping records – I know it’s not just me. Go ahead and ask one to hand over the report they wrote a story about last June. I’ll wait here for a while as they frantically check sent folders and try to remember where on their hard drive they may have placed the thing.

So I’ve started using Evernote, which is a computer program (and corresponding app) that lets you save things on remote servers and access from whichever device you are using. I know that sounds like the most boring thing about journalism ever, but it’s actually made a huge difference in my job and I’ve only been using it for a week.

So here are six reasons why I’m using the program, in what might be the world’s most boring journalism-related blog post of all time.

Many computers

So on any given day I may work on my basement desktop, laptop, work desktop, iPhone and/or iPad. Any files I create end up on those hard drives and it can be a pain to find them. I try to keep on top of it by creating story folders in Dropbox and saving things to them, but it’s laborious and easy to forget. Evernote looks the same on every computer I use and the apps are synched, so it’s a mindless way to put files in one place.


I find e-mail the biggest pain in the ass of all. Especially attachments. Do you keep them? Save them in a folder on a hard drive? I never figured it out. Evernote gives each account a unique e-mail so you can just fling things into folders from your client (it even adds a button in Outlook to save you the trouble of actually forwarding).

Text files

Here’s where it’s different than DropBox – it has a good text editor. So now, I’m taking notes as I do interviews right inside of Evernote. I create a folder for a story and then type away. I’m not creating Word files and then saving them in the cloud, I’m actually working on them in the cloud. I know this is boring, and maybe obvious, but starting in Evernote means I’ll remember to save there too.


While Dropbox lets me dump everything somewhere, Evernote actually shows me what I have in a folder. So if I save a story-related PDF into a folder, it shows up as a PDF. Pictures are pictures. And you can play audio files from within the program.. This saves the open-close-open-close searching that I sometimes have to do to find information in a bunch of documents that all have similar names.


Bookmarking stuff on the Internet is fine and all and I know you can make them fairly portable, but by clicking one button in Chrome I can save stuff directly into Evernote folders. This is a surprisingly handy way to get screen shots, save recipes and other content heavy stuff you might want when you’re out shopping or whatever, and having records of important things you’ve found online that may never ever be useful again (but just might be worth saving anyway).


But that’s nothing – the most important feature (and this is part of the $50 premium package) is that you can search documents. So all I need to do is type in a keyword and every document that contains that word is listed. Anyone with a pile of Word docs and a stack of PDFs should drool at the prospect of a fully-indexed archive of materials.