Getting started with Evernote: The Basics

Evernote released its latest update to their iOS apps last week, prompting existing users to (largely) rejoice and likely acquiring a slew of new users. Evernote is a solid service – you can do a whole lot with it – but the fact it can do so much is what makes it daunting for the first-time user.

So I’ve put together a small starter guide to get you going as you wade into Evernote for the first time.

Once you’ve signed up for Evernote and either installed it on your computer or decide to dive into the web interface, it’s time to create your first note.

1. Creating Your First Note

In the main Evernote window, you’ll see a large button labeled “New Note” at the top, so just click that button and you’ll be on your way. The new note will appear and the cursor will be placed right within the body of the note so you can enter whatever text you want. You can then title the note to give it some context, as well as add other information by tagging the note.

Creating a new note from the homescreen of Evernote for iOS. Note the Notebooks tab, this is where you create and manage notebooks.
Creating a new note from notes view in Evernote for iOS


2. Creating Notebooks

Creating a notebook is just as easy, and they allow you to put notes inside specific notebooks so that you can keep things better organized. I’ve created several notebooks in my Evernote database, starting with Personal and Professional.

Creating notebooks in Evernote for iOS

I’ve gone even deeper and added notebooks within notebooks that represent different aspects of my personal and professional life. You don’t need to go into that much detail, but I’d strongly suggest you keep notes organized within notebooks in the same way you keep file folders in a file cabinet. Otherwise you could end up with just a mess of notes with no real rhyme or reason to where they relate in your life.

3. Install Web Clipper

I’d go and grab the Evernote Web Clipper. Why? Because you can start using it right away to populate Evernote with any material you might want to read later, for example. I also use it to grab links for research for blog posts, and more.

When you use the web clipper, you can add tags to make things easier to find and assign what notebook in Evernote that you want it to go in. You can also add notes and choose whether or not you want to clip the entire page and/or save the page URL. You can also simply highlight portions of web content for clipping as well, which is great for quotes and gathering specific excerpts of blog posts.

Web clipper on your Mac or PC. No web clipper for iOS yet.

4. Start Collecting!

You can also share notes using email, Twitter, or Facebook, meaning that you can share any content you’ve found (or created) right from within the Evernote web app or any of the platforms on which Evernote is available.

There is a lot more you can do with Evernote, including adding the Evernote-compatible products and services that would enhance your Evernote experience by accessing Evernote Trunk. I’d also go ahead and install Evernote on your mobile devices so you that you can stay connected with the service no matter where you are. Spend some time getting familiar with the basic of Evernote, keep it organized, and you’ll find that Evernote can be a very useful tool.

Head over to to sign up for the service and grab Evernote for iOS here.

Photo credit: whatleydude (CC BY 2.0)