When I first purchased my Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet, several years ago, I dabbled with an earlier stand-alone version of Evernote. It presented a never-ending scratch-pad of sorts that I could write on with the tablet’s stylus. It was nice, even useful, but it didn’t supplant OneNote as my primary note-keeping software, until recently.
- It’s free. Free accounts permit up to 40 Megabytes of new notes to be added / synced per month. I haven’t come close to using my monthly capacity in the two months I’ve used it (I have used, perhaps 1/4 of that).
- More than Text Notes: With the free version you can keep text, photo, audio clip and handwritten notes (in my case, written with a stylus on my tablet laptop). You can also import PDF files into notes in the free version.
- Multiplatform Syncing: These notes are continuously synced, accessible and editable across my three primary PCs (Thinkpad tablet, Dell XPS desktop and my iMac) and my iPhone.
- Accessible from the Cloud: I can access and edit these notes through my Evernote account in the cloud.
- Notes Backed Up: By virtue of its syncing across multiple platforms and a copy of all notes residing in the cloud, my notes are continuously backed-up across my systems and off-site.
- Tagging & Search: You can tag notes, structure the tags in a hierarchy (if you like – see the picture of part of my tag hierarchy on the right) and sort them how you chose. Or don’t. Instead, you can rely on its formidable search engine to find your notes. Either way, notes I wrote years ago (imported from OneNote) are as easy to find as notes I wrote yesterday.
- Indexes Text in Images: Surprisingly, Evernote can index text in images. If I take a picture of a bottle of wine, a business card, a plane ticket, or even hand written notes on my tablet, it will scan and index that text. That text then becomes searchable when looking for the note containing the image at a later date.
- Clip From Anywhere: Evernote adds toolbar icons in Firefox and IE that allow you to clip webpage contents, text, columns or images into a note. You can clip entire pages or just a few paragraphs. Additionally, pressing Print-Screen on a PC (Control-Command-C on the iMac ) fires up a screen ‘Clipper’ app that can grab a screen shot of any running app or the entire desktop (or portion thereof). You can cut and paste from any app on an iPhone into the Evernote app.
See this ‘What is Evernote’ page for more details on what it does.
As described in more detail below, among other things Dropbox: (i) allows me to securely sync office documents between my PCs and Mac at any location; (ii) unchains me from my office PC; (iii) liberates me from coding on a single PC; and (iv) allows me to draft and maintain my Windows Live Writer blog posts from any of my PCs situated anywhere.
- Sync: Dropbox synchronizes your key files between any number of Internet-connected PCs, laptops or Macs, effortlessly and instantaneously.
- Access Your Key Files Anywhere: Synced files are also maintained on the Dropbox servers. You can login to your account from any web-enabled computer to securely access your files (download or upload).
- Security: All file transmissions occur over an encrypted SSL channel. All files stored on Dropbox servers are encrypted using AES-256 encryption accessible only by you with your account password.
- Backup: Because your files are synced across at least two PCs, your files are effectively backed-up.
- Real-Time Offsite Backup: Because your files are also copied to the Dropbox servers, they are effectively backed-up, off site, in real-time.
- Undo/File Recovery: Remarkably, Dropbox maintains a 30 day history of every change made to your files so you can undo changes or undelete accidently deleted files.
- Shared Files & Folders: You can share files and folders with other drop-box users. For example, you could set up a shared folder of photos accessible only by friends and family through their Dropbox accounts.
- iPhone App Coming Soon: You can view all your Word, PowerPoint, Excel, PDF, etc. files using the free Dropbox iPhone App coming soon (see iPhone, Blackberry and other Dropbox mobile details here).
How I use Dropbox
- Office Document Use: As a lawyer I access, edit and annotate Word documents and pdfs all day, every day. When I move from my PC to my laptop, I save the file I’m working on and by the time I shift to my laptop, the changes made to that file are synced to my laptop. Similarly any edits made on the laptop are instantaneously synced back to the desktop. No longer do I have to email the document to myself, save it to a USB key, copy to/from network drives. I simply open and save files on whatever PC, laptop, or Mac I’m using, and the latest version is instantly available on the other synced devices.