Aug ’12

Today I would like to talk about Evernote and show some consideration and some advice on using some secondary functions.

Merge Notes

Evernote has a feature that allows you to combine two or more notes. When two or more notes are selected are displayed in the "pannel note" a number of options, among these there is the command "Merge", the same command is accessible via right click on selected notes and is called "Merge Notes". Once pressed, you create a new note which is the sum of the selected notes, this new note will have the title as the title of the first note and will be inserted in the Notebook from the first note, it will have all tags of source Notes. Inside the new Note will be all titles and text of selected notes. Every note will keep his title that will be inserted in a grey rectangle, in the same rectangle will be added, if present, the url of the note. Here's an example of three notes together:

The order of union of the notes changes depending on how you performed the multi-selection. If you select a note and then with the "shift" key (upper case) the last, will be worth the sort order of the notes, not the selection, This means that no matter which note was selected first, the order is as they appear in "note list". If you select the notes one at a time by holding down the "ctrl" will be worth the sort order.

The usefulness of this function will vary depending on your workflow and your habits, I personally don't merge very often the notes but in those cases, this command is very usefull. Compared to copy the content manually "merge function" has the distinction of maintaining tag, title and url from origin notes. If the notes to be joined are more than a one this function can do it with one-step.
This operation can not be undone, however, the source notes, after being used to create the new note, will be moved in the trash so they are recoverable easy. So you can maintain the cumulative new note and the source notes, even though there is not a function of synchronization between these.

Merge two or more notes has a disadvantage, the new note does not retain the links of the notes so the combined use of links (we'll see later) and the merge of notes is not compatible. We will see in detail this limit after explaining the "internal connections".

Internal links

Evernote has a very basic system of internal connections, this allows you to copy the URL of one note and paste it into another note, it will be created a hypertext which when pressed will open the linked note. To use this function, simply press the right button on one or more selected notes you want to link and select the item from the context menu: "Copy note link". Open the note where you want insert link, put the cursor to the point where you want to place the shortcut, press right mouse button and select Paste or just press ctrl-v.
The "internal link" function relies on the fact that each note has its own unique reference code so it does not matter if later, will changed the title, text, or "theoretically" the notebook where we place the note, the note will be "almost" (we will explain later why in "theory" and "almost") always accessible via the link.
The connections behave differently depending on the type of notebook ( synchronized or local ) where are the notes that you want to link;

synchronized notebook

If a note is created in a notebook synchronized its unique code will gets when the note is added to the database on the website of Evernote, in practice the first sync after creation. This means that if you do not synchronize Evernote after creating a note this one can not be connected. The link to this note is lost if the note is moved to a local notebook and does not return to work even after you put the note in a notebook synchronized. So be careful not to accidentally move notes connected into a local notebook.

Local notebook

If a note is in a local notebook, the unique code is set based on internal database to the device on which you are working, so the note is immediately available for link but this link will only work on device where you are working, if the note is moved to a different notebook, independently this is local or synchronized, its connection will not be lost, continue to operate even if only on the device where you created the link.

Using the links you can create a "Summary" notes to link other notes, or inside a text add a link to a study or a specific. The links are very useful because they allow you to create branches and a web of linked notes. Using the links instead to copy the entire text in a note allows you to not have to edit individual notes, but only the master note.

The links in Evernote have some limitations:

The first obvious limitation is the inability to connect a point of the note but only the entire note. You can not, as in the Internet pages, create an anchor to a paragraph or to a point in the document, but only to the entire note.The second limitation regards the combined use of links and the merge of the notes, in fact, when two notes are merged Evernote creates a new note and copy the notes in this new Note; This means that the new note will have a different ID to the source notes and so the links no longer work.The third limit, as we have seen, is the loss of connections when a note will be moved from a synchronized notebook to a local notebook.Fourth limitation is that you can not navigate the links on reverse. There is no way of knowing which notes are linked to the one on which you are working, this might come in handy in case to make changes or to delete a note. To overcome this I recommend you to create manually a reverse link at the end of the "target" note. Create a link back to the linked note, this allows quicker navigation between notes, and a better understanding of the note.


In my previous post I mentioned my personal preference to use the TAG instead of Notebook, relegating the latter to specific tasks, I refer to this article for more information. Today I would like to give a further reason to justify this choice.When searching for a note may happen that indicate the search terms is not sufficient to narrow the field and find few notes, in this case, use the TAG or Notebook to increase the filter can be a help, but if the selection of "TAG" can be done dynamically without losing the search terms entered in the search field, simply by pressing on "TAG" in the left panel and changing them until you are not be satisfied with the result (remember that you can select more than one tag at a time) this does not happen with the notebook. When you select a notebook from the left panel, search terms are deleted; In order to keep your search terms and vary the notebook (remember that however you can use only one at a time) you need expand the "explanation search", for do it use a keyboard short-cut "ctrl+F10" or the menu "View / Show explanation search" or by pressing the arrow that is next to the input field of search. You can select a new nootebok in the the drop-down menu that appears below the search input field that show all the notebooks of your database. This difference of behavior makes it difficult to use easily both systems. Those who prefer the use of the tag will expect to be able to act dynamically also with notebook, who always uses the notebook will tend to have the "Show search explanation" open to avoid losing your search terms.

An advanced user of Evernote have advised on a post the use of a TAG for temporary notes, to be added to those notes that are not expected have long life. I think that is a good idea and it is for this reason that I carry-over it here.
I have to say that I tried to use this system and I am not satisfied to the results, I have trouble understanding right away if the note in question may or may not have a long life; course it is a personal matter and I recommend everyone to try this approach because I am convinced that if adopted can be helpful.

Another tip by the same author, which I found quite useful, is to eliminate TAG that have less than 3 notes, this reduces the number of TAG, optimizing the TAG tool with removing those tags that have a low specific gravity.
For do that I have implemented a TAG called "NoTag" to apply at all those notes that, for various reasons, do not need or can not have a specific tag. With this special TAG, I can easily split the notes that are not tagged because I have not had time to catalog from those that have already been analyzed and remained without a specific tag. When the notes with "NoTag" are increased I can easily find, and check if it be created a group of notes sufficiently large to justify the creation of a new TAG.


Finally a "simple" advice: Take advantage of the flexibility of the software, remember that you can organize tags, move the notebook in and out of the stack. quickly move many notes or assign to many tag with drag and drop or with the new interface of multiselection. Your notes can be a huge asset, treat them is in your best interest.

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