What Is Evernote?

Evernote is a suite of software, which is primarily designed for notetaking and archiving, but more importantly with a little work can also become whatever you need it to be. The core software has integration with hundreds of 3rd party apps, meaning you can use Evernote in a range of different ways.

I use Evernote to keep track of all my class notes, department administration, lesson resources and archived e-mails.

It is essentially a giant file-cabinet in the cloud which can be used to store just about anything. You have heard that an elephant never forgets… Well there is a reason why the evernote logo is an elephant.

OK but why not just use a memory stick?

USB sticks are great but they aren't infallible, plus they are dependent on a computer. The biggest advantage of Evernote is that it can be used on any device, anywhere that you have an Internet connection. You can get apps for PC, Mac, iOS or Android and if you haven't got that to hand you can just long in via a standard web browser.

In other words, no matter where I am I have access to everything I place into Evernote.

Notes, Notebooks and Stacks

The organisation of Evernote can be split into three different categories:

  • Notes: Notes are like documents, they can contain rich formatted text, URLs and any files you wish to store in Evernote.
  • Notebooks: Notebooks can be used to group together notes. For example you could have a notebook called 'Seating Plans', with each note inside containing the seating plan for each of your classes.
  • Stacks: Best seen as the 'root' folder of Evernote, it can be used to group together separate notebooks.

The most important thing to remember is that each of these categories is fully searchable; if I were to search for 'Seating Plans' it would show me the notebook called 'Seating Plans', but it goes one step further – you would also be shown all of the notes AND documents, which contain the phrase 'seating plan'. Thats right, Evernote search has the ability to search through every readable document i.e. word, excel and powerpoint documents and pdf files. It is part of the reason why I love Evernote, on every single device I have access to some extremely powerful search tools.


The biggest advantage of tags is that they ignore the boundaries set by notebooks and stacks. For example I may have a range of documents all applying to AS media studies but they are spread between four different notebooks, by tagging them with 'ASMedia' I can easily browse all of those documents.

You can also apply a search phrase to a particular tag, so I could search for question papers but only within the notes tagged as 'ASMedia'.

Right so I can create notes and tag them, but what exactly can I add to Evernote?

The truth is that in the current version of Evernote, you can add just about any file type to a note. The only difference is that Evernote can not search inside some document types or show a preview of the files. For example Photoshop files can be placed a note but Evernote does not have the ability to display a preview of its contents.

Some examples of the types of content which can be uploaded are:
* Scanned documents
* Spreadsheets and presentations
* Scanned receipts
* Photographs / Images
* Receipes
* Web clippings
* E-mails

The only thing you have to be aware of, it that there is a size limit in regard to the notes you create. The free version has a 25mb limit and the premium version has a limit of 100mb.

Hang on! Free and Premium?

You probably noticed the mention of a free version and premium version in the preceding section, you can sign up for a free account which will allow you to get started with Evernote. It provides you with 60mb of bandwidth each month, while it may not sound like a lot it is enough for you to get started and have a play with the service.

The premium version will cost you £35.00 a year or £4.00 a month, it is the premium version which provides you with the more advanced features, such as:

  • Presentation Mode: Allows you to present the contents of a note in a large screen friendly layout.
  • Add more files: You can store upto 100mb per note and upload a total of 1GB each month.
  • Document search: The ability to search inside office docs, PDFs and other documents is only available in the premium version.
  • Work offline: One of the best features of premium, it allows you to store your Evernote database offline on your mobile devices. Ideal for when you don't have an Internet connection.

If you are an O2 mobile user, they are currently offering all their customers Evernote premium free for 12 months. You can find out more by clicking here.

Using Cloud Storage

I am sure that it has happened to everyone at some point, that important document that you have on your memory stick will no longer open or even worse the memory stick will no longer be recognised by the computer. I know it has happened to a number of students this year and as a result has placed them under considerably more pressure to meet the assignment deadlines.

The unfortunate truth is that memory sticks are not invincible, they will inevitably stop working at some point. So the question is what is the best option available to you in order to make it easy to transport important files between home and college?

Fortunately recent changes to the Internet filtering policy of the college have meant that staff and students now have access to a range of new services, including cloud storage.

Many people are still unsure about what exactly cloud storage is, I can think of at least five different descriptions which I could use at this point but I settled on this one:

“It is that hard drive which is accessible from everywhere you have an Internet connection.”

Seriously if you think of it in those terms, suddenly the idea of the ‘cloud’ becomes a lot easier to get your head around.

Let me give you a real life example, I regularly prepare worksheets for my classes at home and save them as PDFs ready to be printed. Once they are ready for distribution I just save them to a ‘Print’ folder on my cloud storage drive. When I get to work, I just log into my storage providers website and download the PDF. I don’t have to remember to grab my memory stick and put it into my bag, the file is just sitting there ready to go.

There are three main providers I would suggest looking at, below you will find a brief overview of each one.


Dropbox is a simple service and until recently possibly one of the best options available if you wanted quick access to cloud storage. They offer a number of different storage tiers, starting with a free 2GB account (although there are various methods of getting some extra free space).

The biggest advantage of Dropbox is that many mobile apps can use it to sync your data, which means that your settings and information is always safe.

Sign up to Dropbox


OneDrive (formally known as Sky Drive) is Microsoft’s cloud storage system. Again as with Dropbox they offer a number of different storage tiers, however their free plan starts with 7GB (although there are various methods of getting some extra free space).

OneDrive also provides you access to an online version of Office. While this is a cut-down version of the full office software, it will meet most peoples needs and will allow you to create Word, Excel and Powerpoint files.

It is also worth noting that many of you may already have a OneDrive account, if at any point you have created a Microsoft Live account for e-mail or the Xbox Live service – you should have access to a OneDrive account. Depending on when exactly you created that account, you maybe one of the lucky ones who has a 25GB storage allocation!

Sign up to OneDrive

Google Drive

Google Drive offers the largest amount of free storage and with changes to their storage tiers recently also the cheapest option for gaining large amounts of online storage. Their free plan will give you access to 15GB of storage, which in most cases will be more than enough for any member of staff.

However if you are looking to upload large quantities of photos and other important files on your drive ready to be used at school, you can upgrade your online storage to 100GB for just $1.99 a month.

As with OneDrive, Google Drive provides you with some other advantages, providing you with the ability to create a Document, Presentation or Spreadsheet. Once you have created these documents you can also download them in a Microsoft Office formatted document ready to be shared with students and other member of staff.

Sign up to Google Drive

Ok, so what about the inevitable concern about security, after all we are dealing with a huge range of information and we want to make sure that it is kept safe and sound. Well all three services recommend that you use a strong password which includes a full range of letters, numbers, capital letters and special characters. However they also allow you to enable two-step verification, by enabling this you are essentially saying that entering just one password isn’t enough and you want even more security!

Each of the above providers will ask you to provide your mobile number, whenever you try to log into your cloud storage, you will be sent a verification code via text message. You will have to enter this code in order to access your storage. The important thing here is that the code is only usable once and for a short period of time, it is also completely random (in other words no one is going to be able to guess the code!).

If you have any questions about using cloud storage, feel free to send me an e-mail or pop into the media centre to have a chat.

 Dale Manning