Evernote: Your Life, Organized.

Written by: Shalice Coutu, 4th Year Architecture, Landscape, and Design student at the University of Toronto

Edited by: Veronika Potylitsina  


Evernote. One word, two syllables. And one of the primary reasons I've stayed afloat in university. Yes, I'm talking about that totally free, beautiful green elephant that has sat near the top of the app charts for years. It's been almost four years since I first tried Evernote. Definitely one of those things that I never knew at the time would impact the successes of my time in university. Evernote, as comparable to apps such as Microsoft OneNote and Apple Notes, was a great fit for me because I loved its versatility. Being a cloud-based service, it takes advantage of different types of devices such as phones, tablets, smartwatches, and computers, and can be accessed from Evernote.com as a last resort. Because of this, I didn't end up losing all my notes to the Great Laptop Crash of 2015. But enough of the cliche build-up of how good it is, let me get down to the bullet-list awesomeness of Evernote, gearing it towards the life of a university student of course:

The Basics

 Okay before I do get into the specifics, I'll cover basics quick. Like other notetaking apps, Evernote isn't separated into specific pages when you take notes. I think this simple feature is the one reason I don't bother with Microsoft Word or Pages; no matter how fast that prof flies through the slides, you can keep taking a novel full of notes in one lecture and it all stays continuous.


For all the perfectionistic-I-need-everything-organized, and no that's not an actual word, people out there (yes, me too), Evernote's organization is simple but gold. I sort courses by use of notebooks and then stack the finished courses' notebooks into a higher organization; stacks. This creates a super simple way to keep classes and lectures separate.

Tip: I title each note by name of course and lecture, so ARC231 Lecture 5. No need to write the date because it keeps a timestamp of date created and date updated. -Search function: Depending on the level of membership you get (as you can probably guess, I got the premium level), Evernote has an intense search function available. I looooove this for university courses, especially because what you learn in previous years can still be used in future classes. So real life scenario, I am studying for my Psych midterm. We talked about the term synaptic consolidation. I remember learning about this in another class. One simple search of "synaptic consolidation" and suddenly I have access to when the word was used in every class ever taken. Lastly, the search function is able to read handwritten notes should you take a picture of your notes and upload them (more on that later).

Attachment capability 

Oh look, it's later. Evernote's attachment capability is amazing. It fits anything from .pdfs, picture formats, audio, hyperlinks, and a direct access to Google drive. I use pdf attachments for the lecture slides given, pictures for the odd chance I have handwritten notes I need to scan (the mobile app offers an actual scanner function), and audio files for lectures I record. This one is huge for those class recorder peoples. Evernote lets you record audio right in the current note! And lastly, Evernote offers a quick and easy screenshot feature to throw ideas into a note fast.

Due Dates, Tests, and Other Info

This is the title I give to one note every semester. It gets put in my "extras" notebook and has a chart with each class in a row. I make this note at the start of every semester after receiving all the course outlines. Entered in the chart is every (you guessed it) due date, test or other info. This is not necessarily an Evernote lifehack but a university lifehack. To stay on top of my due dates from day one, I keep track of all of them in this one little note. Use Evernote's reminder feature to set an alarm for a particular date to remind you to work on something. It gets kind of fun and satisfying to cross off each assignment once they are done.

Explore the Evernote Apps

Evernote has some sister apps such as Skitch, Scannable, and Penultimate. Skitch is nice for marking up documents or pictures. Draw a graph from scratch on the spot and copy what your prof is drawing. Penultimate - for my tablet users - is an app specifically for pen and pad notetaking. Lots of paper and pen options and they sync right into an Evernote note.

Well, I think that is it for me. Although Evernote's capabilities go on and on, I hope I covered the goodies with a "university focused" perspective of Evernote. Enjoy.

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