It’s Not Good for Note Takers to Live Without Saved Searches or Shared Notebooks

Introduction to my Self-made Challenge

Apple’s Notes app got me thinking: why is it Apple’s app insists on significant limitations? Evernote has tags, notebooks, and saved searches. Notes only has manual search. Because it seemed so ridiculously stifling and for no clear reason, I thought maybe—just maybe—Apple genuinely thinks this is a great way to manage all of your notes; in one lump sum with very little to help sift through them. Could it be possible that we nerds are just pretentious?

So, I challenged myself: for the next 30 days I would only use Evernote like it were Apple’s Notes app, and see just how ‘genius’ or ‘impossible’ it is to manage all notes without control and organization—full on search mode only.

Part 1Part 2Part 3 • This is Part 4

Apple is on to something, but so is Evernote.

Screen shot of iPad's Notes app

Notes are auto-ordered by date updated

Apple’s choice to simplify the notebook with only one tier is good for one sort of note taker: the taker that practically has no notes. I’ve come to figure this out from working in Evernote these last few weeks only with one tier and with the search bar to sift through them.

Evernote’s search is powerful; it reads text in images; it highlights all instances of words searched contained in your note; it has rich text format controls (which Apple’s Notes is getting when Mountain Lion is released). On top of these, there are tags, notebooks, and saved searches that organize your content.

The organizational tool I favor the most in Evernote is the saved search. If you simply write a keyword or two into a note, it will smartly be added to the saved search you created before—no manual organization necessary. Imagine the possibilities. I’m not saying saved searches work exclusively, but they are probably the most overlooked organizational feature ever, seeing that they have to be created from a menu at the top or bottom of the program. For most people, saved searches are out of sight and mind.

Evernote Screen Shot - Courier highlights

Evernote highlights the word in the note

Apple’s Notes has so little in the way of organization—in fact, it has nothing. You can’t even tell the app to organize your notes alphabetically or by date created/updated.

Honestly, these past few weeks have stifled me greatly. Evernote reduced to the likes of Apple’s Notes is a creativity dampener. I’m in the midst of several projects that I am eager to use Evernote’s powerful feature with, and I’m held at bay by my self-made challenge.

But the biggest setback of all is outdated Share-ability

Evernote has the ability to share notebooks with others. If you have a free account, they can view the notes. If you pay for the membership features, they can also edit and create new notes to be added to the shared notebook. Collaboration is a growing need with web, book, and app graphic design projects in my field. Apple’s Notes has only the option to print or email notes to share notes. It feels like a joke when compared to Evernote’s options.

Thankfully, I’ve only got eight days yet to go in my stupid challenge, and I’ll be scot-free from the unwarranted simplicity that is Apple’s Notes.