Posted on Sep 30, 2012 | 9 comments

To call Evernote a product wouldn’t do it justice. This uber-popular note taking service has expanded to the point where it is an entire platform. Now there are dozens (if not hundreds) of applications that tap into the service for backup and more that enhance it. It is free for limited use and for a small price you can get almost unlimited uploading for notes and pictures.

If you aren’t familiar with Evernote, I will let Wikipedia explain it to you:

“Evernote is a suite of software and services designed for notetaking and archiving. A “note” can be a piece of formatted text, a full webpage or webpage excerpt, a photograph, a voice memo, or a handwritten “ink” note. Notes can also have file attachments. Notes can be sorted into folders, then tagged, annotated, edited, given comments, searched and exported as part of a notebook. Evernote supports a number of operating system platforms (including Microsoft WindowsMac OS XChrome OSAndroidiOS and WebOS), and also offers online synchronization and backup services.”

If you have used Evernote, you may have realized that it could make a splendid digital journal. Not only is it free but also available on almost any platform and very easy to use. Still, I personally would never use it as a daily journal. This is mostly because the service is almost to broad to be used just for journaling. In other words, I wouldn’t want to mix all of my notes with my private journal entries. Most people probably wouldn’t care and I think Evernote is a great option for them.

In fact, my wife recently came to me looking for a better journaling solution. She wanted to keep a personal journal that was accessible from both her iPhone and Mac laptop.  Additionally, she wanted to keep journals for both of our kids (that are way to small to keep their own).

I thought about this long and hard- I couldn’t mess this up for my own family! I thought of Evernote but didn’t think she would like to use it as we have recently tried to go paperless with Evernote as our medium. I wanted Meernotes to work, but it didn’t have an elegant way to journal from a computer (I realized that I could have her go into a backed up Dropbox note to update an entry from a computer, but I tried it and it was anything but ideal).

Ultimately I recommended Day One for her. It is simple and attractive and even recently was given the ability to include pictures. It also has a Mac version to go along with the iPhone app so she can write on the go or with a keyboard if she would like.

If Day One had the ability to keep multiple journals within the app, my quest would have been completed. She would have been able to keep three separate journals for herself and the kids. Since Day One doesn’t have this feature, however, I had to keep looking.

That is where Evernote came in. Since kids journals don’t need to be personal or private I realized Evernote would be the perfect medium for this project. She could write stories about them and even include pictures from nearly any device. The organizational benefits would also really help keep everything cataloged and sorted using notebooks, tags and stacks.

Another benefit is that since we have been trying to go paperless, we recently purchased a Scansnap scanner which is directly connected to our family Evernote account. This means that any crayon coloring (no matter how illegible), certificate or drawing can just be scanned and tagged and it will also instantly be part of that childs journal!

I feel that this solution is the best for what my wife and I were looking for. I’m still happy with Penzu but am excited to help contribute to these records of our children’s lives.

Any Evernote journalers out there?

  • Elaine Willis

    I started using Evernote as my work journal this year.  So far it has worked out well.  I really like the ability to search for information.

    I want to make it work as a personal journal, but can’t seem to make myself use it that way.  I just journal better on paper.  I have considered writing a journal by hand and then scanning it in to EN as a pdf.  Right now I’m not doing anything because I feel torn between the two ideas.

    Why, when I love the idea of journaling, do I resist it so much?

  • Michelleockers

    I have been using Evernote for my personal journal for several months and I really like it, especially since Evernote improved the look and feel of the Mac interface.  It’s easy to use, and meets my privacy requirements.  I like the ease of synchronising between my Mac and iPad, plus having it accessible on the web.  I also enjoy being able to add web clippings and photos quickly and easily – love being able to photograph notes, drawings, cards etc and add them to entries.  Only downside I’ve found is that I can’t edit photos within Evernote and it tends to size them too big for my liking.  I have to resize them in a different app before copying them into Evernote.

    I do use Evernote for lots of other things, and like that I have one ‘app’/service that meets so many needs.  I especially like how searchable everything is on Evernote – even to the point that if I photograph a page from a magazine or some other document (e.g. a letter – some people still write them!) then then it’s fully text searchable.

    • Wayne Stiles

       Hi, Michelloeckers, I had the same problem with photo editing in Evernote. Although you can’t edit in the application itself, you can right-click on the picture and open it in Preview. Any edits you make there will automatically be saved in Evernote when you quit Preview.

      • Michelle Ockers

        Hi, I found an even better solution. I’ve now put Evernote on my iPhone. When I take a photo STRAIGHT into a journal entry on Evernote it seems to be just the right size. Perfect solution! I also love being able to journal on the go on the iPhone – I’ve always got it with me, and I journal more, although a little differently, since starting to use it in this way.

  • Dave Terry

    I use DayOne and keep many “threads” in my single journal for the day (not separate journals). I do this using the hashtag feature available in the iPad version.  (Note: I choose DayOne because it only allows one journal.  I stuff all my different subjects into the one day and search on hashtags. (For example, #dailyreading, #importantevent, etc.) I generally write 1,000 words a day so this is a great way to find subjects in my journals.

    (Note: I’m not affiliated in anyway with DayOne. However, I’ve tried every journal writing program for both the iPad and Mac.  Since DayOne syncs across all my devices flawlessly through DropBox, it wins for me.)

  • Megan

    Okay, so I am trying to find the perfect system for journaling/ scrapbooking/ baby booking/ etc. For the past several years, I have been keeping my journal in Google Drive (I didn’t even realize there were cool journal apps until my husband recently introduced me to them!) I have been making digital scrapbooks and baby books, and have documents in Google drive for each of my kids to record milestones, cute things they say, etc. Also, I have separate documents for both of my kids where I have cut and paste entries from my personal journal that are about them. I guess I am just trying to figure out if there is a better way of combining all of these things instead of having them all separate. I love the idea of adding pictures into my journal, but then do I still do “scrapbooks?” I take tons of pictures and want to be able to display those as well. Is your wife still using evernote for your kids’ stuff? Has she found a good way of adding pictures to entries that will look good when they are converted to PDF? Do you guys have separate photo albums/ scrapbooks for all of the other pictures you take or all they all just in your journal? Also, I haven’t printed out any of my journals from the last several years. Are there any other places you recommend other than LDSjournal to print them out? Sorry for all of the questions!

    • Sam

      Hey Megan,

      My recommendation is actually to use Shutterfly. It isn’t quite as convenient as some of the smartphone and tablet journals, but I think you will be most happy with the results. My wife has used it several times and the printed books look great.

      I would also recommend listening to the first podcast of the Capturing Life Through Technology podcast (click the podcast link at the top of this page and scroll to the bottom). It shows how we organize and store our pictures so they are easily accessible in the future for projects like Shutterfly.

  • Cheryl

    Sam: Have a question. I am a fan of Evernote and have read a lot of your website and listened to some of your podcasts which are great. My question is where is the “exit” strategy for your wife if something happens to evernote? I can’t find anywhere how to convert to PDF files so if a better option comes along, she can take the journal entries with her. I like the scanning of the kids pictures. I don’t know what to do with all the paper! Trying to get this all started and its a lot to take in at once but Evernote seems to fit my needs best too. Kids journal. thanks for any advice.

    • Sam

      Hey Cheryl!

      Tiffany used Evernote as her journal for a while but it didn’t work out and she doesn’t anymore (she uses The PDF export is still my biggest complaint and if that is your exit strategy then you should probably look for something else. Penzu, Diaro 3 and Everyday Timeline are all among my current favorites.