Evernote now has a middle-tier option (and more tips for the casual user)

Yesterday, fans of the organization app Evernote woke up to some great news – the surprise announcement of a new premium option, Evernote Plus.

Plus seems like a great option for people who aren’t fully maximizing Premium’s amazingly generous 4GB upload limit per month. For power Evernote users, they’ve maximized Premium to allow for unlimited uploads. Upload space has doubled for Basic Users, from 100MB to 200MB.

My History with Evernote
II first signed up for an Evernote in 2010. I had started a music blog Austauschprogramm on a whim, naming it after the song I was currently listening to. (Sadly, the Tumblr link is long gone, but you can listen to the song I named it after here.) The premise was simple – each day I would post a streaming link of a random song I liked along with an image that seemed to correspond with the song’s mood.

Surprisingly, it got a lot of hits. I shared it on Facebook, with tenants that had obscure music tastes, and linked to it whenever I posted comments on blog posts. It was a fun little project that I could do in ten-minute snippets, and I really enjoyed hunting the Internet for new music and interesting images.

When I started planning posts, I had a hard time organizing the images with the corresponding songs. Evernote was relatively new at the time. I read a post on Lifehacker extolling its virtues as a note taking and organization system, and the app junkie in me signed up for an account right away. All I used it for was organizing Austauschprogramm posts. I began collecting so many images with the Webclipper, I had to update to a Premium account.

I stopped updating Austauschprogramm in the fall of 2011, when I started a desk job that actually kept me busy during the day. After that, I started using Evernote for organizing the other aspects of my life – namely writing, bookmarking longreads, making notes of household documents, storing knitting and sewing patterns, and organizing my recipe collection.

How I Use Evernote Premium
There are a lot of tips on the Internet on how to make the most of Evernote. Lifehacker has a great archive of posts on how to maximize Evernote for productivity, ReadWrite has some great tips, and Jamie Rubin has written extensively about his process of going paperless. Nonetheless, a lot of these posts focus on Evernote’s uses for business – while useful, users looking to use the app for personal use will most likely not be taking advantage of the PowerPoint and group collaboration features.

Even packaged with features that may be unused by the average Evernote user, Premium is a steal at $5.99 a month. I use it so much that I go way over the free upload limit each month. I’ve found it useful for organizing nearly everything in my life – to the effect that I can immediately archive my paper files in storage.

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Folders, Stacks and Tags
Evernote users seem to be firmly divided in two camps: those who prefer notebooks, and those who prefer tags. I’m in the former camp, partly because I can never remember which tags I’ve made, and partly because I like to browse the information I’ve collected (and maybe forgotten).

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I’ve been really impressed by how many sewing and knitting enthusiasts have been creating free projects and sharing their techniques, which has helped me improve my skills considerably. As a casual crafter, I collect rough tutorials, patterns, and technique articles, sort them into notebooks by type of project, and tag with techniques used by the author.

Expanded Uploads
The most obvious benefit of upgrading an Evernote account is a massive increase in monthly uploads. Once you start taking full advantage of Evernote, the size limits quickly become noticeable – when I had a free account, I’d often find that four or five PDF files alone would max out my size limit. Under the old 4GB Premium limit, I never came close to reaching the limit – to the extent that I was just uploading files to get the most use out of the feature. (I usually topped out at around 1GB per month.)

I’m really excited that Evernote created a new premium tier for us in the middle – those of us who use the app to organize our lives, but don’t require the amount of space necessary for storing lots of voice notes or business presentations.

Document scanning
Evernote’s document scanning tool takes such effective photos on iOS devices that they are indistinguishable from traditional scanners. Create a new note, wait ten seconds for a green highlighted box to surround the information you are capturing, and tag and sort as usual. I use this feature for medical receipts, pay stubs, utility receipts, and tax documents.

PDF Viewing
PDF files are fantastic for sharing information, but keeping them organized is a hassle. Even worse, due to their size, it’s often difficult to find the exact information I’m looking for. Premium users can actually search PDF documents in the same way as they would search for tags. For now, Evernote is keeping annotating and searching PDF documents as a Premium and Evernote Business feature.

Offline Notebooks
I’ve saved my favorite feature for last, and the one that ensures I continue my Premium account. I use my iPad for nearly everything, but it’s a hassle when I’m without a wifi connection and need to access some of my notes. Using offline notebooks, I can set specific notebooks to be viewable offline, allowing me to use my commute and laundromat time to catch up on longreads, make notes for writing ideas, and organize tags when I’m bored. (I’m actually writing this in an offline notebook right now while waiting for my laundry to dry.)

Keeping Notes for Writing Fiction
When I started writing a fantasy novel for fun in January, Evernote was the best for collecting history tidbits and making lists of plots, character ideas, and world building brainstorming. One of the most basic pieces of advice for writing fiction is to observe people and notice how they interact with their surroundings, and I found myself creating notes for physical characteristics, mannerisms, and voice patterns. For a fiction writer, it’s invaluable as a central place for brainstorming ideas.

Evernote has raised the price of Premium by $1, and is starting out Plus at $2.99 per month. Next month, I’ll be trying out Plus to see how it works for the casual user. For more information about the new premium options, visit the post outlining included features for each tier at Evernote’s Knowledge Base.
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