Evernote is a game-changer for CPAs.
What is Evernote?
Think of it as your personal digital library.
Evernote is a cloud-based storage system which allows you to capture and file voice recordings, documents (including Word, Excel, PDFs), pictures, and videos. Once information is placed in Evernote, it is searchable in a Google-like fashion. Even hand-written notes are searchable.
Things CPAs Can Do with Evernote
Here are examples of what you can do with Evernote:
- Create a personal digital library (e.g., use an Evernote digital notebook to store Journal of Accountancy articles, CPE material, and videos of class instruction)
- Share individual files or notebooks (a compilation of files) with others (with the premium version you can collaborate with others, allowing them to change Excel or Word files)
- Capture meeting conversations with your smartphone and save them to Evernote
- Use your smartphone to take a picture of meeting notes on a whiteboard (remember manually written words are searchable in Evernote)
- Encrypt selected text within an Evernote note (password protected); it can’t be viewed without the password
- Add selected web information to Evernote using an Evernote clipper
- Email any document directly to your private Evernote email address (which adds the emailed information to a “to be filed” folder in Evernote)
- Create a local Evernote notebook for sensitive information (the notebook resides on your local computer and does not synchronize to your Evernote cloud account)
The Skeletal Framework: Notes, Notebooks, and Tags
The skeletal framework for Evernote has three elements: Notes, notebooks, and tags.
1. The primary element of Evernote is a note.
Think of a note as a blank piece of paper on which you can type. You can also attach other files to the note (e.g., an Excel spreadsheet or a picture taken with your cell phone or a voice message recorded with your cell phone).
2. Notes are placed in notebooks.
Think of a notebook as a three-ring binder.
For example, if I want to create a note about comprehensive income, I can do so. Then I can attach related files (e.g., PDFs) to the note. Next, I might add a note about other comprehensive income and another about reclassifications from other comprehensive income. The separate notes can be–for example–a text file, an Excel file, and a voice message.
All three notes can be added to a notebook titled Comprehensive Income.
3. You may also tag each note.
Alternatively, I can place the comprehensive income notes in a notebook titled accounting (a more generic category) and tag each note as comprehensive income. Then I can search and find all comprehensive income notes by using the comprehensive income tag. When I type tag:”comprehensive income” in the Evernote search bar, all such notes appear.
Getting Information Into Evernote
Feed your Evernote account in multiple ways.
You can use Evernote apps or programs on your iPad, PC, and smartphone to add information to your account.
I use this smartphone app to make and save pictures, notes, and voice messages to my Evernote account.
Evernote also provides you with a unique email address that can be used to feed information into your personal cloud. When you find something you want to store, you can email it to your Evernote account.
Also, you can use the Evernote clipper to capture information on the fly, such as when you are browsing the Internet. Just download the Clipper program from the Evernote website.
Another neat way to get information into Evernote is with your scanner. I use a Fujitsu ScanSnap to feed scanned pages directly into Evernote.
Using Evernote on an iPhone – An Example
In this two minute video, I demonstrate the use of notebooks and notes inside of my Evernote account.
To Create Your Account
To create your account, go to the Evernote website and follow the directions. There is a free version if you desire to try it out. The premium version is $70 per year.
Here are two recommended books if you desire to learn more about Evernote: