Using Evernote for work, sharing files, collaboration despite some nearly fatal flaws and issues


Evernote is a pretty cool app… It works across all major platforms and devices as well. I mentioned the other day that I’m going to try and use it as my digital filing cabinet for everything that’s not already organised online. However, I have a couple of major issues. I’m invested a fair amount of time in trying to make Evernote work for me over the last few years. Usually, I hit a wall with what I want to do and then I give up in frustration. Anyway, because of my current drive to get rid of all paper in my life I’m back with my head inside Evernote again. Here are my demands:

  1. I need to be able to use Evernote with others in my business and in my family. This means I need the ability to share information.
  2. I work with an assistant, so I need Evernote to work for her so she can organise things for me.
  3. I want everything to be cloud-based so that none of us are dependant on local files stored on physical machines in particular geographical locations. In other words, it needs to work for a decentralised remote working environment. This might just mean working at home, or it could mean out on the road somewhere.

So far, I have my own premium account and the others I’m trying to work with have the free version. I’ve looked at the business version, but it’s expensive. Because I don’t want any of us tied down to particular machines, this means that we need to work with the web version of Evernote when we’re using computers. I’m on a Mac with Evernote running on Chrome, and my assistant is on a Windows PC using Chrome with the equivalent browser equivalent. I’ve also got Evernote installed on my iPhone and iPad Mini.

Here’s one problem: I can’t share “Stacks”

In my physical filing cabinets I have notes which are hole punched and filed in cardboard folders with long bendy clips and these are stored in boxes inside the filing cabinet. Evernote works in a similar way. I can store notes in notebooks, and I put the notebooks together to create “Stacks” of notebooks. The “Stack” is like my box in the filing cabinet. However: I can’t share the “Stacks”. Here’s my solution: I can preface the name of the note with a short code of some kind, perhaps even a whole word, that allows the hierarchy to remain intact when I share the files. Even though my assistant can’t see my “Stack” at least the prefix on the note title gives some structure. Here’s what I mean below. These files are in a Stack named NCALNE (Voc) but here’s what my assistant sees in her shared folder:

  • NCALNE 01 NZ Context
  • NCALNE 02 Maori LN
  • NCALNE 03 Mapping

Here’s another problem: The web version of Evernote won’t allow users to move notes from their personal folder to joined or shared folders

This isn’t a problem if you’re content to use a local version of Evernote. This is when you install the app onto your computer and synchronise the files with Evernote’s cloud. However, I didn’t want to use the downloaded computer version. This would mean being tied down to specific computers again and wasn’t going to work for me or any of the others. The workaround for this turned out to be really simple. While the web version of Evernote doesn’t allow users to move notes to joined folders, the iOS version does. So the trick is to move them on my phone or ipad from personal to shared. Simple huh? Works perfectly. I just have to switch from computer to device to do it.

And a variation on the problem above: The web version of Evernote won’t allow my coworker to move an emailed scan (PDF) from her account to the shared notebook that I set up for her

So while I could get her to switch to her phone on do this in the iOS version of Evernote, what I’ve done is I’ve shared my default folder with her. So now she emails scans directly from our copier or scanner to my Evernote email and can move them from my shared default folder to any of my other shared folders. This is something I could do myself, but it’s time consuming and she just does it so much more efficiently. This one was important because I’ve just ordered a new Snapscan scanner which we’re planning on using to scan everything in our house and office. We going to  set this up with all of our Evernote emails as the destinations, so we need a way of moving these email attachments around inside Evernote with a minimum of frustration.

Have you tried Evernote? Any success stories or issues that I should know about?

Author: Graeme Smith

Education, technology, design. Also making cool stuff...

3 thoughts

    1. Hi Bill. Thanks for the comment. I’ll have to investigate Zimilate. I’m in deep now with Evernote despite my frustrations… I’ll post again how I’m getting on at some stage. I’ve found workarounds for most things, but perhaps Zimilate does everything I need. I’ll check it out. Cheers, Graeme

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