Tips & Stories

Did You Know: How to Use the Evernote Search Box

Posted by Kasey Fleisher Hickey on 27 Jun 2011

Posted by Kasey Fleisher Hickey on 27 Jun 2011

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We encourage you to save all sorts of things in your Evernote account — from receipts to wine labels, meeting notes to recipes. Our approach is a bit unconventional. We don’t force you into an organization system or methodology. We let you do whatever feels comfortable for you. Everyone organizes their notes differently, but no matter what your approach is, you can find what you’re looking for in a number of different ways. Today, we’ll focus on how you can use the search box to jog your memory.

Ways to remember something

If you put something in Evernote, there’s always a way to find it. Let’s go over some specific ways you can search through your notebooks and notes. We’ll illustrate simple and more advanced search options. Note that these tips apply to all versions of Evernote, including iPhone, Mac, Windows, Web, Android, iPad and more.

Two Common Ways to Find Stuff

I remember exactly what I’m looking for

When you know exactly what you’re looking for and are confident you put it in Evernote (for example, an itinerary you emailed yourself for a trip to New York and tagged with “trip” and “New York”), you can type in a few keywords associated with this memory into the search box and immediately find the note. Remember, Evernote can even search for text inside of images. When you’re using your desktop, you can also search by Attributes such as created date, last modified, and resource type (notes that contain images, audio, and attachments).

If you’re familiar with Evernote’s search syntax, you might want to try entering some of these quick shortcuts into the search box:

  • notebook:”notebookname” – Search for notes saved in a specific notebook (ie: notebook:”Travel”). Make sure there are no spaces after the colon.
  • any: - Enter multiple search terms and pull up notes that include any one of the words you typed in (ie: any:”New York” will pull notes that include either word, but just typing “New York” into the search box will pull notes that contain both of these words.) The word any: needs to come at the beginning of your search, so you can’t type Cooking any:”Mexican.
  • tag: – Search by tags (ie: tag:”trip”).

I vaguely remember what I’m looking for

Let’s say you remember going to a restaurant last month and you remember taking a picture of the menu and saving it into your Evernote account. You remember eating a very tasty black cod and now you’d like to know the name of this restaurant so you can recommend it to a friend. You can search by entering in the word “black cod” into the search box, or search notes by date of creation and attributes (pull down the attributes menu and select Contains: image). Several of Evernote’s mobile versions allow you to find the restaurant on a map.

Here are some useful search syntax tips:

  • created:[datetime] – Search for notes by date of creation using the format YYYYMMDD. You can also search by time period (for example, day-30 will pull up all notes created in the last 30 days).
  • intitle:”name” – Search within the title of the note (ie: intitle:”restaurant” will pull up a note titled “French restaurant”).
  • resource:image/* – Search only for notes that contain images.

You can always use the global “find in Evernote” desktop hotkey. On Mac, the default hotkey is Ctrl+Cmd+F. On Windows, the default hotkey is Win+Shift+F .

When you need to pull up something really fast

This happens to me all of the time. I need to get directions, a recipe, a telephone number, or meeting notes on my phone or my desktop. The beauty of Evernote’s search feature is that it aids your own memory in a very powerful way. By entering only the things you remember off hand (the name of the city to which you’re trying to find directions, one ingredient in a recipe, first name of the person whose phone number you need, or a keyword you recall from the meeting), you’ll narrow down your notes to those that include this word or combination of words. Once Evernote identifies a few notes with these works, your own memory can help you find exactly what you’re looking for visually — something that’s particularly useful when you have that Tip of the Tongue sensation and need a slight nudge to help you remember something.

Tip: Keep to-do lists in Evernote? Find them quickly by by typing todo:* into the search box to pull up all notes that contain checkboxes.

For more tips on how to use Evernote’s advanced search features, check out our Knowledge Base.

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69 Comments RSS

  • Phil

    Search does not reliably work for me in Evernote on the iPhone. I often search for text which I know exists, get “No Results,” and then browse through my notes until I find it. Please fix this.

    • Kasey Fleisher Hickey

      Sorry to hear that. Please contact our support team so they can look into this. http://www.evernote.com/about/contact/support/

  • Tim Crawford

    Using Mac desktop version. I don’t see the attributes menu anywhere.

    • Kasey Fleisher Hickey

      Tim, take a look at the left-hand sidebar of your desktop app. You’ll see all of your notebooks and below them: Tags, Saved Searches, and Attributes. Hope that helps!

      • Jeremy

        If it’s not visible you need to click on the gear icon at bottom left, and select ‘attributes’.

      • Tim Crawford

        Jeremy nailed it. I don’t know why that wasn’t checked, but thanks Jeremy.

  • Henk Poley

    Could you please make it so [Esc] clears the search box (and another press exits the search box), like elsewhere on OS X ?

    • Kasey Fleisher Hickey

      Thanks for the feedback!

    • Tim Crawford

      Plus one for this feature request. This bugs me a lot.
      It might also be beneficial if the search field is selected when you launch Evernote.

      • Taufan Prakoso

        Yes. I agree with Tim.

    • M. Kaiser

      INdeed, only ESC should clear the search box. Currently, it gets also cleared for example when switching to a different notebook. I find this behavior annoying. Thank you

      • John

        I agree with M. Kaiser. I love Evernote, but I find it annoying that the search box contents don’t persist. What usually happens is this: I’m rummaging around in a particular notebook when I think of some particular text that I want to search for. I type it into the search box but get no results because the note I want is not in the particular notebook I’m looking at. Then I click ‘All Notes’ but my search terms get cleared! So I have to type them over again. I can’t tell you how many times this has happened.

  • Michael Greenberg

    I don’t use the tabs function. I “title” my notes with keywords. And when I search, I search through the “All Notebooks” tab.

    Works for me.

    • ym

      and then, when you want to find something you search with this syntax… “intitle: ” ?

  • Michael Greenberg

    Sorry….Should be “tags” function.

    • User

      Thanks for clarifying that. I thought, “How did I miss the ‘tabs’ function?”

  • Tony Belcher

    Great. I didn’t know about the -tag: thing. Very handy. Is it possible to get the same feature for words as well? It really means “and not” in boolean terms doesn’t it.

    Also, what is the possibility of allowing us to type in a search string as a boolean expression? eg. “Recipes and chicken and not grilled” This would be a faster way to set up complex searches than the current mode of operation and I suspect a lot of users would be familiar enough with the syntax to use this approach.

  • David Moloney

    Great work Kasey. Cheers for teaching me how to make the most out of the search function. The day-30 is a great one to know. It would be great if Evernote had a ‘suggested favourite’ searches, which would cache your more popular searches and have them auto-populate when you begin to type

    • Daniel Lu

      That’s a great idea. It’s been brought up a few times and it could be quite useful.

    • Susan Stillman

      I agree. I never think of using anything except the basic search, but if I could see some other ones, even have them auto-populate, and try them….the sky’s the limit. Excellent idea.

  • Larry

    This is a very helpful post. Evernote has such powerful features, it is hard to remember how to take advantage of all the ways it helps me remember.

  • Will Kelly

    Thanks for this informative post since I’ve been leaning on the Evernote search function a lot more lately.

  • JBenson2

    When I use an advanced search, I paste it in an Evernote note for future reference. I only use the Saved Search feature for frequently used searches.

    pizza beer
    (pizza and beer)

    any:pizza beer
    (pizza or beer)

    created:20110308 -created:20110321
    (Created between March 8, 2011 and March 20, 2011)

  • User

    Sometimes the text in a photo is not recognized, so I would suggest creating a tag or a note for anything essential.

    Informative post that introduced me to some new features. I’m going to save this to my “Evernote” notebook.

  • User

    Sometimes these Evernote blog posts cover fairly obvious material, but this one went into things I probably wouldn’t have discovered on my own. I’m glad I took the time to read it.

  • Tawrena

    I accidentally wrote over the ‘how to use this program’ notebook note that came with this program. Is there any way to get that back?

  • Alex

    Hi,

    I’m thinking about going premium. Does Evernote index all the the Office files it supports, to allow searching?

    A

    • Andrew Sinkov

      You can place any file into Evernote if you’re a Premium user. Evernote does not analyze the content of Office documents to make them searchable.

  • MichaelL

    Is there a tutorial on how to organized the data that I have missed?

    I have been a Windows user since 3.1… purchased a MacBook Air and love it.. EXCEPT that I can not “easily” use my single most important program OneNote…

    Have downloaded EverNote today, but can not find any method of setting Folders, Tabs, etc… logical methods of storing the information… other than the random searches… Is this type functionality on the drawing boards? or am I just really missing some instructions on how to logically store the info.

    The interface seems easy to use and is friendly… and I am REALLY excited about being able to also use my new HTC phone as well… but am still trying to figure out how to organized my data. THANK YOU for taking the time to assist a novice… ML

    • davemaz

      I have to agree with your points. I’m still struggling to learn how to tag and index documents. I must have missed the tutorials.

      • Mel

        I agree with both comments. I’m struggling as well and would like to know if there is a tutorial?

  • Richard Schink

    I love Evernote, but I can’t do well with the search syntax. How about including an advanced search feature like Twitter. There are lots of fields you can fill out that do the same thing as the technical syntax search Evernote requires.

  • Tim

    Couple of features I’d like to see:

    1. When you add a new note, a preference option to have the cursor placed in the “Title” field by default. I always add a title and have to back up to enter.

    2. I often search for text and when it doesn’t come up I see that I was searching in the wrong notebook. If I change the search notebook, or select “All Notes” I have to re-enter the search text. Would be great if the text originally entered would “stick” as you switched to select different notebooks.

  • borientalis

    I love Evernote but one frustrating thing about the search is that is seems to require a network connection of some kind. Why this should be so escapes me: all my notebooks are offline and therefore the data should be locally on my phone.

    This issue can easily be seen by setting the phone to airline mode (thereby turning off WiFi and 3G). When I try to search for anything at all, I get this error message: “The data connection is unreachable at this time. Try again later”

    Is this a bug?

    • robin_joe

      I have exactly the same issue. I am a premium subscriber, with all my notebooks set to offline, and I get intermittent searching if there is no data connection. This is extremely frustrating.

  • nathan lyons

    Thanks for the helpful post. A question though: I’ve been hoping for some time that evernote might introduce some way of searching within tags, so that a search for “geography” will bring up anything with such tags as “geography – australia” “sydney – history and geography” “ethnogeography”.

    I use many many tags for keeping academic articles sorted out, and this sort of thing would make my evernote usage much more efficient! Is it possible?

    Also, is it possible that the auto-suggest tag feature which works on the internet browser version of evernote (when I want to add a tag, by typing “geo” all of the options mentioned above will popup in a list below as possible tags to select), is it possible that that could be incorporated into the Windows desktop version?

    That would help my own work in the same way as the search feature, but now at the tagging end.

    Thanks and please keep up the great work!

    I’m a big evernote user and fan.

    • Peter

      You could search for tag:geography* to get anything that’s tagged with something starting with geography…

  • Wouter

    I use exact string searches a lot (like “word1 word2″). This works fine in the search window at the top.

    In the note search however it doesn’t work. It ignores the double quotes and searches for all occurences of word1 and word2.

    Can you please fix this?

  • Sanjay

    The final feature that will make Evernote No.1 is being able to access or share an INDIVIDUAL note by its own URL exactly like http://www.posterous.com does.Currently the whole notebook can be shared.

  • outline4

    oh… this is like “search tokens” on osx lion… it would be nice if it would work like these as well!

  • Nancy

    Well, I learned something today. I didn’t know about the any:, tag:, etc. -type features. These will be helpful to me in the future. Thanks.

  • James E

    Not sure what the quotation marks mean in your syntax instructions–do I type them in the search box or not?

    • Kasey Fleisher Hickey

      Hi James, yep! Just as you see in the screenshot with the cinnamon rolls.

  • CarrieR

    Michael L—

    I also was a big onenote user but recently switched over completely to Evernote & it was the best decision! I suggest (and for all new Evernote users) getting the ebook “Evernote essentials” to learn how to maximize the program before you put too much intonyour database. This helped me know how to use all the bells and whistles from the beginning.

  • Jeff buckner

    When I enter a new item I would like a drop down list of existing tags, instead of a blank tag field

  • Pat

    Wow, great post!

    I never realised there were so many ways of searching for information :-)

  • Paul Wright

    MichaelT, I think you have missed the point. Evernote is not about organizing data, it is about retrieving it. No hierarchy. Just search. —–Paul—–

    • fivekitten

      I disagree Paul. Being able to put like items in notebooks and being able to tag items are definite organizational tools. And now that you can stack notebooks it’s even a greater organizational tool. I’d have to say I primarily use Evernote to organize stuff and sync stuff so when my laptop dies I still have all my information together in a nice notebook labeled by topic or project. Half the time I clip stuff I don’t put a tag on it cause it’s a pain if I’m clipping a bunch of similar stuff in a row. So I simply go straight to that notebook. I actually haven’t been very comfortable with the Evernote search, hope the tips in this article will help me get more accurate results.

  • Jaz

    Thank you for the quick explanation on how to find documents. I recently got an iPad and want to know how to create folders (within folders within folder) as I file everything away. Could someone please explain how? Thanks!

  • Todd

    Helpful … You guys make a great product!

  • Pat

    Is the iPhone the only phone Evernote will work on. I am looking into buying a smartphone and want one Evernote will work on but i don’t want an expensive phone or a contract. i want to get a Virgin Mobile phone. Help please.

    • ANdy

      Nope – they have apps out for pretty much every mobile phone. i use the Windows Phone 7 one, but i know they also offer apps on Android, BlackBerry, Palm Pre and even Symbian!

      http://www.evernote.com/about/download/

      Andy

      • Ruth

        I have been using Evernote on my Blackberry Torch for couple of years now. My whole life is in there. Works great, with the occasional glitch caused by the fact that a smartphone is not a full-sized computer, no matter how clever it is. :-) There are a few things EN won’t do on the BB, but I’ve been quite happy with it and depend on it a lot.

  • joan

    Okay, I want that cinnamon roll recipe :)

  • Gary J. Wolff

    Thanks for the useful search syntax tips. Now we’ll see if this aging brain can “ever” remember them… :-)

  • ami

    i realy like it but i dnt no how to use this. can u expalin, i have many query’s,1, how to create contact & group,

  • Harm

    This is a wonderful post. It should pop up once on any desktop client to help people out. Is there a public notebook with Evernote HowTo essentials? I do have a question about the syntax for:
    1) I just want to see my text notes, is there any way I can do NOT resource:image/* ?
    2) I want to filter and group all image / sound / etc containing notes into another notebook, or vice versa- keep my notebook clean and fast for browsing in “just text”

    Thanks!

  • LMV

    Using this on my iPad and for the most part, just love it. Just this one thing: When taking notes, I insert asteriks (**) to note important items I need to refer back to. When I enter in ** in the search field, it would be great if those it would recognize the search, but it doesn’t. Am I missing something or won’t it search for special characters?

    • Peter

      Try a different special character… * is reserved for a wildcard…

  • back pain

    Thank you for sharing this very informative post! It broadens our knowledge regarding back pain.keep sharing.

  • Jason

    Much like LMV, I need a way to search for special characters. Can we get a listing of all search functions, like what specific characters do, in a search, if they are not searching that specific character? e.g. if I put in ## in a search box, is it searching for ## or does it consider one or both of those #’s to be a variable with another meaning? Need details here.

  • Craig

    Is there a way to search for text that is not at the start of the word boundaries? For example, searching for paper would match text such as newspaper or wallpaper.

  • CShaw

    So, this will pull back the notebook that the item(s) I am searching for is located in? How do I find all instances of it within the notebook itself? I keep large notebooks of data (like how to’s) and am having a hard time finding exactly what I need when I need it.

  • Suwandy

    Hello,

    How do I search for an exact phrase? For example, if I am searching for all the notes that contain the exact phrase “help me” just like google does.

  • Peter

    There’s a mistake in your thailand example… there shouldn’t be a space after tag:… you’re searching for thailand and trip, not tagged trip. ;)

  • Ricardo Martins

    any:”help me”
    I have the same question until now.

  • Erlend Falch-Pedersen

    Your question seems apparent, so I might be misunderstanding you, but does this clarify?
    help me – any note with words help AND me
    “help me” – any note with phrase ‘help me’
    any:help me – any note with word help OR me (or both)

    any:”help me” does not make any sense, as it is only one word/phrase…

  • Ricardo

    you need to have phD to make searches in Evernote. When I need anything different than finding 1 word, I need to read the manual again.