Clipping just got a little better

Posted by Philip Constantinou on 03 Apr 2008

Posted by Philip Constantinou on 03 Apr 2008


In the early stages of the Evernote Service development the Web Clipper was just an easy way for developers to get content into the development notebooks quickly. It also helped us test our HTML sanitizer which makes sure no nefarious javascript makes it into users notebooks. First there was a command-line version, then a little clipper that just sent the URL’s to Evernote but didn’t work on secure sites. As we approached the final weeks before the beta launch we decided that the Javascript Web clipper was going to be part of the core service offering. We debated a little, each of the native clients support clipping and screen shots so it wasn’t clear that we really needed another way to clip content, but there was a strong lobby for not wanting to leave the web when you’re capturing web content.

Ultimately we decided that we needed a really good browser based clipper because a key part of the service launch was letting users capture from anywhere.

The version we released did a lot of what we wanted: one click capture, easy install, instant feedback, image and HTML document capture, capture selections of text and images or the whole page. We also support clipping from password protected sites like web-based email clients (which turns out to be kind of tricky).

Probably 15 minutes after we launched we realized the Web clipper was going to get a lot more use than we planned. In many ways it was just what we’d hoped for, users merged their personal photos and notes with information they gathered from around the web; Evernote helped them bring it all together. The Javascript clipper isn’t entirely bug free, each browser is different and mileage still varies. Also, there are a lot of really bad HTML pages out there and cleaning them up into our own internal variant on XHTML can be tough. For the first month or so I’d get a list of errors logged when the clipper could not save the clipped content from remote web pages. This list of different sites has provided a great source for testing and bug fixing.

Clipper Revisited
With this release the Web clipper has finally become really useful (at least for me and I hope for you).Clip Screenshot

Tagging and filing the clips as you clip them makes it so much easier to find pages later. I’ll clip sample code from articles, blog posts from Google Reader, recipes and put them straight into the correct notebook.

Some older features also seem more useful. Whenever you clip content, Evernote sets an attribute so you can view all your web clips and then filter by tags, notebooks or other criteria. If you are feeling a bit more adventurous, you may want to try filtering based on source URL. In the search box type: sourceURL:http://www.nytimes and you’ll be able to see all the notes you’ve clipped from the New York Times.

If you put clipped pages into public notebooks or email a note from a clipped page, your friends will also be able to access the source URL.

More to do

I’ve still got more features to add to the web clipper. At the top of the list is “search as you type” tags. Clipping from sites with frames is still a little flaky espacially on Safari. Lastly, I’ve been toying with the idea of recommending tags based on the clipped document’s similarity with other documents you have.


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17 Comments RSS

  • vinod

    way cool! I have already replaced google notebook clipping with evernotes.

  • Smiss

    I wonder how easy it is to work with different alphabets with EverNote… For instance, I work as a translator and I used to use at least 2 alphabets for translation and apply keyboard stickers (small things that add you another alphabet on a regular keyboard, like ones at in order to type foreign characters. Does the new EverNote simplify information entry for those type of things?

  • lynda lu

    I cannot clip, cannot even drag the clipper off the download page into the browser bar…I always get a message that say Evernote must be running in order to clip, I cannot find where to have it running all the time, can someone please tell me what I am doing wrong. I had no problem clipping with the past version. Thank you

  • Mark

    Again, props on Evernote! A question and some feedback…
    When you mention clipping from Google Reader, how exactly and in what browser and OS are you doing this. Are you opening the blog post in another tab or clipping from the reader? If from the reader, are you able to clip the original url and any related images or is it clipping Google Reader’s url? I realize your post is already addressing some of these issues, however I’m finding it difficult to take that extra step when going through Google Reader to open a post in a separate tab so I can then clip it. I had been using Google Reader’s “star” to ‘clip’ posts I want to keep for reference…which is how easy I would love it to be with Evernote. I have also tried using the “Better? Google Reader” extension in Firefox (where it opens the post right within Google Reader) and clipping into Evernote from there but it doesn’t work like I had hoped. In the past, I even gave up on trying to save stuff by just using Firefox 2.0 over Safari so that I could have Google History enabled for every site I went to, allowing me to not stress about constantly spending my browsing time trying to clip into Google Bookmarks (which I really find no practical value in, because I’ve only gone back a couple times to find something). For all the time I spend google bookmarking, without the visual component, like Evernote, to jar my memory I find bookmarking pointless. With Evernote, and it’s visual aspect I will go back and look and see what I have clipped. P.S. Enjoyed your interview on Surbit’s Mac ReviewCast.

  • David Andrew

    I clipped the following web page but when it was saved most of the text was replaced with spam links –

  • David Andrew

    I clipped the following web page but when it was saved most of the text was replaced with spam links –

  • Ken

    I have always loved evernote and it is great that we can now group notes better using the multiple notebooks and easier tagging in the online mode.
    Instead of evernote focusing on different versions for pc/mac/mobile, they should put all their efforts on the online version and integrate things like:
    – automatic tagging,
    – placing mouse over thumbnails enlarge them for better viewing on the same page (Ajax)
    – another view which shows the “endless tape” mode
    – reduce the top half of the page so you can see more of the note on the screen (on my 14inch laptop I can only see a paragraph or two of text on the screen at once. Note good)
    – Google Gears or Scrybe type offline mode (without having to download the desktop program)
    – If possible, the screen clipper also for the online version.
    – Being able to email/collaborate 1 or multiple notes with others.


    I just learned about evernote the other day. I’m very impressed with the entire product and presentation. Great work – keep it coming!

  • Paul Arterburn

    Just found this:

    You should add a check on the mobile version to check for the mobile-safari browser and auto-transfer.

  • Michelle

    I installed the mac version of evernote but for some reason the evernote clipper is not appearing in my menu bar despite the preferences being on. Any thoughts?

  • J. Colin Johnson

    I’ve installed the PC, MAC, and WM version of Evernote. On the MAC the menu bar is also not showing up. I have tried everything, any suggestions?

  • beattz

    I am experiencing the same problem as Michelle. I have tried many combinations of unchecking/checking, quitting/opening and rebooting, but cant get it to appear in the menu bar. Kind of renders the whole desktop app useless. Any help would be appreciated.

  • beattz

    Scratch that. I unchecked the preference “Use the Evernote Clipper”, quit the app, reopened the app, checked that preference and then it appeared int he menu bar 🙂

  • Wheelson

    beattz, your workaround worked for me as well. Thanks! I noticed when it wasn’t appearing by default upon installation I checked the preferences and it was on. Toggling it didn’t fix it, but the full steps beattz outlined, with shutting Evernote down between toggles, got the clipper on the menu bar.

  • Aditya

    Plz let me know is there a way to add a clip to a note.
    I read lots of books so I always create a note and summerize each chapter and also clip the chapters summary or conclusion at the end, but when ever I use clipping (Win + Prt Scr) it just gets added to a new note.

  • Juan

    Web clipping still has a long way to go. CSS styles are completely messed up in many cases, which makes the clipped page really hard to read.

    It’s an extremely useful tool in this Web-world we live in, but it needs to be polished.