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Gmail To Evernote Information Management Workflow

Capturing information has to be as low-key, as easy as it can be. Smooth, is the word I’m looking for, I think.

My favorite capture tool since 2005-ish has been Evernote. Highlight, CTRL + C, CTRL + ALT + V to create a new pasted note from anywhere within Windows.

But back then Evernote was a local installation application only. Bugged me as I switch between my desktop and a laptop provided by Canada’s SEO company.

Enter Gmail [hat tip: Turn Gmail Into Your Personal Nerve Center].

Gmail Capture Process

  • Get the Google toolbar.
  • Highlight info on a page, click Send To, choose Gmail.

    Google toobar Send to Gmail menu

  • In the subject line I use a pipe followed by keywords/tags.

    Delete Sent Using Google Toolbar text

    use keywords in the subject line as tags

    Those keywords allow you to do “tag” searches by doing a subject search in Gmail.

…to Evernote Workflow

To send information into my Gmail database I, of course, use a special + email address as in Gmail you can do youremail+anything@.

In Gmail I’ve setup a filter which will label any email to this specific address with DB, short for database (why not database in full? simple, in a search it is faster to restrict to label:db or l:db than using the word “database” spelled out in full….).

The address is also filtered to automatically forward to my special Evernote email address. Minutes after the note arrives in Gmail it’s available in Evernote too.

Once every 1-3 days I go into my “InBox” notebook in Evernote and go through the incoming notes. This is a fast, short job. Give it one “real” Evernote tag, usually. Very high level too. Then drag it into one of the handful of notebooks I keep (again very high level. Any complete web page capture goes into Web Archive, for example).

Done.

The Benefits

  1. Future proof: Evernote might disappear, email won’t
  2. Automatic backup
  3. Both available from anywhere with Gmail being just a tad better available even
  4. Keywords (“tags”) in the subject/title of the note allow for subject searches in Gmail and intitle searches in Evernote
  5. Searches in both Evernote and Gmail are fast while each has its own strengths
  6. Since a little while Evernote has removed the inline Goto Source to a tiny button, making note export with URL a royal pain. Gmail includes the source link.

    Send to Gmail with clear source link

The only time I clip directly into Evernote is when images/graphics are of importance to me: Gmail stores a link to the images, not the images themselves. And yes, in that case I often email the note to Gmail :)

18 Responses to “Gmail To Evernote Information Management Workflow”

  1. ray Says:

    Good outline – thanks
    Is there a way to mass forward to evernote the posts that I have already got in Gmail DB? The filter setup does not work on old posts – any way round this?

    Thanks again

    ray

  2. Ruud Says:

    Ray, two simple ways I can think of.

    One is to use Outlook (or perhaps Thunderbird or Windows Live Mail etc.). Setup the forwarding rule and choose to “Run Rule Now”.

    You can also setup Outlook with two accounts: Gmail IMAP and Evernote IMAP. Then you can just drag & drop your messages between the two accounts. Word of warning: if you have a lot of tags in EN the download can be long and buggy.

  3. Stefan Says:

    I’ve written a small tool to capture selected content from applications (including browsers) and automatically create a new email from that content.
    This helps me a lot with gathering notes and sending them to my gmail account.

    Might be useful for others too, so here’s the link:
    http://tools.tortoisesvn.net/MailNoter
    (sourcecode is available too).

    If you think this post is unwanted advertising, just ignore it.

  4. Ruud Says:

    What a great idea, Stefan. I haven’t tried the tool (no real need for it myself) but really like your thinking. Very practical.

    Great set of other tools there as well. grepWin is very useful for example.

    Thanks for the comment and the heads-up on your tools!

  5. Evangeline E. Dorr Says:

    Hi nice post, i read your blog from time to time but i was wondering something. I also run a blog on a similar topic, but i get 1,000′s of spam comments and emails every day does that happen to you.. Any ideas to stop it? I currently have commenting disabled but i want to turn it back on.. Thanks!

  6. Ruud Says:

    Hi Evangeline. Do you have Akismet enabled? It doesn’t stop everything and catches a few false positives every now and then but does help a lot.

  7. Frontware Says:

    We use Gmail and Evernote at our company, but we never thought to use it that way. It seems very interresting. Thanks for the tip.

  8. Mark Says:

    Interesting idea. I love this out of the box thinking.

    Instead of using Gmail to capture your notes, what about using blogger? (Send to > Blogger). I’ve been wanting to try out Evernote, but it doesn’t work too well through our corporate proxy so I decided to try blogger. So far, it works, plus I can use my own custom domain to host my notes (i.e. notes.ruudhein.com)

    PS – I came across your site after doing a search for “Evernote gmail”

  9. John Says:

    Great idea. Do you know of any way to email FROM evernote to gmail? I despise outlook, etc. but when I click on the “mail” button on evernote it wants to pull that. I use gmail for everything – I’m sure I’m overlooking something simple. Thanks – just found your blog and like it very much.

  10. Ruud Says:

    John, even when you would use utilities that cause mailto links etc to open in Gmail by default, Evernote cannot use it to send its notes. The “conversation” between Evernote and the email program goes via MAPI; MAPI is the way other programs can talk with your email program and ask it to do “stuff”. Browsers don’t come with MAPI because, well, they’re browsers, not email programs.

    My solution has been to install an email client that supports rich formatting and launches fast enough for me to not mind. In my case that’s Windows Live Mail (the desktop program, not the web service); the compose window launches in no-time.

    Set your reply-to and that’s it

  11. VinnyC Says:

    Thanks for your last reply. I’ve been looking for the answer to this question for a year. I’m disappointed but satisfied. I still wish I could email Evernote from Gmail. Thanks.

  12. Ruud Says:

    The 3.5 Evernote has a built-in email service. Ergo, the email is sent via them. Maybe worth to check out. It works very nice. On the other hand, 3.5 does lack a lot of functionality from 3.1. Seems to Evernote’s strategy: to remove a bit of stuff on every release :)

  13. ShapeshiftY Says:

    Just wrote a long comment and lost it. Anyway, arrived here looking for an improvement to my current info capture method, which is a very streamlined context based Gmail GTD and WriteRoom. I ditched Superstars and cut some more granular GTD Gmail labels as this was getting unwieldly. Ideally wanted to sync with Google Docs, and believe an iPhone app will shortly be able to do that better than what’s out there right now. But I came across Ruud Heins/Darren Crawford while searching. Whilst I am looking for some justification to use Evernote over my existing system, apart from it’s centralisation, syncing and OCR abilities, the use of it combined with a Gmail GTD system seems like duplication or overkill. People on both threads have talked of emailing to Gmail and then forward to Evernote, and using that Gmail copy as an archive. Doesn’t this make EN superfluous? Would love to hear other thoughts on this.

    Just realised this search for a simple way to sync with Google  Docs has thrown up other needs. So currently.
    - Use Gmail GTD for notes and tasks
    - WriteRoom for mobile ideas and text capture
    - Google Docs for doc management
    - Google bookmarks, Gmail and Reader for web clippings

    So I think the requirement is to supplement Gmail GTD and Google Docs, but replace Google bookmarks and Gmail for web clips etc in a more centralised method. Go on convince me!

    http://ruudhein.com/gmail-to-evernote-information-management-workflow
     http://darrencrawford.com/my-simple-gtd-evernote-combo/

  14. Ruud Says:

    “Ideally wanted to sync with Google Doc”

    Check out Daily Tracker (iphone/itouch). Excellent. Outstanding.

    “I am looking for some justification to use Evernote over my existing system”

    Simple: the fact you’re looking for or reading about another setup means you’re not that satisfied :)

    My main reason to use EN is the search-as-you-type. Very powerful. Also: not structure imposed. A true free form database.

    “People on both threads have talked of emailing to Gmail and then forward to Evernote, and using that Gmail copy as an archive. Doesn’t this make EN superfluous?”

    My EN <> Gmail setup has been mainly to have an alternative access point to my data.

    “Google bookmarks, Gmail and Reader for web clippings”

    The reason I first started to use EN to clip from the web is that everything is stored local. Clipping to Gmail still references images on the web.

  15. ShapeshiftY Says:

    @Rude

    Good reply.

    “Simple: the fact you’re looking for or reading about another setup means you’re not that satisfied :)”

    True, but in my own post http://reddog888.blogspot.com/2010/04/search-for-uber-info-management-system.html, I conceded that I was on the path to something “close” to ideal. So right now I’m happy with my:

    - Use Gmail GTD for notes and tasks
    - Google bookmarks, Gmail and Reader for web clippings
    - Google Docs for doc management

    What I’d like to improve on is:
    - Remove WriteRoom with a mobile ideas/notes management app that supports Google Docs sync. This will supplement and not replace my Gmail GTD method.
    - Add a centralised view/search over all data silos. Phase 1 would include Google bookmarks, Gmail and Reader.

    My gripe is that I love technology but I don’t like when technology enforces behaviour upon us. We should be free to throw stuff in and work how we want but not be restricted by the application. EverNote’s tagging and search is great, but it would only work for me if Google bought them. :) Daily Tracker is too specific for me, same as Awesome Notes. I think they do well for specific uses as a tracker or to do app, but I don’t need the former and already have Gmail GTD for tasks and GCalendar. So until a centralised “one search to rule them all” app comes along, I’ll try out NotesMaster or iGoogDocs in combination with my own system. Why Google doesn’t provide a centralised view over all it’s data silos, I don’t know why. After all, they are the Search gurus.

  16. Will Cuartin Says:

    Hey guys.. I agree with Shapeshifty in almost everything… EV would work for me “if google bought them” lol… well, no so rough, it would be Ok too if it would be possible a sync action in some way, I mean notes, tags, OCR and everything, then you could have the best out of gmail and the best of evernote without sending email back and forth (really annoying in my opinion).

    I am actually using Activeinbox (former Gmail GTD) and it is going great :) I am happy. (http://www.activeinboxhq.com/) On the other hand I came across this article (http://darrencrawford.com/my-simple-gtd-evernote-combo/) or some of the ones from Rudd when I am looking for new GTD tricks for my process :). And I don’t agree with Rudd when he says to look around is proof of non-satisfaction, I am always looking around no matter if I am satisfy or not, who knows if we find something better ;)

    Anyways, till now I haven’t found anything better than Gmail for my GTD system, calendar, searchable, labeled, filterable, emailable ;) and all the new ideas I catch out of gmail I end up ditching them in a week or so, at then end… I haven’t found a source out of gmail that it is not redundant, including EN, although I just have one reason to use it beside gmail:

    My reason for use Evernote is only one:
    JUST FOR IMAGES (OR VOICE NOTES – VERY FEW), just to take advantage of the OCR feature out of plain pictures if I happen to need it someday.

    Ok, there is something that gmail is missing, and it is the geo-tagging thing, that results very cool when u remember where did u have that idea to incorporate into ur flowchart but… they started moving in that direction (check google latitude last week blog).

    For file management I am still struggling, I like Googledocs when they are done by me because I can collaborate, to send them and stuff, but when they are created by another person and they are a definitely copy (n needed to modification) dropbox is just better… I am wondering if it is a way to sync them in a good way :)

    Google Bookmarks… mmm… when I really need the image of the webpage, IMAGE=Evernote, when I don’t, Google bookmarks is enough :D

    I want to hear your comments guys.

    Will Cuartin
    cuartin@gmail.com

  17. Evernote Resource Roundup: GTD, gMail/gCal, Time Management, Projects, and More! | Hanami Design Says:

    [...] gMail to Evernote Information Management Workflow [Rudd Hein] [...]

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    [...] Ruud Hein ” Gmail To Evernote Information Management Workflow [...]

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