Evernote Data Pruning: How To Keep Evernote Useful

Evernote Data Pruning: How To Keep Evernote Useful

The best way to keep your data clean & useful is to regularly do some easy tending and pruning.


Face it, when you started using Evernote you weren’t sure what to put in. Or you followed the idea of "dump everything in it" to the letter and now every search has way too many irrelevant results. Or you realize that your "how to use Evernote as a cookbook" period is over and you no longer need those entries.

Or you wish you would have tagged some notes. Or you would like to move personal notes to one notebook and article clippings to another.

An easy way to tend to this data household chore is by doing a search for notes created on that day in the years before.

Example: if today is December 28 then I can find the notes I made on December 28, 2009 by typing:

created:20091228 -created:20091229

The format there is since date, before date, and the result is a list of notes created on the since date only.

To view other years I simply change the year. My data goes back to 2005 when I started to use Evernote so it takes 5 searches.

I’m done with my data pruning in 1-2 minutes usually.


  • I delete a lot of material that is outdated or no longer piques my interest.
  • See times gone by as I come across log entries.
    evernote data pruning date search
  • Add or remove tags
  • Move items to new notebooks
  • Consolidate notes, tags or notebooks
  • Tweet older but interesting material
  • See the big(ger) picture in areas of interest
  • Get ideas for blog posts, articles


I use the same pruning procedure in PersonalBrain. The reports tab lets you pick a start/end date.It’s a bit more clicking with the calendar it has but it’s pretty cool to have your data in order.

5 Replies to “Evernote Data Pruning: How To Keep Evernote Useful”

  1. Hi Ruud, Thanks again for all the wonderful productivity you shared.

    Interesting that you mentioned PersonalBrain. Now that PersonalBrain has a cloud solution for synchronization across multiple platforms, wondering if I should stick with Evernote or give PersonalBrain a try.

    Your thoughts? Are you using both? If so, are you using each for specific purposes? How do you like it, having to switch between the 2? Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks again. /Kam

  2. Kam, I used both but am moving basically everything into Evernote. There are a few situations where I continue to rely on PersonalBrain but these are more project specific. Evernote is my second brain.

    It is very easy to get information out of Evernote. I find this crucial for my digital memories.

    Evernote is relatively light-weight and works everywhere I do.

    “Clipping” information into PersonalBrain is a bit of a pain. Doing the same into Evernote is almost frictionless.

    I’ve gone through several periods of wrist pain (RSI) and can tell you that having to rely on the mouse with PB’s graphical interface is no joy.

    It’s a great tool to *map* infinite stuff, an infinite amount of single entries with a link. But the database of articles, thoughts, diary entries, things to remember etc? Evernote. No thought about it.

  3. Very useful tip. A saved search can even be created to make it easier to find notes created a year ago. The saved search query would be… created:day-365 -created:day-364.

  4. I’ve been a long time reader of Ruud Hein’s postings – at least 5+ years. Thanks for all the great tips and ideas you’ve shared. I also want to say thank you for Ifeanyi Isitor tip about saved search for notes created a year ago.

    I’ve taken on pruning my evernote files but I don’t get to them every day, so I modified the search for a weeks worth 1 year ago and 2 years ago and 3 years ago

    created:day-365 -created:day-358
    created:day-730 -created:day-723
    created:day-1095 -created:day-1088

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