I’m continuing my explanation of my “delightful experience” with Evernote. Last time, I mentioned the search functionality of Evernote, so this episode is exactly that: search.

Evernote’s Organization

Evernote gives its users a variety of ways to organize their notes. There are notebooks (like folders) that can collect a group of notes and can be managed as a group, including sharing. There are tags that can be applied to each note and I can work on a set of notes based on tag. There is an “Atlas” that groups notes based on where they were taken, which Evernote can automatically tag your notes with your location if you want. But all of this is active organization that the user can do (location tagging requires the user to activate it). But, the best part of Evernote is that it has passive organization: search.

Evernote’s Search

Evernote’s search is powerful and fast. Take a moment to watch this brief video of Evernote’s search in the web app:

(modern browsers should be able to play that file)

I have 920 notes. When searching with the web app, you must hit enter, so as you’re watching the video, you’ll notice a slight delay at the end of my typing and before I hit enter. The speed is real time, not sped up. The Windows app and the Android app are even faster at searching than the web app.

Careful observers will also notice that “publishing” was actually text within an image. Evernote’s search will search inside Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF and other documents. It also matches “near” words. When I search for “Microsoft”, I will see results that match “Windows” even when the text of the note doesn’t match “Windows.” Evernote’s search is powerful and fast. I discovered a few years ago that I didn’t need to organize and tag every note. I created a notebook called “My Pile” that serves as my default folder. It has hundreds of notes in it and I almost always find what I’m looking for.


I can even save searches if it’s something I’m frequently looking for. This serves as an ad hoc notebook that I can return to later. With Evernote’s search, I’ve relied on it as a personal library, an out-of-brain memory dump of things important to me. I’ve been using Evernote since July of 2008 (within their first month), and I keep using it because it does enough of what I need and doesn’t force me to learn its way of doing things; it allows me to bring my mental model to it and use it. Evernote’s search also allows me to get creative in the ways I use the product.

Evernote’s Search isn’t Perfect

Perfect doesn’t exist, but you might have the sense that I’m gushing over Evernote. As product designers, this is what we strive for in our products. Imperfection can be overlooked when there is enthusiasm for our product. There are flaws in Evernote’s search and there are a few times that I’ve found myself a little disappointed that Evernote couldn’t find what I was looking for. But, the vast majority of the time, Evernote nails it and leaves me delighted to use the product.

What do you think of Evernote’s Search?

Submission Call

If you have software that you find “delightful,” let me know what it is. We can take a look at it together and maybe I can get some UX updates put together for it.