©2015 Donald R. Snow

This page was last updated 2015-08-10

These Freeware Corner notes are published in TAGGology, our Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group (UVTAGG) monthly newsletter, and are posted on  where there may be corrections or updates.


In past Freeware Corner and other class notes I have written about the program EVERNOTE and how to use it.  Their website is .  You go to the website, set up a free account, and download the program. The BASIC version is free, the PLUS version costs $24.99/year, and the PREMIUM version costs $49.99/year.  The free version is enough for many uses in family history and most of what we will discuss in this article is from that version.  The paid versions add more features and, after using the free version for a couple of years, I decided pay for the PREMIUM version to get the additional features.  EVERNOTE sync's (synchronizes) your notes to all your computers and devices via the Internet. To learn the steps to use in any of the versions see my other notes or the EVERNOTE blog at .  There are also many other helps and tutorials online such as , , the "Unofficial Evernote Manual" at , and the MakeTechEasier Evernote Keyboard Shortcuts Cheat Sheet at .  For many more helps and tutorials you can Google the web and look on YouTube.  This Freeware Corner article shows some ideas for using EVERNOTE in family history from my own experience and seeing how other people use it.


One of the most helpful things about EVERNOTE is that there are versions to run on every operating system and every type of computer and device, e.g. Windows, Mac, iPhone, Android, and everything else.  This makes it so that notes you save on one device or computer are available to you on any of your other devices or computers, if they connect to the Internet, so they can be updated.  You can write and edit notes without being connected to the Internet and as soon as it detects an Internet connection, it updates your online file "in the cloud" and from there it sends the updates to each of the other devices where you have set up your account.  This makes it so that you can use any of your notes in EVERNOTE anywhere you happen to be, as long as you can get to the Internet, e.g. at a FHC.


EVERNOTE will allow you to copy and paste URLs (links) or entire webpages into notes.  To save a URL just type it into a note.  When you put the cursor at the end of the URL and press the space bar, you will see the link turn into an active link that is underlined and look the way you are used to seeing links.  You can also save links by going to the webpage in a browser, copying the URL from the address bar, and pasting it into a note in EVERNOTE.  To save the entire webpage in a note just go to the webpage in the browser, press CTRL-A (A=All) to highlight the entire webpage; then CTRL-C (C=Copy) to copy the entire webpage to the clipboard; open a note in EVERNOTE and press CTRL-V (V=Paste) to paste it into the note.  You then have a copy of the entire webpage with all the links active and this remains in your EVERNOTE file even if the webpage changes later, which most do within a few months.  Besides highlighting the entire webpage, you can highlight just portions of it and paste those into notes.  Or you can use tools like EVERNOTE WebClipper which brings in the page without all the extraneous stuff around the edges.  There are also other programs that help in getting webpages copied so they are more readable.  Using these processes I have made notes in my EVERNOTE file where I save various webpage links, e.g. I have a note in which I paste all URLs that pertain to my family or me and others in which I keep webpages that pertain to different FH topics.


You can set up EVERNOTE notes to keep track of all the sources you check for an individual and what you found there, if anything.  Some sources you will want to add to FamilySearch Family Tree, but others you will only want to save in EVERNOTE or in your own genealogy database for reasons such as privacy laws.  Of course, you can save them in more than one place to form more complete lists.  An idea would be to set up a table or chart in a note with columns for details of what you found in each source.  Since notes in EVERNOTE don't have to be in any certain format, you can easily write or copy in things and have them in the note in chronological order of when you found them or else when they occurred.  I find it helpful to put the date I found the source at the top of the note so my research logs are mostly in the order I found the information with the latest at the top.  There is a simple way to include check boxes so you can form lists, such as sources to check, for example, and put checks in the boxes when you have finished the item.  All these ToDo lists are searchable to see which are completed and which are not.


I have EVERNOTE notes for contact information for my relatives, genealogy contacts, friends in cities such as Provo and St. George, and for businesses for which I need to remember the contact information.  For my LDS wards I download the pdf's of the ward directories from the LDS Church website and save them into an EVERNOTE notebook for the ward.  PDF's are automatically indexed, so I can search my EVERNOTE file for any name or identifying information to bring up the information.  The BASIC (free) version of EVERNOTE waits until that night to index pdf's you copy in, but the paid versions index pdf's immediately.  You never see the pdf index text layer since that is saved in your EVERNOTE account "in the cloud", so to search such files, you need to have an Internet connection.  It indexes any writing it finds even in pictures such as signs or printing on a blackboard that you photograph.  It doesn't index handwriting, but does have a speech-to-text conversion built in so you can dictate and it will type the text.  I haven't found this voice recognition very accurate, though.


If you have scans of letters of an ancestor, you can copy and paste those scans into notes in EVERNOTE.  If you have the transcriptions of handwritten letters, you can paste them with the scanned images, and the transcriptions will all indexed for you.  I have developed a naming routine for letters so they all sort chronologically in EVERNOTE.  They are searchable and editable in EVERNOTE.  Then, using the Export feature in EVERNOTE, I have exported all these as html files so they are viewable in a browser or can be uploaded to a website.  You can also export EVERNOTE notes or notebooks as text files.  Exporting a letter collection as html files allows you to use all the features of a browser; for example, in most browsers, to increase the size of the font so they are more readable, hold down the CTRL key and roll the mouse wheel.  You can also use the search features of the browser to find particular aspects of your collection.  I have used this procedure to form a letter collection of Erastus Snow's Personal and Family Letters that is now posted on my FH website .  This procedure can be used for any collection of files, e.g. an ancestor's recipe collection or a collection of newspaper articles such as obituaries.


In the paid versions of EVERNOTE there is a Presentations mode which allows you to just click and show any note as a series of slides with various additional features to show it.  This can be used to show a slideshow on your own computer or device or to show on a screen, if you have an LCD projector or larger monitor attached.  The Presentation button is a small computer monitor in the upper right corner of the note.  This Presentation mode is not available in the BASIC (free) version, so I won't say any more about it here.


EVERNOTE uses the built-in camera of a device to take pictures and store them as notes.  So you can open EVERNOTE and take a picture of an artifact and save it as a note.  Then, in the same note, you can add an audio note describing the artifact, where it came from, its history and relationship to the family, etc.  If the artifact belongs to a relative you could have them describe it in their own voice and record the audio note in EVERNOTE.  You then have the picture and an audible description of it in the same note.  To add an audio note you need a microphone on your device, of course.  Just click on the small microphone (upper right corner of a note) and then click Record.  When finished, click Stop and the note will be an icon link where the cursor was when you started.


Many family history conferences provide pdf copies of the papers presented in the conference.  For the BYU Family History and Genealogy Conference last month (Jul 2015) each registrant was given a 2-gig flash drive with a pdf of the entire 600-page syllabus on it.  At some conferences they give CDs with pdf's of the class notes and some conferences post the papers on the Internet before the conference, e.g. RootsTech.  EVERNOTE is a great place to store such papers.  Just drag and drop any pdf into an EVERNOTE note and it will be indexed and available to you.  For the BASIC (free) version you will have to wait until the next morning to have the pdf indexed.  For the paid versions it will be indexed immediately.  If you have the papers as separate pdf's, highlight them all in Windows Explorer or another file manager program, right click the group, and select Send To > EVERNOTE.  When you install EVERNOTE on your computer, it puts this this right-click "context" menu of Send To EVERNOTE on your computer.  When you Send To EVERNOTE the pdf's, you will see each pdf being sent into a separate note in the EVERNOTE notebook you had open when you clicked.  Several years ago I started saving FH conference class note pdf's this way.  As a title for the note, I put the surname and given names of the speaker, then the title of the paper, and a note about where the FH class was given.  During the conference I keep these notes in a notebook for that conference.  After the conference is over, I drag and drop the notes into a notebook called FH-Syllabi, so I have all the papers from previous conferences in one notebook.  They all sort by the author's name and I can see immediately the talks that someone gave and the conference and date.  All these notes are searchable for my use later.


Notebooks can be formed to store instruction manuals, information articles about certain topics, how-to's for family history, and catalogs of various sorts.  Such an EVERNOTE notebook makes finding information and manuals easy and they don't get lost.  You can save any things you want this way, for example, cooking recipes you like.  I use EVERNOTE notes to store information about freeware that I use or might want to use or write about.


EVERNOTE allows sharing separate notes or entire notebooks by just highlighting the notes or notebooks, right-clicking, selecting Share, and giving the information on who you are sharing with.  You can share in such a way that the other person or persons can only see the notes or you can allow them to be able to edit the note or notebooks themselves.  You decide what is appropriate in each case.  For two people working on the same family history shared notebook you would probably want each to be able to edit notes in it.  Everyone you share with sees all changes made to the notes, but only those you have allowed to edit can change the notes.


I have written this entire article in EVERNOTE and frequently write things that way.  With this approach I have all earlier versions of my article series available to examine and copy the format.  I seldom use LIBRE-OFFICE or WORD or other text editors to write articles now, since EVERNOTE has all the basic text commands that I need and makes it easy to keep track of what I am doing.  I make up agendas and press releases for our UVTAGG (Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group) this way.  EVERNOTE also has the feature that whatever you write is saved immediately, so I never have to worry about whether I have saved the latest version.  You can edit any note at any time, as well, so you always have the latest available.  For the paid versions they even keep track of all earlier versions of notes you have written, so even if you delete a note, you can go to the website and retrieve earlier versions of it.


I hope you see that EVERNOTE has many uses in family history.  If you use it, you have already, or probably will, find additional uses of it yourself.  There are websites and professional genealogists who have written helps and articles about EVERNOTE and more add-ons are being written all the time.  If you come up with some good uses of it in family history, please let me know, since they will probably be worth noting and passing on in later classes and articles.