Sending Mail to Evernote on MacOSX

I still can’t figure out why this isn’t baked into the Evernote application as a Service available system-wide, but there’s a way to add a Service to send messages from Mail into Evernote as notes for archive. There was a previous applescript solution, but I hadn’t used it (and it apparently borked on the 10.9 upgrade anyway).

I’d been using the Evernote email address feature, to just forward messages I need to archive for automatic importing into Evernote, but it’s a pain. I have to remove the *FWD: * prefix on the note title. I need to decrease the indented quote level of messages. etc… It works, but it’s funky.

Some quick searching turned up this post on the Evernote website. It talks about using an Automator app as a GTD workflow. Awesome. Except the app they provide includes a step to move archived messages into an “Archive” mailbox in Mail. I don’t want to do that, so I modified the app ever so slightly, to remove that step.

Now, I have it set up as a Service, and have followed the instructions on the Evernote post to add a keyboard shortcut. Command-option-E sends selected message(s) to Evernote. Done. Awesome.

Here’s my modified Automator app – download the .zip, extract it, and double-click on the app inside. It’ll ask you if you want to install it. If you haven’t already turned off the “Allow Apps from Anywhere” setting, you’ll get a warning saying that you haven’t done so. Easy fix. Open System Preferences, click “Security & Privacy” and then click the lock at the bottom left. Then, click “Allow apps downloaded from: anywhere”. Done.

The one wrinkle I’ve seen so far is that the current version doesn’t pull attachments over. That sucks. Attachments are one of the reasons I archive stuff. Looking into solutions for that now…

on note-taking on an iPad

I’ve been doing most of my work on an iPad for a couple of months now, and have finally come up with a workflow that fits how I do things. I had initially been typing notes directly into Evernote, which is awesome and extremely useful, but the flow of notes felt entirely too linear. I tend to wander a bit, and come back to things later. Typing notes into a document felt too constraining.

So, I went hunting for apps that would replace my traditional moleskine notebooks. I’ve got a stack of notebooks at home, and have been extremely happy with how I work with them. Except they’re not searchable, and I can’t carry them all around with me, so I don’t have access to everything but the most recent set of notes in the current notebook.

How to have the best parts of freeform note-taking, while being able to easily search, index, and share content? I wound up buying a lot of notebook apps, trying to find the one that works best for me.


I was sure Penultimate would do the trick, but it didn’t feel right. Then, I nearly settled on Note Taker HD, but the way the ink worked didn’t feel natural. The scrawl-to-text feature was interesting, but was a bit of a pain to actually use. I was really hoping Onenote would work out, but it’s text-only, with no sketching or ink. WTF? That’s the strongest part of it, on the Windows side of things…

Then, talking with a prof, and she recommended Noteshelf. Great. Another app to buy. So, of course, I did. And it’s really, really nice. This isn’t a review of the app. Google “noteshelf iPad” to find a bunch of those. But the app totally feels right. It feels like a digital version of a trusty moleskine notebook. Except it’s searchable, and tagable, and can send pages to Evernote. Very cool stuff.

I had a bit of a holy crap moment the other day, in a vendor demo. I was taking notes, and wanted to capture a diagram that was on the screen. So I grabbed my iPhone and snapped a quick photo of the screen. I waited maybe 5 seconds, and then clicked the “insert image” icon in noteshelf. I went to my iCloud photostream, and there was the photo I had just taken on my phone. I selected it, and it was in my notes. Holy crap. Couldn’t do THAT with my old notebooks… (I’m using an iPad mark one, so don’t have a camera built in – the fancy new godpads with cameras let you insert a photo without needing to go through iCloud etc…)


Yes. I know my chicken scrawl is illegible. But I can read it, and it feels better than typing…

I had picked up a cheap Pogo Sketch stylus to use. It felt like writing with a crayon, though. I did some quick googling and found the Wacom Bamboo stylus. $30 for a metal pen to use on an iPad? I thought that was insane, but I bought one anyway. Wow. Feels like writing with a good pen. Totally worth the money.

So, now I have a really good notebook app, integrated with Evernote so I can access my notes anywhere, and a decent pen to make the whole process just feel right. Nice. Now, if only I hadn’t had to waste so much money buying the other notebook apps until I found Noteshelf…