Some photos are on your smartphone. Others sit on your home computer. Your digital work documents, favorite Web clippings and notes from meetings? Scattered like confetti after New Year's Eve.
If you've embraced a digital lifestyle, this situation is probably all too familiar. But there's a catchall tool for saving anything you might need later, an app for computers and mobile devices called Evernote.
Evernote provides a comprehensive single archive of your digital life, giving you one location to store and find practically everything saved on a computer or phone. Files are automatically backed up on Evernote's servers.
The only real downside with Evernote is that it has so many features, which can make getting started with the app daunting.
Here's the big point to understand: Use Evernote as the place you put everything you might need later. You can drag it in, tap it in or forward it in, and then search for it, share it or post it later. When you need to dig it up, you don't first ask yourself which device it's on — it's in Evernote, from whatever device is at hand.
The free version of the app lets you add up to 60 megabytes of content to your folders every month, enough for a couple of dozen full-size iPhone photos or a hundred big Word documents. The archive can grow as big as it needs to be. The premium version costs $5 a month, which increases the limit to a gigabyte a month, enough for hundreds of photos, and adds a few more features for heavy users.
To begin, download Evernote onto every computer and mobile device you own and create an account. The best way to start is to toss a photo into Evernote. You can drag and drop an image from anywhere on a computer desktop to the Evernote app, or select the photo icon from the mobile version of Evernote to choose a photo already on your phone. The photo will be synched to Evernote's servers and available on your other devices. The same trick works for Word files, PDFs, spreadsheets, MP3s and even videos.
Getting items out of Evernote is easy. Once you find the desired file in the app, use the Export Note menu option on a computer or tap the icon at the bottom of the screen on the mobile interface to export the item to your phone. Then send it as a message or post it to Facebook.
To find something you've saved, Evernote has a search function that will find just about any text anywhere in a saved file — it'll even recognize text inside a photo. Individual items or entire folders can be shared with other people.
If you start to use the program frequently, you'll probably find that the premium upgrade makes a lot of sense. With the upgrade, you will have a hard time reaching the storage limit. Second, it allows you to search within documents, which can come in incredibly handy. Third, it will let you store copies of important items on your computer or phone, an inevitable lifesaver for anyone who travels without reliable Internet access.