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With Evernote 5.0, it feels like the note-taking service that spans web, desktop, and mobile has come of age — on the Mac, at least. The redesigned user interface and the dozens of genuinely useful new features all build on a solid base to deliver a much better note-taking experience.
At its heart, Evernote remains what it has always been: a tool for quickly jotting down notes, with options for filing in notebooks and adding tags to link together related notes from different books. What version 5 does is present this in a much more efficient and friendly manner, illustrated perfectly by the new sidebar, which provides fast access to different areas of the program, as well as pinned favorites — whether notes, notebooks, or tags — and recently accessed notes.
The new Atlas view is great for finding every note tagged with a specific location: vacation photos, or a list of restaurants to try, for example.
There are also new views, designed to make things more attractive and logical, including the does-what-it-says All Notes option. A new default view, Cards, provides an alternative means of browsing your notes. Thankfully, you can still access the Snippet view if you find Cards doesn’t provide enough information. Browsing notebooks is simpler too, thanks to a grid view and the ability to view all personal, shared, and joined notebooks in the same place.
Adding and editing notes is now simpler, whether you’re dragging files into notebooks to quickly create new notes or enjoying the updated notes editor. You can now open notes in their own dedicated window, and use indented text and tag notes by location. This latter feature is joined by a new Atlas view, which pins your notes on a map according to their location tag. It might feel gimmicky to some, but others will appreciate having another means of organizing their notes and photos. Elsewhere, TypeAhead suggestions grace the search box, and the options for sharing notes and notebooks with others are more clearly labelled than before.
Evernote recently launched a new version of image-annotation tool Skitch, which now produces images as Evernote notes, and the main app can view these. Editing them still requires Skitch, but it’s a feature we can see being integrated in the next major release.
The bottom line. The Mac version of Evernote 5 works even better than Evernote 5.0 on iOS, which occasionally suffers from sluggish sync performance. Thankfully, the desktop app only synchronizes every 15 minutes (and you can switch that off via Preferences), so even if you get turned off using Evernote on your iPhone, you’ll still enjoy the pleasures of using it on your Mac.
OS X 10.6.6 or later, free or premium Evernote account (premium accounts are $5/month or $45/year)
Quick shortcuts sidebar, new Cards and Atlas view options, useful editor window.
Desktop improvements aren’t totally matched on iOS.