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Why I Chose Evernote for Family Organization

Evernote is no stranger to the productivity app arena but it need not be all business. Here are a few great things about Evernote I have “noted!”, since using it as a family organizer app.

Family Organization Intro and Requirements

There are a few basic features that I look for when looking for a family productivity solution,

  • Can be used offline
  • Can save images, which are also accessible offline. The typical application of this is to quickly snapshot the countless pieces of paper my kids get from school.
  • OCR capability for recognizing the text on these countless scraps of paper
  • Can share the information with my spouse.
  • Can set reminders, which can also be shared.
  • Can make lists
  • Multi platform
  • Reasonably priced
  • Can have folders or tags for organization of notes
  • Easy to use, for other family members who don’t dabble with as many of these productivity apps as I do!

No doubt the eagle eyed observers among you will have noted the absence of calendar functionality. For my case, at least at present, this is not needed. With these requirements in mind I ended up going for Evernote. Here are the reasons why I chose Evernote for my family organization app.

1. Evernote is Mobile friendly

Two key things I want to mention here. First the widget configuration in Android. It is possible to create icons on your phone which essentially act as shortcuts for whatever you want to to. Let’s say you frequently add notes to a particular notebook. Well, you can set up those icons such that with one push a note will be created in that notebook. You need not mess around with settings every time you want to add information. This is a great advantage while noting stuff on the go. The second mobile friendly aspect I like is the shortcuts. You can have countless notebooks and notes on Evernote. However, the last thing you want to be doing is browsing or searching through that stuff for items that you often use. For those, simply define them as a shortcut and you can access them directly from the shortcut menu.

2. Evernote is a full on Productivity Power House

Evernote did not get to where it is today with millions of users by being a thread bare app. It is loaded with great features. The key items I use for this application though are,

  • Ticks all the boxes – To do list, note-taking and reminders
  • Optical character recognition. This is great for recognizing text in any pictures you take. It is also remarkably effective for hand written notes. ¬†You can check out Andy’s video below to see how effective it can be.

Even with loads of functionality, the user interface is still simple, clean and easily navigable. This is important if the users are not so familiar with such family organization or productivity apps.


3. Evernote has offline access to notebooks

For me this is a must. It is not always the case that I have a data connection and so the ability to have the notes stored locally on my mobile phone is a must. This applies not only to the text within the notebook but also to images. Point made, let’s move on to the next item.

4. Evernote an Sync to Multiple Devices (Paid version)

There are a three Evernote offerings,

  • Free. Basic service. Can only sync across two devices, 60MB uploads per month, no offline access for mobile devices
  • Plus. 1GB uploads per month, sync across multiple devices
  • Premium. 10GB uploads per month, search within attached documents, business card scanning

Not having offline access to notebooks and syncing with only two devices are absolute showstoppers for me


I opted for the plus version as it was a must to fulfill my needs. Not having offline access to notebooks and syncing with only two devices are absolute showstoppers for me. Until mid-2016, it was possible to sync across multiple devices on the free version of Evernote. The change to sync to only two devices was a shock to the Evernote which still reverberates to this day. I think if you opt for Evernote it is also quite likely you will end up paying for the service. My recommendation, as always, is to first avail yourself of the free version and get familiar with the features. If you find it suits your needs well then it is pretty convenient to upgrade.

I have also found the sync in Evernote to be reliable so you can be sure the note will materialize on all of your devices toute suite.

Other Family Organizer App Alternatives

There are lots of alternatives apps to Evernote for family organization but few fulfil the requirements I set out above. Here are a few Evernote alternatives that I considered.

  • Google Keep. There is a lot to like about Google Keep. It is simple to use, has OCR for images, reminders, good for lists (better than Evernote in this regard!), had voice to text, multi-platform, free, etc. I think I better stop singing it’s praises now or I may regret leaving it behind! Despite all of these great features, it was still not to be. This was because shared notes lacked vital information such as reminders and tags for organisation which results in each account the note is shared with having the re-enter this information. Additionally, I found the sync with Google Keep a bit hit and miss, especially on iOS where it reported connection problems.
  • Cozi Family Organizer. There are a few dedicated apps out there such as Cozi Family Organizer, Famjama and Famcal. I recently reviewed Cozi Family Organizer and was none too impressed, especially with the approach taken by Cozi. That turned me off using such a product and also it falls short on a number of the requirements above.
  • Trello. I also considered a more radical approach by using Trello. Trello is a great, easy to use Kanban style task manager. It definitely appeals to people who want to organize their stuff but in a more visual way than traditional lists. Anyhoo, Trello also did not work out, primarily due the offline accessibility of images. Check out my 2017 Trello Review.
  • OneNote. The last option that I also considered is MS OneNote. In many ways this is similar to Evernote. It offers a powerful, multi-platform and free alternative to Evernote and OneNote is my tool of choice for blogging. The slight disadvantages I see in comparison to Evernote for family organization was the absence of reminders and the less robust sync. Additionally, since I was using it for Blogging, I preferred to have some separation between this and family organization.

Evernote as a Family Organization App Summary

So, that’s my thoughts on this family organization app topic so far. I know that Evernote has many fans in the productivity community and so far I am happy enough with the service for this family organization application. Beyond this, it is for sure a great productivity application and if you have not yet made the shift to paperless then this is certainly one solution to consider alongside the likes of Google Drive.

So, thats it for today folks. Feel free to drop a line in the comments section below to share your own experiences with Evernote!

Brendan Toner

Let me welcome you to this alcove of the internet. In this little productivity blog, I detail the trials and tribulations of trying to use my time more effectively utilising the latest productivity tools and techniques. I hope you enjoy the articles, cheers!
Brendan Toner, author of Done Before Brekky

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