Welcome to Evernote For Dummies. I asked to write it because Evernote has changed my life. My hope is that Evernote improves your life just as much.

Before I found Evernote, I was a typical messy-desk person and a pack rat. Piles were everywhere. File cabinets were overflowing. When I found something of interest, I printed it and piled it. I never had time to file it. And if I did file it, I could never remember where I’d put it. When I did remember which stack something was in, I’d have to determine how deep I needed to excavate based on the item’s presumed age. Then I’d dig in. This system — if you can call it that — worked as badly as you can imagine. I never lost anything because I didn’t throw things out. On the other hand, actually retrieving things was frustrating and time-consuming. Getting older didn’t help any. Many times, I would initiate an Internet search to locate something I’d already found. My messy surroundings and frequent archaeological excavations made me the butt of jokes at home and in the office.

Then, in January 2010, I saw a review of Evernote, then two years old, by my fellow Brandeis alum Walt Mossberg. He described a wondrous “Digital File Cabinet You Can Bring with You Anywhere” in AllThingsD (http://all, a highly regarded website devoted to news, analysis, and opinion on technology, the Internet, and media.

Even at that point, Evernote already had 2 million downloads. (It’s now been downloaded tens of millions times.) It ...

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