Going paperless: mobile paperless, or tips for how going paperless can help when you are on the go

One of the great things about going paperless with Evernote is the ability to access your paperless data from no matter where you are.  What follows are four tips for using your paperless data on the go, away from home. Also, note that for next week’s column, I’m going to try an open forum. See the details at the end of this post.

1. Fill in the blanks

Having access to your paperless data can be really useful for filling out forms. For instance, last week I received a reminder email letting me know that it’s time to schedule my next regular maintenance for my car. I clicked on the link to schedule an appointment and was asked to provide my vehicle VIN so that the system could look up my maintenance record. Well, I don’t have my VIN memorized. I do, however, have a notebook in my Home Life stack that contains information about our cars, including up-to-date scans of my registration. I did a quick search on my iPhone for “VIN” and within seconds I found the VIN for my car, copied it and pasted it into the form.

There are countless ways you can use your Evernote data to fill-in-the-blanks on various forms. Just think of how often you are asked for the same type of information on forms that you usually have to look up somewhere. I tend to find this particularly useful when filling out paperwork at doctor appointments, for instance; or filling out various reimbursement forms.

When I add this kind of information to Evernote, I will typically do the following:

  1. Create the note with the information in question (perhaps I’m scanning in my car registration).
  2. Tag the note with the tag “form info“; as I’ve said in an earlier post, I generally don’t use tags, but this is one place I’ll make an exception.
  3. Create a saved search in Evernote for “form data” which will quickly return any notes I have tagged in this fashion

2. Favorite brands

When I find a product I like, I tend to stick with it. But I am also fairly oblivious to the brands and it is frustrating not to be able to remember the kind of shampoo you used or what kind of meatballs you had for dinner the last time that were so delicious.

I’ve solved this problem by capturing this type of brand information in Evernote. For instance, there is a certain kind of frozen meatball that I really like. It’s excellent, but I could never remember what it was. At the store, I’d guess, and would sometimes be disappointed with the result. Now, I just take a photo of the product (or the product packaging) so that I can look it up anytime I’m away from the house. This is particularly convenient when I’m shopping. I’ll often toss these in my Reference notebook.

For instance, we put down some mulch in the front yard that I really liked. Before tossing away the bag, I grabbed a photo because I knew I was going to want to put some down in the backyard. When I went back to Home Depot the following week, I simply walked into the garden center, pulled out my iPhone, opened Evernote and typed “mulch” in the search field. The result was this:


Another example from last week was replacing the wiper blades on our older car. I’d snapped a photo of the wiper blade packaging the last time I replaced them. That photo was in Evernote and when I ran to the store to get the wiper blades, I simply pulled up the photo to figure out which one’s I needed. Even better, I remember that there was some trick to replacing them the last time, but couldn’t recall what that trick was. When I located the note, I noticed that I’d annotated it with, “Pull back pin before slide off the wipers.” Made my life much easier that day.

3. How big is that thing?

I keep a lot of information about my house in digital form. I’ll discuss this in more detail in a future post, but one of the advantages to this is that I have a lot of useful information at my fingertips when I need it. For example:

Ten months ago or so, I went to the store to buy a new TV for one of the rooms in the house. When I got to the store and looked at the TVs, I was uncertain what size to get because the wall where it was going to be mounted wasn’t very wide. I didn’t wan the TV overhanging the edges of the wall, but I didn’t want to go all the way back home either.

Fortunately, I have 2 things in Evernote (in my Home Life notebook stack) that made this a very easy decision:

  1. I have floor plan images for each room in my house with measurement indicated on the floor plans.
  2. I have photos have each surface (wall, door, window) in the house where I have used Skitch to annotate the images with rough measurements as well.

All I had to to was call up the floor plan of the room in question and look at the size of the wall. It was nice to be able to pull this up on my iPhone. From that image, I could tell what the maximum size TV I could hang would be. I’ve used these images and floor plans countless times when I’m away from the house:

  • Looking for a rug to put under the chair in my office
  • Figuring out if the piece of furniture I was looking at would fit down the stairway.
  • Trying to remember what type of faucet I’d installed in the kitchen sink.
Having all of this information in a notebook, and annotated makes these kinds of decisions very easy when you are on the go, because you don’t have to guess. You have the information right at your fingertips.

Next week: open Q&A forum on paperless lifestyle

I’m going to try something different for next week’s column. I get a lot of general questions about the paperless lifestyle. How do you do x in Evernote? Or questions about scanning or other things. So for next week, I’m going to take as many questions as people can send me and try to answer as many of them as I can. Here is how it will work:

  1. If you have a question on any aspect of the paperless lifestyle, go to this post.
  2. In the comments of the post, ask your question.
  3. I will compile a list of questions from the comments (consolidating like questions)
  4. Next week, I’ll post the answers to as many of them as I can manage to get answered.

Please remember to use the other post for asking your questions. Comments on this post on paperless on the go should stick to the topic at hand.

(As always, this and all my Going Paperless posts are also available on Pinterest.)


  1. Going Paperless is wonderful with a decent computer.

    But with a mobile device, be prepared to watch the cobwebs grown while the information loads. I only use mobile for emergency information.

    If I have to add info while on the road, I’ll use the Fastever app, then edit it when I get in front of my computer.

    1. jbenson2, I imagine this is a real possibility, but so far, in the 20 months that I’ve been doing this, bandwidth on the road has not been a problem for me. In part this is because certain of my notebooks are set to be Offline notebooks so that I don’t need any kind of network connection to access those on my iPad (this is a feature of a premium account). But even when I have needed Internet access, so far, download speeds have not been a factor.

  2. I have been wondering for awhile and can’t figure out how to do it – is there a way to password protect or otherwise lock notebooks in Evernote?


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