A few weeks back, I wrote about how I use the Drafts app to quickly add common notes to Evernote, including appending items to existing notes. The Drafts app is a Mac-only app, and my solution, therefore, was really a Mac-only solution. The truth is that the bulk of my computing ecosystem is Macintosh, and I write about what I have experience with. Still, I felt a little bad about not having a equivalent solution for Windows or Android users.
So today, I’m going to provide a tip for quickly appending items to existing notes in Evernote via email, something that works from any platform or device from which you can send email.
Append vs. Add New
Most people familiar with Evernote know that you can email notes to your Evernote account simply by sending them to the special email address that Evernote provides you with. (You can find this address in your Account Info settings.)
People are also probably aware that you can file and tag notes in email as well. By using the @ in the subject line, you can tell Evernote in which notebook to file a note. Using the # symbol allows you to tag the note. So, for instance, if I wanted to create a new note in my Ideas notebook and tag it “story idea” I would give my message the following subject line:
Subject: New story idea @Ideas #story idea
And this would get filed and tagged appropriately.
This is great for creating new notes, but what if you want to append to an existing note. That is, instead of creating a new note, what if you want to add some additional information to an existing note?
Evernote provides a way for you to do this via email as well, although it isn’t as clearly documented as filing or tagging.
Appending via email
Suppose I already have a note in Evernote, like this one:
You can see the note title is “Notes for Going Paperless post” and you can see that I’ve got one line of text in the note.
To append to this note by email, I do the following:
- Create a new email message addressed to my Evernote email account.
- In the Subject line, include the title of the note that I want to append to, followed by a space and a plus sign.
- Include the text I want to append in the body of the email message.
- Send the message.
Here is what my email message looks like:
The space followed by a plus sign (+) at the end of the Subject is what tells Evernote to append this to an existing message. Here is how Evernote goes about doing this:
- It looks for a note with the title you’ve given in the subject line.
- If it finds a single match, it appends the text to that note.
- If it finds more than one note with the same title, it appends to the most recent note.
- If it cannot find a note with a matching title, it creates the note, instead of appending to an existing one.
After I send the email message above and sync my version of Evernote with the server, here is what my note looks like:
You can see that the text from the body of my email message was added. Not only that, the formatting came through as well (you can tell it is a larger font than the original text in the message).
Why append to existing notes?
I’ve found several uses for appending to existing notes. If I am out and about, and want to capture notes for a story that I am working on, I prefer to keep them all in a single note, so I will append to the “current story” note.
You might keep a note called “Grocery List” and append to that note as needed, instead of adding a new note for each item you want to pick up from the store.
Next week, I’ll show you another scenario where this feature comes in particularly handy.
A cross-platform solution
Appending to notes via email works across all platforms. It works on Mac and Windows, it works on iOS and Android. All you need is an email client and an Evernote account. Just remember that when you send the message you want the subject line to match the title of the note you want to append to, and include the space + at the end of the subject line, which tells Evernote to append this to the note, instead of creating a new note.
Next week is my 100th Going Paperless post, and I’ve got a special one planned. Remember how I said that once each month I’d provide a more advanced automation tip? Well, I’ve got a really good one planned. Stay-tuned.
If you have a suggestion for a future Going Paperless post, let know me. Send it to me at feedback [at] jamietoddrubin.com. As always, this post and all of my Going Paperless posts is also available on Pinterest.
Last week’s post: Achievement Unlocked! Using Evernote to Track Achievements.
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Hello, I read almost every post and try it out as soon as I can. I cannot get this to work. I created a note in Windows EN sync it. Go to gmail and follow your post, send it, sync Windows EN and it creates a new note with the same title.
This is the only post i can’t repeat. I am sure it is a me issue.
Romain, do you have a space before the plus sign at the end of the subject line? The space is required, so your subject should look like this:
Having the space there is key.
Yes and thank you for responding so quickly. I even tried a double space. I also tried copying and pasting the title, no spelling errors that way.
Romain, do you know if the original note had been synced to the server when you tried to append? If it hadn’t been synced, it won’t work, obviously.
Case matters as well.
A product called “Fastnote” is similar to “Draft”. It does not work on older versions of Android though.
Is it developed by Apprenworks? If so, it hasn’t been updated in a year. WriteNote (Pro) is under active development and is similar. It too is not as good as Drafts for iOS, but it does allow you to create some templates and quickly send notes to Evernote. Everform is another option, although I don’t think it is as fast as WriteNote (Pro).
I think I figured this out. It is very subtle, but it seems that when you create a note title in Evernote with a dash in it, it gets converted to an em-dash. I don’t know if this is a function of Evernote or the operating system, but here is what I did:
1. Created a note with the title “1 – Daily To Do List”
2. Synced to the server.
3. Emailed to Evernote with a subject of “1 – Daily To Do List +”
4. Synced to the server.
As Dave pointed out, I got two notes, instead of appending to the first. However, I noticed that my original note title had an em-dash, while the note I sent from email (Gmail) had a regular dash. Since these are different characters, Evernote sees the titles as different.
The solution, therefore, is to be sure whatever symbols you are using in the title are identical matches to what you put in the email subject line.
Strange; it did work for me, but not exactly as stated.
I created a note from the Evernote Windows app. Then I sent an email with the instruction above. It did not append, but it created a new note. So I thought it did not work. I deleted the “added” new note created by email and tried again per the instruction above. After I sync, I got the “deleted” note appearing again with my previous text and the new new text.
So; although the email did not append to the original note, it did keep appending to the new created one. I think I made the mistake of sending my first email BEFORE I sync my evernote after creating my original experimental note. So you might want to add to the experimental people here that after creating a note to play with, sync their app with the server THEN send an append email to it 🙂
Just a thought.
Ali, that’s a good point. If you are appending to a note on the server, the note has to be there, which means you should be sure to sync beforehand. I’ve been experimenting with this a good deal, and my results are consistent:
Regarding the Trash issue, I did find that if I trashed a note, and then tried to append to that note, it found it in the trash, meaning the append feature looks everywhere for that title, including the trash. But you can get around this by permanently deleting the note in question, i.e., delete it from the Trash.
I found out that if the Note title has a hyphen in its name, this method does not append, but rather creates a new Note. Ex: “1 – Daily To Do List”. However, when I try to append to a note name without a hyphen it works. Ex: ” Daily To Do List”. I haven’t tried to append to an existing Note that has other symbols in its name (besides the hyphen). I can confirm that you can email directly into a Notebook that has a hyphen in its name.
I appended to a note that had a hyphen in the title without any problem. I created a note called “Test-Note”, synced with the server, and then send an email with the Subject: Test-Note + and it appended to my original.
Are you sure that your original note with the hyphen in the title had been synced with the server when you tried to append to it?
My guess is that the space around the hyphen in his note title is the problem.
Yes…it was sync’d. Your sample does not have a space around the hyphen (like Geoffrey noted). Jamie, do me a favor…try creating a note titled “1 – Daily To Do List” and try to append to it.
Dave, see my subsequent comment to Geoffrey above. The problem is a character mismatch. Somehow, Evernote (or the OS) is converting the hyphen in the note title to an em-dash. The same does not happen in the email subject line. A dash is a dash. So the two titles are technically different because one contains an em-dash and one a regular dash. I suspect if you copy the note title from the original note and paste that into the email subject line (don’t forget the + at the end) it will work because it is using the same character type–unless the email client is dumbing down an em-dash into some non-Unicode character, like a dash.
Thanks Jamie, I have been using the copy and paste method for the title. Hmm…you may be right with the email client dumbing down the hyphen. I’ll play some more and see whether I can pinpoint the exact cause. Thanks for trying it out for me and keep up the great content you provide.
Great tip !! I think I’m going to play with this and find how to best use it – not just for the obvious shopping list but maybe for maintaining some sort of to-do list with pre-set reminders as well.
Looking forward to your next post.
I was able to append a note I created in Gmail. I used Gmail to create a new note. Sent an append using the method you outlined above. That worked great. I noticed that when I send a note from Gmail, it goes to a folder I call “Evernote”, not my default folder, (_INBOX). In my first tries I created the note in a folder I call “_Today”.
Jamie, i forced a sync on the note I created in Windows EN, and tried to append to it from Gmail, it did not append. I will try creating a note in Windows EN on my office desk top this morning and wait until later and try and append it.
Thank you everyone for your replies.
I append to notes all the time, but I didn’t know I could do it from an email. I have a whole system wherein I automatically, via IFTTT, create a Captain’s Log note every morning, and all of my social media activity is automatically appended to this note. I even have my completed iOS Reminders fed into it so I can review what I did during the day. I also have an “append to Captain’s Log” action in Drafts (iOS text entry and distribution app) for random thoughts that occur throughout the day that aren’t necessarily for public consumption. Thanks for the great tip!
Captain’s Log IFTTT recipes: https://ifttt.com/p/nardhelain
I did some experimenting with this and found that you can direct Evernote to look in a specific notebook when appending notes. I created two notebooks, [Dummy1] and [Dummy2] and put a note called “Test Note” in each one. The note in [Dummy1] has an earlier create date than the one in [Dummy2].
If I send a note to Evernote with the subject line “Test Note +”, it gets appended to the note in [Dummy2] as expected. However, if I send a note with the subject line “Test Note @[Dummy1] +”, it gets appended to the note in the [Dummy1] notebook, even though the one in [Dummy2] is newer.
Strange behavior: I have tried several configurations, synced at various times etc. Evernote put the text from the e-mails in various folders (random selection it looks like). In some cases, a note was extended, in most cases, it wasn’t. Looks to me, that this is function is not evolved properly.
Just a quick correction: the Drafts app has been available on iOS since Feb 2013. I started using it based on your recommendation and I love it!
This is great. Thanks for sharing!
I notice the new text is appended to the bottom of the existing note in EN. Do you know if there is a way to have it append to the top, instead?
Shawn, no, right you can only append by email, not prepend.