One Important Feature that Evernote Still Needs

Evernote has made some significant improvements lately. They have completely reengineered the backend. They have refreshed and improved the user interface. And they recently introduced integrated task management–something users have been requesting for a long time.

There is one feature that I would find incredibly useful that Evernote still needs: a Last Viewed date for a note.

Currently, Evernote provides two dates for each note: a Created date and an Updated date:

An example of Evernote note information showing the created and updated date fields.

The Created date is the date on which the note was originally created. (I often change this to match the date of a document to make searching by date range more effective). The Updated date is the last time the note was modified. What’s missing in the “Last Viewed” date.

Why is a “Last Viewed” date important? Evernote is not just static storage for me. It is a living memory–a repository of digital documents and other notes that I have been collecting for more than ten years now. I call it a living memory because I am always looking for ways to improve the value I get from what I have stored in there. Currently, I have over 13,000 notes stored in Evernote. Despite the methods I have come up with for making searching as easy as possible, it can sometimes be hard to narrow things down when there is a lot of noise.

A screen capture showing Evernote's count of my notes, currently at 13,263.

This is where a “Last Viewed” date plays a crucial role. If I had to guess, I’d say that three quarters of the notes I have in Evernote have never been looked at after their initial scanning or input. The question I ask myself is: if I never have to look at note that I am storing, then why am I storing it?

Certainly some notes are worth keeping, even if I haven’t looked at them in months or years. But there are also things like phone bills and Amazon receipts, and countless other documents that I probably will never have a need to look at. I don’t know this for sure at the outset, so I put them into Evernote just in case. But I would love to do a yearly review, looking at how many notes I haven’t viewed in the last, say, five years. If I could get such a list, I might simply move all of those notes to an Archive notebook, export that notebook to a file, and then delete the notebook from Evernote. This would remove a lot of noise that comes up in searches. And it really is noise, since they are notes that I have not looked at in the last five years.

The problem is, of course, that Evernote does not have a “Last Viewed” date to query on. I suppose this would be the equivalent of the “Date Last Opened” on MacOS. It seems like it would be a simple matter to add the functionality for this information, although I suspect there would be no way of implementing it retroactively.

Still, I think this would be a useful feature, and one that corresponds to real memory, where things that we have no need of recalling are “erased” so that we can more readily remember other things.


  1. I agree that a last viewed would be nice. I think that would be an excellent feature of the annual review.

    I do think keeping all those bills doesn’t hurt and sometimes I’m super happy I kept those. Especially credit card statements scanned in as searchable pdf’s. I find that stuffing more and more stuff in just raises the value. One thing that came up recently was a septic pump out is due. Having that bill searchable made it really clear who I used last time and how much it cost. So I don’t purge the docs in evernote.

    For my weekly review I look at “this week a year ago” that’s a simple query with the updated being between 53 and 52 weeks. I miss stuff that got modified after that week, but it shows me last touch. Would be interesting to compare what the query would look like for “Last opened”

    I think the feature they really need is on mobile if I was looking at a note and I change apps and come back that note should be exactly where I left. The use case is cooking and the note is a recipe. It’s extremely frustrating to have to find the note again.

    1. JR, an annual review is exactly what I had in mind.

      Keeping the bills and statements around doesn’t hurt, but all of that text can throw a bunch of noise into searches, especially when searching for the contents of a PDF. What I would do is export the “unread” notes to an export file, and archive that file. If I needed the note for some reason, I could re-import. In the meantime, it wouldn’t be adding noise to my searches.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.