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When I first started using Evernote, I believed the hype about you just being able to store everything. You can, but now I have a huge mess in which I can't find things.

My intention was to use it to keep track of admin commands on my computers. But a lot of this was on complex stuff where I was making a lot of mistakes. So, while my notes are comprehensive they are also big , numerous (327) and full of junk. The problem I find is that Evernote searches are not particularly good at showing you context.

If I search for "git" for example, I only get the header of a note that matches. Not the location of where "git" is found. So I can't quickly zero in on the notes that might be of interest.

OK, my bad. I'd like to start over.

What I want to do instead is to have 1 notebook per subject and only keep track of known-to-be-good commands and settings as a personal documentation. I'll keep the unstructured admin logs and other random junk out of Evernote and use tags as well to classify stuff.

Some possibilities:

  • delete all current Notebooks and Notes. Drastic, but right now I'm really not using Evernote anymore.

  • tag all current Notes as obsolete and exclude them from searches most of the time. Filter on tag: not obsolete, or whatever form that takes. Gradually copy in the ones that are actually clean and useful.

(Q: how do I mass tag all/multiple notes anyway?)

  • backup/export all notes. delete all notes. reimport the useful ones somehow, later.

  • create a new user (I am on free plan right now). Find a way to cut & paste good notes from my old user as I go. Possibly via logging in on old account in web client and pasting into new account on desktop app.

What I am NOT considering: cleaning up my notes individually.

Anyone been there and done that?

FWIW, I have shifted a lot of this note-taking to Fogbugz, which I use a a bug tracker, and Pinboard, which I use to bookmark web pages. Both allow pretty good web-based searching and tagging. But a clean Evernote repo would be a great complement to them.

  • What OS? Or web? Or mobile device? – Raystafarian Feb 24 '16 at 17:51
  • I use evernote (windows & android) and when searching in windows it is no problem to find something - it will search also the notes inside not only the header, and it show you a filtered list of notes with the search string and it will highlight the string found in the notes, so I am confused about your problem with search. I probably have a much less number of notes than you and I do not use tagging at all. I use OneNote for my private KB wich has some great additional features like the integrated OCR - while not perfect it will search also for text in screenshots. – Zina Feb 24 '16 at 18:29
  • OS? Mostly Mac OSX. Some Windows 8, an iPad and even a Blackberry on BB10. The Mac is the one I use most. – JL Peyret Feb 24 '16 at 18:45
  • Also, let's just accept that I want to wipe and restart. Suggestions for better searches are not what I am looking for. I had a bad start and that's my own fault. Now that I know better how Evernote works, I'll be way more selective with what I put in it. I just don't want to carry this mess around for years. Appreciate the suggestion, just doesn't apply. – JL Peyret Feb 24 '16 at 18:48
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I ended up opening a second free account with another email. While I can't have Evernote open twice, I can have the old Evernote open in a browser while I am using the new account in the Evernote app.

I've just started entering new, better-formatted notes into the new account. If I need to grab something from my older notes, I can copy it from the browser (images don't copy that way though). If I really needed to, I assume I could log into the old account with the app, export notes, log out and and then import them in the new one.

Someone's also told me that Evernote search is considerably better with a paid account. Possible, but my notes were so badly structured that search was useless, so I strongly considered abandoning Evernote - hardly a motivation to try to pay for it first.

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