Where Did I Put The...Uh…The…

Every week when I sit down to write this column, I need to review the various notes I’ve made, links to websites that I’ve saved, and emails that I might need to reference. That involves actually finding all that information before I can really begin writing. Almost without exception this information is stored on my computer I rarely have pieces of paper to sort through. I’ve been looking for good ways to organize, store, and retrieve this information.

Why is that so hard?

I might be looking for an email. But in which account? The one I use for the column and business? My personal account? My gmail account? Or, I might be looking for a site I bookmarked three or four weeks ago thinking it would come in handy. What did I call that bookmark? What was the name of the site? Sometimes I just need a bit of text that I wrote for something else but that would also work in a column. Wow, where would THAT be? What would I even have called it?

It sometimes seems like I’m looking for a needle in a haystack, and I’m not even sure where the haystack is.

Desktop Search

I have tried several desktop search programs. I hate the one built in to Windows XP. I must be doing something wrong. It never finds what I want. I’ve been using Google Desktop Search (http://desktop.google.com/) for some time now, and I get good results. It will search for files if you know the file name or even part of it. It will search for text within files. It will search your email. It will even search your web browsing history. (You can turn that off if you want to.)

You can view the search results several ways, including by a timeline. Tonight I searched Google Desktop for “free search utilities” and then looked at the timeline view because I knew that I had made some notes last Sunday. I found the file I wanted, along with the web search history. Now we have the beginning of this column!

Google Notebook

When I’m browsing, I often see things that I want to mention in a column. But when I just bookmark the page, even if I save the bookmark in a folder called “Column”, I sometimes can’t remember why I was interested in that page. So when I found Google Notebook (http://labs.google.com/ --- click on Google Notebook), I was thrilled. I can maintain multiple notebooks, keep them private or share them, and write whatever notes I need to about a page so I can come back to it and know why I saved the page. It might not be organized, but at least it’s all in one place, and Google Notebook will let you organize more thoroughly than I actually do!


I recently heard about a program called Evernote (http://www.evernote.com/en/products/evernote/). This program lets you type, drag & drop, paste, and clip from the web. Everything is on one “endless digital roll of paper.” You can keep track of phone messages, you can create to-do lists, and I haven’t even figured out everything you can do yet.

Once you get your notes in there, you can search several different ways. There are categories, and you can add your own. If you create to-do items, you can search them by “state” (“Done” or “Open” or “Partial”). You can also search by a time line. If I think I made a note about something last week or last month, I can scroll there and look at the notes from that period of time. I think I’m going to like Evernote, because it requires almost no organization at all!

Now if I could just find the shopping list I printed out…

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About the Author

The Technology Shaman, Cate Eales, has been helping people make online computing safe, accessible, and fun for over 30 years.

Cate lives in Kelowna with her husband, Eric. She owns and operates Computer Care Kelowna, a mobile computer business providing on-site service for home and small business customers.

Cate is here to help you and your home or business computer get along.

E-mail Cate at [email protected] with comments, suggestions, or questions.

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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