evernote search syntax.pngEvernote is one of my most used applications on all my machines and mobile devices because it has all of the data I access on a regular basis. One of the reasons why I love Evernote so much is because I can take a photo of a receipt or document, and their servers will perform character recognition (OCR) on it so that I can search the text it is able to find.

I’ve become so accustomed to being able to search for anything in Evernote that I started looking around for some of the advanced syntax you can use to get even more refined results. You can actually search by tags, title of notes, date created, and more. Plus after you’ve taken the time to craft the perfect search you can also save it so that repeating the search is as simple as clicking a single button.

If you use Evernote’s search functionality as much as I do I’m sure you’ll want to at least glance over the syntax I’ve compiled below from their developer API guide. For each one there are examples as well as a brief explanation as to what that particular search would or wouldn’t match.

  • Wildcards, quotes, and negations
    • potato
      • matches: “Sweet Potato Pie”
      • does not match: “Mash four potatoes together”
    • Ever*
      • matches: “Evernote Corporation”
      • does not match: “forevernote”
    • “San Francisco”
      • matches: “The hills of San Francisco”
      • does not match: “San Andreas fault near Francisco winery”
    • -potato
      • matches: “Mash four potatoes together”
      • does not match: “Sweet Potato Pie”
    • ham
      • matches: “green eggs&ham.”
    • “eggs ham”
      • matches: “green eggs&ham.”
  • notebook:[nb name] – will match notes in a notebook with the provided name. This must be the first term in the search.
    • notebook:”Bob’s first notebook”
      • Matches all notes in this notebook
    • notebook:”Hot Stuff” any: mexican italian
      • Matches all notes in the “Hot Stuff” notebook that have the word “mexican” or the word “italian” in them.
  • tag:[tag name] – will match notes that have a tag with the literal name (word or quoted phrase).
    • tag:cooking
      • Matches any note with the “cooking” tag
    • tag:cook*
      • Matches any note with a tag that starts with “cook”
    • tag:”hot stuff”
    • -tag:cook*
      • Matches any note that does not have a tag that starts with “cook”
    • tag:*
      • Matches any note that has at least one tag
    • -tag:*
      • Matches any note that has no tags
  • intitle:[literal] – will match notes with a title that contains the literal word or quoted phrase.
    • intitle:chicken
    • intitle:”tale of two”
    • -intitle:beef
      • Matches notes that do not have the word “beef” in their title.
  • created:[datetime] – will match any note that has a ‘created’ timestamp that is equal to, or more recent than, the provided datetime.
    • created:20070704
      • Matches notes that were created on or after July 4th, 2007, based on the client’s timezone.
    • created:20070704T090000
      • Matches notes that were created on or after 9:00am on July 4th, 2007, based on the client’s timezone.
    • created:20070704T150000Z
      • Matches notes that were created on or after 3:00pm GMT on July 4th, 2007.
    • -created:20070704
      • Matches notes that were created before July 4th, 2007, based on the client’s timezone.
    • created:day-1
      • Matches notes that were created yesterday or today
    • -created:day
      • Matches notes that were created before today
    • created:day-1 -created:day
      • Matches notes that were created yesterday (only)
    • created:day-30
      • Matches notes that were created within the last 30 days (or today)
    • created:week
      • Matches notes that were created in this calendar week (Sunday-Saturday)
    • -created:month
      • Matches notes that were created before this month
    • created:year-1
      • Matches notes that were created last year or this year
  • updated:[datetime] – will match any note that has a ‘updated’ timestamp that is equal to, or more recent than, the provided datetime.
    • See examples above for “created” for similar date/time formatting examples
  • resource:[MIME type string] – will match notes that have a resource with a MIME type that matches the argument.
    • resource:image/gif
      • Matches notes with at least one image/gif resource
    • resource:audio/*
      • Matches notes with at least one audio resource
    • -resource:image/*
      • Matches notes with no images
    • resource:application/vnd.evernote.ink
      • Matches notes with one or more ink resources
  • subjectDate:[datetime] – matches notes with a subjectDate attribute that is equal to or later than the argument datetime.
    • See examples above for “created” for similar date/time formatting examples
  • latitude:[double] – matches notes with a latitude that is greater than or equal to the argument.
    • latitude:37 -latitude:38
      • Matches notes with a latitude that is greater than or equal to 37, but do not have a latitude greater than or equal to 38. (I.e. 37 <= latitude < 38)
  • longitude:[double] – matches notes with a longitude that is greater than or equal to the argument.
    • See example above for “latitude” because the formatting is similar
  • altitude:[double] – matches notes with an altitude that is greater than or equal to the argument.
    • See example above for “latitude” because the formatting is similar
  • author:[string] – will match notes that have an “author” attribute set with a name that matches the argument string.
    • author:”robert parker”
    • author:robert*
    • -author:*
      • Matches notes that have no “author” attribute set
    • author:”Phil \”Chef\” Libin”
      • Matches notes containing: Evernote’s CEO is Phil “Chef” Libin, formerly of Cambridge.
  • source:[string] – matches notes that came from an application or data source that matches the argument string. Notes that were created directly in an Evernote client will not have a “source” attribute. Legal source attributes include: app.ms.word, app.ms.excel, app.ms.powerpoint, mail.clip, mail.smtp, web.clip, mobile.wm
    • source:app.ms.word
      • Matches notes that came from a Microsoft Word document
    • source:app.ms.*
      • Matches notes that came from any Microsoft application
    • source:web.clip
      • Matches notes that were locally clipped from a web page
    • source:mail.clip
      • Matches notes that were clipped from a local mail client
    • source:mail.smtp
      • Matches notes that were delivered to the service via the email gateway.
    • source:mobile.*
      • Matches notes that were created on a mobile client of some form
  • recoType:[string] – matches notes with a resource that has recognition data that specifies this recognition document type. If this attribute is set on a resource, it will have one of the following values: ‘printed’, ‘speech’, ‘handwritten’, ‘picture’, or ‘unknown’.
    • recoType:handwritten
      • Matches notes with at least one resource that was recognized as handwritten
  • todo:[true|false|*] – if the argument is not “true”, this will match notes that have ToDo checkboxes that are currently checked. If the argument is “false”, this will match notes that have ToDo checkboxes that are not currently checked. If the argument is “*”, this will match notes that have a ToDo checkbox of any type.
    • -todo:false todo:true
      • Matches notes that have completed ToDo items, but no uncompleted items.

Evernote Homepage

There Are 11 Comments

  1. Thanks for a great post. Unfortunately, the integrity of the searches in Evernote cannot always be relied on. For example, tech support just admitted to me that a search using their attribute search section does not return accurate results for all files with attachments. Its a shame that such a great product has such a basic flaw. Furthermore, they know of the problem, but have not bothered to either pull the feature, nor let the user base know about it.

  2. Don’t forget stack:

    • Ahh, yes. Sorry about that – the stacks are a new feature so I don’t think it is in their documentation yet.

  3. Presumably they’re planning on fixing the problem, rather than emailing each of their 6+ million customers to tell them to beware of a problem very few of whom have actually seen.

  4. the author did not check his facts or test the doc in evernote before publishing – this article is incorrect because it is based on the out of date API documentation. A re-write of the 4.0 version of Evernote changed the search to make the default search operations match partial words. SO:
    potato
    does not match: “Mash four potatoes together”
    is incorrect, it does match partial words starting with the same characters. Quotes will allow you to match an exact word or group of words.

    • @brad – a bit harsh bearing in mind that this info isn’t available easily elsewhere. I’m all for pointing out an error or flaw, but there’s no need to be so damn rude.

      P.S. I am guessing you didn’t check /your/ “facts” either by checking with the author of the post?!

    • Thanks for the info Brad – it’s obviously pretty hard for me to figure out the syntax without relying on their documentation. So if their documentation is out of date there isn’t much else I can go off of.

  5. very handy for developers, even if some are not correct

  6. I have a MS Word 2010 document with images. When I attach the document to a note in Evernote the images are missing.

    I am using MS Windows 7 Home Premium and Evernote 4.5.3.6131 Public.

    Any ideas?

  7. Hi Brad – thanks for taking the time to put this summary together. It’s useful.

    Sadly someone will always moan… but don’t let it get you down ;-)

    Cheeers!

    Malc

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