How to create your own personal search engine and remember everything.

– Brad Beckstrom-

Have you ever scribbled a quick note, found something on your smartphone or online and bookmarked it, only to never find it again?  Sure, the bookmark in your browser worked fine, it’s just you’re having trouble remembering some of the details, like what it was you thought was so great about the company, idea, article, gadget or piece of information in the first place.  If the thought comes to you again this certainly makes it hard to find.

This can be especially frustrating at work. What was the name of that company that makes that free widget? Wazzle, Ziplot, Xplant.  Search even becomes more difficult with all of the similar sounding Web 2.0 names out there.  There’s just not enough information in most domain names or descriptions to make bookmarks very useful.

I have hundreds of bookmarks, dating back years. They are basically useless broken links from companies I don’t recall much about. I’ve found a better way.

On May 9, 2009 at 10:07 AM, I discovered Evernote. A free note taking, smartphone, web and desktop app linked to the cloud. I remember this because every note is automatically annotated with a date time and location. I took a picture of a place I wanted to stay at the beach. The photo automatically included a map and was now searchable by the address, name of the property, date time month location etc. Even the text in the photo of the sign was automatically synced and searchable. This included text in logos like Sunspot below.

I was just getting started. I also added the free Evernote App to my iPad , Google Chrome, and the desktop version for my Mac.  All of these sync with one free Evernote account.  This is where the personal search elements really come in handy. Once you add Evernote to your browser, you can clip and quickly tag information on any webpage. Evernote then saves all kinds of information to help you find that page in the future. You can add your own tags like “Taxes” or “Vacation“ or “To Do.” This browser plug-in / extension is available for most modern browsers and is super convenient for quickly saving a simplified version of any article, stripping away all of the extraneous screaming headlines and other unrelated information like banner ads with dancing monkeys.

 For traveling, I like to add the airport code as a tag or note to make things easier to find. like PDX for an upcoming trip to Portland. The Frug likes to make reservations way in advance and this comes in handy when trying to instantly pull up flight, hotel and event details I lined up four months ago.  It’s also helpful when you visit a city several years later and want to pull up your old info, like a cool restaurant or hotel you found. You can also clip any type of information and attach it to a to do or reminder in Evernote. Example: book this hotel next May.

The greatest feature of Evernote is the search function.  You can obviously search in the app or in your Evernote account but the most useful feature is the search plug-in for your browser that displays all of your past related notes directly in your Google search results. So, if I search Dewey Beach  not only do I get that note I created back in 2009, but also some important info related to a client program and a hotel reservation.  

After a very short time, you will find yourself remembering everything and being of great assistance to friends, clients and family members who can’t remember the name of that thing we found or place we stayed. Because you’re primarily searching just your results, there’s much less muck to dig through to find what you’re looking for.

Here are my five quick steps to creating your own personal search engine with Evernote:

  1. Go to and create a free account.

  2. Download the desktop app and browser plug-in available for most computers.

  3. Activate the browser plug-in or extension, Evernote calls this web clipper.

  4. Get the smartphone app.

  5. Start clipping, snapping, tagging and sharing anything that interest you. You’ll be glad you did later.

You’ll also be able to get rid of all those notes and scraps of paper that pile up on your desk and in your wallet.

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