Evernote: Using Extended Search Syntax

August 5, 2009 at 4:15 pm 21 comments

When performing searches in Evernote, you are able to include special syntax which enables you to focus your search terms.

At the time of writing, this information required to do this isn’t easy to find (the only place I could find it was in the API documentation), so I thought I’d write up a post which explains how to use the Advanced Search Syntax.

This information isn’t as useful for certain implementations of Evernote (eg. iPhone), as an interface is provided to set the appropriate options. However, such an interface doesn’t currently exist for the Windows client. What’s more, some people (myself included) would rather type than click.

Searching solely by Tag

I’ve found ‘searching by tag’ to be the most useful of these, and it was this requirement that inspired me to find out how to perform advance searches in the Windows app.

Syntax

The syntax to search by tag is:

tag:"tag name"

Examples

This will return all notes tagged ‘evernote’:

tag:evernote

This will return all notes tagged ‘advanced search syntax’ (notice that its quoted – this is to combine the three separate words):

tag:"advanced search syntax"

This will return all notes tagged ‘advanced search syntax’ and contain the word ‘notebook’:

tag:"advanced search syntax" notebook

Searching by Exclusion of Tags

As well as searching for notes that only contain certain tags, you can also search based on the tags not included by prefixing the minus sign to ‘tag’ (ie. ‘-tag’).

Syntax

-tag:"tag name"

Examples

The following will return all notes that don’t contain the tag ‘read’:

-tag:read

You can also use wildcards (ie. *). The following will return all notes that have no tags:

-tag:*

Searching with the Wildcard Character

As the previous example showed, you are able to search with the wildcard character (ie. *). However, its worth noting that the wildcard character can only be used at the end of a word. Not at the start or in the middle..

So… this is legal and would potentially find “google reader” if such a tag existed:

tag: google*

However, the following two are illegal:

tag: *google

and

tag: g*gle

Searching by Notebook

If you only wish to search a certain Notebook, you can use ‘notebook’.

The same can be achieved by simply selecting the notebook from the GUI and then performing a search.

Syntax

notebook:"notebook name"

Example

The following will search the ‘knowledge base’ notebook for all notes tagged ‘evernote’:

notebook:"knowledge base" tag:evernote

Note: the notebook parameter must precede other parameters. For instance, the following is illegal as ‘tag’ comes before ‘notebook’:

tag:evernote notebook:”knowledge base”

Searching only the Title

To only search the title, use the ‘intitle’ parameter.

Syntax

intitle:"search term"

Example

intitle:"Evernote: Extended Search Syntax"

Searching for ‘any’ of the Words (not all)

If you want to find one of any of the search terms provided, use the ‘any’ parameter.

Syntax

any:"search terms"

Examples

The following will search notes for either grep, egrep and fgrep:

any: grep egrep fgrep

The following will search notes with a tag of unix for either grep, egrep and fgrep:

tag:"unix" any: grep egrep fgrep

Note: the ‘any’ parameter must be after other parameters but before the search terms.

Searching by Creation Date

To search by the creation date, use the ‘created’ parameter. The examples below highlight the different ways you can specify the actual date.

Syntax

created:"date"

Examples

To specify the actual date (based on the client’s timezone), the following will search for notes created on 5th of August, 2009:

created:20090805

To find all notes prior to the 5th of August, 2009 use the ‘-’ symbol:

-created:20090805

Finding all notes created before today:

-created:day

To match all notes that were created yesterday:

created:day-1 -created:day

To match all notes created in the past 60 days and today:

created:day-30

To match all notes created this week (Sunday through to Saturday):

created:week

And similar for finding all notes created this month:

created:month

And finally, this year:

created:year

Searching by Updated Date

You can also search for notes based on when they were last updated. Simply take the examples for ‘created’ and replace ‘created’ with ‘updated’.

Finding notes generated via Twitter

I’ve added this entry as a result of this Tweet by @MikeWills.

To find all notes added via Twitter, include the following search term:

sourceApplication:Twitter

Further Reading

The API documentation contains a further set of useful exampes and additional detail to what I’ve written here. Its well worth checking the document out, even if you aren’t actually dealing with the API.

Updates:

7th August, 2009: Added ‘Finding notes generated via Twitter’

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21 Comments Add your own

  • [...] notities terugvinden van foto’s waarin een woord voor komt. Het weblog Dropping Steps heeft de zoekopdrachten van Evernote met voorbeelden toegelicht naar aanleiding van de in de API van Evernote beschreven krachtige zoekmogelijkheden onder het [...]

    Reply
  • 2. Patrick Mackaaij  |  August 9, 2009 at 8:35 am

    Very nice! I linked to this page from my Evernote article.

    Reply
  • 4. Patrick Mackaaij  |  August 9, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    Haha amusing indeed :-)

    The Dutch sentence:

    Het weblog Dropping Steps heeft de zoekopdrachten van Evernote met voorbeelden toegelicht naar aanleiding van de in de API van Evernote beschreven krachtige zoekmogelijkheden onder het kopje “Evernote Search Grammar”.

    translates manually to:

    The Dropping Steps weblog explains Evernotes search commands with examples based on the Evernotes powerful search capabilities as described in the API below “Evernote Search Grammar”.

    Google Translate (available in the bottom left corner of my site) does a slightly better job than Babel Fish and comes up with:

    The weblog has Dropping Steps queries Ever Note examples explained in response to the API Ever Note describes powerful search under the heading ‘Note Ever Search Grammar “.

    Regards,

    Patrick Mackaaij

    Reply
  • 5. Christian  |  October 12, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    Hey,

    fantastic article by the way! I have a question: Is there any way to search all notes for a word which contains a ctretain part? For example the word “icebear”. If I just search for “bear” I do not get a hit. Since the search for *bear is illegal, is there any other way I can find my notes if I only remember a part of the word I am looking for?

    Thanks so much for your help!
    Cheers,
    Christian.

    Reply
  • 6. How to Search Evernote « ten mov.es  |  November 13, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    [...] Evernote: Using Extended Search Syntax [...]

    Reply
  • 7. Chad  |  February 28, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    Great article! I too prefer typing over clicking; most of the time it is faster. I have been using the extended search syntax since it allows you to be more precise in you searches. Some of my tags have a lot of entries so using this makes it easier to find what I am looking for.

    Reply
  • 8. germain still  |  March 13, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    Hello Christian,
    read this thread from the forum:

    http://forum.evernote.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?f=37&t=9498

    (its not possible)

    Cheers too :-)

    Germain

    Reply
  • 9. zoe360  |  April 16, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    Terrific! Thank you so much! I thought I was going mad that I couldn’t search by tag…

    Reply
  • 10. hgv  |  April 22, 2010 at 11:44 pm

    How can you search for all notes that do not have a tag. Or are not equal to a specific tag.

    Reply
  • 11. JCNET  |  September 25, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    I’ve been flirting with Evernote. I currently maintain my own custom written KB that now has over 10,000 entries with over 2 million lines of me knowldge.

    I’m about to go for it.

    Two things (so far) keeping me from pulling the trigger.

    * Partial word/string searches don’t seem possible in EverNote. For example, when I search from invoice_number, I want to find @invoice_number and $invoice_number. How do you do tihs in evernote??

    * The API. Mostly I need to figure this out, but can I open a backdoor to secure notebooks where I can neatly and quickly present or allow download of a single note from another site?

    Thank You for posting this and any help!

    Reply
  • 12. rocky  |  October 19, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    I must say this is a really nice article. This will be helpful to me for my blog related to latest bollywood news

    Reply
  • 13. Arkadiy  |  October 22, 2010 at 3:01 am

    how can I find if any of the notes in my notebooks have no tags?

    Reply
  • 14. Kevin Cossaboon  |  November 2, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    great tips, now if Evernote could just let me search for “My Serial” and not return every instance of My by itself. How could a complex search engine miss a simple thing like a phrase search?

    Reply
  • [...] can handle some quite complex searches, which the company has documented in its API file and others have blogged about. If I want to find only notes created this month, I would add “created:month” to the [...]

    Reply
  • [...] The ability to search in Evernote is straight awesome.  Trust me.  This is a great article on the search syntax to use: Evernote: Using Extended Search Syntax [...]

    Reply
  • 17. Dominique Dejonghe  |  March 15, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    Nice post: Most interesting for Evernote power use is the Evernote Essentials eBook. Have a look here: http://goo.gl/AUb8b (affiliate link)

    Reply
  • [...] – so much that honestly covering them would take an entire article of its own. Check out this comprehensive post over at Dropping Steps for all the syntax info you’ll ever [...]

    Reply
  • [...] – so much that honestly covering them would take an entire article of its own. Check out this comprehensive post over at Dropping Steps for all the syntax info you’ll ever [...]

    Reply
  • 20. daveblakemore  |  January 2, 2012 at 4:02 am

    Is it possible to search for a specific singular tab.

    As an example, search for :tab !reference that contain no other tabs.

    So it will find:
    !reference
    but will not find:
    !reference, software
    !reference, hardware

    etc…
    making it possible to find notes that have been classified as reference notes but have not been further catagorized.

    Reply
  • 21. Steve D  |  March 22, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    Anyone figure out a way to do an OR operation? I realize the ANY operator works for theism, but only in the context of the entire search. I would like to be able to search within a notebook and a certain tag, but any of two or three other tags. For instance NB:”Action Pending” Tag:work (Any: tag:Today tag:”This Week”)
    I can’t find a way to make something like this work. It would be nice if Evernote allowed subgrouping of commands in the search (like I outlined above).

    Reply

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