Power Mailing to Evernote

For some time now Evernote has supported thee-mailing of notes into Evernote to automatically create a note.  This has been fantastically useful in terms of automation of things like automatically feeding tweets into Evernote or just quickly getting pages from the iPhone Safari browser into Evernote. Today Evernote took a big step forward with this and added functionality to the e-mail processing to allow you to specify a notebook and one or more tags for the note generated by the e-mail.

I’m really excited about this feature as it has huge potential for streamlining my workflows.  It’s also something that I suggested during Phil Libin’s (Evernote CEO) Q&A bonanza session on Twitter back in January:

rebootit: @plibin  Are there any plans to allow mailed notes to @Evernote  to be pre-tagged and/or sent to non-default notebook by user defined rules?

plibin: @rebootit Great idea re: specifying tags and notebooks in mailed-in notes… Will add it to our plans. /via @plibin Awesomeness.


The syntax for the mailing is quite straight forward and is applied in the subject line of the e-mail.  To specify the notebook you want the note to be entered into, you just prefix the name of the notebook with an “@”.  To specify a tag you want the note to be tagged with, you prefix each tag with a “#”.

So this might be expressed as - {Note Title} {@notebook} {#tag1} {#tag2} … {#tagN}

Here are some examples of how this looks and would work.

Example 1

  • E-mail Subject= Meeting Notes for Project X

This would create a note in the default notebook with a title of “Meeting Notes for Project X”.

Example 2

  • E-mail Subject= Birthday Present Ideas @Ideas

This would create a note in the “Ideas” notebook with a title of “Birthday Present Ideas”.

Example 3

  • E-mail Subject= How to make mana #Recipe

This would create a note in the default notebook with a title of “How to make mana” and it would be tagged with the tag “Recipe”.

Example 4

  • E-mail Subject= Shopping List @To Do #Groceries #Saturday

This would create a note in the “To Do” notebook with a title of “Shopping List” and it would be tagged with the tags “Groceries” and “Saturday”.

Known Limitations

So whilst there is power here there are some obvious limitations.  The system does not cope with notebooks containing “@” or with tags containing “#”.  Now this is a little bit of an irritation for me as I have a set of tags that I’ve been using prefixed with a “#” - can’t imagine where I came up with the idea of a hash tag from ;) .  The good news is that Evernote makes it easy to rename a notebook or a tag which will then be reflected by all notes associated with the notebook or tag.  There are other characters to choose from so hopefully if you do have to work around this there will be something that equally makes as much sense to you.

The syntax is such that you should always put the note title first in the subject line, notebooks specified cannot contain either an@ or a # and tags specified may not contain a #.

The feature also does not support the creation of new notebooks or tags from mailing in.  My advice is to have a tag that’s something like “*SETUP*” and then include a note for yourself at the top of the mail with the new notebook and / or tags you want.  Send it to your default notebook and then process it later down the line.


Since I really expect to be making the most of this new feature I thought I’d do some additional research into how this works so I have some further observations on the features and limitations of what is available.

1. Notebook does not exist

If you accidentally mis-type the name of a notebook, fear not.  If you specify a notebook that does not exist, the note will be placed in your default notebook and the mispelt notebook name will be included in the note title along with the “@”.

2. Case sensitivity

When you specify a notebook or tag it appears to be case insensitive.  Evernote simply works out which text matches and then assigns the appropraite notebook/tag based on the case of what already exists in your account.

3. Sending something to a notebook with an @ in its name

Okay so you ignored the limitations and tried sending your e-mail to a notebook called “@NoLimitations” by including “@@NoLimitations” in the subject line of your e-mail.  Well guess what, it just ends up in your default notebook.

4. Trying to create a note with a tag that has a # in its name

So this time you tried to tag your note with “Love#Tags” by including “#Love#Tags” in the subject line of the e-mail.  My first thought was that this would be interpreted so as to be tagged with “Love” and with “Tags”, but it looks like Evernote is looking for a space then a hash to delimit with.  The note does not get tagged with “Love#Tags”, “Love” or “Tags”.  Instead it simply includes the “#Love#Tags” in the title of the note with the actual title you wanted.

So this doesn’t quite match up to not working with the logic I’d initially apply if the note was to be tagged with a tag that began with a # (i.e. ##Test doesn’t work) since there is no space between the hashes.  Still I’m not an Evernote developer and I’m just grateful for this feature but wanted to give it a thorough testing.

5. My notebook has a # in it / my tag has an @ in it

Okay so maybe this should work on some level, but it doesn’t.  In terms of @ and #, the two seem to be interchangeable in terms of limitations.  Basically don’t have @ or # in a notebook or tag name and you’ll be just fine.  Keep it simple.

6. So I specified my notebook in the middle of my tag specifications

Okay so this actually just works.  It doesn’t seem to matter if you put the notebook specification amongst the tag specification.  Evernote will pick out your notebook and assign the note to it.  It will also pick out your tags and assign them to the note.

7. So I stuck my note title at the end of the subject line

Unsurprisingly Evernote really does want the note title at the start of the subject line so this one will end up in your default notebook with everything you put in the subject line as the note title.

8. I want to send my note to two notebooks so I put two notebooks in the subject

If you’re doing this you should really reconsider how your using notebooks and look more at how you use tags effectively.  In this case the note will end up in whichever notebook is specified first.  The title of the note will include the intended title, followed by an @ and the name of the second notebook (and any others you may have specified).

9. I want to have a # and an @ in my note title

Well go right ahead and put them in the first part of your subject line.  When I tried this I literally put a tag (with a # prefix) in the middle of my note title and then added another tag (with a # prefix) at the end of the subject line.  Evernote gave me my title including the tag (and #), and then tagged the note with the last tag.  So it looks like you should be okay as long as you don’t put the tag or notebook at the end of your note title.


So there you have it, the brand new tagging and notebooking feature for mailing into Evernote.  This really should speed things up for many avid Evernote users, but I guess we’ll all have to be a little more careful as to how we name our tags and notebooks as well as paying attention to the titles in our mails into Evernote.  Remember with gre@t #power comes gre@t #responsibility.

Author: Stephen Millard
Tags: | evernote |

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