14 April 2016

Organize Your Pins in Evernote

You may have noticed from some of my previous posts that I love Pinterest. The general concept, a cork board with ideas stuck on it, works for the way my brain works (I also love Trello which is a similar concept, so check that out if you like to see everything on an idea board).

Pinterest isn't great for genealogy because it is designed for image ideas and not all genealogy ideas come with a pinnable image. Still, Pinterest is a top stop for many genealogists seeking knowledge and inspiration.

I personally use Evernote's web clipper more for genealogy material. It gives me the same abilities as pinning, but for textual material, and that's mostly what I save.

More and more genealogical material is becoming available via Pinterest (you can check out The Occasional Genealogist boards, here). This is a great way for genealogists needing inspiration ("pinspiration") and education to find and organize ideas. If you haven't tried Pinterest for genealogy, the majority of what you will find will be Pins to blog posts, just like this one, and to products that have pinnable images. That covers an awful lot of topics.

I wish Pinterest would have existed when I was an early transitional genealogist. I hunted out every free online resource I could find to learn more about genealogy. That's exactly the type of genealogy pins you see today.

So what's the purpose of this post? Not just to point out that you can use Pinterest for genealogy, but to give you an additional organizing tool you might find helpful. But first, if the Pinterest boards you've created for yourself are working just fine for keeping your information organized and allowing you to review that information when you have time, keep with that simple approach.

But I know some Occasional Genealogists (OGs) have time to pin ideas but finding them when needed or quickly reviewing them can be a problem.


There are lots of options to "organize" pins better. One would be to create more boards. You could also try an app like Pocket but that might not help (there is an interesting post about keeping Evernote clutter free using Pocket, here. If the solution I'm about to suggest isn't for you but you like Evernote, this is an alternative).

If you don't have a problem, don't look for a solution. However, if you need to organize your genealogy pins (or any pins) for better use, consider using Evernote to both subdivide your pins and combine them with un-pinnable information you've clipped.

"Wait!" you're saying, "Why would I Pin something and then save it to Evernote, that's an extra unnecessary step" (or two or three). My suggestion is to try IFTTT (pronounced like "gift" without the "g"). IFTTT stands for "If This, Then That" and that's a pretty good description of what it does.

IFTTT is a service that connects apps. "If" a chosen app does "this", the second chosen app "then" does "that." IFTTT previously called these "recipes" but now calls them "applets."

What this post is describing requires the following. You would connect your Pinterest account and Evernote accounts. When you Pin to a chosen board (or any of your boards---you choose which), you can create a note in Evernote or update a note in Evernote (in IFTTT this is called "append" to a note).

The way I have set up my app is for the pin title (with link to the pin), board name, and a link to the content to be appended into a note. Below is a screen shot.

This gives me a table of contents with clickable links so I can review the material directly from Evernote and decide what to do with it. If I want to save the full post (or whatever content the pin linked to) I can use Evernote's web clipper. This keeps extraneous material out of Evernote and saves my upload quota from being maxed out unnecessarily.

Remember, I've said this is for an OG that needs more organization. By using IFTTT, you don't have to do anything to get the link from Pinterest to Evernote once you've initially created your IFTTT app. There's no extra work there.

Once the link is in Evernote, you can review and organize the links how you see fit. That's where the extra work comes in and why you only need to do this if you have a problem.

You may want to cut and paste appended information into a new note to subdivide the information. This would be a good way to have a note of links to information on a subject you might need for reference.

You might not want a Pinterest board about doing deed research. You might like an Evernote note you can refer to, though. You can also then add additional links to other Evernote notes or online content (or even material on your computer, obviously those links will only work on that device, though).

Essentially, you can Pin ideas and automatically get a link in Evernote.

I'm using the same type of IFTTT applet to get links to pinned cooking recipes from Pinterest to Evernote. I have several recipe boards which loosely correspond to some of my Evernote tags. I search for recipes (when I'm ready to cook) in Evernote, not Pinterest.

Now I get results from both Pinterest and Evernote in Evernote so I can actually try all those pinned ideas. You can use this same type of IFTTT applet for any project or topic you are interested in.

You can use the applet I created. You need an IFTTT account and to connect your Pinterest and Evernote accounts.

IFTTT is free. There are similar services (like Zapier) that may have some different or more powerful connections available but they charge a subscription fee. Zapier does have a free option which gives you a limited number of "Zaps" (the equivalent of an applet) and limited integration of apps (for example, Evernote and Pinterest can be connected with a free account but PayPal connection requires a premium account). 

I have found the Pinterest to Evernote IFTTT applet works pretty well but sometimes there are hiccups in IFTTT. I have been unable to get my Evernote to Evernote applet (to create a table of contents based on tags) to work at all.

Since IFTTT is free, it's worth checking out, but realize, it is free, it has limitations. As an OG, you could easily spend too much time trying to get an applet to work when you'd be better off doing the task manually or not at all.

IFTTT can save you a lot of time by automating app to app tasks but it isn't perfect so don't rely on it for something absolutely essential. There are also many more apps to choose from if you don't use Pinterest or Evernote.

If Pinterest is part of your genealogy education, connecting it to Evernote via IFTTT can save you a lot of time. Once you've got your applet (or applets---for different boards) set-up, all you have to do is organize your information in Evernote so it's ready when you need it.

If you've found other ways to use IFTTT (or similar services) to automate genealogy tasks, leave a comment below. I'd love to hear how other genealogists are saving themselves time.

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