You know how happy you feel when you find out that two of your good friends have hooked up and are now a couple? That’s how I felt yesterday when I heard that note-taking and information management powerhouse Evernote had acquired screen capture and image uploader Skitch. (If you’re unfamiliar with these two awesome tools, check out my intro to Evernote or my case for Skitch. They have been shacked up together in my “favourites” launcher for ages, but I’m so glad that they’ve decided to make their relationship official.
I already use Skitch and Evernote together in a whole bunch of ways, including:
- Blogging: I draft all my blog posts in Evernote, and while I usually cut and paste my text from Evernote into a blog post, I’ve been experimenting with the EverPress plugin, which lets me designate a blog drafts folder in Evernote, and automatically uploads any note in the that folder directly to my WordPress blog, where it’s held for further revisions and publication. And I also use Skitch in just about every blog post that includes an illustration: uploading images to Skitch is the single fastest way for me to get an image onto a server, so even if I’m using a stock photo from my hard drive, I copy it into Skitch so I can quickly resize it and get it online, with an URL I can drop into my post.
- Research: When I wrote about compiling a guidebook for our trip to Paris, here’s how I described using Evernote and Skitch together:
Before leaving home, I did lots of research on topics like the best kids’ attractions in Paris, the best places to eat with kids, and the best restaurants in the neighborhood where we were staying. I used Evernote’s web clipper to save the results of my research into an Evernote notebook called Paris, and I used Evernote’s settings on my iPhone to select the “Paris” notebook for offline use. If I used my computer to find a new activity or a fresh set of restaurant options, I added that to my notebook too; if I looked up a bus route, I took a screen shot of the results using Skitch, then dragged it into Evernote, too. As long as I remembered to sync Evernote on my iPhone before leaving the house each morning, I had a constantly up-to-date guidebook tailored to our plans for that day.
- Record keeping: When I have a confirmation screen (like a serial number) or other information on my computer that I need to store for safekeeping (like a list of all the apps currently installed on my iPad) I will often snap a screenshot in Skitch and then drag it into Evernote so it’s actually filed where I would think to look for it.
- Technical documentation: While troubleshooting a point of confusion for me, the lovely guys at Skitch put me onto the use of Skitch as a documentation or customer support tool: take a screenshot of the app or site you are trying to explain, add some arrows and/or text to indicate what your user should be looking for, and tweet the image to them — all from within Skitch! That’s become part of my workflow for helping others, but it’s also become part of my system for keeping track of my own tech setup: when I install a plugin on my blog that doesn’t quite work, I Skitch the resulting screenshot and then drop it into my Evernote “AlexBlogTech” notebook, making a note of which plugin it was and what I didn’t like about how it worked.
Because you can add a Skitched image to Evernote by simply dragging the Skitch window onto the Evernote icon in your dock, it’s already easy to use the tools together. But actual integration could make them, to use the technical term, way awesomer. Here’s my wish list:
- Skitch for iOS: Whenever I need to share a screenshot or other image I’ve captured on my iPhone or iPad, I bemoan the lack of iSkitch. I’m delighted to see that an iOS version is “coming soon”, but it can’t come soon enough for me! When it does, I hope it includes the ability to send any Skitched (or Skitch-annotated) image not only to your Skitch web account, but directly to others via Twitter, Facebook and MMS.
- “Add to Evernote”: I want “add to Evernote” as both a per-image option and a default setting in Skitch. Personally, I’d like to set up an Evernote notebook called “Skitched images”, and put every single Skitch image in there by default (kind of a separate Inbox, just for Skitch). Then I could move images into other notebooks as needed.
- Make screenshots fulltext searchable: Any image you screenshot in Skitch and add to Evernote will automatically be full text searchable — just like any other image you add to Evernote. (Evernote’s text recognition automatically scans any image and makes its text content searchable.)
- Evernote upgrades: As an obsessive user of both versions, I already pay for the premium versions of both Evernote and Skitch. But I’m guessing those who have paid for the $19.95 premium version of Skitch (especially those who have paid recently) might be irked that the upgrade they paid for is now free to anyone. So why not offer all of Skitch’s premium users a free year-long (or even six-month) upgrade to Evernote Premium?
- A better web clipper: I frequently use Evernote’s web clipper to compile a notebook full of information on a topic I’m researching, whether it’s the best places to camp in Oregon or the most interesting examples of ebook design. But the web clipper can only select portions of a page based on the linear order of the text; plus it has been very glitchy: I can’t count on it working consistently in either Safari or Chrome, probably because browser updates throw it out of whack. It would be way cooler if you could use Skitch to visually select just a portion of the screen for storage…and if you could count on the clipper working in whichever browser you’re currently in — or, thanks to Skitch, in any open app.
- Web clipper for iOS: While I’m wishing for an iOS Skitch, and a Skitchified web clipper, why don’t I ask for an iOSified web clipper. This is a frequent topic in Evernote forums, where a great many people (like me) bemoan the inability to clip to Evernote from Safari on the iPad or iPhone.
- Skitch for Windows: Even I have a few friends who still use Windows, and whenever I tell them about Skitch, they nearly die of jealousy. So, give the poor bastards a break and port Skitch to the PC, already.
- Notebooks for Skitch: I’d love to be able to sort my Skitch history (which stores all my previously Skitched images) into notebooks (within Evernote is fine!) and I’d like to be able to share notebooks selectively with groups of collaborators.
- Sort notes by type: Until this moment I’ve never felt the need to search Evernote by note type. But when I went looking for all the Skitched images I’ve stored in Evernote over the years, I realized there was no easy way to find them. So please, let me filter my Evernote search results by note type (text, audio, pdf, web clip, etc) and please treat “Skitch” as a distinct image type (but let me include it in my image search results if I want).
- Audio feedback: The skwwootch-ping noise that Skitch makes when it has finished uploading an image to its server may be the single most useful sound my computer makes: it means that I can copy-paste the image’s URL into my current blog post without first visiting Skitch to copy the link. Evernote’s web clipper could use that kind of video feedback; I’d love to hear some kind of audio cue (an elephant trumpeting, perhaps?) to confirm that a web page has indeed made it into Evernote.
- Stock photo trunks: I still buy most of my photos from iStock Photo. It would be *awesome* if I could buy stock photos through an Evernote trunk and then use Skitch to resize and upload them.
- Zemanta integration: Ages ago I wrote about the fantasy scenario in which I could snap images in Skitch, and have them available via Zemanta. I’d love to see Zemanta on Evernote’s shopping list: imagine how awesome it would be if I could use Zemanta to specify specific notebooks to watch as potential sources for images to include in my blog posts!
- Hootsuite integration: I continue to bemoan the lack of “tweet later” functionality in the ten zillion apps I use that offer a “post to Twitter” option (which both Skitch and Evernote do). It would rock if they could instead integrate with HootSuite (or another “tweet later” tool) so that I could schedule my killer tweet-with-screenshot to post to Twitter tomorrow, when people will see it, rather than at 11:32 pm, when I’m usually rattling around online. (Full disclosure: the SIM Centre collaborated with HootSuite’s sister company, Invoke, on their Eat Street project with Paperny Films.)
- Spotlight integration: Evernote’s miraculous full text search of captured images is only available if you search from within Evernote. If I’ve captured a screenshot of my Ticketmaster confirmation screen for Anything Goes tickets in Skitch and added it to Evernote, Spotlight (my Mac’s built-in search system) won’t find it when I search on “Ticketmaster”. So, speaking purely hypothetically, I might spend half an hour searching my computer before I remember that I Skitched the confirmation screen. I have no idea how tricky it would be to integrate Evernote’s search into the Spotlight index, but if it were possible — and I could search all my Skitched images from Spotlight — I would be even more fiendishly productive than I am now.
If it took me just 24 hours to dream up more than a dozen possibilities for the new Evernote-Skitch juggernaut, I can’t begin to imagine what might be heading our way once these two teams settle in together. (Seriously, I can’t imagine it: I might get incapacitated by nervous excitement.)
Congratulations to both Evernote and Skitch on a brilliant acquisition: brilliant not just for these two companies, but for everyone out there with a stake in creating or accessing intuitive, powerful, social web tools. It couldn’t happen to a nicer pair of web applications, and I wish you many years of happiness together.First posted on August 19,2011