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How searchable are your handwritten notes?



Even if you’re a keyboard junkie, we all jot down notes in some way, shape or form. But whether it’s on paper or on the screen of your Tablet PC, with software such as OneNote and Evernote, your handwritten notes can be nearly as searchable as anything you type, as celebrated today by jkOnTheRun.

Calling it the “Best Little-known Technology of the Decade”, James Kendrick raved about his ability to instantly find 3-year old handwritten notes in OneNote. What makes this especially impressive is what the software had to work with. That word highlighted in yellow is “Jericho”. James’ legendary handwriting is difficult enough for a human to read. For a computer to do it, well, wow.

Later, he showed some love to Evernote, the web-based, sync-centric solution for note-taking. Evernote 3.5 for Windows does offer ink input on a Tablet PC, but you can also scan or photograph paper notes and send it to Evernote for recognition. It’s not as accurate as inking directly on a Tablet PC, but it’s pretty darn good even with photos of notes.

My preferred note-taking application is still Windows Journal. It’s not nearly as loaded as OneNote, but I like to keep things simple. Ink in Journal files is searchable by Windows 7. It won’t jump me to the exact location of the word within the document, but usually I just need to know which file has the search term. Besides, if need be, I can always print my Journal files to OneNote and get the best of both worlds. Regardless, my handwritten notes are as searchable as I want them to be. How about yours?



  1. Achim

    02/24/2010 at 2:00 am

    I still use Windows Journal most of the times for my handwritten notes, and I gotta say: It might not always get perfect results if I try to convert it in ASCII altogether, but the search for a certain word or phrase almost never failed me …

  2. Clavain

    02/24/2010 at 6:11 am

    I use OneNote because it works for me. And I am note taking in two languages, namely English and German. OneNote finds them all, which is just dandy :-)


  3. burninorange

    02/24/2010 at 10:46 am

    onenote since 2004. ink notes in three languages, mathematics, pictures, screenshots and the occasional audio/video (conferences). all on my tablet, all searchable. awesome.

  4. WellThen

    02/24/2010 at 2:28 pm

    Onenote for me, too. And I have my wife and son (who are in school) using it also. Searchable handwritten notes for all! We use Journal as a lightweight alternative if we ever have a problem with OneNote in a critical situation, and to sign documents. Journal is nice, but having a structured repository (with the structure determined by me!) for my notes makes OneNote the ideal solution.

  5. sbtablet

    02/24/2010 at 4:51 pm

    If I want to find it again, it goes in OneNote. Period. It searches my handwritten stuff beautifully.

    • Scott

      02/24/2010 at 5:54 pm

      Ditto! OneNote & Handwriting. Very useful with meeting notes over a period of years (“remember when we…”)

  6. TheCoolest2

    02/24/2010 at 9:19 pm

    Wow, his handwriting is a little hard to read and the computer reads it perfectly, just wow. I use Win Journal and sometimes Microsoft word. I’m gonna download that software Jericho and see how it works. Have a good night everyone:)

  7. Sandy Naidu

    02/24/2010 at 10:20 pm

    I use one note and have been quite happy with its features..

  8. Clavain

    02/25/2010 at 3:05 am

    Hope OneNote is going to part of “Windows Mobile Phone Handset Hub Series 7 ;-)

    With a sylus!


  9. MurphysLaww

    02/25/2010 at 7:20 pm

    I’ve been using OneNote solely since 2005. Started out with GoBinder by Agilix.

    If every student saw how I use OneNote, every student would have a tablet. I record audio in every class in addition to taking a mix of handwritten and typed notes.(Calculus/Physics/Finance/Economics, etc) I re-listen to my call audio through my car stereo during my hour plus commute to and from campus.

    It’s the only way I can survive while taking 18 hours, studying for Cisco certs, and working 3rd shift in a Cell Tower backhaul provider Network Operations center.

  10. Robin Capper

    02/26/2010 at 1:59 am

    I like MindManager on the Tablet for notes and the search capability is awesome in this also. It’s why I thought the iPad was disappointing (see post link on this comment) as ink on a slate is such a natural way to work.

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