How to Search Evernote

Updated Dec 16 2009

I’ve been particularly dense about figuring this out, so, having stumbled upon it, I thought I’d share it with anyone who hasn’t gotten the most out of Evernote—particularly its tagging features. I’m surprised that Evernote doesn’t make more of this. It seems to be buried deep in their documentation, but to me, if I can remember all the parameters, it suddenly makes Evernote a much more powerful beast.

As Mark Stout points out, you can then save a complex search in Evernote and that becomes a filter of its own.

The easiest way to find something is just to type a keyword for it in the search box.


If you want to exclude a word from the results, prefix it with the minus sign:


If you’re looking for any of several words—in other words soeharto OR suharto—you can use the modifier any.
Note there has to be a space between the any: and the first search term. Any: must be after other parameters but before the search terms. All words after any: will be assumed to be part of the any: search:

any: soeharto suharto


You can also narrow down by tags (note there’s no space between colon and the tag word):


If you add tags together, you need to preface each with tag:

tag:interview tag:thailand

If a tag is more than one word, then you need to put it in quotes:

tag:"digital abundance"

If you want to exclude all notes with a certain tag you can:


You can also use wildcards with (or to exclude) tags (wildcards can only appear at the end of words, or alone):



You can specify which notebook or notebooks you want to search in (so you don’t have to click on a specific notebook before you search):


The notebook parameter must precede all other parameters. 
If your notebook contains more than one word the words need to be within quotation marks: notebook:”media asia”
It doesn’t seem to be possible to use this modifier to search all notebooks (unless you add them all manually by name.)


You can limit your search to notes with a word in the title:



You can limit your search by date. Use the terms:

  • created – when the note was created
  • updated – when the note was updated

on or after a specific date: created:20091113
on or after a specific time (in this case 9.15 am): created:20091113T091500
or today: created:day
or yesterday: created:-day
or the past 30 days: created:day-30
or this week: created:week
or this month: created:month
or this year: created:year

The minus sign makes all these before this date or period:

Or before a date: created:-20091113
or yesterday: created:day-1


You can also find notes with or without images, audio or ink notes

notes with at least one image or gif: resource:image/gif
notes with no audio: -resource:audio/*


(but my mistakes)

Evernote API Overview

The ever-extensible Evernote

Evernote: Using Extended Search Syntax


Published by:

Jeremy Wagstaff

Jeremy Wagstaff is Chief Technology Correspondent, Asia, for Thomson Reuters. He has worked as a reporter, editor and columnist for Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, the Far Eastern Economic Review and the BBC. . He has lived and worked in Asia since 1987 and is currently based in Singapore.

Categories mediumTags , , 22 Comments

22 thoughts on “How to Search Evernote”

      1. you’re are lost like other EN-users here…(i have the same problem and the EN-developer don’t understand to build a smart help INSIDE the program…)

  1. Another one I’ve found useful to keep as a saved search is “-tag:*” — in other words, “show me stuff I’ve forgotten to tag.”

  2. Funny how just a throw-away comment (…“-tag:*” — in other words, “show me stuff I’ve forgotten to tag.”) is the answer to something I’ve been trying to figure out for months… with no response from Evernote to 3 inquiries.

    Thanks Tom!

  3. Tom, thanks for the tip. A good one. I’ve been looking for a way to turn these and other shortcuts into a simple popup a la Gmail’s Shift+?, where one small pane would list all the useful terms on request.

    I’ve tried Klips, Windows Gadgets, Adobe AIR apps, but so far nothing quite works.

  4. Thanks for the tip. I actually stumbled across this in the API documentation as well, but you gave some really good examples.

    Quick question: can you tell me how to search all notebooks? I tried “notebook:*”, “notebook:all”, etc. but can’t seem to make it work for me.

    Thanks again,

  5. Anyone know how to search all but a specific notebook? I have an “all notebooks” category, but I also have a notebook of “completed” items, and I don’t want those showing up when I do a search of active projects.

  6. Nice list – I’m a hardcore EN 3.1 (windows) user, and I have text file embedded (via samurize) on my desktop with some of the more esoteric commands, like:



    But I like the idea of a popup – I used autohotkey to give me popups for other interesting things (like frequently used phone numbers), I should just make a new one for EN queries.

    By the way, the notebook query is only so useful. You can use it to narrow your search down to one notebook, but you can’t use it to search through multiple (vs. all) notebooks, or to exclude any notebooks.

  7. To exclude a notebook from search, batch tag that notebook with the notebook name (select all and drag to that tag) – then -tag:notebookName. It’s a hack… and you have to batch tag the notebook once in a while, but it makes it work for now.

  8. By the way, in EN 3.0.x for Mac, there is currently *no* way to edit or view the syntax used in any Saved Search. I know: crazy. My workaround is to delete all my Saved Searches, rebuild them carefully, and take screenshots of what each search’s syntax is.

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