Evernote has long been one of my must have applications both on the web and sitting on my desktop. It is simplicity itself to capture whole pages or chunks of pages with just a click of a button from a web browser and the free version allows a generous 25mb of storage which is a heck of a lot when you just want to use it as a web clipper.

Upgrades to Evernote have boosted facilities but it has always been a bit of a slow beast to kick start but all that has changed with Evernote 4 for Windows which has been totally re-written from the ground floor up. The developers have used C++ and the new version starts five times faster, and uses half the memory of Evernote 3.5.

Not content with turbocharging the back end Evernote has cleaned up and improved the interface with the following improvements:

  • Space saving layout: The toolbar and menu bar are merged to take up less screen space. You can always switch to the old school layout in the Option menu.
  • More responsive interface: Switching between notes, displaying searches, bringing Evernote into the foreground, and virtually all other interactions are much faster.
  • Easier new note creation: We’ve added a New Note split button, which lets you pick the type of note you wish to create (text, ink or webcam). It will remember your selection for next time.
  • Relocated Search Bar: Note search and the search description now reside directly over the note list—a more intuitive location. You can click the small arrow to open and close the search description. Closing the description gives you more room to view your notes list, opening it makes it easy to modify your search.
  • Clearer note info: The note information panel is more crisp and clear with the title, notebook and source links right up top. Just like the search panel, you can open the note information panel to access the details. Navigating through the note info panel and tagging notes using your keyboard is fast and efficient.
  • More ways to interact: Evernote 4 supports multitouch gestures and many keyboard shortcuts

Clips are the most popular note-type in Evernote and this, too, has been given a big upgrade. When clipping from Internet Explorer, Outlook and Firefox, you will now see a New Clip popup that lets you add tags and assign notebooks without leaving your current application. You can skip the dialog by holding down the Control key.

In addition to adopting a Windows 7 look and feel, Evernote have incorporated new Windows 7 features including Jump Lists that allow you to pin Evernote into your task bar and quickly access Evernote, sync, find or add notes even when Evernote isn’t running. Evernote 4 also makes the most of the new geo-location capabilities of Windows 7. You will now be able to easily set the location of your notes. Tap on “Click to set location…” in the note info panel and your computer will figure out where it is and set the location of the note.

Improvements to editing include:

  • Improved support for tables (including adding columns and rows).
  • Better support for bulleted and numbered lists.
  • Better copy-paste support to and from Internet Explorer, Office and other applications.
  • The note editor toolbar gives access to more colours and just looks sharp.

If you are an existing Evernote user you will be blown away by the new look and speed. If you are a new user you will swiftly come to wonder how the heck you ever managed without it before.