Evernote: Better iOS Web Clipping with Workflow

January 2015 · 3 minute read

It’s hard not to be impressed by the powerful web content capture ability of Evernote’s Web Clipper. Cross browser support with multiple capture types (bookmark, snapshot, highlighted content) . It’s really a wonderfully effective tool for research (as people are constantly saying.. I agree).

One problem for me was that iOS felt slightly lacking in this ability and due to my iPad experiments I really wanted to feel just as capable. The Evernote app installs the ability to share to Evernote but by default this produced a bookmark style capture.

Enter Workflow and the upgraded system wide sharing abilities in iOS8.

Workflow is an enabler in that it can move content through various steps you build into a workflow, picking up things along the way and finally shipping it out as something new or off to another service / app. The main thing that attracts me to Workflow is that it’s a wealth of opportunity rather than be a single function application. Web clipping does exist in iOS as an app but I found it a little more expensive and with only one capability. The fact that I could do the same thing and more with Workflow surprised me.

In the gallery that comes with Workflow they provide a workflow for Evernote but this actually frustrated me as my major use of Evernote’s web clipper was to grab snippets of info, not bookmarks or page captures. To fix this I created my own workflow that simulates the web clipper by using the clipboard.

I’ll be honest that this took a little bit of fiddling to get going. The key difference with my workflow is to start with the clipboard, not the page. The best part of this is that it does capture the structured HTML so you can grab chunks of page and pull it over images and all.

To use this workflow we need only highlight the page, click copy, go to the share panel and run this workflow. It does feel a little awkward as on the desktop we are so used to not seeing the mechanics of what’s going on, it all just happens in the background. Workflow shows you all the steps as they are being run which during workflow building stages is quite helpful. It has the novelty of grabbing the resulting link after just in case I want to use it but realistically once it’s in Evernote that’s usually all I need.

So as much as I don’t believe naively that Workflow can solve all possible problems, I do feel that it is an opportunity to streamline some activities.