Getting Video into Evernote on iOS

I regularly use Evernote to Video Journal. I like to record entries of around 5 minutes with the front facing camera on the iPhone. The problem is that the iOS versions of Evernote do not allow you to import video directly. Also the iOS photo app won't let you email video longer than 30 seconds - so you can't use your handy Evernote email address either. And even if you could manage to get your video to email, they are large and you'd bump into Evernote's attachment size limits - or worse, use your entire quota if you are a free user. So what can be done?

For starters, you need to compress the video to something much smaller than the default size the iPhone records. Even that low res front facing camera creates files too large for Evernote to handle. I find that for video journal purposes low quality video is just fine - I'm more interested in saving space since I record a lot of it. I used to have a convoluted process that involved the Dropbox app compressing my video and syncing to my Windows machine which had an import folder setup to pull the video directly into Evernote. It all worked fine until Dropbox updated their app and took out the video compression feature breaking my process. I eventually figured out how to roll back Dropbox, but shortly after my Windows machine died. Since then I've been limping along manually copying my videos from Dropbox to Evernote on my Mac and being very careful not to accidentally update the Dropbox app. Well I finally got tired of all this and decided to try and figure out if I could get the whole process working on the iPhone directly. As it turns out yes you can. There are multiple ways in fact, some easier than others, and all but one will cost you some money.

My Preferred Method

After trying out all of the methods mentioned in this post, I settled in on this method as my favorite. It requires the fewest steps and gets the video directly into the Evernote app without having to email it or round-trip it over the network.

I'm using and app called Video Slimmer. It is designed for both iPhone and iPad and is $1.99 US on the App Store. Here is the process:
  1. Record your video. (Keep it short, I tend to record around 5 minutes, you can do more depending on your compression, but 10 minutes is probably max).
  2. Open Video Slimmer.
  3. Set your video compression settings. For free accounts I recommend going with 'Good Quality(50%), Smaller size' and a video size of 240p. This will typically produce a smaller video of around 1mb per minute (Based on the front facing camera on the iPhone 4s). I believe the Evernote max attachment size is 25mb for free, but the real issue is the 60mb monthly limit. You can do the math on how much video you can upload a month. For premium users you can increase the quality up to 100mb per note. I generally just turn it up a small amount to around 2mb per minute average. I use: Better Quality(68%), Medium with a video size of 240p.
  4. Under Video Source - hit + and select your video.
  5. Tap 'Slim Now!' and after a short while your video will be compressed. The app shows the original and slimmed sizes.
  6. Tap the 'share' button and choose 'Open in..'. From the share menu choose 'Open in Evernote'.
That's it, your compressed video is now in Evernote ready to be titled, tagged and bagged. Bonus: Using this method has two fortunate side effects: 1. The video is converted from .mov to mp4 which makes it a bit more compatible with other devices and allows it to be played directly in the Evernote Web client. 2. My portrait video is rotated properly so that the thumbnails on iOS are now correct and my video is no longer sideways when played in Windows Media Player. (Previously I had to open my videos in Quicktime on Windows in order to see them properly).

The Free Method

So what if you're too cheap to spend the 1.99? Well it will take more steps, more time, and some bandwidth, but I found a way to do it for free. It involves the free Dropbox app (and an account of course). And since the Dropbox app doesn't compress video anymore, you also need to get a free app called Video Compressor. Finally you'll need an internet connection of some sort.
  1. Record your video.
  2. Fire up Video Compressor. You'll be impressed when the title of the app says: "Vidoe Compressor". Don't be scared, the app works like a champ.
  3. Tap the Low Quality button and choose your video. - This will compress it to around 1mb per minute (again assuming a front facing camera on the iPhone 4S), and save it back to your camera roll.
  4. Open up Dropbox and upload this new, smaller, video to a folder.
  5. After it uploads, open the Video and 'Star' it. Now backup and go to your favorites tab and wait for it to download. (Yes it needs to round trip up to the server and back :| ).
  6. When it is done downloading, open it again, and tap on the little lower right hand icon (I think it is supposed to mean save), and tap 'Open In..'. From the Share menu choose 'Open in Evernote'.
  7. When you are done saving from Evernote, go back and delete the file from dropbox and optionally your camera roll.
And of course after saving it in Evernote - it will travel back up the tube again and onto the server. It's not the most elegant solution, but it works, and it is free. You might want to wait until you are on WiFi though.

Alternate Method #3 - GoodReader

This method is similar to the Dropbox method but uses GoodReader. It's not free, but if you already own it you'll save on the dropbox round trip. You also need the Free Video Compressor app.
  1. Record your video.
  2. Fire up Video Compressor.
  3. Tap the Low Quality button and choose your video. The compressed version will save back to your camera roll.
  4. Open up GoodReader and choose 'Import pictures'
  5. Choose the new, smaller video from the Camera Roll.
  6. Go to the 'Downloads' folder, tap 'Actions', select the video.
  7. Tap 'Open in...' at the bottom of the screen and choose 'Open in Evernote'.
  8. When you are done saving from Evernote, go back and delete the file from GoodReader and optionally your camera roll.
Alternate Method #4 - Email it

Ok, I said you couldn't email a video over 30 seconds long. Well what I meant was the built in iOS photos app and email client won't. Don't bother trying the Gmail app either - it won't let you select any videos. It turns out that there are some apps out there that let you mail longer videos and will even try and compress them for you. I won't give you the full steps here, but the basic idea is that you choose the video, let it compress it, and then send it to your special Evernote email address. I tried two apps for this. The first was Video Email. It is $1.99 US. I found the app to be a little clunky but it worked. On the lowest quality setting the video seemed to be around 2mb per minute. Also note that it seems to want to limit the max attachment size to 15mb. The second app is called InstaMail. This one is $0.99 US. It only has one video compression setting and it really won't get the job done, so you should run your video though Video Compressor first. After that it works easy enough.

So as you have seen, if you are willing to jump through a hoop or two and possibly shell out 2 bucks, you can get low quality video into Evernote on iOS. It's not perfect, but until Evernote decides to let the app import video directly it's all we have.


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