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7 things Microsoft OneNote does that Evernote can't

James A. Martin | July 16, 2015
We're moving deeper into the modern "walled garden" of digital life. Generally speaking, you choose the garden you like best -- be it Apple, Google or Microsoft -- and the more time and money you invest, the more painful it is to leave that ecosystem.

3) OneNote simultaneous collaboration

OneNote for Mac and for Windows let you share notes and notebooks with other OneNote users for free. However, if your organization pays to use SharePoint for document sharing via OneNote, or if you use OneNote as part of a paid Office 365 subscription, sharing isn't really "free."

As you type or add content to shared OneNote pages, your collaborators see edits in near real-time. Evernote offers a "work chat" feature that lets you message collaborators but doesn't support simultaneous note-editing collaboration. The cloud service LiveMinutes is designed to fill that gap. A free plan lets you create up to 10 projects; paid plans let you create additional projects and cost $9 (for unlimited projects) or $39 month (as many as five users can create unlimited projects).

4) OneNote video recording

OneNote 2013 for Windows has a cool feature you won't find in Evernote or OneNote for Mac: It lets you add new video recordings to notes.

Say you're walking around a tradeshow with a Windows tablet, such as Microsoft's Surface Pro 3. You could easily record a product demonstration, type up some related notes, and share with your team. Evernote and OneNote for Mac both let you add audio annotations to notes, but not video.

5) OneNote's digital pen support

Microsoft has heavily pushed touch-screen input since it launched Windows 8, and it has a vested interest in stylus input, given the Surface pen that's designed to work with the company's Surface tablets. If you want to write notes by hand, draw circles or make other annotations on your notes, OneNote is the tool for you -- unless you use a Mac. (Apple notebooks and desktops lack stylus support, presumably because they also lack touchscreens).

Evernote has some basic image-annotation tools, but they're not particularly useful. The company also released an app, Penultimate, for digital stylus input, but it doesn't integrate with Evernote notebooks. 

Microsoft came up with a slick way to start writing notes immediately in OneNote. A single tap of the Surface pen's top button launches the OneNote Windows app by default, and you can change that default to the OneNote 2013 Windows desktop application.

OneNote can also use optical character recognition (OCR) on handwritten notes to make them keyword searchable, provided your handwriting is reasonably legible. On the other hand, Evernote can OCR handwriting on paper or whiteboards that you scan using Evernote or Scannable apps.

6) To-do lists for OneNote notes

You can add a variety of "sticky-note-like" elements to OneNote pages. They're called tags, and there's a relatively long list of default options, including "Remember for later," "Idea," "Website to visit," "Movie to see," and "Remember for blog." You can also create your own. 


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