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Google Keep vs. OneNote vs. Evernote: We name the note-app winner

Tony Bradley | March 28, 2013
Which note-taking tool stands above the rest? We pit Google's upstart software against the heavyweights from Microsoft and Evernote.

Features vary according to the hardware and software you have on hand. For example, you can annotate OneNote notes using a digital stylus in either the OneNote desktop version or the OneNote MX app for Windows 8, but only if you have a touchscreen device and a digital stylus to work with.

Winner: Evernote's ecosystem of apps expands its rich-media possibilities.

Text editing

Although a note-taking tool isn't meant to replace your word processor, it should make your text look better than a jumble of misaligned characters. After all, you're trying to get organized.

OneNote for Android allows you to add text, create a numbered or bulleted list, create a list with checkboxes, or insert a photo into a note. You can't format text.

OneNote on iOS is similar but lacks numbered lists, although the OneNote app for Windows Phone enables numbered lists and text formatting. The Web and Office versions of OneNote both provide more-comprehensive text editing, while the OneNote MX app for Windows 8 uses an innovative radial menu for formatting.

If you insert a checkbox on Evernote's Android or iOS app, Evernote automatically adds a checkbox on each line when you tap Enter. On the Web version, in contrast, you have to add the checkbox manually at the beginning of each line; if you try to do it en masse, prepare for heartbreak.

Winner: It makes sense that OneNote, brought to you by the makers of Word software, provides the richest text formatting.

Business features

Google Keep does not have any business features or IT administrator tools, at least not yet.

OneNote, on the other hand, supports management features through SharePoint or SkyDrive Pro. The IT admin can manage business data stored there, as well as control user access through Active Directory and Group Policy. You can share notebooks with the whole company, or with designated individuals or teams. Individuals can access their personal OneNote notebooks on SkyDrive, as well as the company notebooks for which they have permission on SharePoint or SkyDrive Pro.

Like OneNote, Evernote Business lets companies manage notes and data related to the business, while allowing individual users to create and maintain personal notes and notebooks outside the grasp of the IT admin.

Winner: Evernote is easier to manage than the SharePoint or SkyDrive Pro back end for OneNote.

Data management

When you use a note-taking tool religiously, it quickly becomes an indispensable repository of data. You need to trust that the service will survive, and that you can keep your data if it does not.

Be aware that Google can be fickle, as it has axed more than 70 features or services since it began "spring cleaning" in 2011 (RIP, Google Reader).


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