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OneNote 2016 for Mac review: Intuitive and versatile, but still not up to par with Windows version

Jeffery Battersby | July 31, 2015
It's been about a year since Microsoft released (and I reviewed) OneNote for Mac, which was, at that time, available only from the Mac App Store. Over the past 14 or so months Microsoft has made numerous incremental changes to the app, adding or updating features and making the app more versatile and, perhaps, making it a better note taking choice than the everpresent Evernote.

onenote for mac 2016 icon

It's been about a year since Microsoft released (and I reviewed) OneNote for Mac, which was, at that time, available only from the Mac App Store. Over the past 14 or so months Microsoft has made numerous incremental changes to the app, adding or updating features and making the app more versatile and, perhaps, making it a better note taking choice than the everpresent Evernote.

Whether OneNote is suitable as an Evernote replacement for you will depend largely on what you use Evernote for. For me, as I've used OneNote over the past year, I find it to be the tool that best suits my needs. And I say this after attempting to use Evernote (in stops and starts) many times since I first reviewed the original iOS version of the app several years ago.

But, mind you, I have very specific note taking needs. I'm using it to create large text documents with disparate but linked bits of information that I want to be easily shared and simple to navigate. I don't use many media files and I'm not "collecting" information, which is something Evernote excels at. For me, OneNote, while imperfect, is a perfect solution.

OneNote is still free, so, while it comes as a part of Office 2016, you don't need Office 2016 or an Office 365 subscription to use the app. But you do need a OneDrive account in order to save documents, as there is still no way to use a file saved locally on your Mac. Fortunately, Microsoft still offers free OneDrive accounts with 25GB of storage.

Documents created using OneNote can be shared with and edited by anyone, whether they have the app or not, as it offers not only apps for Mac and iOS, but a perfectly serviceable web app that supports most everything you can do with your Mac.

Looks the same, but it's different

The app doesn't look any different than did last year's version, but there have been some tweaks to the way it works. Each OneNote document consists of a series of tabs, referred to as sections, and each section can have an unlimited number of pages. Pages within a section are what you use to organize your information. And each page allows you to enter information a freeform fashion, which is to say that you can click anywhere and just start typing. Your freeform typing is added to a text box that, once you enter text, can be rearranged, formatted, and organized on a page.

An update to the app now allows you to drag files from the Finder to add them to the document, with some limitations. PDF files, Office documents, text files, and images can all be added to OneNote pages with a drag and drop.

 

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