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OneNote vs. Evernote: A personal take on two great note-taking apps

Preston Gralla | March 24, 2014
Now that Microsoft has made OneNote free for consumers, can it compete with the well-known Evernote? Preston Gralla offers his take on both.

In some instances the tabs are as fully featured as in the Windows version — the Mac's Home tab, for example, includes all of the Windows version's formatting and other capabilities. Other tabs have far fewer features — notably the Insert tab; in that case, the Mac and iPad versions only allow you to insert tables, pictures and the date and time, not the wide range of objects and content you can work with in the Windows version.

On the iPhone, it's much simpler than on the Mac and iPad. You see your section groups in a scrollable list, and can then navigate easily down into individual sections and pages. It doesn't have tabs, given the iPhone's limited screen real estate, and it's built mainly for quick-and-dirty note taking, or checking your existing notes.

Unfortunately, I found the Android version to be quite poor. It doesn't have the visual notebook metaphor or tabs; it's not much more than a simple list of your notebooks, section groups, sections and pages that you can navigate through. There are no tabs giving you access to tools for creating content, and very few features for creating and editing notes. It's an afterthought at best, and not a particularly well-constructed one at that.

Web usage and storage

The Web version of OneNote features the tabbed design of the Windows, Mac and iPad versions, with the same basic feature set of the Mac and iPad versions.

OneNote syncs its content among all of your devices and to the Web via Microsoft OneDrive, which means that you get up to 7GB of space for everything you store there, including your OneNote content (there are additional plans available if you need more space).

Evernote: Best Web-clipping tool you can find

Evernote is a completely different beast than OneNote. It feels as if it was not primarily designed for creating notes from scratch, but instead for clipping content from the Web.

The application's features and layout are similar among all platforms. The left-hand side of the screen is used for navigation; tap Notebooks to see list of all of your notebooks, and then tap each individual notebook to see all of your notes in each notebook in a scrollable list. If you prefer, you can tap Notes to see all of your notes in a scrollable lists, regardless of the notebook in which they're located. For easy searching, you can add tags to each note when you write it or capture it; the front navigation also lets you view your notes by tags.

Evernote's features and layout are similar among all platforms; this is the Windows version.

I found Evernote to be more visually compelling than OneNote on the iPad and Mac. The display is particularly attractive when you scroll through a notebook, with the list of notes in the notebook showing small graphics pulled from each note.


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