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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.

Evernote doesn't have nearly as many note-creation tools as OneNote. There are the usual text formatting tools; the ability to embed tables, files and pictures; and to record audio and video as part of your notes. But that's about it.

Web clipping

Where Evernote really shines is in capturing content from the Web, organizing that content and making it easy for you to find it and use it.

Its Web-clipping tool is exemplary. The tool runs as a browser plug-in; the exact features vary somewhat from browser to browser.

Evernote's exemplary clipping tool runs as a browser plug-in and lets you capture content using a variety of options.

The best of the bunch is the Chrome version. When you're on a page from which you want to capture content, click the Evernote icon and the clipper appears on the right-hand side with a variety of options, including:

  • capturing just the article itself, eliminating ads and other unnecessary material
  • capturing a "simplified article" — just text and graphics without the original layout or videos
  • capturing the full page as you see it
  • capturing only a bookmark to the page
  • capturing a screenshot of the page

In addition, the clipper has markup tools, so that you can annotate what you're capturing by adding text, highlighting, arrows and so on. You can also add tags. And you can choose which notebook you want to add the content to or create a new notebook on the fly.

And once you've captured the content, you can do more with it. In OneNote, when you capture a Web page, it's captured as a flat image, so all you can do is read it. In Evernote, the text is live — you can copy it, paste to it, edit it, change the formatting and so on. And unlike in OneNote, the links are live as well, so that you can click any link and have it open in your browser. Any media on the page such as video isn't live, though — click it and you're sent to the original page you captured.

As with OneNote, you can find notes by browsing through notebooks or by doing a search. But Evernote also lets you search for notes by browsing through your tags; if you wish, you can see them in a long, scrollable list.

The differences among versions

Evernote looks much the same on Windows, the iPad and the Mac, although the iPad and Mac versions are more visually compelling because they format notes more nicely when you scroll through them, and display graphics as thumbnails. The Web version closely mimics the Mac version.

The Android and iPhone version are similar to one another - they represent each note not as part of a scrollable list, but instead as a square with the title on top, and any pictures from the note displaying on the square.


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