Note Taking App War: Evernote vs OneNote

There are many options for storing information digitally but the two popular apps out right now are Evernote and OneNote. These apps aren’t only for taking notes, you can also make lists, manage projects, store and organize information, and share it with others. I shared these two apps with people in a chat recently and they had no idea they even existed. After that mind boggling experience I decided why not share my wealth of knowledge on Evernote and OneNote and let my readers decide what they like better?!

Now even though many of you have Microsoft Office I bet you didn’t know OneNote has been part of Microsoft’s Office suite since 2003. With the look of the binder, pages of notes are organized into sections and stored in notebooks. The lovely thing about OneNote is that you can add content anywhere on the page.

Evernote followed in OneNote’s footsteps and came onto the scene in 2008. Evernote currently has 20 million users and is continuing to grow. What makes Evernote unique is it can store various types of information in notes such as audio and video notes.

Now lets compare the major features of Evernote and OneNote:

Capturing Information on the Go

Evernote not only has an app for itself but also a major collection of spin-off apps. The spin-off apps are more focused on specific tasks, such as remembering people or food, helping you study, or letting you scribble with a finger or pen. You can create new notes with a rich text editor, add photos from your gallery or camera, add audio or video (Premium only), and geo-tag notes so you can remember where in the world you created them. And don’t you worry the mobile apps also display all types of content, including images and ink, and open attached documents using an office suite or other reader on your phone.

OneNote mobile comes with Windows Phone 7, and Microsoft has released a mobile version of OneNote for iPhone and iPad, and most recently Android. There’s also several third party tools such as Mobile Noter available for OneNote. Nevertheless, the OneNote apps are all limited in the amount of editing they can do, and none of them will display ink.

Winner: Evernote wins due to it’s so versatility. It’s available on several platforms and can display all types of content. Also the mobile app also has a full-featured editor.

Organization and Reference Tools

OneNote and Evernote both use a notebook-and-notes metaphor. You can create a notebook for a dedicated topic—such as Website Project or Travel Itineraries—and then create multiple related notes within it. Both also let you tag notes with keywords.

One difference is you can create separate notebooks in OneNote. Each notebook can contain multiple sections, and each section can have multiple pages and color coding. The desktop version of OneNote also allows you to create a Section Group, the equivalent of embedding a notebook in a notebook. Evernote has a feature similar to the OneNote Section Group, which permits you to group notebooks into Stacks. Evernote Business users can stack professional content within a Business Library.

Winner: OneNote provides more controls for organizing your information.

Templates

How much easier is it to take meeting notes and create to-do lists if there’s a template?OneNote comes with numerous templates and what’s great is you can create new templates from any existing page. Unfortunately at this time the only thing Evernote offers you is a blank page for typed notes or lined yellow paper for ink notes.

Winner: OneNote wins by default! The best you can do with Evernote is create lists with checkboxes.

Web Tools and OS Support

OneNote currently offers Web access plus apps for Windows Phone, Android, and iOS. It’s available for Windows within Microsoft Office and as the OneNote MX app for Windows 8. If you favor Microsoft services and devices, OneNote is your natural choice.

Evernote matches OneNote with Web access, and goes beyond by providing native apps for Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry, in addition to dedicated client software for Windows and Mac OS X. Evernote has developed an extensive community and provides a variety of its own apps as well as third-party apps on its Trunk website.

Winner: Evernote is available on so many platforms making them the obvious winner!

Price

OneNote is available as part of a Microsoft Office 365 subscription, starting at $100 per year per home user. It also comes with Office desktop suite starting at $140. As a stand-alone product, OneNote 2013 costs $70.  BUT if you don’t have Microsoft Office or you don’t want to buy the stand-alone product, OneNote is free as a Web app on Windows Phone, Android, or iOS. However, the Office version provides additional features, such as the ability to clip screenshots or “print” documents directly to OneNote.

Evernote is free for up to 60MB per month of data. For $5 per month or $45 per year you can have 1GB of bandwidth each month. You also get faster performance, better security, and deeper search capabilities. There’s also Evernote for Business which gives IT admins oversight and control, with additional collaboration options, for $120 per user per year. Similar to OneNote there’s desktop apps for Windows and OSX, full-featured mobile apps for Android, iOS, Blackberry, and WebOS, and a strong Web app, Evernote’s best feature may be its cross-platform compatibility.

Winner: Both note-taking platforms have free options, so you can’t knock either for being overpriced. However, if you are looking for greater functionality through apps and add-ons then Evernote is for you!

Which Tool Is Best for You?

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5 thoughts on “Note Taking App War: Evernote vs OneNote

  1. Great review although I beg to differ about OneNote not having tags – indeed it has a really strong tag feature – I use it to filter by tags extensively.

      1. You’re welcome.. Note that tags in the two programs are entirely different things. Be sure to check out Filter by Tags in OneNote, really great way to pull posts from one or multiple notebooks say, by priority, or assignments.

  2. THere IS tagging in OneNote definitely. But i think the tags aren’t as searchable as Evernote. You will get an overview of tags used. But Is still can’t find the option to search on one tag or a combination of tags……Furthermore you state ‘none of them will display ink.’ On my device I see also ink notes….. But : good review

    1. Thank you, I appreciate that you like my review! And you’re right there is tagging in OneNote, the tags on OneNote are not searchable like EverNote which can almost defeat the purpose of notes (at least to me).

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