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With so much content out there saying OneNote is better than Evernote, let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. In many areas, Evernote still beats OneNote. The question is whether Evernote’s benefits are enough to convince you to stay. For me, they were.

9,452.

That’s how many notes I have saved in my Evernote account. Over the past six years, I’ve collected notes covering almost every area of life. Highlights from articles I’ve read, to-do lists, Instagram photos, guitar tabs, ideas, and a bewildering range of reference stuff picked up along the way.

And then only last year, I tried Microsoft OneNote for the first time. An amazing app, whichever way you look at it. Being able to arrange notes like I naturally would in a ring-binder was tempting. And the features that allowed me to drag and drop elements of my notes to make them truly look like a physical notebook? Now that was impressive.

Onenote vs. Evernote

After a while, I tried to go all in with OneNote, and the novelty of the app had me writing all sorts of odes to it. I explained why OneNote is the best Evernote alternative The Best Evernote Alternative Is OneNote and It's Free The Best Evernote Alternative Is OneNote and It's Free The market is drenched in note-taking apps competing with Evernote. But there is only one serious Evernote alternative. Let us explain why that is OneNote. Read More (I stand by that claim). I even told readers everything they needed to know before abandoning Evernote for OneNote Migrating From Evernote to OneNote? Everything You Need to Know! Migrating From Evernote to OneNote? Everything You Need to Know! OneNote is one of the best alternatives to Evernote and it's free. We'll show you how OneNote is different and show you the tools to migrate smoothly. Read More .

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But my love affair with OneNote was short-lived. I was probably just angry that Evernote had raised its prices without really improving its service (though its free option is still remarkable). Yet in the meantime, the web became awash with articles explaining why OneNote was so much better than Evernote.

Most of these articles, however, miss some important points that have seen a number of people (myself included) tiptoeing back to Evernote with their tail between their legs.

1. Importing Notes Is Horrific

After waiting over two hours for the importer tool to do its work, I stared at my screen in horror as I realized the task ahead of me.

OneNote did some strange things with my meticulous tags, pretty much making them worthless. After importing, it seems that OneNote turns the first tag in your notes into a section. I have no idea why this happens, as tags are entirely different to sections. You can imagine what an organizational mess this can make.

OneNote Tags

In Evernote, I also had a lot of stacked notebooks. OneNote for Mac (which I’m using) can’t deal with the simple task of stacking (whether that’s notebooks or even notes). Instead, I’m faced with a long list of unorganized notebooks (and notes). Windows users, you’re lucky here. You have the feature available to create notebook groups.

An option to keep parent notebooks as notebooks, and convert child notebooks to sections would have been intuitive (for Windows users, too), but that’s not possible. To achieve this intuitive setup manually (turning some notebooks into sections) takes a lot of work.

2. OneNote’s Lightweight Web Clipper

Evernote’s web clipper truly is the best in the business. With it you can save entire articles, simplified articles, or selections of articles. You can take custom-sized screenshots, or simply save web pages as a bookmark.

Yes, OneNote’s web clipper can do pretty much all of the above, but where Evernote’s clipper stands out is its annotation features.

Evernote Web Clipper

When you take a screenshot with Evernote’s clipper, you can then insert arrows, notes, pixilation, highlights, and more to the screenshot, before it’s saved to your notebook of choice. This isn’t possible with OneNote.

3. OneNote Restrictions for Mac Users

Windows users, you’ve got it pretty good when it comes to OneNote. The range of clever OneNote features 7 Little-Known OneNote Features You Will Love 7 Little-Known OneNote Features You Will Love OneNote is 100% free and packed full of advanced features. Let's check out some of the ones you may have missed. If you're not yet using OneNote, these may win you over. Read More is astounding. But for Mac users (like me), there’s just too much missing.

  • No Spotlight Support — Although you can search for OneNote notes via Spotlight in iOS9 and above, you still can’t do this in OS X. This is one of the main reasons I went back to using Evernote.
  • No Local Storage — Windows users can choose to save their OneNote files locally, whereas Mac users’ notes must be saved to Microsoft OneDrive. When using Evernote, however, it’s easy to create local notebooks that are only accessible from your computer.
  • No Collapsible Notes — Just like OneNote for Mac doesn’t allow stacked notebooks, it also doesn’t allow stacked notes. When you have hundreds of notes in one notebook or section, that long, unsorted list is enough to churn your stomach.
  • No Custom Tags — Although OneNote for Mac comes with a range of default tags, you can’t add custom tags. This is especially frustrating when you’re trying to organize a large number of notes.
  • No Page Templates — As a Mac user, you are unable to create or load page templates in OneNote.
  • Limited Formatting — Although there are still quite a few text and image formatting options in OneNote for Mac, these pale in comparison to what’s offered to Windows users.

There are other restrictions for Mac users The Essential Guide to OneNote for Mac The Essential Guide to OneNote for Mac OneNote is a free and cross-platform note-taking app for Mac, iPad, and iPhone. Our short guide summarizes everything you must know. Forget about your Microsoft hatred and try OneNote with us today. Read More , but these are the ones I found particularly frustrating. Mainly because there is absolutely no need for most of these limitations. Microsoft could at least offer a fully-featured paid version for Mac users. But alas, they don’t.

4. No Easy Reminders

In Evernote, it’s extremely easy to set up reminders. These reminders send you an alert about a specific note, on a date you specify. As you can imagine, this can be pretty useful.

Evernote Reminders

For OneNote users wanting to set up a reminder, things are more complicated. You have to mark individual notes as tasks, which will then appear as tasks in Outlook How to Use Outlook for Simple Task and Project Management How to Use Outlook for Simple Task and Project Management Outlook can work as a simple tool for managing projects and tasks. We show you how to set up Outlook Tasks to set reminders and due dates, assign to-dos, and track tie. Read More . Tasks created in Outlook will also appear in OneNote. This is fine if you use Outlook. But if you don’t, it’s far from ideal.

Again, even OneNote’s frustrating reminder setup is not available to Mac users.

5. It’s Just Too Different

I’m prepared to get a roasting for saying this, but OneNote is often just too different for anyone who’s heavily invested in Evernote.

Anyone who makes the shift to OneNote will have to be prepared to largely change their organizational setup. Yes, OneNote has a nicer interface than Evernote. And it’s completely free. But unless you’re prepared to meticulously edit the formatting and layout of each of your notes, OneNote’s huge range of features just seems burdensome. It’s too much.

Note-taking is usually a simple act of collecting and sorting information so it can easily be found in the future. For this, Evernote still seems the best choice.

And for Mac users, choosing Evernote seems to be a no brainer. The number of restrictions Mac users have when using OneNote is ridiculous. If you’ve used Evernote for any period of time, there are valuable features Maximize Evernote with 5 Powerful Features Maximize Evernote with 5 Powerful Features With over 100 million users, Evernote is arguably the web's favorite productivity and note-saving tool. We are putting the spotlight on 5 under-appreciated Evernote features and detail their value. Read More you’ll almost certainly have to give up when moving over to OneNote.

The decision is ultimately down to you. But for me, the mess that OneNote made of my notes, its lightweight web clipper, and the over-engineering of note-taking was enough to turn me back to Evernote.

What are your thoughts? If you’ve tried both Evernote and OneNote, which did you decide to stick with? And if not, which are you most tempted to use?

  1. Maryon Jeane
    November 2, 2016 at 2:59 pm

    I'm just not willing to trust my information database to the Cloud and to servers run by people like Microsoft, Evernote and who knows who else in the future. My database contains, after many years, a massive amount of sensitive information and it would be a gift to an identity thief.

    Evernote, with an upgrade which went wrong, destroyed some of my data - an absolute nightmare and, after over two years, I still keep finding out what's missing. (Evernote's response - and this to a Premium member - was "These things happen from time to time").Then and there I decided I wanted full control of my database and sought out a program which stayed on my computers. I sync between one and another by using transfer programs such as Send Anywhere and Filedrop (Windows user - for the moment).

    AllMyNotes has been absolutely brilliant. It's never lost any data, despite sudden power outages, daft human error and all the other things flesh is heir to. If there are problems (and I think all these have been my fault and not the fault of AllMyNotes) the author, Volodymyr Frytskyy, is there at the end of an e-mail and will get right back to you. He also listens to and implements requests for improvements/add-ons or whatever.

    I managed to import my mangled data from Evernote with no problems at all. That's another strength of AllMyNotes - it supports import and export in a variety of formats so you're never tied into the future.

    Searching AllMyNotes is an absolute doddle. Way faster than Evernote, you can find anything immediately (including random and useful notes you'd forgotten about).

    Things which Evernote and OneNote consider to be extra features (such as alarms, hyperlinks, password protection and a format painter for example) AllMyNotes just has as standard. It's customisable and I can just work the way I want with it, knowing my data is secure.

    Using an external backup (I use Cobian) with AllMyNotes - although it has its own backup facility - is easy and fast. I'm not going to lose my data again; it's the ultimate nightmare in the digital world.

    AllMyNotes means that I can carry all my data with me on my tablet when I'm away from my desktop. All my data. I can't begin to tell you the time, hassle and hair-tugging this has saved me. Nor can I tell you just how brilliant friends think I am because I've always got the information they need to hand(!) I don't just carry my shopping list around, I carry all my recipes. I don't just carry contact numbers, I carry every note I've made about anyone I've ever met plus any relevant e-mail they've written to me.

    All this saves money, too: I can happily buy something for the house, for example, when it's on offer knowing that it will fit a space/match/be compatible with whatever I already have.

    Data is vital.

    I can never forgive Evernote for losing my data - certainly considering they shrugged it off as just a glitch. However I am grateful that they made me realise just how vulnerable your data is when it's on someone else's server and at the mercy of their sometimes flaky updates.

    AllMyNotes, as far as I'm concerned, just rocks.

  2. Sam
    November 1, 2016 at 3:07 pm

    "When you take a screenshot with Evernote’s clipper, you can then insert arrows, notes, pixilation, highlights, and more to the screenshot, before it’s saved to your notebook of choice. This isn’t possible with OneNote."

    Please change the title of this article to the Mac version of OneNote. I think that would better clarify what you are trying to discuss! Touchscreen laptops and pen input laptops have been able to annotate web and desktop clippings with OneNote for years. Sorry to burst you MacBook bubble, but OneNote is capable of annotations, macOS will just never allow it (unless maybe you use a drawing tablet?). Please do more research than just personal experience, especially if you intend to write to a primarily Windows audience.

    I started with Evernote myself, and simply never got in the habit of note taking because it was so impractical and burdensome. When I found OneNote on Surface, I've been taking notes daily and even making art in it ever since. I also know both sides of the coin.

    I wouldn't be so blunt if you hadn't made such a false and absolute statement! But I'm sorry, I'm answering bluntness with bluntness.

    • Tina Sieber
      November 8, 2016 at 10:11 am

      Thank you for your feedback, Sam!

      I share your experience with Evernote. In contrast, OneNote was a revelation and I've been using it daily.

      Being the editor of this article, I could have done more to put this article into perspective, i.e. make it clear that Mac users have to deal with a lot more limitations than Windows users. Although several limitations apply to both versions, I did categorize the article under Productivity and Mac, not Windows.

  3. Christina
    November 1, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    I abandoned Evernote a couple years ago once OneNote's iOS apps became available. I had been using the desktop versions of OneNote between work and home so I was already familiar and comfortable with it. I had been using Evernote just in a mobile environment, with the desktop and web versions as backup/supplements. Specifically, my main usage had been for my grocery list. Evernote's downfall was cemented for me when syncing between home (desktop, web, or iPad) and my phone just was not happening, despite having in-store wifi and/or a strong cell signal. Alternatively, I was constantly having to login on my phone. Repeated reinstalls of the app (both mobile and desktop) didn't fix it. Repeated changing of my password didn't fix it. I even created a new account using a different email, and that didn't work. Yes, it's a ridiculous reason: I ditched Evernote because it screwed with my grocery list. But if the login and syncing problems were such an issue with something so mundane, I knew I couldn't rely on the app for anything more significant. When I finally made the 100% switch to OneNote, I didn't even bother going through an official import from Evernote: I didn't have that much in Evernote so I easily was able to manually copy & paste my notes on the desktop from one to the other. I've been very happy with OneNote ever since. I use it for personal and business notes, with everything being much more meticulously sorted. And my grocery list syncs perfectly. :-)

  4. Iain
    October 29, 2016 at 9:42 pm

    I agree, and you didn't even touch on the apps. Capturing on the phone and tablet apps are great - business card scanner is great. Scanable, Penultimate and Skitch are 5* in their own right.

    • Rob Nightingale
      October 30, 2016 at 12:46 pm

      Very true! I missed the out as the article could have got very complex, especially as Microsoft keep updating the OneNote apps far more regularly than Evernote does :)

  5. JP
    October 29, 2016 at 9:00 pm

    Sounds like you need to upgrade to Windows if the Mac is so limited in many areas. I find Evernote very counter intuitive and OneNote much more user friendly. Evernote has limited formatting amoung many other features or lack thereof and not worth the cost.

  6. Shelley
    October 29, 2016 at 6:48 pm

    This was an interesting article. I have tried and used One Note briefly (on Windows), I actually didn't like the feel of it and left very quickly "out the door I came in".
    I am/was a long time user of Evernote. I recently went through the long and arduous task of moving all my files off Evernote. Why? (1) Let start with very little improvement to how/what I used Evernote for. (2) They actually made it harder for me to navigate in with some of there so called "improvements". (3) The decided to raise their prices & disable features that use to be available with the free version. (4) The final straw - they wouldn't let me access over half my notebook notes due to a restructuring of their free/paid-lite/premium paid services. I had no warning this was going to happen. Some of these services went from paid to premium! When I contacted them about this, they offered me a 30 day trial premium membership. I took the trial, and with the help of several people transferred all my files out of Evernote, and "got out of dodge" persay.
    As a avid Google user, with a Chromebook, using Chrome & Android OS on 9/10 devises, I went searching for a trusted free service that I felt I could trust not to take my notes & not let me access them. Does it mean redefining how I organize ? A little bit, but I would rather learn & change then loose all my notes or have to paid large $$$ for a service that in essence hasn't changed a bit. I would rather give my money to Google (Alphabet Inc) for a hole range of services that are free, then Evernote which now wants me to pay arms & legs for what I had for free for years. I appreciate Evernote for introducing me to digital notebooking, but I think I will stick with my Google drive & notes from here on out.

  7. Rahul
    October 29, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    The one thing people don't realize is that OneNote is synced with OneDrive. You're capped for free at 5GB. After that, you have to pony up for more storage. It doesn't take much to reach 5GB. I'm sticking with Evernote.

    • Tina Sieber
      October 30, 2016 at 10:28 am

      As a Windows user you don't have to sync notebooks with OneDrive, meaning the limit only concerns the synced notebooks. But it's true that anyone who wants access to their notes across devices -- and that will be the majority of people seriously using tools like these -- needs OneDrive storage. This limitation won't bother users who have an Office 365 subscription anyway.

      • JT
        October 31, 2016 at 1:01 pm

        You can sync to DropBox as well with OneNote. Some people have home servers too.

    • Rob Nightingale
      October 30, 2016 at 12:46 pm

      What Tina said :)

  8. OnE
    October 29, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    Using ON & EN for different usage, but heavily on EN. I'm on Win10
    OneNote
    Adv - 1) Password. The ability to lock entire pages is big, which was made free only quite recently. Useful when we work in a common workstation. EN on the other hand only allows text encryption, useless when u have lots of pdf & images (2)Print to ON directly, can be set to default (3) FREE
    Disadv - (1) the huge difference between ON Metro and ON 2016. I mean, what are they thinking? The 'default' ON that is metro which u cannot cut, copy paste directly or drag/drop. I used win journal before which I think had better handwriting, why not combine all these? (2) extremely slow syncing of ON-onedrive in my country in south east asia to the point that if u try to open a file that has not been fully synced u'll risk corrupting it (my main reason)
    (3) I dont understand why we need to download another software (macros) just to sort notebooks & pages. Why not built in?

    EVERNOTE
    Adv - 1) super fast sync (2) able to annotate pdf & images directly. And can use MS paint directly - i usually takes pictures of hundreds of receipts by phone, then open EN on PC and crop images from EN which it then saves directly back into EN (did not work on ON the last time i tried). (3) Email to EN - ON has this feature but it is slow (at least in my place, may take hours before i get on ON even when auto fwd) (4) tags are less cluttered (5) web clipper much better
    Disadv - 1) PRICE (2) limited 'tree' sections (3) limited 'space'- upper tier gives 10GB/month, unlimited no of notebooks but limited MB/notes (i think about 100MB? Not very sure). When I scan important documents I do reach the individual note limits when using high dpi scan (600-1200 dpi)

    Others - EN do have workchat but for me its not that great, just if u want to have a go. (For this I prefer dropbox collaboration)

    • Rob Nightingale
      October 30, 2016 at 12:48 pm

      Wow, thanks so much for the detailed comment! Some of these I didn't even think of :)

  9. JT
    October 29, 2016 at 2:17 pm

    Good post. I was a casual Evernote user for a couple of years, but Evernote never made itself a part of my digital life...for whatever reason. OneNote honestly has revolutionized my digital life, personally and professionally. Evernote was a thing I did, whereas OneNote is the way I do things, if that makes any sense.

    I'm a PC user, and an educator, so OneNote offers more to me. Your point #1 is really a non-point for people who aren't already invested in Evernote; and it's not really fair to discuss transferring content from Evernote to OneNote without discussing what it's like transferring content from OneNote to Evernote.

    All that said, I'm glad both apps exist. Competition makes each better. And, I think some people's brains click with some UIs better than others, so we need variety.

    • Rob Nightingale
      October 30, 2016 at 12:49 pm

      True, I think the existence of OneNote will definitely force EN to up its game in some areas. And vice versa. If it weren't for EN, I doubt OneNote would have anywhere near as many features as it does for Windows users.

  10. Sam Carson
    October 28, 2016 at 11:21 pm

    I got a MS Surface at work. Basically, the Surface was made for OneNote. It simply makes too much sense.

    That is until you get up past the browse level of note archive. OneNote searches like a ringed notebook too. Feels like the search was made by the same guys who did Bing. Got to a critical mass, then came home again to Evernote.

    The good news is that Evernote has improved the stability of the Windows app considerably. I have several thousand notes, it used to really struggle and hang. Much better now.

    • D M
      October 29, 2016 at 7:55 pm

      Can you explain how the searching is bad?

    • Rob Nightingale
      October 30, 2016 at 12:50 pm

      Yea, I don't have any problems with the speed of Evernote anymore... was it just the search feature that made you go back to Evernote?

  11. Paul McCabe
    October 28, 2016 at 8:35 pm

    I have gone back and forth more than once- with Evernote as my starting point. I have now settled on OneNote for the following reasons:

    1. Microsoft is improving OneNote on all platforms almost weekly. They seem dedicated to enhancement and improvement to a level that Evernote has not demonstrated.

    2. As an Office365 Business user, I place more trust in the enterprise-level security of OneDrive/OneNote than I do Evernote's mystery servers.

    3. Corporate and community responsiveness from Microsoft and fans of OneNote is incredible.

    4. OneNote's stylus support- in my case the Apple Pen- makes for a much nicer writing experience than offered by Evernote.

    5. Sync has improved dramatically with Onenote- even within the last few weeks.

    6. Note importing from Evernote is actually quite easy and effective now with the new tool for Mac. As a tip- export and import each Evernote notebook separately.

    All for now.

    • Rob Nightingale
      October 30, 2016 at 12:51 pm

      Sounds like you probably have the Windows version :) The constant addition of new features would put me off, personally. I prefer (for note-taking, at least), to have what's needed, and to make sure they work exceptionally well.

      • Sam
        November 1, 2016 at 3:16 pm

        Since when does the Windows version come with Apple Pencil and the new tool for Mac? ...

    • JLC
      October 31, 2016 at 10:15 am

      You HAVE to be talking about the Windows version. Not true for the Mac version. That being said I have switched to ON because of the Elephant (yes I know) in the room and that is EN's future direction and stability. EN moving to Google servers has me spooked. Is the next step a EN purchase by Google? I could not abide that for all my personal information. I would never have switched to ON if I felt good about EN's stability and future direction. I can't keep investing in something that I will have to bail out of someday.
      I am super frustrated by the lack of updates to ON for Mac. Sync is very slow and the Mac and IOS apps mysteriously log me out constantly and ask me to log back in. Lack of custom and searchable tags is very frustrating. I really miss the great EN safari web clipper too. A visit to the ON forums will comfirm that many are frustrated with these.
      But how can I invest in $, time, and data in something that may be owned by Google who is famous for mining my data for ads? That just goes against the grain of why I use these apps in the first place. It's really a shame too. EN is a great app.

  12. Perry S. Kahai
    October 28, 2016 at 5:39 pm

    Does Evernote even allow you to import anything? No! And, really, for reminders, I have other better apps to use. But, that said, I still think Evernote is years ahead of OneNote in terms of making and organizing notes. OneNote is ssslllllooooowwwww for searching. Clipping is fantastic in Evernote. However, if a notebook metaphor is what you desire, then OneNote is great. That's what I use if I have to organize my teaching notes. But for other notes that I need to have more flexible organization for, I use Evernote. In the foreseeable future, Evernote will be my primary note taker!

    • Rob Nightingale
      October 30, 2016 at 12:52 pm

      I agree with what you're saying Perry, but am unsure a little about what you mean by flexible organization... in what ways do you prefer the organizational structure of Evernote?

      • Perry S. Kahai
        November 3, 2016 at 5:38 am

        Several things:
        1. Ability to sort notes in a variety of orders. I don't have to manually move notes to sort them like one has to with OneNote
        2. Ability to view notes in a variety of formats (card, snippet, etc)
        3. Each note is a unit tied together by tags instead of sections. Tags always appear sorted
        4. Closer to being Post-It notes
        5. Easier to clip content from web - you can create tags on the fly. With OneNote, cannot create section on the fly. Thus, one has to create section prior to clipping content, or create section later and manually move the clipped note to it

        Hope this helps.

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