After Evernote’s recent price hike, many paying subscribers are opting to jump ship in favor of Microsoft OneNote. Heck, even free subscribers are leaving the service now that the free package only allows syncing on up to two devices.
If you’re one of these experienced Evernote users looking to migrate your Evernote library over to OneNote, you’ll want to read this article first. We’ll not only discuss what makes OneNote different, but also how to actually migrate (on Windows and Mac). Common concerns will be addressed toward the end of the article.
Is Evernote in Trouble?
Although Evernote may not actually be in trouble, from the outside it certainly looks like it’s in panic mode. Last year, Evernote’s CEO stepped down and 13% of its staff were laid off. We even had to say goodbye to Evernote Food. It’s no surprise that long-time users are getting worried.
Don’t get me wrong, Evernote is continuing to improve its heavyweight note-taking app. In the last year alone, the Windows app has been completely redesigned, cool camera features were launched on Android, and the Mac version saw plenty of updates, too.
Yet despite these improvements, the app still feels clunky. It’s more buggy than it should be. And notes still seem to take an age to sync. As long as these problems plague Evernote, OneNote will keep prizing users away.
What Makes OneNote Different?
Although we’re considering two different note-taking apps, they are not one-and-the-same. For an in-depth breakdown of both apps, read our side-by-side comparison of Evernote and OneNote. In essence, many of the major features are available in both apps. They are both cross-platform. They both allow for third-party integrations, etc. But its in the nuances of those features where the differences lie.
Assuming you’re already familiar with Evernote, here’s how OneNote differs.
In terms of UX, OneNote offers a far sleeker user interface than Evernote’s now-ageing appearance. If you’re used to Microsoft Office, you’ll adapt to this new interface in no time.
Notes are also organized differently. Evernote pretty much offers us a basic files and folders approach. OneNote, however, is aiming to mimic the use of physical notebooks as much as possible. Each notebook is separated by tabs. You then store your individual notes (pages) within those tabs.
But it’s OneNote’s individual notes where the app really differs (in a good way if you ask me). Rather than merely offering us the space to type a few notes and insert some images, OneNote gives us far more control. As you insert different elements into your note (blocks of text, images, tables, videos, etc.) you can drag and drop these wherever you like. This means the layout of each of your notes is completely customizable. Take a look at how Darwin would have used OneNote to see this in action.
OneNote also offers several lesser-used features that you might appreciate.
I’ve worded these differences in a positive way, but if you love the way Evernote works, you may find it difficult to adjust to OneNote (I did). But you will get used to it after a week or so.
Is OneNote the Best Alternative?
Keeping in mind the issues facing Evernote, and the key differences in the apps, I took a detailed look at the best Evernote alternatives. You can read that article in full if you like. But to summarize, OneNote is most definitely the best Evernote alternative (for Windows users, at least).
Other alternatives just don’t seem up to par. Simplenote is too basic. Google Keep will probably be shut down one day. DEVONthink is more of a file organizer. Quip is aimed more at team collaboration. That’s why if you’re a Windows user and you want something feature-heavy, with the added benefit of actually being free, OneNote is is almost guaranteed to be your best bet.
What About Mac Users?
While the Windows version of OneNote is packed full of awesome features, several of these aren’t available to Mac users. If you rely heavily on any of these missing features, you might want to stay with Evernote, or find another alternative.
The most important of these missing OneNote features are:
- Custom Tags: You can tag your notes with OneNote’s default tags, but you can’t create custom tags in the Mac version.
- Templates: Creating templates for your notes is not possible in the Mac version.
- Printing Options: Instead of printing your notes direct from OneNote, you’ll need to download the note as a PDF first.
- No Spotlight Support: While you can search your Evernote notes in Spotlight, you can’t yet search OneNote in this way on OS X (though it is possible in iOS 9).
If you think you can live without these features, OneNote should definitely be a viable alternative for Mac Users.
How to Migrate From Evernote to OneNote
If you think you can live with the differences between Evernote and OneNote, it’s time to migrate your library.
For Windows Users
Microsoft makes the whole process pretty painless, but we have written a complete walk-through if needed.
In short, when your notes are moved over to OneNote, any notebooks you had in Evernote will be copied as new notebooks in OneNote. Your individual notes in Evernote will then become individual pages in OneNote (stored within their respective notebook). You’ll also have the option to retain your Evernote tags so you don’t have to re-tag (potentially) thousands of notes.
There is a downside, though. OneNote does retain formatting such as links within your notes, but it can scuff up other formatting such as paragraph spacing. This can make your notes look pretty messy. You either have to be happy living with this, or dedicate some time to tidying up each of your notes individually.
For Mac Users
Once again, Microsoft doesn’t make things pleasant for Mac users. Microsoft’s official Evernote to OneNote tool only works on Windows. Several MakeUseOf authors have searched the web and just can’t find a viable solution for Mac users. This leaves you with two options.
Your easiest choice is to make friends with someone who uses Windows. Install Evernote and OneNote to their computer, then migrate your files as described in the section above. When you sync your OneNote account on your Mac, you will have access to your notes.
Potential Issues (and Workarounds)
If you’ve been using Evernote for a long time, there will be certain features you use, or certain workflows you’ve picked up that you need OneNote to recreate. A few of these are addressed below.
Changing You Mind
Once you’ve migrated your Evernote library, don’t delete your account just yet! It may turn out you just hate using OneNote.
Be sure to follow these instructions on backing up your Evernote library. Save this backup to the cloud or to an external hard drive. If you ever want to go back to Evernote, you can use this back-up to restore your library to that point.
Clipping Web Pages
If you regularly used Evernote’s web clipper, you’ll know how powerful it is. From annotating screenshots, to saving entire web pages, it was the best option on the market. OneNote does have its own web clipper, though it’s somewhat more lightweight.
You can clip entire pages, sections of pages, or simply an article on a page. You can write a note for each clip, but you can’t visually annotate clips like you can with Evernote’s web clipper.
Maintaining RSS Feeds
If you were sending RSS items to your Evernote account, don’t worry, you can do the same in OneNote.
Just like Evernote, OneNote’s mobile app allows you to snap photos and take shots of documents and business cards from within the app.
A New Note-Taking Experience
Hopefully this article will have addressed everything you need to consider before migrating over to OneNote. If there’s anything missing, leave a comment below and I’ll try to answer as best as I can.
As mentioned, Evernote and OneNote have a lot of similarities, but also a lot of differences. If you’ve been using Evernote for some time, OneNote’s workflow may seem alien, but it’s easy enough to pick up. In fact, most people end up liking it even more. Good luck!
Let us know what you think of OneNote after trying it for a little while. Do you prefer it to Evernote?