OneNote vs Evernote

February 27, 2010 – 21:11

Somewhere in the middle of 2007 I was encouraged to use OneNote to clear my desk and move to a “paperless” system, initially this was a little painful as it seemed a gargantuan task to scan in all of the bits of paper on and around my desk that appeared to contain useful information.

As it turned out I realised that if a bit of paper was covered by another (or in fact covered by anything) it wasn’t that important to the execution of my role and could probably be thrown in the bin.

At the time I was not using Microsoft Office at home, opting to use OpenOffice for the limited needs I had for productivity software. I did however want a better way of organising my paperwork at home, OneNote 2007 came in at about £70 which isn’t unreasonable for what you got. Then I discovered Evernote.

Seemed perfect, I don’t generate so much paperwork that I would bust the 40mb/month limit on the free account. In the end I decided to adopt Evernote at home and continue to use OneNote at work, it proved quite a handy separation of work and life.

Recently I have run into two problems that are pushing me towards using Evernote for everything, and ditching OneNote entirely:

  1. Evernote handles PDFs really well, you drag them in and they are displayed using the Foxit rendering engine. It just works. OneNote on the other hand plain old embeds them into the note, great now how is that different from having them in a folder in My Documents.
  2. Evernote 3.5 has vastly improved the synchronization mechanism meaning that I can safely put something on Evernote on my PC and it will be on my laptop shortly after it is turned on next. Microsoft has tried to get this kind of functionality into OneNote and SharePoint however it just doesn’t work that well, it is too slow and there seems to be a 10 minute refresh cycle hard coded into the product.

I am still not sure that I want to ditch OneNote entirely, the 2010 version has some nice labour saving devices built in such as quick screen clippings and image formatting with the fluid user interface. Nothing in OneNote 2010 screams “don’t leave me” though.

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    1. 10 Responses to “OneNote vs Evernote”

    2. OneNote works better for taking notes. I am using EverNote at the moment, but I miss being able to click anywhere and type, move boxes around as necessary, draw arrows and boxes to clarify points, and create instant tables by tabbing.

      By Lis on Apr 21, 2010

    3. One note has a very strange architecture in the way it is saved. Which is why you can’t really combine it with groove. But if you use onenote alone then you can save the individual sections of a notebook inside groove and work with those. Been doing that for the past year now.

      By adnan on Jul 15, 2010

    4. I use OneNote at work and at home and synchronize notes using LiveSync (I used Live Mesh before). It works great.

      By Anil on Sep 2, 2010

    5. OneNote is more advanced; if you are drafting a big project, it is really ahead of other note taking tools…I synchronize with dropbox…not available for Iphone, the biggest issue for me.

      Evernote is fast, but ugly(to me)…and works well with iphone.

      By Dellu on Jan 4, 2011

    6. I started using OneNote a little over a year ago. As Lis pointed out, it is very flexible for taking notes, adding drawings, etc. I like the different levels of organization, with section groups and sub-pages.
      I have tried using whatever the latest version of Live Mesh is to sync my OneNote notebooks, and have access on computers w/o Office 2010, but it is clunky. The web app has limitations compared to the desktop app, and if you add a password to a section in the desktop app, you can’t view it on the web.
      I am filling up my Evernote notebooks a lot faster now; one of the most convenient features is the screen clipping (ON has that, too, for the desktop app), and the toolbar button for various browsers that allow you to capture a URL or an entire page.
      While I won’t move all my ON content to Evernote, I am using Evernote more and more.

      By CB on Jan 7, 2011

    7. @ Dellu
      There’s a version of onenote for the iphone, only available in the US stores at the moment though :(

      By Paul G on Mar 2, 2011

    8. mobilenoter for iphone works great. though im buying a mbp and will move to evernote I think… loving onenote but everything pulls me to migrate. still wondering though, bootcamp + onenote or just evernote… suggestions?

      By said on Mar 8, 2011

    9. I can’t imagine that bootcamp and onenote are going to work well; I use a mac and follow these evernote/onenote debates and no one ever endorses that route. (I use onenote on my windows laptop and love it, and something called Eaglefiler on my Mac, which is wonderful. But I’m checking out Evernote b/c the cross-platform headaches are just too much.)

      The Onenote Web app is horrendously slow and awkward, so that’s not the way forward for Mac users.

      I wonder why MS doesn’t make Onenote for the Mac and thereby *really* take on Evernote, since they’ve already moved to the cloud (a previous Evernote advantage). MS seems never to have properly appreciated or leveraged Onenote.

      By chris on Mar 30, 2011

    10. Works GREAT with me on my Daily Services High and Low from Top to Bottom and Up again…

      Kinda like my life as my Profession tags along…

      And carries me sometimes ALL the Way SKY-High!

      By Dark Angel on Oct 8, 2011

    11. One thing to point out in this great debate is that evernote has a really compelling ipad and iphone app where onenote only is for the iphone.

      I am migrating away from onenote and back to evernote (used to be on evernote years ago). Main reasons are app support, migration of data, problems syncing with onenote (slow, conflicts), and I would like to see how far evernote has come.

      I will miss having the click anywhere to type interaction but it was confusing to use on multiple devices where screen resolution is small/variable.

      By Joe on Nov 28, 2011

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