Thursday, June 28, 2012

Evernote vs. Onenote: Why I'm Choosing One Note: WAIT, Maybe I Was Wrong!


REVISION: This is a big revision and one I must “fess” up to. After writing this and meaning every word of it, I find that I cannot be without Evernote. I love the format of OneNote and wish Evernote would take a lesson from the excellent interface of OneNote, but the sheer flexibility for access on Evernote is unbeatable. So, I’m back with Evernote’s Premium Service and using it every day.

For the past several months, I've been torn between Evernote and OneNote.  The benefits of my premium Evernote account was clear but OneNote kept calling me back.  I even left OneNote for those months, determined to fall in love with Evernote as so many others seem to have done.  It was no use. I never felt comfortable in my Evernote "skin."  So, yesterday I opened back up my OneNote program and instantly felt as if I'd stepped into a comfortable robe.  It just felt right.  Today, I cancelled my Evernote premium subscription.  Here's a list of OneNote features that made my final decision:

Interface - The OneNote interface is just so much better than the Evernote interface.  I love the larger, centered note space and the familar ribbon across the top of the screen.  I'll admit it, the Microsoft Office look is a big plus for me.  On the other hand, the Evernote interface always looked crowded to me.  Even if I removed the Note List in View, the white note area seems to not quite fit.

Sections and Pages -  The fact that I can have a notebook in OneNote that can be divided by sections and those sections can be divided by pages is nothing short of phenomenal.  The tabs denoting sections across the top and Pages along the left side are easy to read and easy to manage.  The sections and pages allow me to really organize my thoughts and increase my productivity.  It simply makes sense.  It's logical and easy to organize.  For instance, I belong to TCEA, an organization where I am completing a certification program, attend their yearly conference, and have some of my work published in their magazine.  A simple notebook titled TCEA hold a section for each of these items:  Campus Technology Certification, Conference 2012, TCEA Articles.  In each of these sections I have pages with emails, drafts of articles, and records of all of the components I have completed for my certification.    At Evernote, I needed to have a Notebook Stack, Notebooks, and Notes.  It's certainly not the worst thing in the word but the inability to nest these within each other as elegantly as I can with OneNote was a deal breaker.  I love the section colors icon and the bolding and font choice of the section titles in OneNote. 

Search feature - Everything I ever read about Evernote raved about the search feature and how easy it was to find items using it.  It didn't work like that for me.  Quite honestly, it didn't function well at all and as my collection of notes grew, my ability to find them was more difficult.  However, in OneNote, I simply type in what I'm looking for and it finds it everytime.  I can't tell you why this happened but I know it happened and made OneNote a clear winner in this area.

Linked Notes - OneNote is able to link notes almost effortlessly.  You simply choose link and a list of your notebooks is provided for you to choose the note you want to link to.  Evernote, on the other hand, requires that you get the URL of the note and then paste it into the link note system.  That's extra steps and not something I was enjoying.

Ribbon - I know I said it before but the the OneNote Ribbon is awesome!  It's comfortable and I am instantly familiar with it because I work with Microsoft Office.  It's visually appealing and it is easy to find what I need quickly.   The Evernote toolbar is plain and the font is simple.  It does use the standard icons for the various functions but it just can't compete with the beauty of the Ribbon in OneNote.  I love the vibrancy of OneNote that Evernote does not offer.  One of the features that really stands out to me in OneNote is the ability to easily make a form of "to-do" items and put in a checkbox for marking when completel.  In OneNote, this is called a tag and OneNote has several to choose from which incorporate an icon and, in some cases, special functionality such as the "to-do" checkbox.  One of my other favorites is the Question tag which puts a purple question mark in front of my question then deliberately leaves space for me to input the answer once it is discovered!

Record Audio and Video - I believe this one is a wash in terms of preference.  They are both great!  However, there seems to be a misconception that OneNote does not allow users to record audio and video.  Not true.  It's there and it's just as good as the feature in Evernote.

Skydrive - Skydrive rocks!  It's caused me absolutely no difficulties in maintaining my Outlook notebooks in the cloud so I can easily access them from any computer.  My Windows Phone easily accesses Skydrive as does my iPad OneNote app.  It's a seamless syncing experience.

Integration with Microsoft Office - If you use Microsoft Office products, then the integration with OneNote is phenomenal.  With one click, items are instantly added to OneNote and I get to select which notebook, section, and page to place the item on.  Instant organization.  In Evernote, integration is definitely possible but it requires an add-on to make it work.  I love the ability to mark something in my OneNote as a task, place it on my calendar, or send it to someone else!  I'll say it again...seamless!

For these reasons, I am saying "goodbye" to Evernote.  I'm keeping my free account, of course.  However, the real content of my life is going in OneNote.  And, if you happen to be one of those that has not opened your OneNote program yet and hasn't experienced what it can do, well, it's time!  I went way too long without understanding it's power.


  1. I couldn't agree with you more! I tried diving head first into Evernote a handful of times in the past few years. Every time I felt like I was missing some of the great features of OneNote.

    One thing that drove me nuts with Evernote was a font size issue between the Windows app and the iPad app. I'd edit a note on one platform and then view it on the other and the font would be several points larger.

    The OneNote screen clipping feature is also much better. I always used the OneNote screen clipper even when I was using Evernote.

  2. Great point! You re so correct about the font. I love the OneNote clipper. Another of my favorites is the OneNote app for my iPad. Have you gotten the free increase in Skydrive memory?

  3. Awesome thoughts on the two programs, Bob! You've really looked at both sides of this! Thank you for sharing!

  4. Hello, thanks for the review. I'd like to ask if it is possible in OneNote, to take a picture with your phone, and have it automatically added as a note, even without any application installed in your phone?

    Like with one note you can email to a specific evernote email adress, and the contents of the mail are automatically added as a note.

    This is an important feature imho.

  5. Where is the revision? I am interested to learn why you switched back.

  6. It's the Revision paragraph written in red! :)

    Thanks for asking! I'd love to discuss it if you'd like!

  7. Hi,
    You are hitting on some of the points that caused me to rethink my initial post and go back to OneNote. I will say again that I love the Internet interface MUCH more than Evernote. It still draws me to it for the Interface alone.

    I can email items to OneNote using Skydrive!


  8. What is it about the "sheer flexibility of access" that Evernote has over OneNote? It's my understanding that OneNote now has apps on Android and iPhone/-pad (but not Mac Office yet). What is it missing?

  9. I have wavered back and forth on this and still am wavering. Currently, I'm loving the interface of OneNote and the ease of recording notes in Evernote. So, I guess I don't see the audio ability in the OneNote app. Am I missing something?

  10. I am just writing a (german) book about Onenote 2013, did an articel in the biggest german online mag too about the comparism between onenote and evernote (if somebody is interested an speaks german: and another one regarding converting data between onenote and evernote.

    I'd like to adress a possible misunderstanding in some of the comments (e.g. regarding the audio note capabilities of onenote):

    - in my opinion onenote is the far better choice for desktop only use. This will change if WIndows 8 / x86-Tablets like the surface will be successfull.
    - mobile use especially on iOS, Android ist another story. The OneNote phone app ist really really weak, even weaker than the office webapp version. Evernote is far ahead in this field. No improvement to expect because microsoft is literally blocking everything out of MS office (no usable addons vor chrome or firefox) and phone OS other than WIndows 8 phone.
    So if you want photos from the phone instantly uploaded to your notes or audiorecording in a note from the phone (not desktop, onenote is ahead here because of his search capabilities inside audio notes!) maybe you are stuck to evernote .... or use both as I do and transfer data. the latter ist possible although not completely satisfying.

    please excuse my english, I hope something I wrote will actually make sense :-)

  11. Hi

    I am using EverNote and OneNote together. Evernote is my digital intray. Everything I grab from browsers, mobile devices, scanning etc goes to EverNote. But I use OneNote as my writing platform. On a weekly basis I review everything I've captured in Evernote and move what I need and want to keep to an appropriate place in OneNote.

    Like you I've wavered between the two but I think I've found something that works for my workflow. I'll be blogging about it soon.


  12. Looks like we have both found a balance between the two! That may be the only real solution! I look forward to reading what you have to say about it in your blog! :)

  13. Generally agree with your comments about the "look" of Onenote, it is clearly superior to Evernote particularly after the last revision of the latter which I think really turned me towards OneNote.
    However, there are some things about OneNote that drive me crazy: 1) why cannot I sort automatically?; 2) the iphone/ipad application is clearly in it infancy: you cannot see notes that are password protected in the PC, you cannot use Tags nor search by those... I hope they send me an update on the OneNote app soon and then I will make my final move from Evernote.
    Thx for the review.

  14. You certainly ask some great questions. I wish that Evernote, which is ideal in so many ways, would pick up OneNote's interface design. It would be the best of both worlds. Thanks for your thoughts!

  15. have you tried mobilenoter app and using that to sync with onenote?

  16. Yes, it's wonderful and I'm glad you brought this up! I get compliments and people asking what I'm using whenever I use it! :) Thanks for your response!

  17. On my screen, it appears in black (as the first paragraph) with the html tags indicating it "should" be red. But, that paragraph is not detailed enough to understand what the reasons were that turned you around - back to evernote.

  18. Thanks for your comment. I think the problem may be that we just moved our blog to Edublogs and we have some tweaking to do on some of the posts. Looks like this was one. I've updated it. Hopefully it's visible as it should be now. :)

  19. I completely and absolutely agree with you. OneNote is really awesome. I also considered moving to evernote but... why? I have everything here at hand with OneNote, and I don't think Evernote would improve it as much as to make me move.