Note taking applications are very practical and come handy in many situations. You can write down a great idea that comes to you in a moment of inspiration, or make a list of things that you need to remember. Evernote and OneNote are the most recognized software solutions for taking notes and they both offer useful features for anyone who needs an easy way to keep track of information. The two applications offer options that will suit individual users as well as businesses. We will take a look at OneNote and Evernote to find out how they compare to each other. Let’s start with Microsoft OneNote.
OneNote Features and Performance
OneNote is widely used and it offers many advantages such as the possibility of organizing notebooks in sections and pages. While this software from Microsoft is compatible with diverse platforms including OS X, Android, iOS and of course, Windows, not all the features are available in each case. The free version of OneNote requires internet connection to save content and it doesn’t offer the option to set up a password to protect the content of your notes, or to embed Office files. However, the free and paid versions include thesaurus and dictionary. OneNote also gives you the option to add drawings and to place text anywhere on the page, which is ideal for creating sketches, flow charts and diagrams.
The Windows version of OneNote is easy to use and it features a main page to take notes and tabs displaying all the sections in your notebook and the option to move easily between them. You can add a new section, or page by selecting the plus icon in the tab or page index. It is possible to switch from one notebook to another by clicking on a different tab. The Microsoft Office bar appears at the top and it has functions that resemble Word.
Some of the options available are text formatting, image-based tags that can be used to mark notes by type and importance. This will allow you to locate an entry easier as you can search for specific tags in Home. You can also customize tags and assign keyboard shortcuts to access your most frequently used notes faster. With OneNote you can send content through the Email Page option, which is connected to Outlook.
If you want to add media content like video or audio recordings, you can select the Insert ribbon. OneNote has an integrated player, but the audio and video tracks will appear with your computer’s default media player. The Insert ribbon also allows you to add time stamps, links, spreadsheets and table. You can also add screenshots, scanned images, or pictures from sources like OneDrive, Facebook, Flickr, or your hard disk. With OneNote you can also print documents and images through Windows’ print dialogue box, when you select which notebook you would like them to show in.
One of the main advantages of OneNote is that it has a remarkable Optical Character recognition (OCR) system. OneNote automatically identifies screenshots, imported pictures or scanned images. With a right-click on the image in your note, you can copy the text and paste it wherever needed. You can easily extract text or copy a paragraph from a document. This is a very practical option when you need to edit scanned documents.
There are also ribbons to help you to keep track of edits and changes to shared notes. as well as an option to check spelling and translate text with Microsoft’s web-based Translator. While the translations are accurate enough, it is important to keep in mind that there is a limit in the length of the text that can be translated. There is also a View function that allows you to modify the appearance of the page.
The fact that OneNote offers a good selection of features to create and modify notes, including the ability to add images and arrange text as needed, makes it a versatile solution. The downside of having so many options is that you may end up making a note more complicated than it needs to be. You will need to spend some time figuring out the best way to organize the text, image and charts in a note to avoid creating a note that will confuse you, instead of making things simple.
While OneNote works well when extracting text from a scanned book or document, it is not as effective when capturing content from a website. It can grab screenshots from an online article, but it doesn’t capture the text directly. While you can the OCR the screenshot, the end result is not as good. OneNote’s web app has pretty much the same functions as the desktop application, but there are some features missing, including the possibility to create drawings/ sketches or scan documents. In general, the web application is not as complete as the desktop version.
There are versions of Onenote available for iOS and Android, the main mobile platforms. The interface for Apple devices has a clean design and it is very easy to use. It resembles the desktop version and also includes elements of the web applications. Accessing options to format text and insert content (pictures, tables and other files) is very simple and you can also protect your files with a password and modify the page view.
The Android version offers less features, but it also offers a convenient design and easy access to your different notebooks and sections within an specific notebook. Some of the options available include capturing video, recording audio and creating lists. Unfortunately, there is no password protection feature and it is not possible to add tables. However, as the app evolves, you can expect support for a wider range of functions.
OneNote also offers compatibility with a large selection of third-party apps and services including Doxie Mobile Scanners, Brother Web Connection, CloudMagic and Chegg, a great study guide solution. Feedly, Zapier and NeatConnect are also supported. There is also a practical option that allows you to send content by email directly to your notebook. You simply need to forward your notes and documents to OneNote’s email address and they will make sure that it is available in your notebook and accessible while you are on the go.
OneNote can be downloaded for free from the Windows Store and the Premium version is included in Office 365 for Business, which starts at $5 USD per month (price is for a full year commitment) and Office 365 Home and Student, which starts at $9.80 per month, for one PC. Overall, OneNote is a very practical solution that offers a good selection of features, but before you decide, let’s take a look at Evernote to see how it compares to Microsoft’s solution.
Evernote Features and Performance
While OneNote supports a variety of platforms, Evernote has a stronger third-party support. Evernote is available for Mac OS X, iOS, Windows (XP, Vita, 7, 8,8.1 and RT), Windows Phone and Android. With Evernote you can have multiple notebooks to store different sections of notes, audio files or images. You can have up to ten files in a single note with a 100MB limit. Although there is no option to capture video notes, it is possible to attach video files.
Evernote Web Clipper and Evernote Clearly are two practical browser plugins that let you save and organize copies of a webpage in any notebook. This is a convenient option for online research as it allows you to refer back to the link source, and if you sync Evernote to local storage, you can also add content references when you are offline. It is also a good solution for capturing articles, or keeping conversations and updates in social media and email services.
Evernote’s desktop interface includes a section that displays a list of the documents in a selected folder, or a full list of all the documents available in Evernote. At the right, you will see the content frame, the area where you can create and see your notes. The far left shows a folder pane, where you can create and choose your notebooks. The groups of notes that have tags assigned, are also visible in this area. Evernote is simple and using the notebooks is easy, but OneNote offers a clearer organization of sections and pages.
The web interface is similar to the desktop version of Evernote, although it aims to provide a cleaner and more focused writing experience. Its uncluttered design is ideal for anyone who needs to avoid distractions while working on content. All the options are easily available and you can select them within a few seconds. For instance, you can change the font or format of a note by selecting it and a text formatting bar will appear. You can make any necessary adjustments fast and without any hassle. The icons are clear and you can find options to expand the note whenever required, search notes and open Work Chat to connect with colleagues in a convenient way.
One of the advantages of the mobile versions of Evernote is that you can easily capture audio with your device and combine it with additional notes. In the iOS version you will find a menu where you can create notebooks and select them. When you choose a particular notebook, a list of its pages will be displayed. You can select a page and expand it to fit the entire screen. When you select the full text, or highlight part of it, you will see a list of formatting options.
With the iOS app you can also insert images and audio notes and there is a useful Document Camera that can capture and apply OCR to documents so you can search for them. The downside is that it is not possible to extract text from them, which puts Evernote in disadvantage when compared to OneNote, which offers this possibility. Still, the Evernote app for Apple devices offers an appealing and practical interface that works really well.
Evernote also offers good performance in its Android app and there are only a few differences between it and the iOS version. In Android, when you create a note, you will be offered a variety of options including creating a text document, taking a picture with your camera and attaching it as an image file, recording audio, setting up reminders and sketching. Furthermore, a note is selected, it will open at full screen. This diversity of options make the Evernote app for Android quite versatile and convenient.
Evernote works with a large number of applications and services like Gmail, Outlook, Pocket, Manage It and Voila. There are content solutions that suit different needs and that can enhance your Evernote experience. For an additional cost, you can also enjoy options like video-conferencing, voice-to-text tools and backup for your SMS texts. Evenote can be downloaded for free, but it only offers 60MB of upload capacity per month. If you want to enjoy 4GB upload capacity, unlimited storage, better search features and offline access to your notes, you will need to upgrade to Premium, for $5 per month. The business solution, includes all the Premium options, plus collaboration features costs $10 per month, per user.
Evernote and OneNote are two solid note-taking solutions, but Evernote stands out for offering a versatile service that offers a consistently good performance across different platforms. However, OneNote has impressive OCR capabilities and supports great video options. Deciding which is the right option, depends on your needs. For general note-taking, Evernote gets ahead for providing powerful features (even in the free version) and for having a wide selection of add-ons available. If you need advanced video features and OCR for documents/books, OneNote is an option worth considering.