OneNote vs Evernote

I’ve been such a happy camper with Evernote that I’ve used up my monthly upload limit (60MB), and Evernote kindly asked me if wanted to go premium. I think I will, but not just yet. The main reason I want the premium service is not so much to raise the monthly upload limit from the measly 60MB to 1GB but more importantly to allow me to have offline folders, which means I’ll be able to see the contents of my notes on my iPad2 even when I’m not connected to the Internet, which is most of the time, as I only got the Wifi version, not the 3G one. Not being able to see note content is a real pain as I increasingly use the iPad2 as my portable computer.

So. I’ve reached my Evernote limit (can’t upload any more notes, tho you can edit existing notes as long as you don’t change the notebook the note is in), but I still have stuff to clip and note (believe it or not), so, what on earth can I do? Well, obviously, the answer is to try out OneNote which was so interestingly written about over here.

(Aside: I watched Daniel Gold’s youtube video, and when I saw a screenshot of his Evernote setup, I realized for the first time the importance of the visual layout. Daniel uses the 3-column layout -1)  notebooks + tags, 2) thumbnail list of notes in notebook or with the searched-for tag, and 3) the note pane with the topmost note from column 2 open. With this layout, you can search on a particular project and see right before your eyes the next actionable ToDo items for that project. Obvious, innit? Using this layout can perhaps save you the trouble of creating a master project note with all the actionable steps listed, an extra administrative step which is frankly a pain in the butt and which I’d therefore cleverly avoided. But I really do need that project overview, and this layout provides it. Neato. And this is just one more proof that a picture can be worth a thousand words, especially when it comes to “howto” posts.)

So here it is: the OneNote vs Evernote match of the Day, the grand finale after a whopping, ooh, 2 hours (that’s 120 freakin minutes!!) of fumbling around use. At least.

  1. OneNote: has greater flexibility than Evernote in terms of levels – you have notebooks which can be divided into sections, which can be further subdivided into pages.
  2. OneNote: has the same web-clipping function as Evernote (is built-in with IE and there’s a Firefox plugin). As with Evernote, you can designate a default notebook/section for your web-clippings.
  3. OneNote assigns pretty colours to the different sections of a notebook.
  4. In OneNote it’s easy to move a page so as to be a sub-sub-section of another page – you just grab the title in the vertical list and move it slightly to the right and it stays there so you can clearly see that page is a subsection of the page above.
  5. OneNote also syncs with “the cloud” (i.e. Windows’ SkyDrive),  but there are a couple of extra steps involved. However, these are very well explained by HowtoGeek and once you’ve got it setup, syncing is as easy and hands-off as in Evernote.
  6. Well, not quite as straightforward, apparently. I just opened up OneNote on my pc and discovered I have TWONotes! Two sets of all my notebooks. What the ….?  One of them must be the online set.
  7. At the top of my OneNote screen I notice a message, telling me that to sync, I need to type in my password. But where do I do that? Not obvious. Click the file menu and in the first window that opens you should see the sync icon (I’m running Japanese Windows as you can see but the icon should be the same, click the thumbnail on the right here). Click it and in the window that pops up hit the top right button which says Sync Now! or similar.
  8. Using SkyDrive, you can create, edit and share OneNote notebooks, even if you don’t have OneNote installed on your computer, something which I found very useful when the only computer I could use was a web-book.
  9. You can now import your Evernotes into OneNote (and vice-versa).
  10. SkyDrive is free storage, and includes an online Microsoft Office. Don’t know what the storage limit is, if any. (Update: It’s 25GB) Evernote offers 60MB of free uploads/month, then it cuts you off and offers you to go premium.
  11. On the Evernote side, it’s very easy to email notes to your Evernote account, including audio files recorded on your cell-phone, for example. Haven’t yet found out if OneNote can do this, or if it can, how.

Once you’ve got your “buckets” setup for collection of info – your notebooks, sections, pages, whatever – you come to the next, most important, stage: workflows. I’ll write about that in a later post. Workflows are crucial to a happy and successful pc existence.


I recommend the following guides: Brett Kelly's "Evernote Essentials", Dan Gold's $5 guides to Getting Everything Done with Evernote and Springpad, and DocumentSnap Solutions' Paperless Document Organization Guides. Be sure to try DocumentSnap's free email course on going paperless first before buying his products. Sign up for it on his homepage.
Disclosure of Material Connection: My recommendations above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Your cost will be the same as if you order directly. I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Comments 12

  1. Bojan wrote:

    I can’t use OneNote, it’s Windows, and I am MAC only. For that matter, Evernote is killing every other note taking platform! It offers multi platform support, including Linux.

    Way to go, with breaching the monthly limit. I just bought the premium for offline notes.

    Posted 05 Nov 2011 at 7:15 am
  2. sheffner wrote:

    OneNote for Windoze only??? Astounding! Evernote is very good. I think what breached my limit was a bunch of photos I uploaded: they were photos of pages of text – I wanted to read my students’ homework without carrying home their actual papers.

    Posted 05 Nov 2011 at 6:57 pm
  3. Robert wrote:

    Bojan (and other MAC users who like to feel so cool and isolated), OneNote as part of MS OFFICE is available on the MAC. Has been for years…

    Evernote is a great FREE (almost) app, but like with so many other FREE apps, you get what you pay for. There is no way it matches the INDUSTRIAL strength of OneNote.

    Evernote just doesn’t have the research and development budget or infrastructure to discover and implement the truly valuable and sometimes subtle features.

    If most of your use is on the amateur level then Evernote should be “good enough”

    Posted 27 Dec 2011 at 3:20 am
  4. sheffner wrote:

    Thanks for the correction, Robert. Thanks to the free market, different users can find a product that meets their needs and their pockets. Vive la difference!

    Posted 29 Dec 2011 at 4:45 pm
  5. Denise wrote:

    I use one note for taking down notes on projects and anything related to my work. I love it. After reading this post, I’m sticking to one note. I just wanted to know the difference between the two.

    Posted 29 Jan 2012 at 12:26 am
  6. Marty wrote:

    Will there ever be an app for Onenote to work on Android Platform? I use it on my laptop and it would be great to use on my Samsung Tablet and Epic phone.

    Posted 07 Feb 2012 at 3:42 pm
  7. Richard wrote:

    @Marty, yes there is an app for OneNote on Android. It’s ver.1 so it doesn’t have all the bells-n-whistles just yet.
    Here’s the link:

    Posted 15 Feb 2012 at 4:00 am
  8. Bob wrote:

    That settles it for me then

    Since MS have finally decided to embrace Android, onenote it is for me then

    The idea that I have to be connected all the time to use evernote just doesn’t work for me – I spend most of my time offline and connect when I have to

    Posted 19 Mar 2012 at 3:26 am
  9. sheffner wrote:

    Then how do you ensure your OneNotes are synced across your devices?

    Posted 22 Mar 2012 at 9:39 pm
  10. rdt wrote:

    one of the most important features of onenote that prevails over evernote is notebook organization, ie, subsections of notes. Very useful for work.

    But evernote has much better tagging system.

    So use them both, onenote for work evernote for web clipping and personal stuff.

    Posted 19 May 2012 at 6:28 pm
  11. Andrew wrote:

    @Robert: Onenote is NOT included in MS Office for Mac OS X and in fact NEVER has been. It is one of the reasons many Mac users run windows on their computer in a VM or dualbooting.

    Posted 29 Jun 2012 at 11:00 pm
  12. sheffner wrote:

    Update: Brooks Duncan, Mac user and author of, writes, “I have never heard of OneNote being available for the Mac. I am pretty sure it is not. It is available for iOS, but not Mac.”

    Please see Andrew’s later comment on this. Being a Windoze user I defer to Mac users on this subject. I recommend Evernote over OneNote, whether you are a Mac user or not.

    Posted 30 Jun 2012 at 11:51 am

Trackbacks & Pingbacks 2

  1. From OneNote vs Evernote, part deux on 22 Nov 2011 at 7:23 pm

    […] = [];}OneNote works quite well as a substitute for Evernote (for earlier posts in this series, see Onenote vs Evernote and Problems with […]

  2. From Dan Gold’s popular eBook “Evernote®: The unofficial eBook” is selling like hot cakes on 06 Apr 2012 at 5:15 pm

    […] I use Evernote, rather than OneNote. I tried OneNote for a while when my  Evernote account froze up, due to the dastardly reason that I was too cheap to cough up the 450 yen/month (4,000 yen/year) for the Premium account. I tried OneNote and I liked the pretty colours and tabs, but I missed the cloud functionality of Evernote. I use Evernote on both work and home desktops and on my iPad (and more recently on my iPhone, too), and all my notes are automatically updated in the cloud. I found OneNote less satisfactory in that regard, as I wrote in an earlier blog-post: “OneNote vs Evernote […]