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Apple Notes vs. Microsoft OneNote What is the best note-taking app?

Being a long time Mac and iPhone user, I have become a huge fan of the Notes app 10 Tips to get the most out of Apple Notes on OS X 10 Tips to get the most out of Apple Notes on OS X Has changed? Apple's enhanced Notes app? Here are some tips to improve your workflow. Read more . But after building a Windows computer How to Build Your Own PC How to Build Your Own PC It's very rewarding to build your own PC; as well as intimidating. But the process itself is quite simple. We will guide you through everything you need to know. Read More Recently, I have become a user of both operating systems. Which means I need something that works on all my devices.

I decided to take a look at Microsoft's note-taking app, OneNote. Does it beat Notes as my new favorite? This is what I found.

Why I love Apple Notes

For a long time, I used Evernote. And I still think it's a fantastic tool. But when I just want to jot down a few things, is Evernote over the top thinking about switching from Evernote to Apple Notes? How to think about switching from Evernote to Apple Notes? Here's how Apple has a free Notes app, and it received a pretty substantial overhaul with iOS 9 and El Capitan. But should you get rid of Evernote because of it? It depends. Read more . Formatting and organization options fill the screen and provide a more visually cluttered experience.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I tend to prefer very simple apps to more complicated ones. Especially if I don't need the full power of something more complex. Notes allow me to add notes to different groups, but I only use one or two, whereas my Evernote account had dozens of notebooks and hundreds of notes.

In short, it's the simplicity of Notes that appeals to me. Especially on my phone:

You can add text formatting with keyboard shortcuts or through menus, but the menu bar doesn't get cluttered with panels and buttons. Typing an asterisk followed by a space starts a bulleted list. A number with a period and a space starts with a number.

Links to web addresses are added automatically when you paste a URL. Folders sync with iCloud and you can sync your Google Keep notes 4 4 Google Keep tips and tricks for better notes, lists and to-dos 4 Google Keep tips and tricks for better notes, lists and to-dos Read More too.

In short, it is very simple, clean and easy to use..

However, that doesn't mean it doesn't have some power. With the iOS 9 update, Notes received a huge update. Should I be using Apple Notes for iOS and OS X? Should I be using Apple Notes for iOS and OS X? For the first time since its release, Apple Notes for OS X and iOS is worth considering. Read more . You can embed maps and web pages in your notes. Create checklists for task management. Draw with your finger or a pencil.

It still doesn't pack as much power as other full-featured note-taking apps. But it manages to strike the right balance between a text editor and an organizational system.

OneNote:A Different Beast

Microsoft's OneNote, on the other hand, is quite different. It's more of a competitor to Evernote than Apple's Notes app.

Notebooks, like stacks in Evernote, are high-level organizational categories. Sections separate things within each notebook, and each section can also have multiple pages. Sections can be combined into groups. OneNote's best organization feature is hidden in plain sight OneNote's best organization feature is hidden in plain sight One of OneNote's best organization features is hidden in plain sight. Here's how to use the section groups feature to organize your books. Read More

Each page can contain text, images, links, tables, lists, and anything else you want to keep there. You can even embed YouTube videos by simply including the URL.

Just like in Notes (and many other modern apps), you can draw with your finger or a pencil.

The formatting panel in the main window lets you add some cool symbols, almost like a bullet journal How to Use Evernote as a Bullet Journal How to Use Evernote as a Bullet Journal There are many ways to use calendars and to-do applications. Take Evernote, a journaling system called Bullet Journal, and no coding experience at all, to create an organization system completely customized for you. Read More (You can see the star and question mark I added with this method in the image above.)

If you decide to adopt this system, it makes OneNote a great way to take notes. And its mobile options let you use it on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android.

As you might expect, OneNote has many other cool features due to the fact that it is a full-featured app. Many of these features set it apart from Notes. For example, OneNote can do math for you. Just type an equation and OneNote will run the calculation.

You can also click anywhere on the page to start a new paragraph, making it easy to annotate images or organize your notes however you see fit.

The web clipper, sticky note templates, custom labels, note links, version history, and very helpful dock set OneNote apart from notes. There are a lot of other really cool things you can do. 7 Little-Known OneNote Features You'll Love 7 Little-Known OneNote Features You'll Love OneNote is 100% free and packed with advanced features. Let's take a look at some of the ones you may have missed. If you're not already using OneNote, these may beat you to it. Read More

Which one is right for you?

As you can see, these two apps are very different. In many ways, OneNote is much more similar to Evernote than it is to the Apple Notes app (although there are some notable differences between Evernote and OneNote:Which note-taking app is right for you? Evernote vs. OneNote:Which note-taking app Evernote and OneNote are amazing note-taking apps. It's hard to choose between the two. We compared everything from interface to note organization to help you choose. Which works best for you? Read more here too.)

Unsurprisingly, the two apps are likely to appeal to different types of users. One of the biggest determining factors is whether you're using a non-Apple device.

Pro Notes

When I use my Windows computer, I can access Notes through the iCloud website. It's like using the app, except it's browser-based.

If you don't mind using a browser to take notes, this is a great way to do it.

OneNote Pros

OneNote also has an online version, but since you can download the app on almost any device, you're less likely to need it. Having notes synced between different devices with different operating systems is a huge benefit of using OneNote.


Both apps store notes in your company's cloud storage (iCloud for Notes and OneDrive for OneNote), so that's probably not a determining factor in your decision. And because they're both completely free, that won't help you either, though does it make OneNote a compelling alternative to migrating Evernote from Evernote to OneNote? All you need to know! Migrating from Evernote to OneNote? All you need to know! OneNote is one of the best alternatives to Evernote and it's free. We'll show you how OneNote is different and show you the tools to migrate seamlessly. Read more.

The decision

In the end, it probably comes down to whether you want a full-featured app or a simpler one. Notes is just a couple of steps beyond a text editor. It has some very useful features, but does its best to stay out of your way. It's a very uncluttered interface.

OneNote, on the other hand, introduces you to a lot of great tools. You can get rid of the ribbon at the top of the screen to clean up the space, which is nice (there's even a keyboard shortcut).

But so much of what makes OneNote great is contained in that ribbon, so you're giving up easy access to what might make you choose OneNote in the first place. Similarly, hiding the navigation is great for working with a single note, but it makes it harder to move between things you need to work on.

Your priorities for orderly note-taking

Like many other software options, you'll need to think about your priorities. Will you forego cross-platform compatibility to keep the interface simple and uncluttered? Will you want the power of labeling, drawing, and more organization options? The answers to these will likely determine which app you want.

As for me, I think I'll stick with Notes. Er, maybe converting to OneNote. But probably... well, who knows?

Do you use any of these applications? How did you choose between them? Do you have a cross-platform alternative for Notes? I would love to know! Share your thoughts in the comments below.