Note-taking applications are extremely valuable tools for saving and recalling random bits of information.
Two of the best are Evernote and OneNote; both are powerful, flexible applications with some significant differences.
For anyone who spends much time taking notes and/or clipping data from the Internet, choosing between the arguably two best note-taking apps used to be relatively easy. If you relied heavily on Microsoft Office and worked almost exclusively in Windows, then OneNote was your go-to application. For others, Evernote’s multi-platform support made it the better choice.
But of course, things change. Microsoft recently ported OneNote (site) to multiple platforms and started giving it away. That makes choosing between the two note-takers far more difficult. Evernote (site) has an impressive set of features and comes in free or subscription-based versions.
How to choose between the two? It mostly comes down to the features you need. There are some things each program can do that the other can’t. If one or the other is missing some capability critical to your needs, the choice is easy. For example, the free version of Evernote is Web-based. If you want access to your notes when not online, you’ll have to go with OneNote or subscribe to a premium version of Evernote. For those who don’t have a “must have” capability, it’s a process of comparing each product’s pros and cons. The following discussion should make the selection somewhat easier.
But before I go into the details, keep this in mind: though OneNote and Evernote offer versions for almost every device, there are minor differences between each product’s versions. In other words, OneNote on the desktop is not identical to OneNote on your phone. In this review, I’ll note some of these differences. But for the most part, I’ll focus on each application’s desktop version — running on Windows 8.1 installed on an MS Surface Pro 3. (The Surface Pro let me take a look at each application’s touchscreen and handwriting support.)
Two different ways of organizing information
From the start, it’s obvious that Evernote and OneNote have different philosophies about collecting information. Both applications let users create multiple notes in multiple notebooks — but that’s about all their interfaces have in common.