Introduction

In my quest for the ideal alternative to Evernote, I’ve been assessing numerous note-taking apps. This evaluation is just one aspect of a broader project aimed at comparing various note-taking platforms. For further details, feel free to explore this post: Finding the perfect alternative for Evernote.

Assessment Microsoft OneNote

Following our assessment of OneNote, we can assert with confidence that it’s a superb note-taking application. Offering a rich array of features for note creation, organization, and accessibility across multiple devices, it impresses. Particularly noteworthy are its capabilities for real-time collaboration and its wide-ranging third-party integrations. Tiago Forte himself has endorsed OneNote as an excellent tool for constructing a “second brain”. Also notably, it stands out among others for its support of handwritten notes.

Nevertheless, the app does come with its downsides, including constraints on text formatting and the not so very intuitive tag support (it actually sucks to be honest). Furthermore, creating tasks from within notes, for example when holding a meeting and at the same time, fill you todo list with required follow-up work, could be better.

PROS

  • Works very, very well within the Microsoft ecosystem and at the same time provides good support for Apple devices.
  • One great thing about OneNote is that it supports real-time collaboration. You can share your notes with colleagues or friends by inviting them through email, and they can edit them as you watch.
  • A complete and feature-rich, and on its own it is a mature note-taking app.

CONS

  • It still sometimes feels a bit like a standalone project within the Microsoft/Office 365 portfolio. The integration with complementary solutions like ToDo and Outlook is moderately shaky and doesn’t feel mature.
  • OneNote is not a standalone solution, instead you buy-in and adopt the Microsoft/Office 365 ecosystem.
  • Lack of proper tags and smart folders, so that your pages can belong to multiple hierarchies at the same time.
Topic Score (1-10)
Product  7,2
Platform support 8,5
Characteristics vendor/product 8
Functionality 8,8
Integrations 5,2
Personal evaluation 5,3

Criteria

  • Product
  • Platform
  • Characteristics
  • Functionality
  • Integrations
  • Personal
  • Supplier: Microsoft
  • Product/service: Microsoft 365 Personal
    • Price per year: € 69,00
  • Product/service: Microsoft 365 Business Standard
    • Price per year: € 140,40
  • Part of (suite or package deal): Packaged deal
  • Depending on (suite or package deal): Packaged deal, OneDrive
Platform Score Remarks
Apple iOS 10 Full app support
Android 10 Full app support
Windows 10 Full app support
MacOS 10 Full app support
Linux 1 Not available
WebApp 10 Full app support
Topic Score Remarks
Open-Source 1 Fully closed source
Vendor lock-in 5 Export is possible, but requires alternative tools. Notebook files can be read with free version [1][2]
Reputation confidentiality 10 OK reputation, if you properly secure your account.
Reputation integrity 10 OK so far, builds on trust
Reputation availability 10 Good uptime
Reputation privacy 10 OK so far, builds on trust
Reputation pricing developments 10 Steady but perhaps undervalued
Topic Score Remarks
Capacity, max. number notes 10 Practically unlimited
Capacity, max GB 10 1 TB (theoretically but shared)
Offline access 5 Limited to open notebooks
Folder structure 10 Yes, works quite nicely
Tags 1 Officially yes, but not flexible and limited. Does not work very intuitive.
Photo’s and camera (app) 10 Fully supported
Other files (pdf, zip, etc) 10 Fully supported
Version history 10 Fully supported
External sharing 10 Fully supported
Create tasks from notes 1 Not really [3]
Support handwritten notes 10 It works, but messy
Topic Score Remarks
Plugins 5 Proper ecosystem but limited [4]
API-interface 10 Good enough with MS Graph [5]
(Outlook) agenda 5 Limited functionality, but it works
AI / LMM 1 Yes, but with “Copilot for Microsoft 365” priced at € 337,20 per year
Topic Score Remarks
Experience smartphone 5 Works OK, (offline) availability and switching notebooks needs some work.
Experience laptop 10 Pleasant and reliable
Deal-breakers 1 Limited tag support, agenda integration could be better, lacks note to task features.

Sources

  1. https://www.reddit.com/r/OneNote/comments/18yc95o/export_onenote_to_different_format/
  2. https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/export-and-import-onenote-notebooks-a4b60da5-8f33-464e-b1ba-b95ce540f309
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJ97QqG0MXw
  4. https://www.onenote.com/apps
  5. https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/graph/integrate-with-onenote
  6. https://www.reddit.com/r/OneNote/comments/10ali3g/onenote_is_the_best_note_taking_app/
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