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Evernote vs. OneNote Which note-taking app is right for you?

Digital note taking is the way of the future. While there's nothing wrong with pen and paper notes 5 Ways To Upgrade Your Moleskine A Notch Notebook 5 Ways To Jump Start Your Moleskine Up A Notch Notebook Over the years, the Moleskine notebook has become a Staple item for anyone engaging in creative endeavors. In fact, the Moleskine is almost as iconic as Apple's laptop, hipster glasses, and the diary... Read More The Ease of Reliable Backup 5 Basic Backup Facts Every Windows User Should Know 5 Basic Backup Facts Every Windows User Should Know We never tire of reminding you to back up and keep your data insurance. If you're wondering what, how often, and where you should back up your files, we've got straight answers. Read more.

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Do you want to start? Then your first stop should be our guide to taking great digital notes. A quick and dirty guide to taking perfect digital notes. A quick and dirty guide to taking perfect digital notes. Learn how to take notes the right way. Here are some of the most effective tips for becoming a digital note-taking pro. Read more . A few simple tips and tricks may be all it takes to take your note-taking skills to the next level. But the digital notes have to be downloaded in something, and for most people, that means deciding between Evernote and Microsoft OneNote.

Both are certainly great, but which one is better for you ? Only you can answer that as the answer depends on the person. We hope this comparison article will help you make the best and most informed decision you can.

Navigation: Interface | Note-taking features | Organizational characteristics | Cross platform availability | Prices and Plans

To be clear, we are comparing the Windows desktop versions of each program. We mentioned cross-platform availability near the end, but just so you know, in-depth reviews of non-Windows versions are beyond the scope of this article.

User interface

User interfaces are a complicated subject. They are important, but they are not everything. A great interface is not enough to save a poor application, but at the same time, a poor interface will easily turn me away from a feature packed program.

And when it comes to digital note taking, user interfaces are arguably more important than in other apps. If the interface isn't comfortable for you, you'll spend more time struggling with the program than taking notes.

People have different ideas about what makes a great interface; yes, it's mostly subjective, so I'm just going to highlight the fundamental differences between these two and let you make your own judgements.


Evernote uses a three-column layout that makes it quick and easy to switch between many different notes and notebooks when needed. If you reduce the width of the window to less than 840 pixels, the sidebar disappears and the interface becomes a two-column layout with more room to breathe.

Evernote vs. OneNote Which note-taking app is right for you?

You can also go into the options and switch to a layout that splits the notebook and notes horizontally, but I don't really see any benefit in this mode. Of course, you can always turn off the note pane and access the notes by double-clicking on the notebook.

Overall, I like that Evernote's design is flexible enough to suit just about anyone's taste. The amount of white space is perfect, although the lack of colors can be hard on the eyes.

A note

OneNote feels really weird at first, and it can take a while to get comfortable with it, but I personally find it to be more intuitive and conducive to productivity. I also feel that OneNote is more responsive (read:less slow) than Evernote on my multi-year-old laptop, though your mileage may vary.

Evernote vs. OneNote Which note-taking app is right for you?

In OneNote, you work within only one notebook at a time. Each notebook has tabs at the top to distinguish between sections, and each section has tabs in the sidebar to distinguish between pages. Do you want to change notebook? Just use the dropdown selector at the top left.

One quirky but useful thing in the interface is the Quick Access Bar at the top. You can customize the Quick Access Toolbar in the options Increase OneNote Productivity with the Quick Access Toolbar Increase OneNote Productivity with the Quick Access Toolbar If you're not using the Quick Access Toolbar in OneNote, should I do it! You can really speed up your workflow if you have a lot of highly repeated actions. Read More This feature is extremely useful for actions used, like inserting things or changing formats.

Ultimately, there's a lot to like about both, but they're also very different from each other. I personally prefer the OneNote approach, but it really comes down to your own preferences.

Functions for taking notes

Both Evernote and OneNote can handle regular note-taking just fine, including all the basic word processing features you'd expect in any serious document editor, as well as things like image, video, and optical character recognition (OCR).

But a handful of things are very different between the two.


First, OneNote can handle free-floating "paragraphs," which are groupings of notes that you can move around on the page wherever you want. This is in stark contrast to most other note-taking apps that can only handle notes line by line.

Evernote vs. OneNote Which note-taking app is right for you?

Many people have come to love the way OneNote handles their paragraphs and other note content, but some people outright hate it. We realize that it is a polarizing feature and could make it a deciding factor.

Keep in mind that if you prefer the traditional way of taking notes line by line, it's definitely possible in OneNote. All you have to do is ignore that the feature exists.

Handwriting and drawing

Although both apps can import handwritten notes as images, one thing that separates OneNote from Evernote is the ability to draw and write handwritten notes within the app.

Evernote vs. OneNote Which note-taking app is right for you?

The tools offered by OneNote include pens and markers of different colors and widths, lines, arrows, shapes, charts, and an eraser for when you make a mistake. Drawing in Evernote is done exponentially better when using a drawing tablet instead of a mouse.

Note: Evernote indirectly supports drawing and handwritten notes if you take notes with one of the Evernote mobile apps.

Web clipper

Both apps have something called Web Clipper that can clip entire web pages from the internet (for research, for example) and save them directly as notes, though Evernote is generally considered to be way ahead. Why should you use Evernote as your destination? Remembering everything why you should use Evernote as your go-to place to remember everything Remember everything. That's Evernote's motto, and that's what it enables you to do best. If you're not yet familiar with Evernote, you're in for a real treat! If you've heard of it, but... Read More

The main difference is that Evernote's trimmer offers more precision and flexibility. Evernote can clip simplified articles and custom-sized screenshots, and you can annotate the results. Not only that, but Evernote lets you choose where the clip goes, while OneNote always sends it to Sticky Notes (and then you have to manually move it).


OneNote has a feature called Templates, where you can create and edit your own preset page layouts. If there is a particular format you need for a certain type of note (eg meeting agenda, class notes, design notes), it will save you a lot of time.

Evernote vs. OneNote Which note-taking app is right for you?

Check out our guide to using OneNote templates How to use OneNote templates to get more organized How to use OneNote templates to get more organized OneNote is a great way to keep your ideas organized, and templates can make the process even more organized. easier. Learn how to use, edit and create your own templates with this guide. Read further for more details.

Note links

If you've ever wished your note-taking app was more like a wiki, then you'll love Evernote's note links feature. In a nutshell, you can insert links to other notes in a notebook, which is very useful for things like documentation.

Evernote vs. OneNote Which note-taking app is right for you?

It's one of the features that sets Evernote apart. 5 Cool Features That Prove Evernote Is Still A Great Service 5 Cool Features That Prove Evernote Is Still A Great Service With all the hype surrounding Google Drive, and everyone going crazy over Dropbox, I think another service is being seriously neglected :Evernote. Our Evernote coverage has been pretty sketchy lately, and I... Read More However, OneNote can also link pages to other pages simply by typing the note title verbatim and surrounded by [[and]]. One way is easier than the other, but both are still incredibly useful.

Docked editing

Have you ever had to take notes while watching a video or reading a web page, like during a video conference or online course? Switching between windows can be a huge hassle, which is why OneNote's docking feature is so impressive.

It might seem a bit unwieldy at first, but once you get used to it, you'll have a hard time using anything else. It's immensely convenient, and it's easy to underestimate how useful it is if you don't really try it out for yourself.


In addition to regular text notes, you can easily make checklists that work well for to-do lists, reminders, and more.

Evernote vs. OneNote Which note-taking app is right for you?

Using these checklists, you can do some really cool things in both Evernote Get Creative With Evernote:10 Unique Uses You Haven't Thought Of Get Creative With Evernote:10 Unique Uses You Haven't Thought Of Evernote is one of the most advanced tools on productivity, and with a wide variety of cross-platform apps, there's no limit to how you can use the service. We're big fans of Evernote here... Read More It is available on almost all platforms and can do a lot of tricks that you would not expect from a note keeping app. Read more . Which one you prefer is up to you.


Digital note-taking apps have never been great when it comes to math, which is one area where OneNote really stands out above all other note-taking apps. For example, if you type 1934/121 = in a note, OneNote will automatically calculate the answer for you.

Evernote vs. OneNote Which note-taking app is right for you?

But more importantly, OneNote can handle advanced math equations, including calculus and beyond. If you're a college student taking a lot of math-related courses, this is one of the best reasons to start taking advantage of OneNote 5 Ways to Take Advantage of Microsoft OneNote 5 Ways to Take Advantage of Microsoft OneNote Read More Right Now.


One thing that's really cool about Evernote is the ability to encrypt text selections. All you have to do is set a passphrase and the text will be hidden behind it. Unfortunately, you can't encrypt entire pages or notebooks.

Evernote vs. OneNote Which note-taking app is right for you?

Contrast this with OneNote, which can only password protect sections, but not notebooks or pages.

Version history

The last notable feature that deserves to be highlighted is the ability to track and revert to previous versions of a note, which is available in both Evernote and OneNote, except that the Evernote feature is not available to free users. (Pricing options will be discussed at the end).

Version histories give you peace of mind when editing notes, as you never have to worry about “losing” anything, even when deleting large chunks of text. If you ever need something you deleted, you can look at the change history.

Organizational characteristics

With note-taking features covered, it's time to take a look at a different, but equally important, aspect of digital notes:keeping them organized, finding notes quickly, and not going crazy when your notebook fills up.


One of the most helpful ways to stay organized is to label each note you make. Every time you edit a note, re-evaluate the tags. These tags are useful in many ways, but mostly for searches (which we'll talk about in a moment).

Evernote vs. OneNote Which note-taking app is right for you?

Between the two, I think Evernote has the best tagging system, allowing you to write whatever tags you want below each note. OneNote forces you to create and edit tags separately before applying them to each note, which has its benefits (much easier to keep track of) but requires a bit more effort.


Both Evernote and OneNote have built-in search features to help you find notes you've written but seemingly lost. Search is also a good way to quickly switch between notes that are not in the same notebook.

Evernote vs. OneNote Which note-taking app is right for you?

But Evernote has a much more powerful search engine than OneNote, with at least twenty different search features. 20 Evernote search features you should be using. 20 Evernote search features you should be using. It's one thing to use Evernote, but it's another thing altogether to master Evernote. . If you're new to Evernote, I don't want to come across it as something complicated; It's not, in fact, it's... Read More You probably won't need them if you're not an advanced user, but they're worth learning regardless.

Lastly, both Evernote and OneNote have the ability to recognize and search for text within images, meaning you can search for that handwritten reading note without needing to transcribe it into text by hand first. Some might say that one has better OCR search than the other, but both are pretty good and similar.

Note: Do not confuse this with OCR text extraction. Both can recognize text in images and search based on that text, but only OneNote can extract text from an image to the clipboard. Evernote can't.


Another feature Evernote has that OneNote lacks:shortcuts. You can also think of them as favorites or bookmarks. In short, you can drag any note to the “Shortcuts” section of the sidebar for immediate access.

Evernote vs. OneNote Which note-taking app is right for you?

It's a small feature in the grand scheme of things, but you really miss it when you rely on it as a note-taking staple and all of a sudden it's not available. Maybe one day OneNote will implement something similar, but as of now, the gap is noticeable.


For those who have due date notes, Evernote's Reminder feature comes in handy. Reminders are set manually per note, and once added, reminders sit at the top of your note list so you won't forget. You can even receive alerts, for example by email.

Evernote vs. OneNote Which note-taking app is right for you?

OneNote has none of that. Instead, the closest feature would be its tight integration with Outlook Turn Outlook into a project management tool with OneNote Integration Turn Outlook into a project management tool with OneNote Integration OneNote can do more than you think. We'll show you how to turn your Outlook task list into a powerful project management tool with the OneNote for Outlook add-in. Learn more (the desktop client, not the email service Hotmail is dead. Microsoft Outlook email services explained. Hotmail is dead. Microsoft Outlook email services explained. The terminology surrounding different Microsoft Outlook email services is confusing (know if it's called Outlook Web App, Outlook Online, or something else, let's explain. Read More) and the ability to send notes directly to Outlook, which becomes an Outlook task . Not very fancy, but kind of works..

Import and export

If you want to migrate to one of these two programs, you'll probably want to take all of your old notes with you. In the best case, you will be able to import them all in one click. In the worst case, you will have to manually enter each note one by one.

But first, let's take a look at your export options.

Evernote vs. OneNote Which note-taking app is right for you?

Evernote has a handful of useful export options, including the option to combine all your notes into a single HTML file or export each note as its own HTML file. But the most useful is the ENEX format, which makes it easy to transfer notes to another computer with Evernote.

When exporting, you can also specify which details to include or exclude, including note titles, timestamps, author, location, and tags. Exporting is an effective way to backup your Evernote data 3 Ways to Backup Evernote (And What Do You Need?) 3 Ways to Backup Evernote (And Do You Need to?) Unlike, say, Dropbox, Evernote doesn't offer a revision history — your content all syncs as-is. This means you could lose any notes you accidentally delete from the trash, or any content you accidentally delete... Read More .

Evernote vs. OneNote Which note-taking app is right for you?

OneNote is much more flexible in its options. You can choose whether to export the current page, the current section, or the entire current notebook. For each option, exports can be made to specific formats of PDF, XPS, MHT, or OneNote.

Unfortunately, when it comes to imports, both Evernote and OneNote fall short. OneNote doesn't even have an import feature, while Evernote can only import ENEX files and OneNote notebooks.

As of now, it's definitely easier to migrate from OneNote to Evernote. However, if you are willing to use a third-party tool, it is possible to migrate Evernote to OneNote. How to migrate from Evernote to OneNote, and why you should migrate from Evernote to OneNote, and why you should. That Microsoft OneNote is better than Evernote? Or maybe it just suits your project management style. Either way, here's how you can easily migrate all your notes from Evernote to OneNote. Read more too.

Cross-platform availability

Both Evernote and OneNote are notable for being cross-platform solutions. However, everything we've covered so far is only applicable to your desktop versions of Windows. Here's a quick overview of what you can expect from its other versions.


Both apps have web versions that can be accessed anywhere, and an entire article could be written comparing the two. What's important, though, is that they both look a lot like their desktop counterparts.

Evernote vs. OneNote Which note-taking app is right for you?

It might not seem like it at first, but Evernote's web client is unusually difficult to navigate. Unlike the desktop app, almost everything in the web app is hidden behind extra clicks. The interface lacks brightness, is too harsh on the eyes, and is unresponsive.

If Evernote were only available in a web format, I would personally write it off as unusable. It almost seems like it's meant to be used on a table, but there's a mobile version of Evernote that can't be the right one. Other than that, it has many of the same features as its desktop version.

Evernote vs. OneNote Which note-taking app is right for you?

OneNote's web interface is much easier on the eyes and much easier to navigate. Like Evernote, OneNote Online also falls short of its desktop counterpart, but at least it's usable. In fact, if OneNote were only available on the web, it's good enough to keep using it.

The only complaint I have is that sometimes I'll rearrange the page order in a section and the new order won't save. However, that's just a minor quirk. Everything else seems to work fine.


What we've found is that whether you're using Android or iOS, and whether you're using a smartphone or tablet, the mobile versions of Evernote and OneNote are fantastic.

In both cases, their user interfaces are modern, their performance is fast, crashes are rare or non-existent, and everything works as expected.

The only drawback is that both apps are a bit heavy, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it can be a bit overwhelming if you're just looking for something really simple and lightweight. None of these are anywhere near light weight.

There are some good note-taking alternatives. Time to ditch Evernote? Letterspace &Fetch Are these attractive alternatives when ditching Evernote? Letterspace and Fetch are Attractive Alternatives If you're looking for a supplement or alternative to Evernote, let me, a notebook addict, suggest Letterspace or Fetchnotes for simplicity and ease of use. Read More

Download: Evernote (Android | iOS), OneNote (Android | iOS)


One more thing to mention regarding cross-platform availability:both apps keep all your notes synced in the cloud so they're accessible no matter which versions of the app you use.

For example, I love being able to make recipes at my desk and view them in the kitchen on my phone or tablet. However, while I've noticed very few sync issues with Evernote, OneNote seems a bit slow, sometimes taking several minutes to propagate changes between devices.

Prices and Plans

The last thing to worry about is the price. How much will it cost you to use these incredibly powerful apps? It's an important question, and in this case, the answer is quite simple.

Microsoft OneNote is 100% free to download and use. OneNote is now truly free with more features than before OneNote is now truly free with more features than before Evernote no longer rules note taking apps. Microsoft recently announced that OneNote would be freer than ever. Let us show you what this means in terms of features and functionality. Read More Please note that some limitations apply to Mac users. Most importantly, all your notes will be stored on a OneDrive, not locally. However, if you really never want to pay a dime, OneNote is the way to go.

Evernote, on the other hand, could cost you.

Evernote vs. OneNote Which note-taking app is right for you?

On the free tier, you'll have access to desktop, web, and mobile versions, and they'll all sync up nicely. However, you will be limited to 60MB of new data (be it text, image, or anything else) per month. For heavy users, that's pretty restrictive.

The Plus tier costs $25 per year and raises the limit to 1 GB of new data per month. You also get offline access to your data on mobile devices (not available in the free tier), as well as the ability to lock Evernote with a passcode on mobile devices.

The Premium tier costs $50 per year and raises the limit to 10 GB of new data per month. You also get some advanced features like annotating PDF attachments, viewing previous versions of notes, and the ability to turn notes into presentations.

Download: Evernote and OneNote for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Windows Mobile.

Which note-taking app convinced you?

If you really prefer Evernote over OneNote, maybe the price is worth it to you. However, although Evernote has several features that are really nice, I will continue to use OneNote due to its superior interface and lack of restrictions.

At the end of it all, what do you think? Which note-taking app is right for you? Evernote, OneNote, or neither? What features are the most important? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!