Microsoft OneNote Reviews

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Sunset – better stop using it now!

Microsoft has announced that OneNote is no longer going to be part of Office 2019, so OneNote 2016 will be the last ever version. It's going to be supported until 2020, then it's over. One of many sources: RCP Mag

What Microsoft wants you to use instead is the UWP/Windows 10 version of the OneNote app. Of course, as everyone who has ever tried using it knows, that little app is barely a replacement for the powerful note-taking application that is/was OneNote. Like almost every UWP app, it's a glorified little phone toy that doesn't hold up to actual work requirements at all.

To understand that, you don't need to know anything beyond the fact that the OneNote app, the official successor of OneNote 2016, still doesn't, and probably never will, support offline notebooks. That's right, it's 100% cloud or go home. No more local backups, no more being in control of your own data, no more deciding yourself if, how, and where to store and sync your information. If you're okay with that, you might as well switch to using Facebook Notes.

R.I.P. Microsoft OneNote, 2003–2020. You were pretty decent.


Office OneNote is indeed a mile better. Usability is far ahead of UWP version - better ribbon, iconset, sections as tabs, colorized pages sidebar, better main color, offline notebooks. backups, export etc etc. UWP has quite depressive dark violet color. It's pretty sad. Instead of spending those years to improve Office OneNote, they are wasting it on reinventing the wheel doing it far worse than before. And OneNote does need improvements. At least format text as code with syntax highlight.

Is best in class for native screengrabbing button

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Doesn't matter if you use any of these which I also have extensively used for years / tested almost every workflow and extension you can think of related to onenote / its competitors:

Small Evernote iconEvernote
Small Laverna iconLaverna
Small Google Keep iconGoogle Keep
Small Simplenote iconSimplenote
Small Google Docs iconGoogle Docs

OneNote has an evolved form of the native windows Small Snipping Tool iconSnipping Tool which is by far its best feature and the reason you should use onenote, even if you don't use it at all

Pressing WIN + S key to screenshot something natively in a windows PC is only achievable by onenote. I use it almost everyday. Nothing remotely comes close to its sheer simplicity and function

Pairs really well with other apps that I use like (which are my picks for best-in-class) as well

Small Greenshot iconGreenshot
Small ShareX iconShareX
Small Dynalist iconDynalist
Small Microsoft Paint iconMicrosoft Paint

very handy for making crappy-but-effective UX doodles / diagrams so I can draft proposals in no time at all

[Edited by Kagerjay, July 07]

[Edited by Kagerjay, July 07]

[Edited by Kagerjay, July 07]


OneNote rocks

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Pretty amazing what you can do with OneNote. I tried it a couple of times -- and at first, could not warm up to it.

Then more than a year later, I decided to give it a full, open-minded evaluation. I ended up loving it, and closing down 10 other places where I was storing important information. Now, all that information is in one place.

Keep in mind that the Windows version has the most capability, with the exception of searching all notebooks, where the Mac version has the edge.

Don't forget: For Windows, you want the full featured Windows version, NOT the Windows "app" version, which has far fewer features.

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In short I'd say it's fun for messing around for a few minutes but not recommended for serious or important activities.

It's hard to review OneNote when it's hard to define what it is: There was/is a proper PC version of OneNote (if it still exists MS will undoubtedly kill it soon), then there's also the mobile phone version from the MS Store and there is a Web version that for some reason connects me to the skype service when I open it.

The problem (for us customers and users) with Microsoft moving away from traditional PC Software into a SaaS (software as a service) philosophy with products like Windows 10 and the current OneNote(s?) is that they relinquish the responsibility of actually having to make and maintain a lasting and congruent product and instead they can be experimenting, removing or changing features constantly and keeping everything in a sort of beta / early access state; which makes it really hard to trust and invest time working on with a "thing" knowing that in a couple of months features may suddenly stop existing (the way Windows 10, Skype, etc. are constantly being stripped off features) or that a change may make me or the people I work with stop using that thing.

[Edited by Guido042, December 02]

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I loved onenote when it first came out, it felt so different to other microsoft products.

But now I would like to move on because there are silly restrictions liking needing to go online to change a notebook name, its a little bloated and I not a fan of Microsoft approach to privacy.

But its very hard to export your notes. Just be aware of this before you commit.


Seems pretty cool, but...

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I'm tempted to use this in my lectures, to note-take with PDFs. Unfortunately its PDF handling is awful - it rotates all landscape PDF's 90 degrees, so everything is sideways. Unbelievably, there is no option to rotate a PDF back to normal.
This program has a lot of potential, but Microsoft ruined by messing up its PDF handling.


One suggestion I can give is, instead of using Insert > File Printout, open the file first and then use Print command in the application (e.g. Adobe) and choose your orientation there. This will do the same insertion, but with the correct orientation.

Exporting to PDF or DOCX would** lose attachments **on OneNote 20016 for Windows. OCR feature is good.

[Edited by drliu1202, May 20]

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Microsoft Onenote is among the best digital note taking applications available. Unlike Evernote, Onenote is now completely free to use.

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Exportable notes that can be viewed in pdf format (after looking hard enough for the file).

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Cross platform, rich text editing features, notebook organization is great, syncs reliably. Android app is a bit clunky but improving over time.


It is Great but I think I would prefer Evernote or Notion. They have more option and is easier to organize the information in the note. But it is only my subjective opinion. By the way @ dankillam since you are a user of this website, I would really appreciate some feedback for my review of this site, I just started a Youtube Channel. Here is the review -

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The best note taking software ever!!! None of the "alternatives" is even close to the Onenote capabilities and functionalities.

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Great app works across multiple platforms

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  • Doesn’t support find and replace, multi paste in table, etc (Solved by using onestatics)
  • Free version are available as standalone application
  • Notebook from Office pro plus can't be opened on free version locally (open notes from onedrive on web browser, then open the notebook on application)
  • Onenote online search engine only can be on current section or pages, entire notebook is not possible

OneNote Online is free as well

Requires a Microsoft account

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I was very disappointed to see it requires a Microsoft account to even get it started, so I uninstalled right away. I want locally stored notes ONLY, no "cloud" bullshit for me. Guess I'll look into Zim instead.


You can make local notes without any clouds, just like with Zim

Which would be ok if no Microsoft account (or any other type of external account) was required at all. I'd very much like a 100% local account-free operation mode.

I think CherryTree is a closer and better alternative to OneNote than Zim and I have tried them both.

Thanks for the tip, I'm checking CherryTree out right now and it appears to be really nice!

Brilliant note taking application.

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I've been using OneNote for many years now. What I find great, is that it can be used to make simple notes and lists, but on the other hand can be used for much more advanced uses like capturing audio and video, online screen clippings, embedding spreadsheets, exporting to PDF etc. It really is good at taking notes or remembering literally anything.

It is structured in the following way. You have Notebooks. Within a Notebook there are many Sections. Within a Section there can be many individual Notes. This three tier system I find works very well. For example, you can have a Notebook called 'Holidays'. Within 'Holidays' you could have sections such as 'Spain', 'USA', 'Australia' etc. Within each of those destinations, which are Sections, you would have your Notes for each, such as Packing list, Places to Visit, Maps of local area etc.

What is also great now is that it is not part of the paid Office suite (Office 365 for example). It is a fully featured app for Free. I think Microsoft made a wise choice with that as having it part of the paid Office made it unavailable to many.

Overall a top program, well worth trying if you haven't ever used it. Also, OneNote is available on nearly all Desktop platforms, Mobile and on the Web.