3.5 out of 5 with 28 ratings

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.

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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.

I am actually considering committing suicide if the future is that I am no longer in control of my own data, in fact I have started to test the waters by hitting myself against a wall really hard, as well as overdosing on my medication. I do not have to learn to live in a world with no privacy.

There is only so much one can push me until I decide that enough is enough and take back control of my life, by killing myself.

Update: Late in 2019, Microsoft seem to have changed their mind and started to update the desktop version of OneNote again.

https://www.theverge.com/2019/11/4/20947729/microsoft-onenote-2016-desktop-app-dark-mode-support-download

They're not explicitly admitting that they're changing course from what they announced in 2018, but it certainly is unexpected news considering that they were very clear about the future of OneNote being strictly in the cloud (I even remember an official Microsoft statement about the concern that this makes OneNote incompatible with the requirements of certain corporate environments, which pretty directly stated something like: "We understand, but tough luck.")

I'm not considering moving back just yet. Ill-considered quick-fire announcements like that have an effect, one of them being that people start looking for alternatives. I suspect I'm not the only one who has set up a new workflow for note-keeping in the meantime.


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
Small diagrams.net icondiagrams.net

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]

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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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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.

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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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Let me get one thing straight right at the beginning. OneNote, as a desktop application, was (bear with me for the explanation) a great tool. It had everything a power tool for organizing, planning and keeping notes needed. It served my needs for almost half a decade.

But then came Windows 10 with it's need to replace everything that was working fine with half-finished UWP versions which were supposed to be a "streamlined" replacement even though the replacements lacked half the functionality the originals had.

No ability to save local (offline notebooks), terrible layout with no option to fully customize it like in the desktop version, not even the ability to choose where the notebooks are going to be saved on OneDrive!

All that combined with the fact that OneNote 2016 keeps showing more and more bugs when working with OneDrive (like for example creating a notebook on OneDrive that contains a dot in it's name will render it completely useless without the ability to sync or even save it) and the announcement that Microsoft doesn't care anymore about the desktop version is a clear sign to move on from OneNote.

I am giving OneNote a 4/5 but not because of the UWP trash app that after much struggling made me switch to Evernote. I am giving it to the desktop version work horse that brought me through hundreds of projects and stuff that needed organizing like a champ.

In conclusion I am basically advising everyone to rethink their loyalty to OneNote at this point and switch to an alternative while it's still not too late to adapt.

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Even the Windows 10 version is better than Evernote or any other alternative on Windows 10. And you can still use OneNote 2016.


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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.

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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
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OneNote Online is free as well


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.

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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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Best on Windows 10
On Windows 10, this is by far the best note taking app. The 2016 (Office) version is much better than Evernote. The Windows 10 app is better, as well. The Android and iOS versions are in close competition with Evernote and other top note taking apps. But I'm looking to use another app for my task lists.

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One of the best free software in the world. I don't add anything else: indispensable.

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Collaborative, excellent for developing documentation.

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It's an elegant program that lets you organize pretty much everything. I love that I can password protect files as well.

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OneNote provides a more convenient way to organize a big knowledge base in triple level navigation. I can navigate faster than Evernote. Evernote handsome and support image zoom, but it takes a longer time to find something when you got 1k+ pages. OneNote still fast with a thousand notes.

[Edited by secretlab, July 11]

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