As part of my series on working with tools in development, i felt a need to share with you some of the tools i use to stay productive. For notes taking ,i mainly use Evernote and OneNote and thus the inspiration to do a comparison of the two.
Evernote and OneNote are two of the most popular note-taking apps available. Because they’re both available for a variety of platforms, many of us rely on them to sync our notes with multiple devices. Both apps offer a similar set of features — including the ability to clip articles from the web and integrate with third-party apps — but they approach them in very different ways. If you’re trying to decide which of these two apps to go for, read on, as we check out the main differences between them.
To be clear, we’re comparing the Windows desktop versions of each program. We do mention cross-platform availability near the end, but just so you know, in-depth reviews of the non-Windows versions are beyond the scope of this article.
User interfaces are a tricky topic. They’re important, but they aren’t everything. A great interface isn’t enough to save a poor app, yet at the same time, a poor interface will easily turn me away from an otherwise feature-packed program.
And when it comes to digital note-taking, user interfaces are arguably more important than in other applications. If the interface doesn’t feel comfortable to you, you’re going to spend more time wrestling with the program than actually taking notes.
People have different ideas as to what constitutes a great interface — yes, it’s mostly subjective — so I’ll just highlight the core differences between these two and let you make your own judgments.
Evernote uses a three-column design that makes it easy and fast to switch between many different notes and notebooks when necessary. If you shrink the window’s width to less than 840 pixels, the sidebar disappears and the interface becomes a two-column design with more breathing space.
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 benefits to this mode. Of course, you can always disable the note panel altogether and access notes by double-clicking in the notebook.
Overall, I like that Evernote’s layout is as flexible enough to accommodate nearly everyone’s tastes. The amount of whitespace is perfect, though the lack of colors can be hard on the eyes.
OneNote feels really weird at first, and it can take a while to get comfortable with it, but I personally think it’s more intuitive and conducive to productivity. I also feel that OneNote is more responsive (read: less laggy) than Evernote on my several-years-old laptop, though your mileage may vary.
In OneNote, you work within a single 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. Want to switch notebooks? Just use the dropdown selector at the top left.
One quirky but useful thing in the interface is the Quick Access Bar at the very top. You can customize the Quick Access Bar in the options to add/remove nearly any action that you can perform in OneNote. This feature is extremely useful oft-used actions, like inserting things or changing formats.
Both Evernote and OneNote can handle regular note-taking just fine, including all of the core word processing features that 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 quite 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 on a line-by-line basis.
A lot of people have come to love the way OneNote handles its paragraphs and other note contents, but some people adamantly hate it. We realize it’s a polarizing feature and that could make it a deal-breaker.
Just know that if you prefer the traditional line-by-line way of taking notes, it’s definitely possible in OneNote. All you have to do is ignore that the feature exists.
Handwriting & Drawing
Even though both apps can import handwritten notes as images, one thing that separates OneNote from Evernote is the ability to draw and write notes by hand right inside the application.
Tools offered by OneNote include pens and highlighters of varying colors and thicknesses, lines, arrows, shapes, graphs, and an eraser for when you make any errors. Drawing in Evernote is made exponentially better when using a drawing tablet rather than a mouse.
Note: Evernote indirectly supports drawing and handwritten notes if you take notes using one of Evernote’s mobile apps.
Both applications have something called a Web Clipper that can clip entire webpages from the Internet (e.g. for research) and save them directly as notes, though Evernote is generally considered to be miles ahead of OneNote in this area.
Both these two applications have some uniqueness in terms of design and usage. However both a little over the other depending on the user and also what the intentions to the user. I therefore conclude that both tools are good depending what your preferences are but for all your needs you can choose either evernote or onenote.