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Tools for writing: Microsoft OneNote

 

Microsoft OneNote, the underdog pretender to Evernote’s crown, is a growing part of my life. I’ve used the digital notebook application, on and off, for many years. I tried switching to Evernote a couple of times but always came back, like the prodigal son. (Full disclosure: Microsoft is a client of Articulate’s but this is just my own personal review.)

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Things to like about OneNote

  • Hierarchical structure. You have notebooks, tabs, pages and sub-pages. For a tidy-minded person like me, this works better than using tags to categorise notes.
  • Encryption. You can password-protect and encrypt whole sections of your notes.
  • Familiar interface. It looks and feels a lot like Microsoft Word, which is where I spend most of my life. Evernote’s roots are more HTML and sometimes that shows in the limited formatting options.
  • Multiple elements. It’s easy to embed and scale multiple pictures, add diagrams and handwritten notes and mix up multiple text boxes on the same page. It feels like a digital notebook should feel – flexible.

OneNote changes and improvements

  • Solid multi-platform support. I can – and do – use OneNote on my PC, Mac, web browser, iPhone, iPad and Android. Notebooks synchronise smoothly across all the devices.
  • Price. It’s free on all platforms and you can use it with a free OneDrive subscription or, as I do, with an Office 365 account and OneDrive for Business.
  • Pen support. I don’t have a pen-equipped Microsoft Surface but my Samsung Galaxy Note has a pen and OneNote works well with it.
  • Sharing. It’s easy to share notebooks with colleagues. For example, I just created one where we can archive useful sources and web pages.
  • Change highlighting. When someone changes something in a shared notebook, the changes are nicely highlighted when you log in. I think this is going to be an increasingly important feature.
  • Integrations. It works with Feedly, my RSS-reader of choice and IFTTT. More integrations are happening.
  • Capture. There’s a screen clipping app and a web page grabber that drops new content straight into OneNote pages, where you can annotate them.

Overall, I’m finding that I’m spending more time in OneNote and I can see it becoming a useful tool for me and my colleagues at Articulate.

What do you think? How does it compare with Evernote?

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Matthew Stibbe

Matthew is founder and CEO of Articulate Marketing.