Get Organized With Evernote or OneNote

Category: Software

Often in your online travels, you'll finds bit of information that you want to save for later use or sharing. Cutting and pasting into a word processor file works fine for snippets of text, but not so well when you want to annotate, categorize, search and share. Read on to learn how a “personal information organizer” can help...

Post-It Notes are So 2005...

Are those yellow sticky notes covering up more than half your screen or desktop? Are you looking for something to help you organize all the nuggets you collect while you surf the Web, research a topic, or work on a project? Keeping track of text files, web pages, PDFs, images, audio and video, and having the ability to tag and search all of those things by keywords is crucial. Being able to use multiple devices and platforms, and collaborate with others while keeping everything in one central place is even better.

Evernote and Microsoft OneNote are two popular personal information organizers (PIOs) that are very similar, but there are important differences between them. Let's take a look at both.

A PIO is useful for creating notes from scratch or adding notes to content that you grab from another source. A PIO lets you store notes in an organized set of user-defined folders. When you need to find a note a PIO searches high and low and inside of notes for keywords. Finally, a PIO lets you share notes with others, either “publishing” notes to a select group or collaborating with several people who may add their own notes to your note. Evernote and OneNote do all of that and more.
Note Taking Apps - Evernote and OneNote

Both programs have apps for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android, featuring a familiar word processor user interface with tabs and buttons for formatting text, inserting objects, and so on. “Objects” may include video or audio recordings, which both PIOs will attempt to search phonetically for your typed keywords. Did you catch that? You can stash a video or audio recording (e.g. a lecture, seminar, conference call) and later search for words that occur in it.

There are markup tools for circling, highlighting, and annotating objects. Basically, you can scribble all over an object any way you wish.

How Much Organizaton Do You Need?

OneNote’s note-organization is a bit more sophisticated than Evernote’s. In OneNote you can create multiple notebooks for broad subjects, e.g., “Recipes.” Within a notebook you can create sections and subsections, e.g., a “Beef Recipes” section with subsections for “Braised,” “Baked,” “Broiled,” etc. A note can be stored in a folder of any level.

Evernote has just notebooks and sections. I'm not hyper-organized with my notes, so that's actually appealing to me. I don't want to spend more time categorizing, tagging, and reorganizing my notes than I do finding and using them.

On the other hand, Evernote beats OneNote at clipping Web pages. OneNote will only save an entire page, not selected portions, and it saves Web pages as static images. Evernote provides half a dozen ways to clip part or all of a page; text is saved in editable form and hyperlinks work. Both programs let you annotate Web pages.

Notes can be stored in cloud servers provided by both companies, and cloud-stored notes can by synced to all of your devices. OneNote uses Microsoft OneDrive, of course, giving you up to 15 GB of free storage space. The free version of Evernote limits you to 60 MB per month; additional storage space and other features cost $5 a month or $45 per year.

Evernote has been around since 2008. But in the summer of 2013 Evernote suffered two massive denial-of-service attacks which disrupted its service, and many users went elsewhere. The company has struggled since then, and Microsoft’s decision to make OneNote a “freemium” app earlier this year hasn’t helped Evernote.

You know your business model’s in trouble when your online “Marketplace,” where people expect to find software that enhances your core product, has to be filled with unrelated products that might be found at The Sharper Image or Spencer Gifts. What, Evernote is selling Post-It Notes? And eighty-five bucks for five pairs of men’s dress socks with rainbow-colored arches seems a bit anomalous, if not desperate.

Setting that aside, both Evernote and OneNote are very useful tools for online treasure hunters, researchers, workplace teams, and even kids doing school projects. If you're still pasting snippets of text into Notepad, or using Post-It notes to keep track of things, give both of them a test drive, and see which one works best for you.

Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Get Organized With Evernote or OneNote"

Posted by:

Joyce C
10 Oct 2014

I wish that the "title" of each note would show INSTEAD OF the generic "Note". I don't see any way to edit that.

Posted by:

10 Oct 2014

Hi Bob...actually OneNote allow you to copy any portion of a page as long as it has 4 straight sides (click and drag, release and the copy is pasted to the file page. Look under "Screen clipping" in the "Insert Tab"...You select the size of the document you want to copy. I have used both PIO's but now use OneNote exclusively as it is easily shared via the cloud between different PC's in a network. As always a good presentation from you. Thanks

Posted by:

10 Oct 2014

Does either Evernote or Onenote work with GMail? If not, Does Google have it's own PIO?

Thanks for all the info you send out.

Posted by:

Jim Michaels
10 Oct 2014

I've been using QuotePad for a couple of years now on my Win7 machine. Also link it to drop box so I can read the notes on my Linux machines.

Posted by:

10 Oct 2014

Two other tools that I use are Diigo ( ) and Google Keep ( ). Diigo groups a great way to share collected information with other people. Google Keep is great as a quick collector of information and lists. And for people who are doing research, Zotero ( )from George Mason University's Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media is a powerful tool.

Posted by:

10 Oct 2014

In your article, you stated "OneNote will only save an entire page, not selected portions". Have you used the Screen Clipping tool on the Insert tab of OneNote? I use that tool a lot to grab any type of screenshot, including from websites. Perhaps this helps to overcome its web page clipping shortcomings?

Thanks for keeping us informed!

Posted by:

R. Walker
11 Oct 2014

Microsoft's OneNote only works with Windows 7 & 8.
I'm using Vista, so no OneNote for me.

Posted by:

11 Oct 2014

I don't really know how but I have Onenote on my laptop, and this spring I used it to keep receipts, reservations and other things i'd print out at home while I was on an extended vacation. It worked - sort of. Once I figured out how to store things it wasn't really too bad. But the problem came when I tried to retrieve something. The only way I could find a file I'd stored was to store something new and bogus, just to get access to my stored files. I never did find out how to do it the right way, and I still don't know.

Posted by:

11 Oct 2014

You failed to mention that Evernote also runs on Linux very nicely ... something I don't believe you'll see on Microsoft's OneNote.

Posted by:

11 Oct 2014

I'm perplexed by your statement that "OneNote will only save an entire page, not selected portions, and it saves Web pages as static images." I routinely store selected sections of web pages in OneNote; they are editable and hyperlinks work.

Some versions may be limited, but mine (2010) implemented on my PC for local use is more flexible than your article implies.

Posted by:

11 Oct 2014

To be fair about your statement about "Post-It Notes are So 2005...": 3M is trying to keep Post-It relevant by offering 1)Post-it® Plus App (Apple) and 2)Post-it® PopNotes App (Windows), but not an equivalent app for Android (that I could find).
OneNote does provide partial copy/paste functionality from webpages and automatically includes the link that it was copied from at the bottom of the paste job, as "Pasted from
It sounds OCD but I have 24 notebooks with about a dozen pages in each (within OneNote) that I use as my cloud (brain) server.

Posted by:

Skip Cowles
13 Oct 2014

You are mistaken about Onenote's clipping ability. Yon can clip as a little as a single digit. I use onenote extensively and clip all day long. Additionally, I found onenote much easier to use than evernote. Since it is part of the office 365 suite subscription, I also get live tech support. Hands down, Onenote is the better choice

Posted by:

13 Oct 2014

Gee, most of the commentators were telling you, about how One Note can keep only a section of a webpage, not the whole page! Not one word about Evernote, which before summer of 2013 was on everyone's lips and comments!!!

I do NOT like One Note. Sorry, while I will use Windows as my only OS and prefer to use Microsoft Office, because both are so widely known and there are a gazillion hints and tips, about both ... I really hate the intrusion that One Note wants to be, in my computer life. I have just finally, gotten the constant bombardment of One Note, out of my computer world, which, is an intricate part of Microsoft 2013.

I do understand, especially for businesses, the need to remind office workers to use One Note, for office flexibility ... It just that NOT all Microsoft Users are in an office environment, a lot of us a simply Home Users, who need to use a Word Processor or Excel Spreadsheet or PowerPoint for a kid's school project. Plus, you also, must find an Office Program that will interact with so many Apple Computers, in so many school systems!!!

I did have Evernote on both my Smartphone and Desktop computer, I don't do laptops. I found that I really didn't need it. Rarely, did I do any major research on my SmartPhone and I would simply forget to use Evernote, when I did any research on my Desktop. I simply, was not use to using any form of notes, even the Sticky Notes.

What makes me HIGHLY suspicious ... 2(TWO) denials of attacks during the Summer of 2013!!! Then, all of a sudden ... It seems as though, everyone abandoned Evernote, to go to One Note, which seemed the easiest way to go. Fair weather friends, in my book. First of all, both of the note options are done On a Cloud, which at anytime can have a Denial of Service Attacks!!! So, just WHO initiated the Denials of Service Attacks???!!!

Hey, I am NOT blaming Microsoft ... But, it does look mighty suspicious. Microsoft has benefitted from all of this. Could Hackers have been "hired", to do the dirty deed??? Again, I am highly suspicious. One way to get a major competitor ... Out of the way!!!

One thing for sure, I DO plan on re-evaluating Evernote, once again!!! I think, it is shameful, how many have abandoned a good program, due to something they had absolutely NO CONTROL over ... Denial of Service Attacks!!! Does disclaims all of those Cloud Programs, which say ... Clouds are the safest?

Posted by:

13 Oct 2014

Bob ... I know that, I just wrote a lengthy comment, but, I did want many others to know that, Evernote is not the same Evernote, of before!

I found that, this version of Evernote is so much easier to navigate and I am pleasantly surprised. I rather, like this version of Evernote. I don't remember, having Evernote Food app. before, either. I rather like that, as I am into saving recipes for cooking. Evernote Food is definitely a nice touch.

This version of Evernote, is honestly more intune with Personal Use, than Evernote was before and One Note is now!!! I really, really like that.

Just to let all of the iPhone users out there ... Almost all of the Evernote Market, is mostly geared to Apple products and they any of the paid apps. can be gotten at the iPhone Store! Now, that doesn't mean Android users can use some of the items, but, very little. Sorry, Evernote is right now, more "geared" towards Apple products, probably thinking that Apple iPhones and the like, are safer than Android products, at this time. It does seem that way, but, I don't think anything should ever be left to chance ... Protection, protection, protection is the KEY word, for BOTH cell phone products!!!

Anyway ... Evernote has really changed, but yet, it hasn't ... Since, it is still doing the basics, it was before revamping the version. I am very, very pleased with Evernote and I am using the Beta Version. I am seriously, considering upgrading to the Premium Version, which is only $5 a month or $45 a year. While, that may sound quite a bit, the Premium Version does give you more options, than the Free Version. However, the Free Version will probably suit me, just fine. :)

Posted by:

13 Oct 2014

Re: "The only way I could find a file I'd stored was to store something new and bogus, just to get access to my stored files"
In the case of OneNote2010, if you click on the "Tools" PullDown menu, then select "Options" line: The third entry on the left-side column is "Save & Backup". Here, OneNote has a right-side column header labeled "Save", which shows you where the "Unified Notes Section" entries are stored/saved, in your drive. These notes are save as *.one file. You will also find that it also provides you with the location of where the "Cache File Location" is in your drive. Additional All of these locations are customizable, so that you can save your data (notes) in different drives or even on a server. These "Save & Backup" options also provide user with being able to backup and how/when to "Optimize" the notebooks.

Posted by:

13 Oct 2014

I've had a bad experience with OneNote. Apparently, it doesn't play well with a VPN. On my first attempt to install it (on my pc) while using my VPN, the installation just stopped without an explanation. On the second attempt, it told me I wasn't connected to the Internet. I checked to see if I was by testing a couple of web sites -- no problem. So, I disconnected from the VPN and was able to get it installed. Afterwards, I reconnected to the VPN and thought I was saving things to OneNote -- no errors during the Send to OneNote operations, but when trying to view them, I kept getting password errors. After trying to get some answers from the OneNote support site, I started trying things on my own and voila! I couldn't access my OneNote because it wasn't connecting to the Internet. I just uninstalled it. I'll try to Evernote. Hope I have success with it.

Posted by:

29 Aug 2015

I have just realized that OneNote was free, so I installed it, because I have never managed to use Evernote. It's there, on my PC, but each time I launch it, I cannot understand how to interact with it. Something as simple as a note-taking application should be user-obvious.

The free version of OneNote certainly has some clever features, but several things keep me away from it :

1. You cannot save your notebooks on your PC. Period. They have to be stored on the cloud. Not only that, but it's not made clear in the product. There are various options to "work offline" (rather well hidden), OneNote "offers" you the "option" of storing files on OneDrive, but never warns you beforehand that there's actually no choice.

It's all the more devious, since you never really know when you're on your PC or on the cloud. Everything is muddled up, so Microsoft really owns what you do. I hate that. Besides, God knows what happens when you install OneNote. It worked for a quarter of an hour on my PC. The paying version allows local storage, but it is way too expensive.

2. The asthetics are childish. Some of us are actually grown-ups, not school children. Those tabs... those colours... those templates...

3. OneNote (as far as I get it) limits you to 3 levels : notebooks, tabs and pages. I want as many levels as I like. That's the a-b-c of a note-manager, in my opinion.

I can get them in Word 2003, which I use for that purpose. I create a project-related document, go into Plan mode, create as many nested headings as I want, and throw anything I want at Word : it's a hog. It gobbles things up.

You can insert live Excel workbooks, hyperlink to the Web, to your hard drive, paste images from a site and resize them at will... the Snipping Tool of Windows 7 works wonders there.

It's lacking in the clipping from the Web department, but there are workarounds. And the resulting document is not pretty. But it works. And I own my files.

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