Taking note - 103

Obviously there are a lot of apps (programs) that hold notes for you. If you search the App store under iPad apps, you will find dozens of them. And there are plenty available elsewhere for Windows or OS X computers too. The biggies are Evernote and Microsoft OneNote. But the top 10 list also includes; Google Keep, Simple Note, Notational Velocity, Apple Notes and four others, which I won’t name because I forgot them already.

Things to consider;

Availability - does the app work on your phone, tablet, PC, Mac and other devices? It’s hard to capture everything into a notes system if it doesn’t accompany you where ever you go.

Capture methods - Does the app let you use email, the camera, microphone, screen, keyboard, stylus, your fingers, voice (and any and every other method) to capture information? If you’re at a restaurant and you taste a nice wine, do you want to type in all the details or just snap a photo of the label on the bottle? If you’re driving, do you want to pull over and break out the keyboard or would you rather just talk? The app needs to be able to record voice, video, etc. It also needs to be able to store all types of files and media.

Sync - Does the app quickly and reliably synchronise all your notes across all your devices? What’s the point of recording a voice note while driving if it isn’t waiting on your desktop computer when you get back to the office?

Stability - Is the app fool proof? Does it backup?

Security - Will all your most personal and privates notes be the subject of the next major leak?

Portability - Can you get your notes back out?

Collaboration - Can you share your notes with the people?

Search - Can you find your notes inside the system? Is that process easy, but sophistiocated? Can you search by date, time, location?


There are plenty of note taking app show downs and in depth reviews. You know how to Google, go look them up. But basically, if you want an app that does it all across all devices, well then you’re looking at Evernote vs OneNote. The rest fall away for one reason or another.

As you know, I’m probably not qualified to review OneNote given it's a Microsoft product and I’m all Mac. But I have to say OneNote is quite capable. My biggest gripe is that it’s Microsoft design and so the user interface is very Microsoft - stuck in the 1980’s. If I’m being me, I would say it’s butt-ugly. All butts aside, it works and does the job. I personally feel the capture methods are not as widespread as Evernote, but I didn’t actually use OneNote for any period of time so I may have missed all the ways it gathers data. I did see the web clipper and I tried the stylus. It converts hand writing to text which Evernote does not. (You need to use the desktop version to do the conversion, it won’t do it on the iPad alone)

If you are a heavy user of Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook) then OneNote is a great choice. And it runs on the iPad, Mac and Windows. You are probably used to the Microsoft look and feel and you’re wondering what John is ranting on about. Go use OneNote, you’ll be fine, it really is good.

And if you want the best all rounder go try Evernote. I’ve written numerous articles on it. It really is good too.