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OneNote plain-wrapped - an Evernote alternative


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We are quickly accustomed to working in ecosystems. For those with Apple this post will be irrelevant. So too for those who lives are found on an Android smartphone. However many still have Windows device of one sort or another. OneNote is then an obvious note-taking alternative. What are its merits?
 
There are different types of note-takers. Those who want to build their own structures. Notion is interesting for these people. Those who like a clean and simple work environment. Evernote has traditionally provided this. And finally, those who regard like to garden and will shuffle around their notes until everything is where it belongs. OneNote falls into this category.
 
Microsoft Office is so well known that its strengths are taken for granted. It has become dull from its longevity. Considering Evernotes crisis, longevity is a strength and dull acceptable if we can continue to get things done.
 
In this forum, one person introduced the idea of immersion into an ecosystem. Immersion increases productivity with high levels of integration between apps. This is true also for the Office ecosystem. OneNote is well integrated with a suite of apps: Visio, Outlook, Word, Excel, and more.
 
OneNote is free, fast, has OCR, no upload limits and supports ease of transfer of data from Evernote. OneDrive integration and automatic synchronisation allow us to download files and take them with us. The integration with Windows 10 means that accessing the files is straight forward.
 
OneNote has been around since 2003 and Office even longer. Microsoft has now browser apps that work on any device, are stable, not slower than Evernote 10 and without charge, as far as I know. Native apps on Windows 10 are fast and also stable. The integration between the apps is built into Microsoft Edge browser as is a PDF reader and PDF annotation.
 
The Evernote Clipper is an addon to the browser and has a Full Page, Region, Article and Bookmark mode. Region and Bookmark are similar to Evernote. Region is "screenshot" of the whole web page - formatting is retained in that sense but not editable. Article is a plain text version of the website and formatting is lost. Both Evernote and Nimbus do a much better job of capturing the text while retaining the formatting as rich text. OneNote´s OCR offsets this to some degree as the information is easily found.
 
OneNote has a curious layout with notebooks down the left of the screen and sections across the top of the screen in tabs. Notes are organised in the sections. The pages (notes) in a section are displayed on the right (see below). Gardeners will like OneNote as the notebooks, sections and pages can be dragged and dropped into any order. Section tabs can be given colours. Multiselection is easy. OneNote editor is immediately familiar for anybody that has used Word. The look and feel of OneNote are consistent with other Office 365 apps.
 
The search has been traditionally a strength of Evernote. Therefore it deserves some attention in this comparison. OneNote can search across all (open) notebooks, the currently selected notebook, the current section or the section group. The results can be sorted by modify, title or section, in ascending or descending order. Ctrl-E opens search and the results can be docked on the right of the screen with alt-O. Pages within a section have highlighted that match the search. The pages can be multi-selected, move and deleted while the search is open. Because the native apps are so responsive this works in a satisfying way. The search is quick and has enough to be functional. Ctrl-f searches with the page.
 
The forum yesterday mentioned that tags are at the heart of how people work with Evernote note. The CEO seemed to think differently (and I have my doubts about the 2% quoted). OneNote like the vast major of note-taking apps does not support tags or the implementation of tags are poor: Nimbus fails on tag searches, Notion requires the construction of a master tag database before it will work, Notejoy only has Twitter-style hashtags, Joplin implementation of tags is poor, and so on. OneNote does not support tags either. Sure like most note-taking apps it has something call tags but these are not what Evernote calls tags. The OneNote importing tool adds all the tags from Evernote as hashtags (#text) at the top of each note. This is helpful. The importing tool protocols if there is an issue with tag import. In my case from 11k notes and some PDFs having reached the 100 tag limit, the import tool logged less than a dozen PDFs. I thought this rather impressive after seeing the tags axed by Notion. Except for DevonThink I have not heard or seen of a note-taking app that can handle Evernote tags. Leaving Evernote means searching differently. 
 
Consider the two options the Evernote users have at the moment. For no charge, the Microsoft ecosystem provides a feature-rich, long-lasting and stable work environment with OneNote. Pay about $10 per month and Office365 provides a collection of native apps with many extra features that have become ubiquitous over the last decade.
 
In the era of Evernote uncertainty, OneNote has become a safe haven, particularly for those who work on a Windows device. The transition to life after Evernote will take time and needs to be well considered. OneNote and Office are enough for many to move on from being stuck and familiar enough to make it an easy change. No one size fits all but some sizes fit many. 🙂

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  • Tamagotchi changed the title to OneNote plain-wrapped - an Evernote alternative

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