Get organized and productive with the leading note-taking app. Download Evernote for Windows, Mac, iOS, or Android and create your free account. Our first go at picking one notebook over the other doesn’t make for an easy decision. In DEVONthink Personal or Pro for Mac, you can go to File, Import and then choose Import from Evernote. After a moment, DEVONthink displays a list of all the notebooks in your Evernote.
Most note-taking apps do the same things. Save and organize digital notes. Search saved notes, clippings, and files. Sync across multiple devices.
Evernote and Microsoft OneNote both do all these things and more. Both tools let you save typed or handwritten notes, organize your notes into individual notebooks, and clip images, paragraphs of text, and even entire web pages as clippings for later viewing.
What’s interesting about both Evernote and OneNote is that, unlike email, document apps, or even instant messaging tools, note-taking apps aren’t often a core part of most work environments. You don’t necessarily need Evernote or OneNote the way you literally need email. They might not be essential, but they are useful.
But which of these tools is better?
Below, we’ve examined Evernote and OneNote in depth to see which note-taking tool reigns supreme. We looked at several individual categories, and we’ve made our recommendation toward the end of the post.
On the surface, there doesn’t appear to be much difference between Evernote and OneNote. Look a little closer, though, and the differences start to become more obvious. Let’s look at how the two apps compare in terms of:
Both Evernote and OneNote rely on the notebook convention to describe how the two tools manage file organization.
Evernote organizes items into Notebook Stacks > Notebooks > Notes. OneNote uses a similar convention of Notebooks > Sections > Pages.
In addition to their central notebook conventions, both Evernote and OneNote also feature tag systems. Evernote’s tags function similarly to tags in WordPress. You can add a tag to any note and search by tags to find thematically relevant notes.
OneNote’s tags work very differently. They’re a lot more interactive and can be used for lots of different things. For example, you can add Reminder tags to a note to be reminded at specific dates and times. OneNote comes with more than 20 preset tags, from To-Do items and Client Requests to Music to Listen to and Book to Read. There’s even a Password tag.
Unlike Evernote, which limits tag placement to the Notes level, OneNote tags can be applied to any organizational element. Any Notebooks, Sections, or Pages in OneNote can have tags applied to them. You can add multiple tags to multiple elements on a page. For example, you could add a Contact tag to an image of a business card you uploaded after a meeting, a Reminder tag to follow up with that person at a specific date and time, and a Client Request tag to the action items you need to prepare for that meeting.
One of the biggest problems with Evernote is that the program itself can become sluggish once you reach a certain number of notebooks. Another major issue is that quick notes aren’t categorized by default, meaning that if you use Evernote to make lots of quick little notes, your file system in Evernote can quickly become a mess of Untitled Notes. For a tool that’s supposed to help us make sense of the information in our lives, this can be frustratingly counterintuitive.
I wouldn’t say tags in Evernote are “better” than tags in OneNote or vice-versa. It all depends on which system feels right to you and aligns with what you want from the tool.
If you intend to use Evernote or OneNote simply to record your thoughts, storage isn’t that important. Individual text notes are tiny in terms of file size. So you don’t need to worry as much about running out of space.
If you intend to save a lot of documents and files, though, storage becomes a lot more important.
In terms of storage, Evernote is quite permissive but does have some hard restrictions:
Evernote’s maximum number of notes, notebooks, and tags is fairly generous. But the 60MB upload limit is very harsh. Even casual users are likely to run up against this restriction pretty quickly, especially when working with larger files such as high-resolution images.
Evernote retired its Plus tier in April 2018, which had a 1GB upload restriction. This forces users to choose between the limitations of the Free plan or 10GB of storage in the Premium plan. There’s no longer any middle ground between these two extremes––a 5GB limit would have been a solid compromise for many users.
OneNote handles storage completely differently:
The biggest problem with Evernote in terms of storage is the lack of a middle option. It’s either 60MB a month or 10GB a month. This makes sense for Evernote––Evernote’s harsh upload limits on its Basic plan are a powerful motivation to upgrade––but it doesn’t make sense for users.
OneNote’s reliance on OneDrive for storage is a blessing and a curse. It helps keep OneNote largely free and offers generous storage and upload limits. But it also forces prospective OneNote users to sign up for a OneDrive account. This isn’t ideal if users prefer a different cloud storage provider or don’t want to migrate from Google Drive or Dropbox to OneDrive.
If you plan on using either of these tools for simple note-taking, storage won’t be as important. If you need to save larger files or upload a lot of data, OneNote is the clear winner.
Note-taking apps help us record our thoughts. They’re somewhere for our random observations to live. If we can’t find our notes quickly and easily, then there’s not much point in saving anything. This makes search critically important.
When it comes to finding things, Evernote’s search functionality is solid. You can search by keyword or strings, as well as other search criteria such as where and when a note was created, media or attachment filetypes (such as PDFs, images, or audio files), and the people associated with or tagged in a note. Evernote also boasts a wide range of search modifiers that Google power users will find familiar.
OneNote’s search functionality isn’t quite as robust as Evernote’s search. OneNote’s search functionality can feel faster than Evernote’s (especially if you have a lot of notes stored) but offers fewer search operands. You won’t see OneNote’s Notebook search option unless those Notebooks are stored in OneDrive. And you can’t search across all notebooks using OneNote’s web version.
With Evernote’s Plus tier no longer available, Evernote has three levels of pricing:
Evernote’s Basic plan will probably be fine for casual users. For even moderate use, however, it’s not really viable due to Evernote’s upload restrictions. It’s worth remembering that this only really applies if you’re going to be saving lots of files and documents.
Evernote’s Premium plan lacks the restrictions of the Basic plan and offers a decent monthly upload limit. But at almost $96 for the year, it’s far from cheap––especially when OneNote offers so much for free.
Evernote’s Business plan is the most robust of Evernote’s plans. Although cost isn’t likely to be as important a factor for larger companies or enterprise teams, it’s still a considerable expense, especially as the number of users increases.
OneNote, on the other hand, is free. It isn’t even available as a premium version. All you have to decide is how much OneDrive storage you’ll need if any.
Microsoft’s basic plan, which offers 50GB of OneDrive storage, costs just $1.99 per month or $23.88 annually. For $6.99 per month, or $69.99 per year, you get 1,000GB of storage and access to Office 365 Personal edition.
Even if you don’t need Office or 1,000GB of storage, it’s still cheaper than Evernote’s Premium plan.
Evernote and OneNote score comparably in terms of overall user satisfaction.
According to G2, a website that ranks software products by user reviews and Net Promoter Score (NPS), both Evernote and OneNote perform strongly. Evernote was named a Leader product by G2 in spring 2019 and received an overall rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars across 1,352 user reviews.
OneNote was ranked as one of the Top 100 Software Products of 2019 by G2 and also received an overall rating of 4.4 stars out of 5 across 1,110 user reviews.
Now that we’ve examined each tool in a little more depth, it’s time to declare a winner.
Taking everything into consideration, we have to recommend OneNote.
OneNote gives you everything Evernote can do for a fraction of the price. If you want to do more with your notes, such as add to-do lists and reminders, OneNote can do that, too. If you just want to take simple text-based notes and find them quickly, Evernote might be a better bet.
Evernote is a highly capable tool with a broad range of use cases. However, as a product, Evernote has lost its way in recent years. And it’s very hard to justify the cost when OneNote offers virtually identical functionality at a fraction of the price.
But it’s not just about cost. There’s more to it than that.
Aside from its dependence on OneDrive, OneNote is the clear winner for business users. It looks and feels like other Microsoft products. Some might see this as a negative, but it actually reduces the learning curve.
OneNote is also far superior for combining multiple types of information on the same page. For example, you can create a to-do list, add an image or table, and jot down some notes all on the same page. OneNote’s drag-and-drop interface, tabbed tagging system, and familiar toolbars make OneNote feel like Office might if Microsoft had acquired Notion.
Evernote looks and feels very sleek, but its performance and stability issues are problematic. Evernote has done an admirable job of doubling down on product quality, but some of these bugs have been around for years. For a premium product with a price tag to match, these frustrations are hard to justify.
In terms of writing and editing tools, Evernote has never positioned itself as a document tool. That said, its writing and document-editing tools are sorely limited. Creating quick notes feels anything but and highlights how poor Evernote’s default organizational structure can be. It doesn’t support markdown or HTML either.
Similarly, Evernote is a powerful tool but does a poor job of onboarding new users. Evernote’s tag system is much more flexible and useful than its default notebooks schema. It’s baffling why Evernote would almost completely overlook this aspect of its organizational structure in its learning resources and tutorials.
Of course, Evernote does do a few things better than OneNote.
One aspect of Evernote that really shines compared to OneNote is Evernote’s Web Clipper. This handy tool is available as a separate browser extension and allows users to quickly clip and save almost anything they find online. You can clip entire web pages as they appear, as simplified versions without images and special formatting, and even save web pages as PDF documents. OneNote’s clipper is fine, but it does struggle to preserve line breaks and other formatting rules. Evernote’s Web Clipper also offers “smart” recommendations on where clipped items should be saved based on analysis of their contents. This feature is a little rudimentary and isn’t always accurate, but it’s a nice feature.
Both Evernote and OneNote drop the ball when it comes to security. Evernote users can manually encrypt specific highlighted excerpts of text, but Evernote does not allow users to encrypt notebooks or even individual notes. OneNote doesn’t encrypt anything unless you’re a Business user. Granted, most people probably don’t need 256-bit AES encryption of their notes. But that’s beside the point––especially if you’re paying almost $100 a year for Evernote Premium.
At this point, the only real reason to choose Evernote over OneNote is if you’ve already been using it for some time and don’t want to go to the trouble of exporting your notes to OneNote.
If you’re thinking of using Evernote or OneNote for the first time, we have to recommend OneNote every time.
So, what is Evernote? It’s a note-taking app designed to collect and organize text, pictures, videos, and audio recordings.
These notes are then backed up to the cloud. This allows the user access to their notes from any platform.
But why do people use it? How do people use it best? And is it best for your purposes?
No two workflows are alike, but Evernote could help keep you productive and organized.
First, Evernote is relatively easy to use. There are tutorials everywhere because of its popularity and wide user base. With a shallow learning curve, you won’t have to take much time to understand the app.
Evernote organizes your notes into Notebooks, which are essentially file folders.
The notes themselves are text files with a standard blog-style GUI for formatting text, inserting images, or putting in basic code blocks.
The two most useful features are note tags and the Evernote Web Clipper browser extension.
Note tags work like the tags in a blog post or like a hashtag. This gives you a second method for organizing notes. The tags are useful for searching through notes and categorizing them for later use. All notes tagged with “biology” or “research,” for example, can be found and searched through, no matter what Notebooks they might be in.
Now let’s get into the Web Clipper, one of Evernote’s most useful features.
Evernote Web Clipper is a browser extension that copies web content directly to your Notebooks. It’s hard to imagine using Evernote without Web Clipper.
Once installed, Clipper lets you grab images, text, and even whole web pages. These can be sorted into whatever Notebook you choose. You can also add tags when you clip.
Why would you do this? How is it useful? Well, for one, you can grab simplified versions of web pages and send them to your notes. If the web page is one you need to look at frequently for research, it’ll save you time. It’s also useful if you need to access the info on that web page while you’re offline or traveling.
If the website in question is littered with annoying ads and pictures, the Web Clipper can strip them out.
Anyone who needs to save a lot of information, access it anywhere, and organize it for reference would find Evernote to be handy.
Students can organize their classes into Notebooks. Ideally, they’d store all of their class notes there, accessible from their laptop or their phone. They could use the tagging system for easier studying later on. If you learn a test is on three specific topics, you can sort your notes by those topics by searching the tags. And since the notes are stored to the cloud, you won’t lose them. And depending on the price tier you choose, you could share them easily with other classmates.
Teachers could get similar use out of Evernote by sorting their lectures by topic. Teachers could also open up a Notebook for each student or each class. Then, all personal notes on the class or individual could go in the Notebook. Professional development could also have its own Notebook. That way, all of the lectures or classes you attend could be saved and sorted later. Those training notes could then be shared with colleagues.
Writers of all stripes are perhaps the most obvious audience for Evernote. Research gets a Notebook. Article, blog, or book ideas get a Notebook. Timelines, characters, persons of interest, word-building all get a Notebook. And the mobile nature means Evernote is always close at hand. Get an idea, jot it down, save it to the cloud.
Lastly, though it requires some extra work, Evernote can be synced with your calendar. This could help your productivity by tying your notes or reminders together with actual dates. You can also set it up so that your calendar events all go into a Notebook automatically, allowing you to take notes on the meetings during or after the fact.
Those are just a few use cases you might want to consider. Before you do, let’s take a look at the pricing structure.
Before you spend a dime on Evernote, consider checking out the free version, which is serviceable and allows syncing between two different devices.
If your needs are more complicated, should you pay money for Evernote? Is it worth it? Let’s take a look.
The pricing plan is relatively simple to break down.
The free version comes with cloud syncing between two devices. One mobile sync to a phone, one sync to a work or home computer. Simple and easy, and it has all of the full note-taking features described above.
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The limits on storage and uploads are pretty small. You can upload 60MB of data a month, with a 25MB maximum size for each note. This isn’t a ton of bandwidth, but for more text and simplified website clips it’s sufficient. PDFs and image-heavy notes, which use more data, will run into this per-month cap and even the individual note cap.
Also, your notes can only be made available offline on desktop or laptop. For travelers or those with spotty connections, this might not work.
The Premium version of Evernote runs $7.99 a month and adds a few more features.
The note-taking features are the same as the free version. Other features are expanded.
First, the upload limit increases: 60MB a month for the free version becomes 10GB for Premium. Note size jumps from 25MB to 200MB.
Probably one of the most useful added features is app integration. So if you want to combine your Evernote with Slack or Google Drive, Premium will allow you to do it.
The Premium edition lets you scan documents or business cards and forward emails directly to Evernote. You can also make notes and search through the PDFs you add. Sharing options are more robust, and you can make presentations out of your notes.
Premium Evernote also comes with AI suggestions that relate to your notes. This AI takes the content of your notes and suggests possible web pages that seem relevant. The suggestions aren’t always useful because the AI isn’t terribly robust. The signal-to-noise ratio of useful web page suggestions to unrelated links largely isn’t worth it for this feature alone. You could end up spending more time ignoring the AI’s nonrelevant suggestions than taking them.
So, is Premium a good buy? If you’re uploading a lot of very large notes, maybe. If you need to pull files from Google Drive into Evernote, possibly. If PDFs take up a large portion of your notes, and you need them searchable and annotated, probably.
It also may be worth it for offline access on both desktop and mobile platforms.
Evernote Business has all of the features noted above, plus team collaboration and team administration features.
The pricing is a little bit annoying because you need to have at least two users. And the $14.99-a-month price tag is per user. So if you’re just looking to expand your account with business features and more bandwidth, you’re out of luck.
The team and sharing features are what you’d expect. Anyone on the team can share and collaborate on notes. Permissions are assigned by the creator of the note. An assigned admin has greater control and access to notes, Notebooks, and sharing permissions.
The monthly upload starts at a flat 20GB overall, plus 2GB per user.
Is it worth it? Probably not, but to answer that question, we have to look at the alternatives on the market.
Of course, Evernote isn’t the only note-taking app on the market. There are plenty of Evernote alternatives that do the job better, depending on the features you prioritize.
Let’s take a look at some of the alternatives to Evernote.
Bear is a popular note-taking app but is available only for Apple devices. There may be a web version in the pipeline, but that’s not something we can judge at the moment. But if you’re taking notes on your iPhone, Mac, or iPad, Bear is a solid choice.
It’s free unless you’re syncing between devices. Then you’ll have to choose to pay $15 every year for the privilege. Still, if you do math, that’s cheaper than Evernote’s Premium addition.
You can tag notes in Bear with keywords, just like in Evernote. Bear uses a hashtag system instead of a separate tag field, so it’s a little faster. The text notes and Markdown compatibility are comparable to Evernote and its Codeblock functions. It doesn’t have Evernote’s sharing or team collaboration tools; it’s designed for one user.
We’d recommend Bear for single users who just need to take notes. It’s elegantly designed and fast, suffering from none of Evernote’s general feature-bloat problem.
If you have simple needs and are already invested in Apple architecture, Bear is a solid alternative.
Microsoft’s note-taking software is a relatively new offering and is part of Microsoft’s Office suite.
OneNote can be accessed via browser or through the desktop or mobile app. It’s more free-form than Evernote and might appeal to note-takers who enjoy less structure. The notes are organized into notebooks, like Evernote. The notes are backed up to your OneDrive instead of a separate account, like Evernote. The similarities end there.
Instead of traditional pages, each individual OneNote scrolls sideways or down infinitely. Think of it like a digital reel of butcher paper. You can throw images into it alongside the text, with each block of text independent from the others. You can also draw over or around your notes.
OneNote works fine as a text note-taker but shines as a loose brainstorming tool.
However, OneNote isn’t free. It comes packaged with the other Office products in Office 365. Microsoft has a complicated pricing schema, with ongoing or subscription prices. The price also changes based on the home or business versions, but you’ll pay anywhere from $8 a month to $12.50 a month, depending.
Google Keep is a free note-taking software that comes with your Google account.
Keep has an interesting format: when you log in to Keep, you’re given a kind of digital corkboard. Your notes will appear as small boxes on the corkboard and can be arranged as necessary. You can also pin certain notes that you use frequently. They’ll show up at the top of the screen.
You can change the color of the notes, add labels, or add reminders right from this corkboard. You can also add drawings or images with a click of an icon.
Sharing is also pretty easy. You can add a collaborator to any individual note—it sends them an email invite.
It isn’t the most robust note-taker, but it is free and has a solid visual presentation. It’s also mobile-friendly.
Our only real caveat here is to be aware that Google has a track record for abandoning software. This may be relevant only if you’re thinking of adopting Google Keep for a large company or for mission-critical notes. If Google Keep is for your personal use, it’s probably not a big deal.
What is Evernote’s defining, most persuasive feature? That depends on what you’re trying to accomplish and how you take notes. Do you want to share your notes with team members?
And, lastly, consider your budget.
If you want to spend as little money as possible (ideally, nothing), Google Keep and Evernote’s free versions are solid choices. Evernote has more features but is bloated. Google Keep is faster but also simpler.
If sharing your notes is more important, Evernote Premium and Bear have robust collaboration options.
If you’re a visual person who enjoys more physical-looking notes, Google Keep and OneNote fit the bill.
As you can see, Evernote isn’t the only game in town. It’s not even the best game in town. But it is pretty versatile and well-supported, and it works fine for many people.
Check out our full review of Evernote for a more detailed breakdown of what Evernote does best and where it needs work.