Microsoft OneNote is very popular for its note-taking capabilities. OneNote is packed with very powerful features for note takers and completely free. However, the free version of the OneNote is only limited to read-only mode, for editing or adding a new note, you need a Microsoft 365 account, which is a premium service.
Also, the OneNote service requires a Microsoft account to start with. Another issue with the OneNote is its usability. It is a bit complicated for the first time users. For old laptop or desktop users, the OneNote consumes high system resources and the machine will stop responding or lag sometimes.
So, these are the main concerns for me to look at Microsoft OneNote alternatives. I’ve handpicked a few alternatives which are more powerful than OneNote in terms of usability and simplicity. I’ve tested all the below-suggested apps on my PC and I feel these are the best alternatives to the OneNote.
Simplenote is my all time favorite note-taking app available for all platforms. There are several factors that should be considered before selecting an alternative to a popular app. Simplenote is an essential app which has many powerful characteristics with an uncluttered interface. There are no formatting toolbars, no adjusting the margins, it is just you and your writing workflow. I’m using Simplenote from long back and I feel it is one of the strong contenders to One Note in terms of features and minimalist design. Simplenote is meant for those who want a simple note-taking app with syncing and sharing features. You can’t expect the fancy features like in Evernote or OneNote offering currently. However, this app is quite popular among the note takers with its simplicity.
The design of the Simplenote is unarguably simple and offers continues workflow without distracting visuals. Simplenote has a minimalist design. On the left side of the user interface, it has the notes list and on the right side, it has a big, note-taking space. The purpose of any note-taking tool is to make the workflow easier along with syncing options. Simplenote lets you find notes quickly using the instant search bar at the top, also the app syncs all your notes quickly on every platform where you logged in. The best part of the Simplenote is, it is completely free. The Simplenote is available for almost all platforms like Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, and Linux.
As its core, Evernote is a dedicated app for writing. It has enough features to adapt your workflow with various options. What makes Evernote special? Well, there are many aspects which makes Evernote one of the best in this list. The main attraction of the Evernote is web clipping, you can attach or clip whatever you see on a webpage to Evernote with a simple web clipper. For someone who isn’t aware of note-taking advantages, Evernote is a clear example of what an ideal note taking app should be.
Most of the people use the word processor for note taking, but Word processors are very difficult to work with. They won’t have collaborations, adding attachments, and writing interface which is not suitable for distraction-free writing. Evernote is a perfect combination of features which makes a powerful writing platform we have been looking for ages. It provides all the essential tools with a simple UI and distraction-free environment where you can focus on your writing goals. The Evernote comes in free and premium versions, where free limits with limited device syncing and Premium comes with full features.
3. Google Keep
Google Keep is a promising note-taking app from the popular search giant, Google. When it comes to note taking, people look up to many features we usually see in popular note-taking apps like Evernote. Google managed to keep pace with the contenders by introducing new features regularly. A yellow color, idea icon we usually see in Android phones can do the magic in note-taking.
Google Keep offers easy to navigate and easy to add a new note option on its user interface. As you type a new note, it will sync automatically on all your devices. The search is very fast in Google Keep; with only a few taps you can go through all the notes quickly and easily. Coming to the writing environment, as we know Google follow a very minimalistic style to every service they own. You can expect the same simplicity in Google Keep too. The interface for these options is simple enough, very easy to add a new note and organizing is too dead simple.
If you are afraid of your data being compromised on note-taking platforms, you can take a chance in Laverna. Laverna is an open-source note-taking service which completely focused on end-user privacy and control. This app uses end-to-end encryption and password protection to your notes contained in the vault. If you are a writer who needs a note-taking tool that has a quick, hassle-free and less configuration, Laverna is your best choice with excellent performance and an easy-t0-use interface.
The Markdown features are an asset to the program. I personally find the Laverna performance is very pleasing and suitable for even low-performance PCs. The user interface is decently designed and a user can search for a file easily without much effort. Laverna uses Dropbox or RemoteStorage account to sync across all your devices. Coming to the usability, Laverna is not as features rich as OneNote or Evernote. However, the app manages to get into our best OneNote alternatives list with its security and simple note taking capabilities.
Bear is a beautifully made note-taking app exclusively designed for Apple devices. It works with iPhone, iPad, and Mac effortlessly. I personally like the user interface and default font of the Bear. Bear is minimalistic in design and you will get interested to fill words in the note-taking space. The design of the Bear perfectly matches with the Apple’s minimalistic approach. The app is packed with advanced features like focus mode, hashtags support, smart data recognition, multiple export options, rich previews, advanced markup editor and todo support.
The app starts with a gorgeous user interface with 2 panels. The left panel contains the list of notes you taken and on the right side, it is dedicated for the writing space. For new users, Bear has left 3 notes that explain the usability of the app. The notes list displays the title, 2 lines of text and image thumbnail. Sorting options are also available for user convenience, you can sort by either newest to oldest, oldest to newest, title sorting, date sorting and A to Z or Z to A. As a Mac user, I can say Bear is a perfect app if you are working in Apple ecosystem. It is simple and elegant with a great set of options.
Turtl is a minimal and sleek note-taking app available for Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms. The app sports similar features like Loverna, it is a complete privacy oriented app. Turtl offers a cryptographic key for users, which we can call is a unique feature from the rest of the apps. Being an open source app, Turtl is completely user-friendly. Everything gets organized and collapsible on the left-hand side of the page you’re looking at.
Coming to the features, the app lets you share the notes with anyone. The boards feature is productive and it will make it possible an easy organization. If you love privacy more than the features, Turtl can be your favorite note-taking app.
Elephant looks like a replica of Evernote in terms of both features and looks. The app uses a straightforward nature, you don’t need any account or cloud backup; for syncing you can use Github, rsync, and Dropbox. The Elephant is a perfect example of an app that we think is better suited as a note-taking app for everyone and any kind of use.
I believe that the best note-taking app is one that provides a wide variety of options and a full set of features. Elephant offers everything you want. When you open the app, you’ll find a very neatly organized user-interface which offers smooth navigation and distraction-free writing space. For each note, you can give a name and it will be automatically displayed on the left side panel of the program UI. Elephant is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms.
8. Cinta Notes
CintaNotes is a complete feature-rich note-taking app designed for everyone. If you check the app features in deep, you will fall in love with it. Cinta Notes comes with many interesting features, you can quickly capture any text from the webpage or from any application without using any plugin or extension. With a simple keyboard shortcut, you can add clippings to your notes. Another interesting feature is auto-tagging rules, which lets you organize your notes by tagging and moving them in between sections.
Finding notes in CintaNotes is the programs’ finest feature. I’m especially saying this because it uses sophisticated search query syntax feature to deeply search the user queries. Being able to quickly search for a note can save time once the library of notes begins to grow. Another interesting feature is notes backup. The app lets you create hourly, daily and weekly backup of your notebooks. Support of configurable hotkeys is another biggest asset of the program. It gives perfect control over the program with simple shortcuts which saves a lot of time.
9. Zoho Notebook
We have seen many text editors and note-taking apps available for different types of work. If you are looking for a collaborative, well organized which is inclusive of all kinds of writing tasks, we think Zoho Notebook is the best advice. Zoho Notebook is an extremely powerful writing tool with design features that will provide great convenience for any writing project.
The Zoho Notebook is a combination of many popular note-taking tools concepts. The look and feel of the typing space give you a clutter-free typing experience. The organizing features of the Zoho Notebook is the main attraction of the program. You can sync notes on unlimited devices for free of cost. Other platforms like Evernote allow only 2 devices sync in the free plan. Zoho Notebook is a perfect combination of style and utility making it one of the best alternatives to the OneNote.
10. Dropbox Paper
Paper, a promising note-taking solution from Dropbox. As we are discussing note-taking apps, Dropbox Paper grabbed our attention and secured the position in the list. The user interface of Dropbox Paper gives you a clean paper-like feel, which is ready to be filled with words. The neat white paper look of the user interface is the main attraction for people who are interested in minimalistic design.
Paper is persuaded by many people around the world by its simplicity and collaborative nature. Features wise, Paper need more polish when compared to other note taking programs out there. If you are looking to add any media or link with a perfectly organized structure with a presentation style, Paper is our best suggestion. Papers’ usability is perfectly suitable for creative writing fields like blog posts writing, journalists, and scriptwriters. For coders, Paper has a code box option, which allows the code with 32 languages support. Collaboration features work just like Google Docs. You can invite people to share and edit documents with your contacts.
We already discussed many note-taking apps above. But Notion is different from all others. It is designed to give an outstanding experience to users with its extra capabilities. I noticed the Notion first time on Mac. After installation, I spent a lot of time on it. I have taken time to understand the use which is a great way to keep continuous workflow.
It is a versatile app to do whatever you want. From taking notes to adding a to-do list, tasks & projects, spreadsheets, CRM, workflow, team collaboration and everything which is required in team management. You can use one of the features, note-taking as your primary workspace. The remaining features are optional based on your usage requirements. The note-taking space is elegantly designed and organized. The notes & drafts section is eye candy for those who want a minimalistic design with friendly features. Notion is available for Windows and Mac with free and premium options.
It is always hard to say how people do work in a poorly organized note-taking solution. Many people first open Wordpad on Windows for quick notes. The app is ok for basic writing, but if you want some organizing, collaborative and writing friendly features, definitely is not the best pick. Scrivener is an excellent note-taking app available for Mac, Windows, and iOS.
Scrivener is packed with all features which are required in an ideal writing app. Everything is perfectly organized. Every section of the project is attached to a virtual index card. It lets you organize and rearrange facility to your scripts whenever you want. The program also allows you to compare and view documents side by side, this feature is useful for comparing texts, and translation projects. If you want a distraction-free environment for writing, Scrivener offers a full-screen writing mode with several themes support. It can actually make the writing job much focused and easier.
Regardless of whether you’re a scriptwriter, developer or blogger, these apps help you to make good notes on any platform. Some are dedicated for privacy-loving users, and some are feature rich suitable for everyone. There is no shortage of note-taking apps in this world, but after checking all the features and note-taking standards, I hand-picked the above apps which serve your needs and makes note taking more enjoyable.