Microsoft OneNote

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Microsoft OneNote

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Editors’ Review

Microsoft’s OneNote digital notebook lets you create, store, and share notes, drawings, and files across all your devices, from your Windows or MacOS desktop to an iOS and Android mobile device.


Collect your thoughts and other things: You can, of course, type your notes into OneNote, which can also keep links and file attachments. You can also insert images, build tables, and even create mathematical equations, with fractions, exponentials, and other math structures. And you can add Word and Excel files to a page and edit the documents from OneNote.

Import notes from Evernote: With Microsoft’s Evernote importer tool, you can move everything from Evernote over to OneNote. While the two note-taking services share much in common, OneNote offers unlimited monthly uploads, unlike Evernote, which caps free uploads at 60MB a month.

Style your notes: Apply text styles to notes from the Styles gallery and change fonts. You can also highlight text.

Make drawings: OneNote comes with pen, marker, eraser, and highlighter tools, letting you create drawings in your notes. OneNote also comes with a Shapes gallery to add shapes to your notes.

Helpfully organized: OneNote arranges your ideas into notebooks. You can add pages to a notebook and create sections if you want to organize its contents. You can rearrange pages and sections, combine multiple sections into a section group, and create subpages with content indented.

To find something across your documents, a search field lets you look for specific words or phrases.

It’s free: Although OneNote is part of the Office suite, you don’t need to buy Office to use it. In fact, you don’t need to buy OneNote to use it, as Microsoft lets you download and use its note-taking app for free.

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Or get it with Office 365: Microsoft OneNote fills the note-taking spot in the Microsoft Office suite. The $69.99-per-year Office 365 Personal edition includes the Excel spreadsheet; the Word text editor; the PowerPoint presentation app; the Outlook email app; the OneDrive cloud storage service; and the Skype voice- and video-calling app. Or get the Office 365 Home edition, which costs $99 a year and lets you share your subscription with four family members.

If you’d rather buy Office instead of subscribing, for $149.99, you can own the Office Home and Student 2016 for PC edition, which comes with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook.

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See: For another free, handy note-taking app, consider Google Keep.

Collaborate: You can collaborate with others by sharing your notes. You can give collaborators the ability to edit your notebooks or just view. From OneNote you can also send a Notebook as a read-only PDF to anyone.

Available on iPhone, Android, and MacOS: Sure, the OneNote application is a great way to keep notes on Windows, and it was designed specifically for Microsoft’s Surface and Surface Pro devices. But a note-taking app is most useful when you can access your files wherever you are, and the OneNote app tics that checkbox by being available on Mac, Android, and iOS devices as well as on the web, with all your notes synced across devices.


Can’t do everything across platforms: While you can access all your OneNote files across the different versions of the note-taking service, some features are reserved for the Windows version. For example, you can embed Word and Excel files in notes and edit them in Windows, but on the Mac they are read-only.

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Bottom Line

The Windows platform has a nice selection of note-keeping apps to choose from, including Evernote and Google Keep. But OneNote deserves to be on the list: It’s free, it’s versatile, and it’s available almost anywhere you’d want to jot down an idea.

See also

Stay on task with the best to-do list apps (from Download)

10+ things you should know before buying Office 365 (from TechRepublic)

Microsoft to give Office 365, apps a makeover (from ZDNet)

Full Specifications

What’s new in version 2016


Release December 3, 2018 Date Added December 3, 2018 Version 2016

Operating Systems

Operating Systems Windows 2003, Windows Vista, Windows, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, Windows XP Additional Requirements None


Total Downloads 1,167,356 Downloads Last Week 20

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