Digital notekeeping

Michael Hyatt has a good discussion of digital notekeeping tools, a.k.a. “Evernote alternatives.” As even the nomenclature might suggest, Michael opts for Evernote.

I used Evernote for quite some time too but transitioned several months back to OneNote. I haven’t ever gotten particularly sold on Apple devices, so Apple-only alternatives were out by default.

While I enjoyed Evernote, their limiting their “Free” plan to sync with two devices was the main impetus for me to look for a change. Microsoft OneNote iconI already had OneNote at the Office and via an Office 365 University subscription at home. Plus, OneNote has both iOS and Android apps, as well as a web version, so it was a logical option.

(N.B.: Windows 10 comes by default with the OneNote app installed in a lighter version. But, that version doesn’t seem to allow files to be attached to notes, edited, and resaved immediately in the same note. The file has to be saved elsewhere and then moved back into the note, a workaround about which I wasn’t particularly crazy.)

Over the years, I’d accumulated quite a lot of data in Evernote. So, I was glad to see Microsoft’s Evernote to OneNote importer. Michael’s experience with importing notes was “a complete and utter mess,” but for me, things actually went quite smoothly.

OneNote has also gotten supported by a fairly convenient web clipper. Evernote’s web clipper might be slightly nicer in the abstract, but OneNote’s is definitely close behind. As with Evernote, OneNote also allows for emailing notes into a notebook.

Borrowing a page from the Franklin-Covey book, I’ve taken to setting up my OneNote notebooks in one tab per month. Then, I create a blank page numbered with the date out of that month and use the “subpage” feature to organize notes for that day underneath that main note. Tabs for months other than last month, this month, and next month get moved into an archival notebook for the year.

Very large OneNote notebooks do sometimes seem to have issues syncing to mobile devices. But, in the main, my experience with OneNote has been quite pleasant. It doesn’t have the tagging features that Evernote does, but OneNote’s search function has generally been quite sufficient so that I haven’t found myself wishing for greater tagging functionality. So, if you’ve been looking for a digital notekeeping tool and haven’t yet given OneNote a test run, you may want to give it a try.

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