A note (opens in new tab) is a product of Microsoft, the American software giant whose Windows operating system powers most PCs in the world. Aside from the core operating system, Microsoft has also developed an extensive collection of consumer software, including OneNote, some of which are free to use.
Microsoft released the first version of OneNote in 2003 and it was received positively. That version was only available on the Windows operating system. In 2011, Microsoft released the first mobile version of the note-taking app (opens in new tab) on the iOS platform. A year later, it debuted with an Android version.
In 2014, the company released a OneNote app for the macOS operating system. It also launched a cloud-based version of OneNote shortly after, but with limited features compared to the native apps.
OneNote: plans and pricing
There is a free version of the OneNote app that anyone can use. But this version only offers 5 GB of storage and lacks specific features, such as stickers and the calculation assistant. There is also a free version for verified educational users that offers 1 TB of storage.
You need a paid Microsoft 365 account to access additional storage and unlock all features of the OneNote app. You can choose the personal subscription, which costs $5.99 per month and offers 1 TB of storage, or the Family subscription, which costs $7.99 per month and offers 6 TB of storage for up to six users.
You must have a Microsoft account to access OneNote. Many people already have one, and if you don’t, it’s easy to create a new one at any time. You can access OneNote through the web interface or download the app on your device. You should choose the latter option if you want to get the most out of the note-taking tool, as the web version lacks some of the features available in the native app.
The first feature to look out for is: make notebooks. You can create as many digital notebooks as fit in your allocated storage space. This digital notebook works just like a hard copy, with the main difference being that you have unlimited virtual pages. You can type as much content as you want on each notebook page.
The text editor on OneNote feels like a less advanced version of Microsoft Word. You can format your text in several ways. For example, you can: In bold, italicizeor underline text. You can also change the text font as the app has a selection of more than three dozen funds. Likewise, you can change the color of the text for aesthetic or informational purposes.
You can also draw objects on the notepad with your mouse and touchpad on a PC or with your fingers (or a stylus) on a mobile device. While drawing, you can change the line weight or choose from a palette of colors, as you can with any basic drawing tool.
A big advantage of OneNote is that it supports real-time collaboration (opens in new tab). You can share your notes with colleagues or friends by inviting them via email, and they can edit them while you watch. This feature makes OneNote a good tool to promote collaboration between friends or in the workplace.
OneNote: interface and usage
The OneNote app has a pretty neat user interface. We found it easy to navigate the app without any major issues. But one flaw we noticed is that OneNote occasionally lags when used on a PC, especially one with low-end specs. Many user reviews highlight the occasional lag as a drawback.
You can get instant customer support via live chat or phone if you have a paid Microsoft 365 account. The company’s support representatives are available 24/7 for questions.
Likewise, there is a section dedicated to the OneNote app in Microsoft’s official support center. This webpage contains many user guides, tutorials and how-tos about the app. It is a useful tool for both free and paid users to learn more about OneNote and fix common problems with the note-taking app.
OneNote: the competition
Popular alternatives to OneNote are Zoho Notebook (opens in new tab)Dropbox paper (opens in new tab)and Google Keep (opens in new tab). OneNote offers similar functionality to these competitors, but one thing that sets it apart is its extensive support for third-party integrations.
OneNote: Final Verdict
After testing OneNote, we can confidently say that it is an excellent note-taking app. It has plenty of features that allow you to create, organize and access notes from any device. We loved the support for real-time collaboration and the extensive integration with third parties.
The app has drawbacks such as limited text formatting and the small amount of storage space (5 GB) allotted to free users.
We’ve highlighted the best note-taking apps for Android (opens in new tab).