Microsoft Makes OneNote Free, Adds Mac Support, Beats Evernote? - Technologist
Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

Microsoft Makes OneNote Free, Adds Mac Support, Beats Evernote?

We've long been conflicted over the Evernote/OneNote choice.

OneNote was there for us in our younger law school days, for note-taking, screen-shotting, website clipping, and outlining. Evernote arrived, and brought way better mobile apps, but also has a cap on syncing data for free customers. Then OneNote updated their mobile apps to close the gap, but didn't have Mac OS X support. Then again, no data cap.

They just added Mac OS X support. And every version is free. With no data sync cap. One year later, we'll ask the question again: which is the note bene?

Where OneNote Wins

There's no data sync cap. Seriously, the importance of this can't be understated -- it's monthly overhead if you use the software enough. According to Evernote's terms, each time you so much as rotate an image, the whole note is re-uploaded. That makes it especially easy to hit that tiny 60 MB cap for free users.

Maybe you use your note-taking software to track receipts for expenses, or web clippings of social media evidence, or simply to jot down notes for case files. It's not that the data cap makes saving the data impossible -- it just doesn't sync across your devices unless you ante up.

Otherwise, OneNote carries a slight benefit of being familiar to Office users (which pretty much all lawyers are). The "ribbon" interface from Word, Powerpoint, and Excel makes its appearance in OneNote and might be a bit more intuitive for first-timers.

Where Evernote Wins

Pretty much in most other regards, but only by tiny margins. As a matter of personal taste and feature sets, Evernote's apps, especially the mobile variants, are simply better and more full-featured. (To be fair, we haven't tried all of the OneNote variants, especially those released this week.)

Are one or two extra features worth paying a monthly fee to ensure that your sync doesn't die mid-month? It depends on the features and personal preference, we guess, but we can't think of a "holy crap" feature that OneNote lacks to justify a monthly fee.

How Both Come in Handy

You might be thinking, "That's nice. But why do I give an [expletive]?"

Everyone uses note-taking software differently. Maybe you keep a different notebook for each client, with a checklist, notes, contact information, and easily-referenceable copies of evidence, case research snippets, etc. It's your paperless office, accessible on all devices.

Or perhaps you have one "to do list" notebook, that syncs to all of your devices, and you use a second notebook for storing scanned copies of your receipts, business cards, and other miscellaneous small paper that always seems to walk away.

Or maybe you're just a law student, and you want an outline that is a bit more visual than the standard Word bullet points.

Whatever the reason, we'd like to know your pick -- Evernote or OneNote? Tweet us at FindLawLP.

Related Resources: