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Google Keep vs. OneNote vs. Evernote: We name the note-app winner

Tony Bradley | March 28, 2013
Which note-taking tool stands above the rest? We pit Google's upstart software against the heavyweights from Microsoft and Evernote.

OneNote offers Web access plus apps for Windows Phone, Android, and iOS. It's available for Windows within Microsoft Office and as the OneNote MX app for Windows 8. With the exception of OneNote 2013, which is part of Office 365 or Office 2013, all the other OneNote options are free. If you favor Microsoft services and devices, OneNote is your natural choice.

Evernote matches Google Keep and OneNote with Web access, and also provides native apps for Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry, in addition to dedicated client software for Windows and Mac OS X. Evernote has developed an extensive community and provides a variety of its own apps as well as third-party apps on its Trunk website.

Winner: Evernote is available on more platforms, and it isn't tethered to any particular brand.

Organization

Within a browser, Google Keep lets you view notes as either a list or a grid resembling tidy sticky notes. You can assign colors to notes, but you can't order or group notes.

OneNote and Evernote, on the other hand, each use a notebook-and-notes metaphor. You can create a notebook for a dedicated topic--such as Website Project, Summer Vacation, or Income Taxes--and then create multiple related notes within it.

OneNote and Evernote also let you tag notes with keywords. OneNote allows you to color-code sections of a notebook, while Evernote permits you to group notebooks into "stacks." And Evernote Business users can stack professional content within a Business Library.

Keep's system is good only for managing a few notes. If you truly rely on your note-taking tool, you'll need the added controls of OneNote or Evernote.

Winner: Evernote provides more controls for organizing your information.

Rich Media

Note-taking apps are most powerful when you use them for more than text. Google Keep on the Web lets you add only an image from your PC, while its Android app allows you to capture a picture or an audio clip. Keep transcribes the audio to text, embedding both inside your note.

The free versions of OneNote let you insert Web links, text, and images. The paid OneNote within Microsoft Office also permits you to add audio clips to notes. With OneNote's Windows-only desktop software, you can scan an image into a note, or add screen clips, Excel spreadsheets, or other files.

Evernote's Web version is fairly limited, but its mobile apps collect photos, audio clips, and other files. The real difference comes from Evernote's ecosystem of apps, which let you do things such as scan receipts directly to Evernote or convert handwriting to text. For instance, Evernote's Penultimate for iPad offers handwriting recognition, Skitch lets you mark up images, Web Clipper and EverClip save webpages, and Hello for iPhone manages contacts. Evernote even saves handwritten notes and audio from Livescribe Sky digital pens.

 

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