Apple Notes vs Microsoft OneNote: Which App Wins

Parth Shah

When it comes to note-taking applications, the majority sticks to what their device offers out of the box. Apple integrates Apple Notes in iPhone, while Microsoft used to provide OneNote on Windows devices. Having said that, choosing the right option to suit the usage and requirements can be a tricky affair for an iPhone user.

Apple Notes Vs Microsoft One Note Comparison Final

And if you opt for a wrong choice, the process of transferring all your notes from one platform to another can be a headache. In past, we have already compared Google Keep with its rivals. In this post, we will pit Apple's Notes app against Microsoft OneNote to see how they fare against each other.

App Size

All Apple's applications come pre-installed and take up about 11GB of space including the operating system. Microsoft's OneNote for iPhone weights 204MB and it's not surprising since the size of iPhone's top apps has ballooned over the recent years.

User Interface

Apple Notes offers a simple yet effective UI. By default, it categorizes the notes based on folders. While there are default ones like the iCloud, Notes and Recently Deleted, you can always add new folders to stack relevant notes in them.

Apple Notes Ui
Attachments

Apple Notes' built-in interface feel and look of a real page — it's a good touch. And another well-thought-out feature is the capability to view all attached documents, images, embedded maps, and weblinks from the one place.

Apple Notes Attachments

OneNote follows a different philosophy. First, you need to make a notebook, and then you can add a section to type notes in it. It may seem confusing at first, but you'll get familiar with it after a while.

OneNote integrates sticky notes which now comes with cloud syncing with PC and is good for taking quick notes.

One Note Notebook
Notebook One Note

OneNote also lets you color code Notebooks, Sections and password protect any section. Simply long press any section and you will be presented with the color option and the lock feature.

One Note Notes
Lock One Note

The one thing that both these apps miss out on is the tags integration. There is no easy way to find a relevant note based on tags. OneNote recently promised to roll-out a similar feature in future and we're waiting for its implementation to happen.

Taking Notes

Apple Notes provides several options while typing a note. You can add tables, change font types, add bullet points, add media files, integrate sketches and drawing, and so on.

Apple Notes Taking Notes
Apple Notes Taking Notes 2

In this area, OneNote takes a lead with adding voice notes support along with the same options as offered in Apple Notes.

Voice Notes

In short, both the apps offer pretty much all the basic editing features in a familiar UI and should be enough for your usage. I would like to see the ability to change fonts colors in the future updates.

Drawing

Drawing capabilities remain rich on both the apps, but the OneNote doesn't support it for iPhone.

Drawing Option
Apple Notes Drawing Options

Apple Notes includes drawing tools like pencil, brush, pen, and eraser. You can also change the colors and thickness of the tips.

Note: The drawing feature remains inconsistent on OneNote. It is available in the Android and the Windows 10 app, but strangely the functionality is missing out on iOS platform.

Search

After using a notes app for a while, it will be filled with several notes and folders. Looking for a particular note can become a jarring experience no matter how organized your notes are. Thankfully, both OneNote and Apple Notes provide a robust search function.

Apple Notes Search 2
One Note Search 2

Just search with a relevant term, and you should be able to find it. OneNote even lets you delete the search history. Just swipe left on the searched term and delete a word from it.

Sharing

Sharing is where Apple's limitations become apparent. You can share the note with someone using their Apple ID or can send a note directly through WhatsApp or an email. Sharing menu lets you choose from several options like lock note, convert pdf, or send as a simple note.

Apple Notes Share 2

OneNote goes one step ahead and lets you share the whole notebook with another person. You can also send the Note via email or any social network. Remember, while sharing a note with the likes of WhatsApp, the app won't send a simple note. Instead, it will generate a pdf and share it on the platform.

One Note Share
One Note Share 2

Web Clipping

Apple Notes doesn’t offer any kind of web clipping functionality while OneNote's web clipper available on the majority of browsers.

One Note Web Clipper

Download the OneNote Clipper for your browser, visit any website, choose a clipper option, and you can add a bookmark, clip a particular part of the page and even save the whole article directly into the OneNote.

Chrome Web Clipper

Collaboration

Apple Notes lets you collaborate on Notes by sending out an invite to anyone with iCloud set up on a Mac or a PC. Once the person accepts the invitation, you can begin adding text, photos, links and more to note and track all the changes. Do note that it might take a while for changes to appear in real-time based on the iCloud syncing cycles.

Cross Platform Compability

Apple Notes is only available on Apple's platforms. You can find it on iOS, macOS, watchOS, and iMessage.

On the other hand, Microsoft offers OneNote on every platform you can think of. OneNote is available on iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, Android Wear, Apple Watch, and the web. Its vast platform availability is what gives it a huge advantage over Apple Notes.

Pricing

Before talking about pricing, you need to understand how the syncing works on both apps. Apple Notes stores all the data in iCloud while OneNote uses OneDrive for data backup.

All the functionalities are free to use. The premium model kicks in when you run out of storage. Both iCloud and OneDrive offer 5GB of free storage on sign-up. After you have maxed it out, you will need to buy additional cloud storage to add new notes.

iCloud pricing starts at $1 for 50GB while OneDrive costs $2 for 50GB which is enough space for a Notes app.

Who Wears The Crown?

For me, the answer is simple. I switch between Android and iOS frequently. My main workstation is a Windows-based computer. Hence, accessing all my notes on any time is a top priority for me. That's why OneNote fits my requirements and usage perfectly.

If you use a Mac, an iPhone and an iPad heavily, then you might be comfortable in Apple's ecosystem with the Apple Notes. However, you should give Microsoft OneNote a shot to experience if you're missing out on something. Especially the capability to store website clips.

Next up: If you own a Samsung-branded Android smartphone, then you might be wondering which note-taking app to pick between Samsung Notes and Google Keep. You should check our comparison to find out the right app for your requirements.

Read Next
Samsung Notes vs Google Keep: Which One to Use?
Also See
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Written By

Parth Shah

A self-described geek with a knack for writing and a passion for all technology