Unlike Google that has different apps for almost the same thing, Microsoft has stayed away from that behavior. But looks like things are changing somewhat. I’m talking about the two note-taking apps — Whiteboard and OneNote, which seem similar, at least in the first use. But are they? We will find the answer in this comparison post of Microsoft Whiteboard and OneNote.
We all take notes for different purposes. Some write long-form notes while others jot down short notes or tasks such as things to buy, tasks, numbers, and more. Some even use note-taking apps for brainstorming or project planning. So each note app has a different use.
Let’s see how one can use Whiteboard and OneNote and whether they can be used for the same thing or not.
While both apps require a Microsoft account to work, OneNote is accessible on any platform you can think of. Be it Windows, Android, iOS, web, or even Android Wear. On the other hand, Whiteboard is limited to Windows and iOS only. You can download it from the Microsoft Store if it isn’t preinstalled on your PC. It’s also available on the web (preview version) for Microsoft Teams users.
The whiteboard has an infinite canvas. There is no start, end, or even any margins. You can start writing anywhere on it. You will find a limited number of buttons that includes the toolbar at the bottom, which houses various design elements such as pen, eraser, and insert. The back button at the top-left corner provides access to all your whiteboards and the settings button on the right.
Since OneNote is a full-fledged note-taking tool, you get a lot of things. On the left side lie the folders with various menus at the top. The main writing area is on the right side where even though the canvas is infinite, but it has a starting point and a left margin.
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While the Whiteboard app works with a mouse and keyboard, it is designed for touch and pen usage. For instance, one can insert things such as a table or a shape in OneNote, which needs to be drawn in the case of Whiteboard. Similarly, since the canvas is infinite in Whiteboard, the zoom in and out functions work well, letting you write your data literally anywhere.
Pro Tip: You can use OneNote in the full-screen mode by clicking on the full-screen icon at the top-right corner.
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Yes, a whiteboard is infinite, but that doesn’t mean you cannot have more than one. You can create several whiteboards for different purposes. But there is no categorization. All of them are available on a single screen.
What makes OneNote different from the rest of the note-taking apps and Whiteboard is that it offers folders. You can categorize your notes not only in folders but in subfolders too. The notebooks rest at the top followed by sections and then pages inside each section.
In OneNote, you can add numerous kinds of data besides the usual text and drawing. For instance, tables, pictures, online video, links, audio, stickers, and even files such as PDF. You can clip photos from the web too. The app also lets you add to-do items. And it even converts and solves math formulas.
While Whiteboard lets you add sticky notes, it is limited to images, text, and drawing only. However, as mentioned earlier, you can also add shapes and tables. But you need to draw them to add it in Whiteboard. It will be converted automatically if the required options (Ink to shape and Ink to table) are enabled in the settings. Both also offer Ink to text conversion.
Pro Tip: Whiteboard lets you group or stack items. Just put them over another to stack them.
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At first glance, the drawing features offered by them will seem the same. You get various pens, ink to shape capability, ruler, and eraser. However, in Whiteboard, the number of pens and colors are limited.
That’s not the case with OneNote where you can add more pens and even apply any color to it.
Interestingly, both apps let you add participants and collaborate with others. The changes made by all users will reflect in real-time.
The Office 365 for Whiteboard is the only one supporting the collaboration features. You need at least one Office 365 subscription. The same isn’t true for OneNote. All regular users can collaborate in the same notebook.
Additional Features and Similarities
Other than the features mentioned above, Whiteboard doesn’t offer much. On the contrary, you discover a new feature in OneNote every day. For instance, you can open multiple OneNote windows, translate text, view deleted notes, read notes in an immersive mode without any distractions, and more. Further, both let you customize page color and background and offer an automatic saving of notes.
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Which One to Use?
Our comparison states that the OneNote is undoubtedly ahead of Whiteboard. The latter gives the impression that it carries the drawing feature taken from OneNote and blends other additional features. But that doesn’t mean that Whiteboard is bad. Both apps are designed for entirely different purposes, and they serve them well.
While OneNote is essentially a proper note-taking app, Whiteboard is a brainstorming tool. As I have a touchscreen laptop with a pen, I have started using Whiteboard to write down quick notes. It’s easy to add and remove notes quickly in it. But for permanent notes, OneNote is still one of my go-to apps.
So use both the apps and see which one suits your requirements for note-taking.
Next up: Did you like the Microsoft Whiteboard? Explore it further with these tips and tricks to use it efficiently from the link below.