Apple Notes vs. Microsoft OneNote: Which is Better for Business?


OneNote enjoys smooth integration with other Microsoft 365 apps, but Apple Notes offers a clean and reliable alternative for Apple users who need to capture and share business notes.

Illustration / Lisa Hornung / TechRepublic

It hasn’t always been that way. Today’s workplace is, of course, constantly changing. Analog phones and mechanical typewriters are no longer popular office equipment. Contemporary professionals, on the other hand, need tools that can provide quick utility, just as workers need to quickly shift their attention between tasks while managing increasingly hectic schedules. As a result, note taking has become a critical daily activity.

The sooner discoveries, ideas, strategic thinking, sales data, industry statistics, product updates and other news can be captured and even shared with colleagues, the faster the organization and its representatives can put that information. to profit. Note taking is one of the primary ways that professionals collect information, whether the related data is collected during an in-person conference or a team meeting, from a webinar or from a team meeting. a podcast or through a presentation or a provider’s website.

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Just looking at the number of note-taking apps should convince all skeptics of the popularity and need for such tools. And, as you might expect, two apps that have risen to the top are those of the major Goliaths: Apple and Microsoft.

Apple Notes, shown in Figure A, is integrated with macOS, iPadOS and iOS. Buy one of these devices and you will find Notes already loaded. Just open the app and start typing or, if you’re using an iPad with an Apple Pencil, start writing or drawing.


Apple Notes allows you to collect notes in separate lists, apply various formatting features, and import items from other applications.

Figure A

Microsoft OneNote, meanwhile, must be downloaded separately on Apple devices. To be fair, OneNote is free for users whether or not a Microsoft 365 plan is in play, and the program provides a feature-rich interface, as shown in Number B, which encourages writing, diagramming, and outlines.


Microsoft OneNote is a free note-taking app that offers a variety of features and tight integration with other Microsoft 365 programs.

Number B

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If the user or organization has a 365 subscription, OneNote also benefits from tight integration and the subsequent ease with which Microsoft 365 users can create notes using text, graphics, and other sibling product elements, such as Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, Microsoft BI, and SharePoint. It’s a powerful combination, especially since OneNote helps organize notes into multiple categories: notebooks, sections, pages, and even section groups.

While offering comprehensive formatting, editing, collaboration, paging, and cloud service capabilities, OneNote shares another common trait with its desktop productivity big brothers: the app offers so many features that it can be difficult to use effectively.

Apple Notes emphasizes the basics. While allowing for a range of formatting and collaboration options, as well as matching OneNote’s capabilities to import items from other sources and use dictation to enter text, you can also create tasks or reminders directly in Notes, which is easier to use, especially for novices. And in an age where the simple capture of thoughts and data is paramount, the ability to quickly and easily collect this information in a meaningful way that also makes it possible to quickly share this information with others or export it to a document, a spreadsheet or a presentation, well, it’s as good as gold.

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All in all, the more easily and efficiently an application performs its most important functions, the more likely you are to use it, and that is the goal. As the founders of 37signals Jason Fried and David Heinemeier, the authors of the best-selling business book Rework observed: “Small, simple, basic needs are constant. There is an endless supply of customers who need just that. “

Doing something too complex and you run the risk of trying to be everyone’s everything, which Rework emphasizes cannot be done. This is how you end up with complex toolbars and unconventional data entry space and containers in OneNote that complicate the note-taking interface, sometimes making it harder to feel like a note or using the app on a mobile device or tablet with smaller screens. Notes on an iPhone or iPad, as shown in Figure C, does not really have this problem.


The simple Notes interface, which eliminates the more advanced capabilities of the application, works just as well on mobile screens as it does on laptops and desktops.

Figure C

Notes excels because of its simplicity, which belies some of the more advanced features waiting behind the scenes, if you really need it. As ReworkThe authors note that “making a few voice customers happy isn’t worth it if it ruins the product for everyone.”

Now, that doesn’t mean OneNote is a broken product. It’s not. OneNote is a fabulous tool for busy professionals married to the Microsoft 365 platform, especially users willing to invest the time and energy to learn the unique nuances of the app.

But this is where Apple Notes shines. The program emphasizes capturing information quickly and easily and allows you to focus on intuitively working with the material important to you. Best of all, advanced collaboration and editing features are readily available but remain unobtrusive. Capturing, formatting, and sharing information is just easier using Notes, and I think it’s the winning option for today’s Mac, iPad, and iPhone professionals.

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