Looking for some great OneNote alternatives?
Ideas can pop up at any place, at any time. 💭
Like that marketing strategy you probably thought about on the subway ride back home.
And when this happens, you need a handy digital notebook or a note taking app to quickly write it down and save it for later.
It’s one of the reasons many people use Microsoft OneNote.
It’s free and offers you a range of formatting options.
However, it isn’t perfect.
In this article, we’ll talk about its top five alternatives, along with their pros, cons, prices, and user ratings.
What Is Microsoft OneNote?
Microsoft OneNote is a digitized notebook and to-do list.
All you need is a Microsoft account, and you can take advantage of OneNote to save all your OneNote files on the Microsoft cloud storage.
Its powerful features make OneNote a quality productivity app that’s also free!
So why look for a Microsoft OneNote alternative?
Here are some compelling reasons:
Con #1: Complex user interface
If Microsoft were a Minion, complexity would be a banana.
They just love it too much.
And it shows in the OneNote user interface.
The navigation can be tricky for many users, especially when you use it across various devices.
Con #2: Can’t annotate PDFs
The OneNote app can’t annotate PDF files. And even if you pay for its premium features, you don’t get this feature. 💸
In a world where PDF is the one file format that every system is always compatible with, this is probably a dealbreaker.
Con #3: Limited integrations
Since OneNote is a Microsoft tool, it integrates with Outlook Tasks and Microsoft Teams.
However, OneNote has very limited native integrations with other apps, especially non-Microsoft tools. So you’ll have to use third-party integration tools like Zapier to integrate OneNote with popular apps like Salesforce, Gmail, and more.
Top 5 Microsoft OneNote Alternatives
Whether you’re looking for a notes app that takes up less space, lets you create shared notes, or is more user friendly, one of these five alternatives should do the trick:
ClickUp is the world’s highest-rated project management and note-taking software, used by 200,000+ highly-productive teams around the world.
You heard that right.
This project management software can do everything OneNote can and more.
ClickUp’s also the best free OneNote alternative you’ll find in the market.
Let’s take you through some of ClickUp’s impressive features and pricing options.
ClickUp key features
A. Take efficient notes with the Notepad
With ClickUp, you can record your ideas and thoughts right from our project management tool.
Bye-bye. pen and paper.
Bye-bye, other note taking apps. 👋
The Notepad is more than just a note taking feature.
You get access to rich text formatting options like bold text, italics, including code, adding links, checklists, numbered lists…the list is endless!
Use this to take meeting notes, convert them into tasks, and share them with your team members.
The note title becomes the task title, the note’s body becomes the task description. All that’s left to do is share it with the right resources.
For that, just add Assignees.
Want to add rich text edits like headers, bold font, and more?
Use ClickUp’s Slash Commands to quickly add such edits on your Notepad.
You can also use the search feature to find a keyword in a specific note, so you don’t waste time trying to find the information you need!
B. Manage documents like never before with Docs
Some ideas are too big for a note app.
That’s when you can use ClickUp’s Docs.
Create a detailed document, wiki, or knowledge base anywhere on the platform without worrying about running out of paper or storage.
With Docs, you can even easily replace the need for tools like Google Docs, MS Word, etc.
Don’t forget to collaborate with multiple users using the real-time editing functionality in Docs.
Want to share your Docs outside your Workspace? Just share a link to it.
Your Docs can also get indexed by Google to appear in search results if you want!
C.Visualize your plans with Mind Maps
Love mind mapping instead of taking wordy notes?
Use ClickUp’s Mind Maps.
Sketch out a project plan, organize and delegate tasks, or just visualize your thoughts.
Let Mind Maps open the door to endless possibilities.
D. Don’t forget essential things with Reminders
ClickUp Reminders not only help you remember things, but you can also assign reminders to others.
Create ordinary text reminders, add attachments, and even schedule them.
E. Make notes with PDF Annotation
Whether it’s highlighting design mockups or adding comments to legal documents, ClickUp makes it all possible with its PDF annotation.
The best part?
Your annotations aren’t limited to just PDF files.
You can also annotate these file types in ClickUp and easily share them with whoever you want:
- Markdown edits for quick formatting and creating text notes and Tasks
- Smart Search and Filters for quick finds
- Create tasks through emails
- Multiple Assignees for easier teamwork
- Turn comment into action items with Assign Comments
- Supports tons of integrations, including Google Drive, Dropbox, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, etc.
- Simple and intuitive user interface
- Custom Permissions option for both Guests and team members
- Two-factor Authentication for an additional layer of security
- Offline Mode available (tasks sync as soon as you get a connection)
- Available on iOS and Android devices
- Desktop version available for multiple platforms including Windows, Mac, and even open source operating systems like Linux
- Can’t export Dashboards
- No tags for Docs
Don’t worry! Our team works across different time zones to ensure that your recommendations are always heard, and your concerns addressed.
Check out our development roadmap to see what’s in store.
ClickUp has three pricing options:
- Free Forever: unlimited tasks, unlimited members, and Time Tracking
- Unlimited ($5/member per month): unlimited integrations, unlimited Dashboards, and unlimited storage
- Business ($9/member per month): all Automations, custom exporting, and extra Guests
ClickUp user ratings
- Capterra: 4.7/5 (2000+ reviews)
- G2: 4.7/5 (2100+ reviews)
Evernote is another OneNote free alternative that needs no introduction.
In Evernote, you can create text notes and organize them efficiently into different notebooks for efficient organization.
However, Evernote doesn’t support real-time collaboration.
So if you’re a remote team, collaborating on projects will become a nightmare.
Evernote also doesn’t have features like mind maps.
Looks like you and your work buddy can’t brainstorm together either.
Having second thoughts?
Read our Evernote review to see why ClickUp is an excellent Evernote alternative.
Evernote key features
- Web clipper for taking screenshots of web content
- Note templates for meetings, project planning, and more
- It can scan handwritten notes
- Gives you offline access to notes
- Voice dictation is available for both Windows and Mac (OS X Mountain Lion and later)
- Mobile apps run on both Android and iOS devices, including iPhone and iPad
- No mind maps
- No recurring reminders
- Only 60MB monthly upload storage
Evernote offers three prices:
- Basic (Free): tags, rich formatting, and web clipper
- Premium ($7.99/month): offline access, unlimited device syncing, and custom templates
- Business ($14.99/user per month): single sign-on, shared spaces, and team activity history
Evernote user ratings
- Capterra: 4.4/5 (6600+ reviews)
- G2: 4.4/5 (1800+ reviews)
3. Zoho Notebook
Zoho Notebook is one of the best free alternatives to OneNote.
This note taking application lets you customize your notebook covers with your chosen images.
However, while they focused on making your notebooks beautiful, they forgot to add collaborative functionalities essential for teamwork.
So it looks like Zoho Notebook is limited to personal use only.
Zoho Notebook key features
- Create both text and voice notes
- Can view the version history of your notes
- Supports customizing your notebook covers
Zoho Notebook pros
- Add security to your notes and notebooks with passcodes and touch ID
- Free app with no ads
- Apps available for both iOS (iPhone & iPad) and Android devices
Zoho Notebook cons
- Can’t collaborate on notebooks
- Doesn’t have handwriting recognition
- Lacks multiple views
Zoho Notebook pricing
Zoho Notebook is currently free.
Zoho Notebook user ratings
- Capterra: 4.6/5 (30+ reviews)
- G2: 4.4/5 (30+ reviews)
Whether you need to make quick notes or write long reports and essays, Bear can be your friend. It’s a simple note taking app and an excellent alternative for Apple notes.
The markdown editing feature is quite impressive, and the app’s design is a visual treat.
However, all that will only make sense if you’re an Apple device user.
Let’s just say Bear will not bear with you if you’re a Windows, Linux, or Android user.
Need help making a decision? Check out our Bear vs. Evernote article for help.
Bear key features
- Hashtags for quick searches and note organization
- Several export options such as HTML, JPG, PDF, etc
- Add to-dos to notes
- Secure your notes using face or touch ID
- Highlights your note’s word count and reading time
- Available for Mac and every iOS device (iPhone, iPad)
- Doesn’t support team collaboration
- Most advanced features such as iCloud sync all Apple devices are only available in the Bear pro subscription
- Not available for Windows or any Android device
Bear has three pricing options:
- Free: notes, attachments, and tags
- Bear pro subscription ($1.49/monthly): multiple themes, robust export options, and all device syncing
Bear user ratings
- Capterra: N/A
- G2: 4.5/5 (30+ reviews)
Last on this list of Microsoft OneNote alternatives is Notion. It’s a great platform to take and share notes.
But in a world full of PDFs, you’d think Notion offers PDF annotation.
Prepare to have your heart broken because it doesn’t. 💔
Major bummer, right?
Check out why ClickUp is the best alternative for Notion.
Notion key features
- Web clipper for capturing web pages
- Supports unlimited pages for your notes
- Can handle real-time note collaboration
- Multiple views including gallery, Kanban, and list view
- Tag notes and docs with custom keywords
- Mobile apps available for both iOS and Android users
- No PDF annotation
- No voice notes
- Not the easiest note-taking app to use
Notion offers three pricing options:
- Personal (free): device sync, five guests, and unlimited pages
- Personal pro ($4/month): version history, unlimited guests, and unlimited file uploads
- Team ($8/member per month): advanced permissions, unlimited team members, and admin tools
Notion user ratings
- Capterra: 4.7/5 (200+ reviews)
- G2: 4.5/5 (140+ reviews)
Looking for more note-taking alternatives?
Check out the 10 best note taking apps for 2021.
The One Note App To Rule Them All 📑
Microsoft OneNote is popular because it’s one of the best note taking apps today.
However, its love for complexity makes it a bad fit for a lot of users.
And that’s where ClickUp shines.
It’s a top alternative to OneNote, perfect for all types of users.
Moreover, ClickUp isn’t only limited to note-making.
It’s also built for project management and note-taking, helping you manage everything on the same platform.
So what do you say?
Get ClickUp for free today and enjoy the best of both worlds!
Greg is a Content Strategist at ClickUp, where he crafts copy and content for the most productive people in the world. When he’s not living in ClickUp Docs, he’s spending quarantine somewhere in San Diego, drinking wine, reading his Kindle, watching documentaries, or eating shit on his surfboard.