Microsoft OneNote is one of the oldest note-taking applications. Most of us grew up using Windows, and OneNote was the obvious choice. It comes with many useful features. Sometimes you are just looking for a simple blogging app to quickly jot down your thoughts. Simplenote also offers that and more.
As the name suggests, Simplenote is a simple note-taking app with the necessary basics in place. It is open source and developed by the same team that brought us WordPress.
Microsoft developed OneNote as one of the richest note-taking applications and offers a variety of ways to take notes.
1. User Interface
Simplenote comes with a clean user interface where you won’t see a toolbar at the top. Simplenote does not need a formatting toolbar because it supports syntax. There is only a sidebar where you can view all notes and a search bar at the top. There are some options on the right to manage the respective note.
The OneNote user interface, on the other hand, is a little busy but still easy to use. There are plenty of formatting options that we’ll explore below. OneNote follows a hierarchical system where you can create notes under sections which are then saved under Notebooks. Just like physical notes.
Both apps allow the sidebar to be hidden to provide a distraction-free typing experience.
2. Simplenote Features
Simplenote is light, fast and easy to use. A quick way to do a braindump or write an entire article using markdown. It’s clutter-free and a boon for writers who love to work with reduced syntax.
You can format anyway and everything in Simplenote as you do in OneNote. The only difference is how it is done.
Just click on the preview button to see the result in real time. Enabling the dark mode with the sidebar hidden under the focus mode helps with the writing process.
Simplenote was designed with a clear goal, a purpose, and the audience in mind – and it did it beautifully.
3. Features of OneNote
OneNote takes a different approach. There is a full toolbar where you can format text, create tables, manage fonts, and much more. It has its perks. Like you, you can highlight the text in different colors or choose from several icons/tags to denote importance rather than just using a checkbox like in Simplenote.
OneNote can record notes in various formats such as text, audio, images, handwriting, and drawing. There are separate toolbars with more options for drawing.
OneNote will solve simple and complex math equations for you automatically. Simply enter the formula with numbers in the correct format and then press = to get the results. There is a custom equations list with complex formulas ready to use.
OneNote is versatile, which is why it is popular with note-takers who simply want more of a note app.
4. What else do they have to offer
Simplenote and OneNote both support distraction-free and dark writing. Simplenote has a history button where you can view old versions of a note and restore them if needed.
OneNote has a recent edits tab where you can view notes recently edited by you or team/family members. You can’t restore an old copy of a note in OneNote.
While OneNote has a better note management system that uses notebooks, sections, and tags, Simplenote only offers tags. Both have a powerful search function. OneNote is deeply integrated with other Microsoft applications. You can create/edit sticky notes on the OneNote mobile app and work with them on the Windows 10 desktop standalone app. There are plans to integrate Teams and To-Do in 2020. There is no support for third-party apps on either.
You can even translate entire pages or notes within OneNote with the click of a button.
Finally, you can share notes and collaborate in both OneNote and Simplenote.
5. Platform and pricing
Simplenote is open source and completely free without any ads or strings. It is available on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS. There is also a web app.
OneNote is available on all four platforms except for Linux now. It comes in two flavors now, and both are free. An Office 365 subscription provides a OneNote Finder feature that lets you search Bing for quotes, references, and other materials right within OneNote.
Simplicity vs. subtlety
The choice between Simplenote and OneNote is simplicity and versatility. Whether you want a quick and easy way to write and take notes or get creative and take notes in a variety of formats with plenty of options. There is a note-taking app for everyone. Test drive both and choose the one that suits you best.