Microsoft OneNote, as its name implies, is a note taking application from Microsoft. It is very different from other apps like Notepad or Wordpad, which take a linear approach to making a document. While Microsoft OneNote is completely different. It can gather all types of digital information including text, pictures, videos, web clips etc. And it is not necessary to arrange this information in a linear form. You can drag and drop anything anywhere on the canvas.
Previously I have written about Microsoft Outlook alternatives and Microsoft PowerPoint alternatives and today I want to share my collection of Microsoft OneNote alternatives that I have been testing and using from time to time. But one thing is for sure, my primary note taking application on my primary computer still remains to be Microsoft OneNote.
Evernote is the most popular and the closest alternative to OneNote. Evernote can help users organize different types of information without having to follow a defined set of architecture. The biggest advantage of Evernote, which even OneNote doesn’t have, is the synchronization feature. All your notes created in Evernote will automatically be synchronized on the Evernote servers. These notes can be access from anywhere else as it’s saved on the cloud. There are two editions of Evernote; paid and free. The difference is the cloud storage capacity.
Tiddlywiki has been my favorite for quite some time now. I had organized all my documents in separate Tiddlywikis before I started using Microsoft OneNote. For those who don’t know, Tiddlywiki is a non-linear web notebook. All the data is stored in a single document. The best feature of Tiddlywiki is that it does not require any software download and installation. You just have to download the Tiddlywiki html file and start using it in any standard web browser. The down side of Tiddlywiki is that it is not very user friendly and you have to learn a lot of shortcuts in order to create different tiddlers.
CintaNotes is a relatively simple notes taking application and not a standard alternative to Microsoft OneNote. If you want to organize only text snippets to your liking, then CintaNotes is for you. It is portable and light weight. The strongest features of CintaNotes include the tagging system. By tagging different snippets of text, you can easily organize your notes the way you want without having to drag and drop things around.
Tomboy works very similar to a web content management system and makes it easier for you to organize and connect to the information. The feature of Tomboy that I like the most is that it makes those words in any note a hyperlink which match the title of any text snippet. You can organize your data using different fonts and styles, highlighting and making use of bullet points. You can extend the functionality of Tomboy by installing different add-ins.
Nevernote was created in response to Evernote. In the beginning, it was only meant for Linux but now it can also work on Windows. Although it is very similar to Evernote, I don’t like the user interface of Nevernote. It’s not because it is not functional or easy to use, it seems to be designed in Java and is not very fast and sleek. But the overall interface is easy to use and self explanatory.
If you don’t have Microsoft Office suite and don’t want a paid note taking application like OneNote, you may want to select one of the above mentioned apps for this purpose. What are you using for your note taking needs and organizing information?