Growly Notes Is The OneNote For Mac, And It Is Free


Everyone loves OneNote. It is the most popular free-form note taking app that supports almost everything you drag onto it. You can quickly scribble a text anywhere on the note and add powerpoint presentation, links, images, videos etc to the note. It is part of the Microsoft Office bundle and is not available for Mac. Now, if you’ve just switched from Windows to Mac and you miss your OneNote, Growly Notes is one software that you will be particularly interested in, because it is just like an OneNote clone.

Growly Notes, once installed, allows you to capture everything you’re interested in. Just like OneNote, it supports anywhere scribbling and you can also insert in almost any file format – text, images, movies, audio clips, PDF files, tables, lists, web and file links, and drawings.

Getting Started

When you first open the app, it will bring you to the Help page where you can read the tutorial to get started.


Growly Notes works using a hierarchy system. The first document you create is call a notebook. Each notebook can contain one or more sections. Each section can then contain one or more pages. To get started, go to “File -> New Notebook”. When prompted, you can choose to create a blank new notebook or pick from existing templates.


Once a new notebook is created, you can click on the “+s” to add a new section or “+p” to add a new page. To add notes, start typing anywhere on the page and it will start capturing your input.


There are no gridlines or rules to follow here. You just have to use your own imagination. Inserting media files can be done via the “Insert” option in the menubar, or simply drag and drop to the note. It even comes with a calculator app built-in so you can type simple Maths operation and get it to calculate the result.


If you have created tons of notes, it is going to be difficult trying to uncover that one piece of note that you have created years ago. Luckily you can use the search feature to search for any text and it shows you the results in context. You can also tag notes using built-in categories and search for tagged notes with one click. For pinpoint searches, look for tagged notes that contain specific text.


Take notes while working in other programs

If you are into multi-tasking, you can open a floating window to take notes while you’re on another application like Powerpoint. The text is stored in a special location and can be moved to any other notebook when you’re done.

The Price

If you are still not aware, Growly Notes is FREE. It is amazing that a great software like this comes at a price of zero. In fact, all the software in the GrowlyBird package (including calendars, journal, checkbook and several games) are also free. According to the developers, the reason why they offer the software for free because they sucked at marketing (ok, I said that. Check out their own wordings). If you missed your OneNote, you are not going to miss on this one.

Growly Notes

Damien Damien

Damien Oh started writing tech articles since 2007 and has over 10 years of experience in the tech industry. He is proficient in Windows, Linux, Mac, Android and iOS, and worked as a part time WordPress Developer. He is currently the owner and Editor-in-Chief of Make Tech Easier.


  1. Looks nice. Too bad it’s just for mac, or I’d try it out. I like their pricing philosophy, though. :)

  2. i’m a onenote lover, who has just discovered growly notes. i’m pretty pleased, it’s a nice workaround for my mac, however, i’m having an issue with text the i drag in from web pages. all the html formatting shows up on my growly page. i have to put it in text editor first to get a clean render in growly, which is complicating a simple procedure.

    do any of you have any idea of what’s causing this, or have you had the same issues? i’ve gone over the entire site, can’t find anywhere to change this in preferences.

    it’s frustrating, but a very promising program.

  3. Growly Notes certainly seems a pretty good Mac alternative to OneNote but it has one fatal flaw for me which renders it totally useless – the search function. OneNote highlights all the tabs of the pages which contain the search term, as well as highlighting every single instance of the term. It’s therefore really easy to quickly scroll down a page and check all the occurences of the term. Growly Notes will find pages that contain the search term, but only highlights ONE instance of it, a major problem when there are multiple occurences of the term per page and you need to see them all. You can kind of rectify this by going through the Edit menu and Find on Page but it is unreliable (it won’t always find all or any instances) and is hugely cumbersome to do if you have many pages of notes. If this problem was sorted out, Growly Notes is definitely a worthwhile application. Until then – maybe ok for personal info, but no good as a research tool.

    1. I don’t have such intense use as you do, so I didn’t explore this feature while reviewing it. Thanks for pointing it out.

    1. they have a lot of the same capabilities, one thing that I’ve run into since I use Onenote to organize all of my work projects Evernote sync premium limits you to 1Gb sync/month, which I easily broke.  For most this shouldn’t be a problem.  Better android (and I assume iOS) apps exist for evernote and it has a little better tagging functions.  all-in-all, they’re pretty similar and both work great.

    2. I have been using both for a while.  Prefer Onenote for things I am trying to keep organized for a long time – e..g binders for various projects with attached files, etc.
      Everote is great for on the fly clipping/pasting/syncing of to do lists etc.   I don’t find the User interface quite as nice as OneNote but may be more dependent on it since I just switched to MAC.

  4. If you guys are willing to buy a One Note replacement I’ve found that Curio is about the best thing out there. It has pretty much all the functionality of One Note except you can’t yet share the file on a network drive for multiple people to sync to. Curio actually does alot more than One Note does so google it if you are interested.

  5. If I already have some notes in MS One Note format, does anyone know the Growly notes compatible to read all my MS One Note file??

  6. Pretty good, but it doesn’t allow as many levels of organization as OneNote… a new “notebook” is actually just a new tab across the top, not a separate notebook in the OneNote sense of having a higher level in the hierarchy (or folder structure, if you prefer). I am DYING to ditch OneNote, but I need more organizational capability. But, if you only need 3 layers (tab, page, subpage), this is perfect. And FREE! 

    BTW – Growly Guys n Gals, I’d be more than happy to PAY for this if you give me the capability of having actual separate notebooks in addition to the current structure in place.


    1. Is this now feasible on GrowlyNotes? I’m also interested in this functionality and won’t be able to adopt the software until then. Till then it has to be OneNote for me.

  7. Growlynotes is the best alternative for OneNote on mac without a doubt. I am a PhD student and used OneNote earlier to organize my Lab Notebook as well as my long term research plan notebook. Once I switched to Mac, I tried to use OneNote via CrossOver for Mac…but it kept crashing and even basic functions like copying from onenote notebooks to say paste in a word Doc would make it crash. Growlynotes in comparison is a dream and yes like others I won’t mind paying for it at all. I paid 40$ for a year long Crossover which was a complete waste, I would rather paid that for Growlynotes, so that they can make it even more robust.

    1. What are the differences with OneNote? What do you lose by switching to GrowlyNotes? I’m concerned about lost functionality. I need powerful noteaking software (I don’t mind paying) with multiple layers and search functions or else I will have to pick PC over Mac.

  8. I’m not sure if this was asked or not as I read through the comments………if my boss is using one note can I import her notebook that she wants me to write in?  

  9. For note-taking in classroom, Growly notes is definitely up to the par. As for printing, I have not tried it before, so I can’t comment on that.

    1. Any more thoughts on this? I am about to purchase a laptop. I would prefer a Mac but will go PC for OneNote unless I can get more details about the differences between OneNote and GrowlyNotes. I need really powerful, multi-layered note taking software for law school

      1. Curiously, no one has mentioned Circus Ponies Notebook. I actually started using OneNote on my PC at work when I was looking for something similar to Circus Ponies, which I use on my Mac at home. You should give it a try. It’s great for note taking, organizing, adding PDF, images, or media. If you record your classes it creates a marker on the recording at the exact place you’re taking your next note, you can export beautiful PDF files that look like a proffessional notebook, you can add checklists with priority levels and you can even integrate them with your iCal… There are a few things that Circus Ponies can’t do, but there are several other functions from that application that OneNote will never have… And you can buy it at a discounted price for students. 

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