I’ve recently been pondering and/or reconsidering my decision to switch from OneNote to Evernote a year ago. It seemed like an easy choice at the time, but I’m not entirely convinced I’ve truly gained in a way that has made me feel more productive. Subjective, yes I know. Bear with me as I think out loud.
I’ll start with the mobile experience. One of the main reasons I decided to go with Evernote was the promise and potential of the Windows Mobile client. The WinMo OneNote client is… to be polite… pretty useless (did it improve with ON 2007 by chance?). At first glance the Evernote client seemed a huge improvement – and, early on, received frequent updates.
However, after a year it turns out I never use Evernote on my Windows Mobile phone. Why? Well for starters my dream of managing task lists and checkboxes remains unfulfilled. Can’t even see checkboxes from the WinMo client. Want to fake checkboxes? Well, you can’t edit an existing note from the mobile client either.
Long story short, no gain.
What do I miss the most from OneNote? The free-form aspects of the pages. Everything doesn’t have to be trapped into a single “column” on the page. That capability worked very well for me and how I manage my own tasks and projects – side notes!
How about creating outlines? With OneNote you can hit tab and be in outline mode. Tab and shift-tab to indent and, for me, all very intuitive and easy to use. Evernote? (I had to revisit the Help for this next bit) Ctrl-Shift-B for a bullet list. Shift-M and Shift-Ctrl-M to indent and outdent. After a year I still hardly ever use outlines because I can’t seem to remember the hotkeys!
Want multiple columns of bullet lists in Evernote? Not gonna happen. Painless in OneNote.
Now, I use multiple computers and the free aspect of Evernote is very enticing. Setup a new machine, dump on Evernote, let it sync and “hey presto!” I’m good to go.
Conversely, I only own one license of OneNote so I have to make deliberate and thought-out choices about where I install it…. Now, I suppose I could get a little sketchy with my MSDN subscription and “liberate” an extra OneNote license for “development purposes”… then I’d have two. Otherwise I’m shelling out some serious coin to have ON on more than one machine. Not enticing and definitely a motivator to stick with Evernote.
(Thought: Dropbox would make syncing OneNote files a lot easier than it used to be, right?)
Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not bashing Evernote at all. It is a great product with tons of features. The built-in syncing alone is just about priceless and you get it with the free version! The OCR’ing of images is pretty interesting as well. Great for taking whiteboard pictures that are searchable.
Cutting to the chase:
I think the genesis of this post is the fact that after a year I find myself still missing OneNote… Now I just need to decide if that’s a strong enough motivation to switch back. Thoughts?