Simplenote vs OneNote: Which Note-Taking App Is Better for You

Simplenote vs OneNote: Which Note-Taking App Is Better for You

Microsoft OneNote is one of the oldest note-taking apps. Most of us grew up using Windows, and OneNote was the obvious choice. It comes with several useful features. Sometimes you’re just looking for a simple note-taking app to quickly write down your thoughts. Simplenote also offers this and more.

1. User interface

Simplenote comes with a clean user interface where you won’t even see a toolbar at the top. Simplenote does not need a formatting toolbar because it supports markdown syntax. There is just a sidebar where you can see all of your notes and a search bar at the top. There are a few options on the right to manage the note in question.

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The OneNote user interface, on the other hand, is a bit busy but remains fairly easy to use. There are many formatting options that we will explore below. OneNote follows a hierarchy system in which you can create notes under sections which are then saved in Notebooks. Just like a physical journal.

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Both apps hide the sidebar to provide a distraction-free writing experience.

2. Where Simplenote shines

Simplenote is light, fast and easy to use. A quick way to braindump or write a full essay using markdown. It is clutter-free and a boon for writers who like to work with markdown syntax.

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You can still format and everything in Simplenote as you do in OneNote. The only difference is how it is done.

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Just press the preview button to see the result in real time. Activating dark mode with the sidebar hidden under Focus mode helps the writing process.

Simplenote was designed with a clear purpose, objective and audience in mind – it succeeds in achieving it beautifully.

3. Where OneNote shines

OneNote takes a different approach. There is a full-fledged toolbar where you can format text, create tables, manage fonts and much more. It has its advantages. As you can highlight text in different colors or choose from several icons / tags to indicate importance instead of just using a checkbox like in Simplenote.

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OneNote can save notes in different formats such as text, audio, images, handwriting and drawing. There are separate toolbars with even more options for drawing.

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OneNote will automatically solve simple and complex mathematical equations for you. Just enter the formula with numbers in the correct format and press = to get results. There is a dedicated Equation menu with complex formulas ready to use.

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OneNote is versatile, and that is why it is popular among note takers who simply want more from their note app.

4. What else they have to offer

Simplenote and OneNote support distraction-free writing and dark mode. Simplenote has a History button where you can view old note versions and restore them if necessary.

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OneNote has a Recent Changes tab where you can view the notes you have recently changed or those of your team / family members. However, you cannot restore an old version of note in OneNote.

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While OneNote has a better note management system using notebooks, sections, and tags, Simplenote only offers tags. Both have a powerful search function. OneNote integrates deeply with other Microsoft applications. You can create / modify sticky notes on the OneNote mobile app and use them on the standalone Windows 10 desktop app. There are plans to integrate the Teams and To-Do app in 2020. There are no no longer support for third-party applications.

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You can even translate entire pages or notes in OneNote at the click of a button.

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Finally, you can share and collaborate on notes in OneNote and Simplenote.

5. Platform and price

Simplenote is open-source and completely free, without ads or channels. It is available on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android and iOS. There is also a web application.

OneNote is currently available on all four platforms, except Linux. There are two versions right now, and they’re both free. The Office 365 subscription offers search functionality for OneNote which will allow you to search for citations, references and other documents in Bing directly in OneNote.

Simplicity vs versatility

The choice between Simplenote and OneNote is one of simplicity and versatility. Whether you want a quick and easy way to write and take notes or be creative and take notes in a variety of formats with many options. There is a note taking app for everyone. Test both and choose the one that works best for you.


Impressed with everything OneNote can do? Check out this in-depth comparison between OneNote and Notion to learn more about what Notion can do for you.

Last updated on February 6, 2020

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