Table of contents
Start for free
Google Keep vs. OneNote—main differences explainedThis Google Keep vs. OneNote comparison reviews two popular note-taking tools. Explore features, usability, and security to choose the right platform for you.
Whether you need to jot down ideas on the go, summarize meetings, or make a rough draft of your next email, note-taking apps can be a valuable part of your workflow. Capable solutions can do much more than the above, allowing you to collaborate on entire projects with your team.As Google and Microsoft are among the industry leaders when it comes to online workspaces, it’s natural for their solutions to come to mind first when you’re exploring different platforms. This Google Keep vs. OneNote comparison will show you how both providers approach note-taking and which solution might be better for you.You’ll also discover an alternative worth considering if you’re looking to move away from Big Tech solutions and protect your data.
Get a privacy-first note-taking appSkiff Pages employs end-to-end encryption to ensure your notes remain private and secure
Microsoft OneNote vs. Google Keep—key similarities and differencesOneNote and Google Keep are available within their respective online workplaces—Google Workspace and Microsoft 365.Still, you can use them as standalone platforms through web apps and dedicated mobile apps. OneNote has a slight advantage of offering dedicated Windows and Mac apps, which aren’t available with Google Keep.Both options let you perform basic note-taking tasks like adding text and images, similar to other popular tools like Evernote and Notion and their alternative solutions. Despite the same overall use, though, there are notable differences between these platforms, so we’ll compare them across the following factors:
- User interface and ease of use
- Rich text editing and media
- Note organization
User interface and ease of useLooking at Keep vs. OneNote interfaces, Google’s productivity apps are generally considered more visually appealing than Microsoft’s, the latter focusing more on feature availability than esthetic appeal. Google Keep is no different—you get a clean interface with notes displayed as widgets in the main window.
Source: Google Keep screenshotYou can compose a new note using the bar placed above the existing ones, and you’ll see options to add an image or checklist. When you hover over a note, you can access additional options, such as:
- Pinning the note
- Setting reminders
- Sharing the note
Source: OneNote ScreenshotEven though interface appeal largely depends on personal preferences, Google Keep objectively looks more modern than OneNote, so it could be a better option if you are a visual person.
Rich text editing and mediaOneNote is undoubtedly superior to Google Keep when it comes to different elements you can add to notes, as shown in the following table:
This media diversity makes Microsoft’s solution more suitable for creating comprehensive, dynamic notes. It also lets you draw freely, so it’s essentially a whiteboard you can use for various purposes besides basic note-taking.Google Keep has a similar feature, though it doesn’t work on all browsers, so you should use Chrome to ensure it’s enabled.Text formatting is also far better in OneNote. You can bold, italicize, and underline text much like you can in Word, while Google Keep’s web version doesn’t have these options. They’re only available in the Android app, which is quite limiting.OneNote also allows you to import meeting details directly from the Outlook calendar. Go to Insert > Meeting Details, select a specific meeting, and the platform will automatically add details such as:
Note organizationIn OneNote, notes are organized into sections and notebooks by default. This categorization makes it easy to get a bird’s-eye view of important notes but limits customization. Each note/page must belong to a section and its notebook, which might be unnecessary if you don’t need an entire category for some of them.You can move notes between sections and notebooks, so the initial categorization isn’t set in stone. From the main window, you can right-click a note in the Sections column and then go to Move/Copy to change the location.Comparing Google notes vs. OneNote organization, Google gives you a bit more control. By default, the app centralizes all your notes on the main screen, and you can use several features to sort them.The first one is labels, which work similarly to Gmail’s equivalent feature. You can assign labels that act as folders and display them in the left-hand menu.
Source: Google Keep screenshotGoogle Keep also lets you set colors and backgrounds of your notes, which you can associate with different categories for a clear overview. Lastly, you can pin notes to the top of the screen to make the most useful ones easily accessible.Overall, both platforms offer enough organization features for average users, so you’ll most likely be able to keep your notes neat without too much effort.
Mobile-friendlinessThere’s a high chance you’ll frequently access your note-taking app from your phone, so a well-optimized app is paramount. From this perspective, differences between Google Keep and OneNote boil down to nuances and personal preferences, as both apps boast a solid design and intuitive features.When you open OneNote, you’ll see your notebooks alongside two additional options at the bottom of the screen—search and Sticky Notes, which have a dedicated tab and don’t belong to notebooks.Tap a notebook to open it, and you can create new sections and pages by tapping the + sign in the upper-right corner.
Source: OneNote iOS app screenshotThe Google Keep app has a similar layout to the web version—you’ll see all your notes on the main screen and can tap the hamburger icon in the upper-left corner to access different labels.Besides creating a note by tapping the + sign, there are four other quick actions:
- Creating a checklist
- Recording a voice note
- Adding a note with an image
Source: Google Keep iOS screenshotThe main downside of the Google Keep app is the aforementioned limited availability of text formatting. The feature is available exclusively on the Android app, so you can’t format text on an iPhone.
SecurityAll note-taking apps should implement adequate protection measures and keep your data safe. Unfortunately, both Google Keep and OneNote disappoint when it comes to security.OneNote is slightly more secure because it lets you password-protect sections of your notebooks, which you can’t do with Google Keep. Still, this isn’t enough to compensate for a major flaw present with both platforms—a lack of strong encryption.People often talk about encryption in the context of email security, not realizing its importance for file protection when keeping data in the cloud. In a nutshell, encryption turns data into ciphertext, making it unreadable to anyone who doesn’t have a decryption key. Ideally, only you and the people you share notes with should be able to read their contents.This isn’t the case with Microsoft and Google’s solutions, as they both employ two encryption measures:
As secure as these measures may seem, they don’t offer enough protection. TLS is vulnerable to various types of cyberattacks, which means hackers can intercept data traveling between servers. Worse yet, the decryption keys are in the ownership of the app provider (Microsoft and Google, in this case), which means they can decipher and read your notes.To enjoy complete privacy, you need a secure note-taking app with end-to-end encryption (E2EE), which gives you full control over your data by ensuring only you can access decryption keys. If this sounds appealing, you should consider an alternative—Skiff Pages is superior to both OneNote and Google Keep.
|Encryption measure||What it does|
|Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol||Protects data in transit (e.g., when you’re sharing a file or uploading it to the cloud)|
|AES-256 algorithm||Safeguards data while it’s resting on the provider’s servers|
Combine security and feature varietySkiff Pages offers endless customization options and a secure collaboration environment
Skiff Pages—secure collaboration made easySkiff Pages is an end-to-end encrypted note-taking platform that uses advanced security measures to ensure no unauthorized parties can read your notes.The contents and key metadata of each document are protected using a symmetric key, which is shared among collaborators.Each user also has a unique pair of asymmetric keys consisting of:
- A public key—Encrypts the symmetric key, which means that every user has a unique encrypted copy of it
- A private key—Used to decrypt the symmetric key and stored on the user’s device, ensuring nobody but them can see the file’s contents
Feature-rich and easy-to-useSkiff Pages lets you create comprehensive notes as the rich text editor offers extensive formatting options. You can add numerous elements to your documents, most notably:
- Code blocks
- Lists (regular and to-do lists)
- Sharing, unsharing, and expiring access
- Link sharing
- File and folder importing from Google Docs, Word, and other platforms through instant migration
- Version history viewing and restoration
- Password protection of documents, files, and folders
- Fast text search
Expand your workflow with Skiff’s E2EE product suiteIf you want to share and store your documents securely while ensuring your projects stay on track, Skiff can help with three additional end-to-end encrypted products:The following table provides a short overview of each platform:
All Skiff platforms have dedicated iOS, Android, and macOS apps, and you can access them on Windows through most browsers.
|Skiff Mail||Send end-to-end encrypted emails unreadable to everyone but the recipient. Skiff Mail comes with various useful features like email aliases, custom domains, and crypto wallet integrations|
|Skiff Drive||Securely store your notes and files of any type with 10 GB of end-to-end encrypted storage. You can also leverage Skiff’s integration with InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) to store files in a decentralized environment|
|Skiff Calendar||Stay on top of your tasks and import events from Skiff Mail automatically. Skiff Calendar comes with a built-in video conferencing tool that enables easier collaboration|
Get started with Skiff Pages for freeAll mentioned features of Skiff Pages are available with a free account, as are all of Skiff’s end-to-end encrypted products. To create an E2EE workplace, follow three steps:
- Visit the signup page
- Choose your username and password
- Explore Skiff Pages and the rest of the secure ecosystem