Top 6 OneNote alternative solutions + note-taking guide

Find the best OneNote alternative that addresses the app’s shortcomings and provides a more streamlined note-taking experience.
OneNote is one of the most useful apps in the Microsoft 365 suite. It’s a robust note-taking solution featuring many tools that let you jot down quick thoughts or create comprehensive documents.Still, the platform is far from perfect. It might be too complicated for casual users or those needing an app for everyday personal notes. Its user interface is also outdated compared to most OneNote competitors, as it hasn’t undergone major overhauls in a while.Most importantly, Microsoft isn’t considered a particularly safe provider—an issue that extends to all its platforms.In this guide, you’ll learn what features to look for in a OneNote alternative to enjoy a better, more secure note-taking experience. You’ll also discover some of the main OneNote competitors catering to different user groups to find the best option.
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Factors to consider when choosing an alternative to OneNote

While comparing different note-taking apps, you should consider the following aspects:
  1. User interface
  2. Features
  3. Organization
  4. Value for money
  5. Security

User interface

An app’s user interface directly impacts ease of use and productivity, so it should be clutter-free and easy to navigate.OneNote’s layout isn’t particularly complex—it resembles Microsoft’s other apps like Word and Outlook, so it’s packed with features but might not be to everyone’s taste. Many other options provide the same features while having a more modern look.Of course, esthetics should never come at the cost of functionality. Some note-taking apps like Obsidian offer a clean, minimalistic look but overcomplicate note editing by requiring the knowledge of simple coding languages. These types of apps are not the best choice for users who aren’t tech-savvy.To sum up, your chosen app should strike a balance between robust features and a user-friendly layout.


The features to expect from a note-taking app depend mainly on what you’ll use it for. Still, there are a few universally desirable note-taking features every solid platform should offer, such as:
  • A rich text editor
  • Support for various content types
  • Web Clipper
  • Cross-platform syncing
  • To-do lists
An average user should be able to perform all their tasks with the above features, but you may need other components depending on your workflow. Start by defining everything you’ll need for comprehensive note-taking, and then see which platform checks all the boxes.


Every app has a unique approach to organization. For example, some apps let you interlink notes and display them visually, while others use the more traditional methods and stick to simple hierarchies.OneNote lacks important organization features like comprehensive dashboards letting you glance at the key information without opening specific notebooks. Ideally, you’ll find a solution that fixes this issue.

Value for money

OneNote is free to use despite being equipped with various advanced features, which isn’t the case with many platforms. When browsing alternatives, ensure you still get a rich free plan or affordable paid options offering all the necessary features without exceeding your budget.While you can expect to pay for some of the most advanced features of an app, you should be able to complete basic tasks without commitments. Decide on the features you need the most to avoid overpaying for those you don’t need.


You should always assess an app’s security features before committing to it, as doing so is crucial to ensuring your notes and data remain safe. Unfortunately, most apps—including OneNote—don’t implement adequate security measures.While you can secure your Microsoft account with two-factor authentication (2FA) and lock individual sections of your notebooks, OneNote fails to implement the encryption necessary to keep your notes private.The platform relies on two security measures:
  1. Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol that encrypts data in transit
  2. AES-256 algorithm that encrypts data resting on Microsoft’s servers
These encryption methods don’t guarantee privacy because the provider creates and stores your decryption keys. They can decipher your notes at any time and put you at risk of data leaks.The best way to retain control of your data is to opt for a platform offering end-to-end encryption (E2EE). It keeps all data secure between endpoints by encrypting it on the user’s device. The provider doesn’t manage the keys, so they can’t access your notes. The potential attack surface is also much smaller than with a typical encryption standard, so the risk of your data falling into the wrong hands is minimal.
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6 OneNote alternatives you should check out

Now that you’re familiar with the main factors to consider, take a look at the concise feature overview before diving into detailed reviews of six popular options:
PlatformFeature highlights
Google KeepLabels, colors, and backgrounds for organization, 15 GB of storage, basic note formatting
Zoho NotebookNote Cards serving different purposes, sharing and collaboration, automatic syncing
NotionTask assignments and tracking, support for various content types, workflow automation
MilanoteDrag-and-drop interface, note comments and threads, several note export formats
NotejoyReal-time collaboration, various integrations, simple note organization
Skiff PagesEnd-to-end encryption, secure real-time collaboration, support for content of any type
From intuitive interfaces to specialized features, these options cater to a range of preferences and work styles.Here’s how they compare to OneNote.

Google Keep

Source: Google KeepGoogle Keep is a solid alternative to OneNote if you need a simple note-taking app without over-the-top features. It’s suitable for beginners and casual users thanks to its clean layout and intuitive functions.Adding notes is easy, and you’ll find them all on your home screen as sticky notes. You can change their colors, backgrounds, and labels to organize them quickly and pin the most important ones to the top of the screen.You can add some simple elements to your notes besides text, most notably:
  • Images
  • To-do lists
  • Drawings
If you’re looking for advanced elements or formatting features, you should look beyond Google Keep. You can only format the text in the Android app, so you’re limited to the stock font on all other platforms.This solution is free, which is another argument for using it if you plan to do it casually. You get 15 GB of storage compared to OneNote’s 5 GB, but it’s combined with other Google services and might run out quickly if you back up your files or store photos.Besides a lack of advanced features, the main downside of Google Keep is weak security, as the app uses the same encryption protocols as OneNote. Generally, Google is well-known for invasive privacy practices, so including sensitive information in your notes might not be a good idea.
Free to useNo advanced note-taking features
User-friendly interfacePrivacy and security concerns
Easy note organization.

Zoho Notebook

Source: ZohoZoho Notebook is another free OneNote alternative, except it’s far more capable than Google Keep. You get a plethora of features and editing options that let you create rich notes and share them with your team.You can split notes into categories called Cards, with each Card serving a different purpose. There are seven options to choose from:
  1. Text
  2. Checklist
  3. Audio
  4. Photo
  5. File
  6. Sketch
  7. Smart
Most Cards are self-explanatory and indicative of the content type you can add. The only exception is Smart, which lets you save web content to Zoho Notebook—similar to Evernote’s web clipper.The app automatically syncs notes across all devices, and you can share them with others to let them contribute. There’s no real-time collaboration, though, so the platform might not be ideal if you want to simultaneously work with all your collaborators.Another disadvantage is limited storage—you only get 2 GB for free. Even if you upgrade to the paid plan at $1.99 per month, you can unlock up to 100 GB, which may not be enough for advanced users and teams.
Dedicated note categoriesNo real-time collaboration
Rich free planLimited storage
Web clipping capabilities.


Source: NotionNotion is one of the best OneNote alternatives if your main focus is collaboration and project management. Besides letting you create robust notes, the app makes scheduling and monitoring tasks easy without additional software.The app is similar to OneNote regarding the content types you can add to notes. Besides plain text, it supports code blocks, web snippets, videos, and many other content types. Still, the platform falls short when it comes to text formatting, as it’s much less flexible than OneNote. You can only choose between two font sizes and a handful of styles, which might bother some users.Notion’s main strengths lie in project management, as it offers numerous useful features, most notably:
  • Task assignment with dependencies
  • Several viewing options (table, calendar, Kanban, etc.)
  • Progress bar
  • Workflow automation
The platform offers a rich free plan with all the essential features plus a few useful extras, like various integrations and a seven-day page history. If you want to expand its functionality, you can choose from three paid tiers:
  1. Plus—$10/user per month ($8 with annual billing)
  2. Business—$18/user per month ($15 with annual billing)
  3. Enterprise—Custom
Unfortunately, Notion doesn’t go beyond basic security measures and encryption—it relies on TLS and AES, so your notes are not en-to-end-encrypted.
Comprehensive free planLimited text formatting options
Various project management featuresNo end-to-end encryption
Support for embeds of different types.


Source: MilanoteIf you’re looking for an app with a more user-friendly interface than OneNote, Milanote can be a solid choice. It’s a comprehensive platform that retains some of OneNote’s most useful features while making them more accessible.The app supports numerous content formats, including:
  • Different types of images
  • Word and Excel files
  • PDFs
Whether you need a simple checklist or a robust mood board, the platform should suit your needs without limitations. The drag-and-drop interface lets you seamlessly move objects around and structure them as you like.Milanote also comes with a few collaboration features. You can invite users to contribute to your notes and leave comments, and you can publish and export your files in different formats.The app offers a free plan, though it’s not particularly generous—you can only create 100 notes and upload up to 10 files. To overcome these limitations, you must subscribe to a paid plan with two pricing options:
  1. Individual—$12.50/month ($9.99/month with annual billing)
  2. Team—$49/month for up to 10 people (billed annually by default)
Security isn’t Milanote’s strongest suit. According to the company’s privacy policy, it uses the SSL encryption protocol, which is even less secure than TLS.
Drag-and-drop interfaceLimited free plan
Supports various file types Weak encryption
Collaboration features.


Source: NotejoyNotejoy is a note-taking app and collaborative workspace best suited for teams creating knowledge bases, wikis, project guidelines, and similar documents. It’s a versatile app with all the features you’d expect from a capable solution, such as:
  • Rich text editing with various formatting options
  • Various integrations (Zoom, Gmail, Office, etc.)
  • Support for document embeds and other media
The platform organizes your notes similarly to Notion—you have parent pages and subpages, so it’s easy to categorize and navigate them in one place.Notejoy is another app that handles collaboration better than OneNote. You can track who views your documents, react to them in an emoji-like style, and create threads your team can participate in.The platform supports end-to-end encryption only if you upgrade to a paid plan. A free account gets you basic SSL/TLS and AES-256 encryption, so Notejoy isn’t secure enough out of the box.The free plan also has limited storage—you only get 100 MB. Even the highest tier won’t give you as much as you could get with another app, as 20 GB is the maximum capacity. If you still want to upgrade, you can choose from three options:
  1. Solo—$4/month (billed annually by default)
  2. Plus—$10/month ($8/month billed annually)
  3. Premium—$15/month ($12/month billed annually)
Numerous text formatting options End-to-end encryption is only available with the paid plans
Integration with many major platforms Limited storage
Easy note organization.

Skiff Pages

Source: SkiffSkiff Pages is a privacy-first note-taking app that uses strong end-to-end encryption by default to ensure your notes are private and secure. The contents and key metadata of your notes are encrypted using a symmetric key, and all users get a separate asymmetric key pair consisting of:
  1. A public key that encrypts the symmetric key, giving every user a unique copy of it
  2. A private key that decrypts the note
All keys are created and stored on the user’s device, so neither Skiff nor any third party can decipher your notes. For added confidentiality, you can create an account without leaving identifiable information like your name or phone number.Advanced security is one of many advantages of Skiff Pages. The platform offers a clean, modern user interface and various features, such as:
  • Rich text editor—You can format text and add tables, code blocks, files of any type, and many other elements
  • Access controls—Skiff Pages lets you share and unshare docs, and you can set expiring access
  • Real-time collaboration—All document changes are end-to-end encrypted and communicated through secure Web Sockets
  • Flexible import and export—You can import documents from popular word processors and export them in .docx, .pdf, and .md formats
You get 10 GB of end-to-end encrypted storage and can sync files between iOS, Android, and macOS devices. You can also access Skiff Pages on Windows through major browsers.
End-to-end encryptionNo dedicated Windows app
User-friendly interface.
Various text formatting and note-editing options.
Real-time collaboration.

Skiff Pages opens doors to an E2EE ecosystem

When you create an account, you’ll get access to three more end-to-end encrypted platforms:
  1. Skiff Mail for securing your correspondence with strong end-to-end encryption
  2. Skiff Drive for storing your files in a secure cloud space of up to 2 TB
  3. Skiff Calendar for staying on top of your schedule and holding video conferences
Skiff is open source, so you can find its codebase on GitHub and read this whitepaper to learn more about its features.

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If you want to expand Skiff’s functionality with additional features, you can upgrade to one of the three affordable paid tiers.

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