Default OneNote Experience – OneNote Desktop versus the OneNote App

Now, why would you ever want anything other than the robust, feature-rich desktop version of OneNote 2016 (or 2013)?


Off the top of my head, I can think of three key cases for using the OneNote App:

  1. Touch-Friendly
  2. New Features First
  3. Available for Free

Touch-Friendly – An optimized touch screen experience.

The App version of OneNote is designed to deliver an optimized touch-experience – some features that would be cumbersome to control with swipe of the finger have been removed for ease of use, and modified touch-friendly features that aren’t available in the desktop version.

Note: One surprise to many OneNote App fans was the elimination of the radial menu. I wasn’t a fan when I had my Lenovo Yoga, but as soon as I was given a Surface Pro 3, and had a stylus pen to use, the radial menu seemed quite exciting. No sooner had I started to get the hang of it, it was removed. The new, minimalist user interface is very touch friendly, with easy to identify icons and lots of space around the buttons to ensure finger-mashing the wrong feature does not occur. (Read Corey Roth‘ awesome post “Using OneNote with the Surface Pro 3” on the The Microsoft MVP Award Program Blog for more details on the former radial menu.)

If you have a device such as the Lenovo Yoga or Surface Pro that allows for both the laptop and the tablet experience (like I do), having both the desktop version and the App version of OneNote loaded on your computer simultaneously makes sense.

 New Features First- Access to all the Bells and Whistles.

It looks like, in my opinion, the OneNote App is getting a lot of love and most of the shiniest, new features. Yes, there certainly are many “not for business” features popping up while many of the “must have” functions are missing… but not all businesses are bland and not all new features are sparkles and glitter:

Some new features that are fun and playful are:

  • Convert to Shape
  • Insert Picture from Camera
  • Ink Effects  – including rainbow, galaxy, and gold!

Some new business features of note are:

  • Notebook Presence
  • Recent Notes
  • Hide Page List

Available for Free – No Office 365 Subscription Required.

And the best part? It’s free – usually pre-installed on most devices. If it’s not, you can download it from the App Store – just search for “OneNote”. If you can’t find it, then press the Windows key on your keyboard, type the word “Store”, hit “Enter,” and use the search field to locate the OneNote App.

Over the next few weeks, I will do a deep dive and explore the OneNote App and post a series of other items I discover in the OneNote App that excite me. And there will certainly be more reasons as time goes on.

What are your reasons for using the OneNote App?

One response to “Default OneNote Experience – OneNote Desktop versus the OneNote App

  1. Agree with you : OneNote App has improved a lot, and is now worth using.
    Another reason to use OneNote App is “Pin to Start screen” feature (not available in OneNote desktop).
    But if you use Outlook, and want to be able to send notes by mail, you can only use OneNote desktop version…
    By the way, seems that OneNote App do not allow anymore to print a note… What a pity !
    Finally, be aware that using both OneNote version double the space occupied on your disk, since cache file is not the same…

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