Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tech Tuesday - OneNote vs. Evernote

I was reading an older post from Elyses's Genealogy Blog today in which she discusses her preferences in the OneNote vs. Evernote debate.  It really struck a chord with me when I read the beginning of the second paragraph:

A year or two ago, I played around with Evernote but just didn’t fall in love with it.  I was attracted to Evernote because I’ve seen so many blog posts written about it; how easy it is to use, very mobile, syncs with the web – the list of cool features was pretty long.  So I tried it.  But I didn’t fall in love.  I felt that the interface wasn’t as intuitive as I would have liked and I got confused a few times.  After a few weeks, I gave up and moved on.

I know exactly what you mean, Elyse. I did it too.  Then I found OneNote and I love it.  I used it for a little bit with my genealogy files, but as I continued to read about how great Evernote was...  I dunno...  I felt like I was missing something and OneNote wasn't really the tool of choice, so I left it for a while.

Now, as I am working on my paperless office, I realize I need a program like Evernote or OneNote to help me beter organize my thoughts.

Now I need to pick up one, or both of these tools and try again.  Maybe there is another option I'm not even considering.

I'm curious what other family historians think about the topic. Are you using one of these programs or something similar?  Why did you pick one over the other?  Did you try other options before settling on the program you use?  I'll likely try both ofr a period of time, but if you have consideration you think I should factor in, please let me know.  It would be helpful to know what other genealogists find useful.


  1. I use both and would hate to have to choose because I use each in different ways. Evernote is particularly good because of the portability: I can add anything to it from my Android, particularly pictures of things I need to remember.

    OneNote I like to keep some of my genealogy logs on and take notes. I started using OneNote first so I would hate to have to switch everything over to something else. Besides, it works. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

  2. I've used Evernote and haven't fallen in love with it, either. I'll be interested to see if anyone else comments with their thoughts.

  3. As I'm not familiar with Evernote, I can't comment on it, but since reading your post and the comments here, I'm going to take a look to see if I'll Fall In Love. I really admire your going paperless. I've downsized alot of paper, but find that I still love the feel of hard copy especially in scrapbooks, photos and documents that are significant to my genealogy research and family tree. I guess I'm still an Old School Gal...which I posted about on Sorting Saturday today. Enjoyed visiting your blog.

  4. Thanks for stopping by. I understand completely the attachement to hardcopies. There will be things that I think I will still feel like I need to have a hardcopy to go hold in hand, but I'm resisting the urge so far. The other day I found 38 pages of Civil War pension files on Fold3.com for one of my ancestors and it was VERY hard not to print everything off so I could sit and read it, but I saved all the files off so I have them for reference and have read through them all. I think that initial aHa! find is the key. If I can resist it then, it gets easier as I know I have a place to reference them later. I really need to figure out a backup strategy quick though :)

  5. I love Evernote. I was a big One Note user, then I heard about Evernote and thought I would give it a try. Didn't think I would prefer one over the other, but I just do. I still use both, but Evernote gets most of my attention. I just prefer the user interface, I like the way it looks, I find it easy to manage and keep organized. Or maybe I'm just becoming better at organization.

  6. Thanks for the comments, Lynn. User interface is definitely a draw for people to all kinds of software. In my professional life, I've found most people are willing to do without some bells and whistles if the user interface is intuitive and easy enough to use. Of course we'd like to have the best of both worlds, but that doesn't always happen :)

  7. Some people have a need for pocket-size mobile devices so they need apps that will run that way and I don't know anything about these things.

    Assuming there's at least a laptop going with you, note-taking can be done just about anywhere and synced back to your desktop. I'm not crazy about OneNote but am willing to consider the possibility of using it to organize genealogy research. I think EverNote is less desirable for the purpose.

    My favorite organizer of late is ActionOutline. It has a cleaner layout than OneNote but lacks OneNote's fancier features.