Microsoft OneNote review

Starting price$6.99 per user per month (Personal plan)
Key features
  • Project management
  • Ink to text
  • Notebooks
  • Drawing and handwriting

Project management tools can be lifesavers by storing and sorting data, but some projects are built on pages of writing, research and idea concepts. For projects that require less cold data and more creativity, OneNote is a worthwhile solution.

Users can start with chicken scratch and vague ideas and turn that into thoughtful research with colorful media and clear points. This in-depth Microsoft OneNote review explores the various key features, pricing and more to determine whether this project management tool is the best for you.

What is Microsoft OneNote?

Microsoft OneNote is a digital note-taking application that allows you to conveniently place your notes, research and plans in one location. The storage and creative features allow you to take vague ideas and formulate them into actionable tasks and workflows.

Hands-on Microsoft OneNote review results

The following hands-on review results illustrate our experience with Microsoft OneNote across various key criteria.

Ease of use4.75/5

Microsoft OneNote pricing

Score: 2.25/5

Pricing PlanCost/month (per user, billed monthly)Cost/month (per user, billed annually)
Microsoft 365 Personal
Microsoft 365 Business Basic
Microsoft 365 Business Standard
Microsoft 365 Business Premium
Microsoft 365 Apps for Business

Microsoft OneNote Business plans are billed annually and will automatically renew.

Microsoft 365 Personal

Freelancers or individuals may want to get the Microsoft 365 Personal plan. It costs $69.99 annually per user, or $6.99 billed month-to-month. Offerings include 1TB of storage, access for five devices and signature Microsoft applications. You can get started with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneDrive, Outlook and, of course, OneNote.

Microsoft 365 Business Basic

Basic is the first tier of the Business plans and the most affordable at $6.00 per user per month. Similar to the Personal plan, it offers 1TB of storage per user, but unfortunately, it only allows web/mobile versions of signature Microsoft applications.

Microsoft 365 Business Standard

This tier can be for small teams where you’re paying $12.50 per user per month, billed annually. Teams will have access to desktop versions of signature apps and more collaboration tools. This plan will include the desktop version of OneNote.

Microsoft 365 Business Premium

The Premium subscription is $22.00 per user per month, billed annually. Teams that want more control over their data and security will have cyber threat protection, Azure Information Protection and governance.

Microsoft 365 Business Apps for Business OneNote free vs. paid

If your team makes use of multiple Microsoft apps beyond OneNote, then Microsoft 365 Business Apps is a cheaper option for $8.25 per user per month, billed annually. This gives you access to OneNote and other Microsoft applications, which can be used across five devices.

OneNote free vs. paid

Microsoft OneNote has a couple of versions available, and both are equally good programs. The most recent free version of OneNote is OneNote for Windows. Both are free, with slightly different user interfaces.

Anyone with a Microsoft account can also use the web version, but it’s much more limited than the desktop versions and doesn’t have their Ink features. Overall, the web version is simpler; so if you don’t need that much functionality or just want to try the software, it’s a great choice.

OneNote’s free version comes with all its best features, like handwriting notes and adding files, images, audio and visual content. The paid version of OneNote includes features like Ink Replay, Researcher and an AI Math Assistant.

The Ink Replay feature records your drawing or note-taking process and plays it back for your team. Researcher allows you to search the internet while still within OneNote, and the Math Assistant helps you solve equations and shows its work while doing it.

In the subscription version, you will also have access to stickers, support, upcoming updates and features.

Core Microsoft OneNote features

Score: 4.6/5

Microsoft OneNote is a project management tool that you can personalize to suit your needs.

Project management

You can take notes quickly by writing them down on paper to digitize later or directly on a tablet. OneNote’s tag section allows you to mark important tasks or information to categorize and easily return to later. Time can also be saved by using templates or integrations — like OneNote Clipper — to add web content right into your project. Other media for customizing your project information include audio and video content.

Drawing and handwriting

The most unique feature OneNote offers is its Ink functionality, which allows you to draw or handwrite notes. You can insert images or documents and add your thoughts on top. If you create a diagram or instructions, you can record and replay them to animate your notes using Ink Replay. If you don’t have a tablet for digital writing, you can still convert handwritten notes to text after scanning them in.


OneNote users can collaborate by sharing a link to their notes for viewing or editing. As a Microsoft app, you can send over any notes via Outlook or Teams for fast communication about projects. If your team buys a paid version, you can use other Microsoft applications for presentations and databases and share them with your team.


OneNote allows you to sort and organize your notes into convenient notebooks that you can organize, print and share easily. Notes can be anything from written ideas or audio recordings, and you can find and sort your notes to best suit your workflow or organization method.

OneNote integrations

You can improve your user experience in OneNote by utilizing some of its integrations.

  • OneNote for AutoCAD – for note-taking in AutoCAD.
  • OneNote Web Clipper – for pulling images from the web to add to your research.
  • WordPress – rework notes from OneNote into online posts.
  • Zapier – allows you to connect to another app like Slack or Trello.
  • Chegg – for creating study guides.
  • OneNote Class Notebook – make course content easier for teachers.
  • JotNot Scanner – scan any document with your phone.
  • Feedly – save important or inspirational articles for your projects.

Microsoft OneNote ease of use

Score: 4.75/5

Microsoft OneNote has a simple learning curve. If you’ve worked with other Microsoft apps such as Word, OneNote will feel familiar. The user interface is similar to other Microsoft apps and the software is available on tablets, desktops and mobile.

While it will be easier to use the software if you’ve used other Microsoft apps, it can still be easily adopted by users who are entirely new to the ecosystem.

Microsoft OneNote pros and cons

Easy conversion of handwritten notes to text.The software can be difficult to learn for people unfamiliar with Microsoft apps.
Templates.Can be slow to load.
Task management.Upgrades can lose data.
Mobile and web versions.Occasional accessibility issues in the user interface.

Best uses for Microsoft OneNote

Microsoft OneNote has several use cases for people who need to collect and organize their thoughts or information in an easy to access manner.

Recording meetings and interviews

OneNote allows you to record both audio and video from the comfort of your device. By doing so, you can get full recordings of meetings and interviews while taking notes. With the notebook feature, you’re able to store all of your related meeting or interview notes in a convenient place.

Research and organization

If you have a project that requires extensive research, OneNote allows you to collect and organize the information easily. For small businesses or teams, you can share this information seamlessly for quick feedback.

Task tracking

OneNote provides a convenient place for you to track your tasks and mark off task completion. If your workflow requires checklists and organizing tasks to ensure a project is complete, OneNote can serve as an excellent management tool for you.

Who is OneNote best for?

Workspaces that are open to using Microsoft applications — as well as design, writing and IT — can add more to their projects with features like Ink Replay or the Math Assistant. If your workspace includes zero Microsoft Office products and you’re not interested in adding a Microsoft 365 subscription, the free version of OneNote can be used.

OneNote may not be the best option for teams that prefer a paid subscription with support and added security. You have to buy a Microsoft 365 subscription for this, but if you won’t be using other apps like Word or Excel, then it’s not worth the purchase.

When it comes to supporting documentation or tutorials, Microsoft doesn’t offer as much as other project management solutions. The bright side is that because it’s a Microsoft product, there are hundreds of software mentors online creating content about apps like OneNote. Andy Park’s YouTube channel dedicates a huge amount of time to OneNote. He creates tutorials like how to convert image text to the page for handwritten notes and provides general tips for customizing your OneNote space.

Microsoft OneNote alternatives and competitors

Microsoft OneNoteNotionEvernoteApple Notes
Multiple work viewsNoYesYesYes
Web clipperYesYesYesNo
Free trialYesFor Notion AIYesNo


Large teams that want a different note-taking project management software can also try Notion. Their free plan offers up to 10 guest collaborators, so you can still work with your team without buying more user seats. Guest collaborators won’t have the same number of features as a regular user, but they will be able to interact and receive projects or tasks.

Notion also has an AI writing assistant add-on and work views for Kanban, calendar and table, but no Gantt charts. Integrations like Slack and Zapier are available in the free version. You can learn more in our full Notion review.


Another great project management solution is Evernote. It’s very similar to OneNote, offering easy search capabilities, integrations and the ability to save web content like images, articles and PDFs easily. The software includes document scanning and the ability to search images with character recognition. It offers a drawing tool for handwriting notes and recording them as a video, just like in OneNote.

Apple Notes

For Apple product lovers, Apple Notes is a free application that stores its data in your iCloud account. It’s not as feature-rich as Microsoft OneNote, but it’s similar. You can save research or images for later and share them on any device. Users can sort their notes into folders and add scanned documents.

Microsoft OneNote review methodology

While evaluating OneNote, we looked at features, online tutorials, user reviews and common competitors. We considered unique features as well as how well teams can benefit from them.

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