When comparing Microsoft OneNote vs Ulysses III, the Slant community recommends Microsoft OneNote for most people. In the question“What are the best Evernote alternatives?” Microsoft OneNote is ranked 2nd while Ulysses III is ranked 32nd. The most important reason people chose Microsoft OneNote is:
OneNote allows you to arrange text freely on the digital paper mimicking the way it would be done with a real pen on real paper.
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Pro Text can be added anywhere like a whiteboard
OneNote allows you to arrange text freely on the digital paper mimicking the way it would be done with a real pen on real paper.
Pro Comprehensive organization methods
Can have multiple 'tabs' at the top like in a web browser with many notes within each 'tab'.
Pro Stylus and digitizer pen support
OneNote can be used on all touch capable devices via stylus or digitizer pen making for an intuitive and easy way to take notes by hand, which can often be faster or just preferred over typing. It has the best pen input out of any note taking app.
Pro Sharing and collaboration
You can share your notes by inviting people with an e-mail, or by giving them a direct URL. You have control over what kind of access the user has on your note (read only, edit) and can revoke it at any time.
OneNote will alert you when a chance in made on your shared note.
Pro Integrates with other Microsoft services
Integrates well with Outlook, Office, and OneDrive.
Pro Powerful table editor
Adding and resizing rows and columns is easy and flexible. This makes for an easy way to adjust a note as it grows in content size.
Pro Supports hierarchical organization of information / notes
OneNote is designed to allow hierarchical organization of information. This is achieved with grouping into the following categories and UI elements (Notebooks, Sections, and Pages). Both Sections and Pages allow additional groupings that can be expanded / collapsed in list view.
This can be incredibly helpful for quickly taking notes and organizing them for work or personal projects.
For example, you could have a Notebook for "Cooking Recipes", with sections for "breakfast, dinner, desserts", where individual recipes would be page entries (i.e. the "Desserts" section would have pages for brownies, chocolate cheesecake etc).
Pro Insert files into your notes
You can add a variety of different files into your notes including images, video, audio, and more.
Pro All indented lines under the first can be expanded and hidden
Which makes it easy to quickly look at the high level of notes, and then drill deep into each point.
Pro Strong search features let you quickly find what you're looking for
If you don't want to search through all of your notes, you can narrow it down by specifying the page, section, group, or notebook.
You're not limited to just searching through your text either. You can search for text in images, video recordings, and audio (this is off by default).
Pro Offers flexible encryption
Unlike most other apps, you can selectively password protect, and fully encrypt, individual documents or entire folders. This is especially important to many people with data stored in the cloud. As of early this year, even the free version supports encryption. Microsoft has also enhanced their internal security methods for storing data on OneDrive (where OneNote performs sync), which makes it more secure than most of their competitors (including Evernote).
Pro On Android, you can tap a badge to start a note
The badge on Android hovers over on your screen similar to Facebook Messenger's Chat Heads. You can tap it and instantly start jotting down your thoughts without having to flip to the app first.
Pro Lots of options for customizing fonts
You can fully customize your default font (the color, type of font, and font size). You can override this styles with the same options (and more) in individual notes.
Pro Add notes through email
You can choose what notebook the notes will save to. E-mail notes to your special Onenote e-mail and it will be accessible across all devices.
Pro Article Web Clipper available on desktop and mobile
Has a web clipper extension on Chrome and Edge that can be used for clipping whole articles and images. Web clipping of articles is also available on Chrome mobile through the "Share" option.
Its available Windows Mobile, Windows Store, Android, a Desktop Version, and a Web app. Apple macOS and iOS are also supported.
Pro Very similar design for those used to Microsoft programs
If you have experience with other Microsoft programs such as Microsoft Office, you'll feel right at home with the design of OneNote thanks to the similarity of the menus.
Pro Converts handwriting to text on Windows version
You can take handwritten notes on your mobile device with a stylus or digital pen and then convert the handwriting to text later on your Windows PC.
Pro Large variety of themes available
You have quite a few options for themes available with illustrated backgrounds. If you want something a bit more simple while still having personality, there are also several color themes.
Pro Browser plugins allow easy saving of web pages
The ability to quickly file away web clippings is a key part of note taking.
Pro Highly customizable
A few themes are baked in and a big selection of user-contributed styles to choose from are available on the Ulysses Style Exchange.
Pro Does not distract the user
Ulysses has a clean, unobtrusive, easy to overview interface that allows focusing on writing. By default it's split up in 3 panes with sidebar, sheet pane and content pane from left to right. Unnecessary panes can be hidden.
Pro No Markdown syntax knowledge required
Markdown formatting can be applied from the right-click menu, with keyboard shortcuts or from an optional markup bar. Necessary elemants to links, images, and footnotes are added by filling in a popover.
Pro Can paste rich text and import from Word
Pasted rich text and imported Word documents keep their formatting when converted to Markdown.
Pro Attachments can be added
Attachments such as images, text notes, keywords and writing goals can be added to content. And to organize them keywords can be added.
Pro Great tools for organizing and finding files
Ulysses saves everything in the app so there's no file management outside of the editor involved. It organizes content in groups (folders) and sheets (files), has a powerful, easy to use search and allows adding keywords to attachments to help them be organized and found quickly.
Groups can have an unlimited amount of subgroups and the title of subgroup shows up in the pane view. Sheets can be split up, merged, glued together and easily moved around in the sheet pane by dragging and dropping. Great for splitting up larger documents into manageable chunks while still keeping an overview of the whole project and having the ability to move sections around quickly.
Contents of a group can be filtered by text, keywords or change date within headings, code blocks, images or any other marked up text. Filters can contain a combination of conditions and be saved to make a new group. Saved filters can be moved around to different groups and will return filtered results for that group. Selecting multiple groups will show the combined sheets of those groups.
Pro Keyboard navigation
You can operate Ulysses via keyboard only. No need for mouse.
Pro Multiple preview and export options
The editor can export to Plain Text, RTF, Word, HTML, ePub and PDF with customizable styles for each option. It can also preview HTML directly in the browser.
Pro Inline formatting
There's no live-preview pane or an external previewer necessary. Ulysses displays styling inline.
Pro Includes features for not losing place
Ulysses has options for highlighting current line, showing line numbers and enabling typewriter mode. Typewriter mode defines a place on the screen where the cursor should be so eyes are kept focusing in one place on the screen.
Pro Syncs via iCloud
Content can be synchronised across devices via Apple's iCloud.
Pro Comprehensive documentation
Ulysses comes with an excellently written documentation that covers everything there is to know about the software, including an extensive list of keyboard shortcuts as well as short and sweet introduction to Markdown and its benefits.
Pro Allows the user to work anywhere and on any Apple device of their choice
Ulysses is available for both macOS and iOS. This, combined with the cloud syncing allows users to work on their projects using any Apple device they have at the time.
Pro Displays statistics including how long it takes to read the document
The editor tracks statistics that shows how many characters, words, sentences, paragraphs, and pages a document contains and estimated reading time for slow, average, and fast readers. The statistics display in a popover that can be torn-off so it's constantly visible.
Pro Helps get stuff done
Goals such as how many characters, words, sentences, paragraphs, lines or pages should be written can be set to help get motivated.
Pro Powerful organization features
Groups, tagging, and notes for each document.
Pro Helpful support
Staff is helpful in answering questions on how to use the app.
Pro A demo version is available
A time (10hrs) and usage limited demo for Ulysses III is available.
Con Not available for Linux
There is no native Linux client for OneNote available, and most likely will never be created. Users can use the web based client, but a native app would be a better choice for those that use the app frequently.
Con Requires a Microsoft account
You need to have a Microsoft email to sign up for OneNote (Outlook, Hotmail, or Windows Live).
Con Not open-source
This application is proprietary, and thus cannot be modified or freely distributed.
Con Text editing is weird (poor UX)
When clicking in the middle of a note, it adds something like a text-box positioned in the middle. If you move that field to the bottom right, it gets weirder. You can end-up with an empty note, having an empty text-box 1km to the bottom-right of it.
Con Syncing issues
It tells you there are conflicts between a note on the PC and on the Android because of the timing of the synchronization but doesn't try to resolve itself.
Con Sync isn't stable
Many users have reported synchronization issues. While not everyone will experience this, it can be difficult to troubleshoot, with some fixes resorting to editing registry keys in Windows when using the Windows client.
Con Platform dependent
The newer versions for Windows and Mac are converging, using the Windows style layout (with a more more consistent and usable UI).
The original OneNote for Mac for example is very different from OneNote for Windows. Because Microsoft has a vested interest in making sure the Windows version is superior, the Mac version tends to lag behind in terms of functionality. Tutorials and other forms of documentation available online generally apply only to the Windows version, which implies non-Windows versions are undocumented.
Even worse, because the documentation rarely, if ever, indicates it only applies to Windows, it's easy to waste hours trying to make non-existent features work. As such, the documentation is "negative documentation" (i.e. worse than no documentation at all).
Con No backup on Windows 10 free version
If you accidentally delete a section on the windows 10 free version of Onenote, there is no backup to fall back on.
Con Uninspired, bland user interface
Many of OneNote's competitors use Material Design and bold colors to create a minimal, clean looking interface.
OneNote has a bit more of an outdated look and can feel over crowded at times.
Con The added flexibility means your notes may feel cluttered
Since you can place elements anywhere you'd like on your note, you have to pay attention to how you structure it. For some this added flexibility is a huge selling point, but for others it could become distracting and makes notes feel difficult to digest.
Con You cannot use local OneNote files with the version of OneNote that is included with Windows
There is a difference between the OneNote that is included with Windows 10 and the OneNote that comes with Microsoft Office. The version included with Windows cannot use local OneNote files and requires you to be online to access your notes.
See here for this and other differences.
Con Search function is lacking advanced features
e.g. Searching for "friend" will find "friendship" and "friendly" (because "friend" is at the beginning of the word); using this query will not find words such as "girlfriend" or "boyfriend."
Con Menu/ribbon can feel crammed
OneNote offers a lot of formatting options, which results in a lot of options being crammed into the ribbon. It can feel somewhat cluttered and takes a bit of time to get used to.
Con Doesn't automatically sort (by name, size, date)
You can't choose to sort automatically. Just do it manually.
Ulysses now operates on a subscription-based model. $4.99/month or $39.99/year. It is not currently possible to pay once and keep it.
Con Overwrites imported markdown files
When previously written markdown files are imported, they're converted to Ulysses' version of Markdown and original files are overwritten.
Con Cannot render code blocks
You can go around this limitation, but it is complex and not so pretty looking as it is in other Markdown Editors.
Con Proprietary file format
Text is saved in a database in proprietary format. Meaning, your notes can't be accessed other than through the app, and cannot be moved other than by exporting them.
Con iOS and Mac versions have to be bought separately
The iOS version costs $24.99 and the macOS version costs $44.99. They have to be bought separately in order to be used on those devices.
Con Lacks a LaTeX-exporter
Con Automatic switching of sheets can be confusing
Scrolling down when at the bottom of a sheet will switch to next sheet. When unexpected, this behavior can be confusing to some.
Con No proper right-to-left support in PDF
Ulysses lacks right-to-left support that was available in the previous incarnation of this software.