When comparing Microsoft OneNote vs Dropbox, the Slant community recommends Microsoft OneNote for most people. In the question“What is the best cross-platform note taking app?” Microsoft OneNote is ranked 15th while Dropbox is ranked 37th. 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 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 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 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.
Its available Windows Mobile, Windows Store, Android, a Desktop Version, and a Web app. Apple macOS and iOS are also supported.
Pro Insert files into your notes
You can add a variety of different files into your notes including images, video, audio, and more.
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 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 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 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 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.
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 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 Browser plugins allow easy saving of web pages
The ability to quickly file away web clippings is a key part of note taking.
Pro Table is sortable
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 Easy to use
You can use Dropbox via website, by installing a desktop client that creates a folder that you simply drag and drop files into, or with their mobile app. Everything synchronizes across all devices used and cloud storage. And Dropbox offers easy methods of sharing whatever is within it.
Pro Cross-platform desktop and mobile
Dropbox is available on iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows, OS X and Linux. By having a client for so many OS's pretty much anyone is covered no matter what kind of device or OS they are using.
Pro Allows sharing a single file via link
Whether using desktop client or web interface, simply right click on the file you want to share and select Dropbox > Share link, then send the link to the people you want to share the file with. The recipient does not require a Dropbox account.
Pro Allows sharing a folder
Using a desktop client: right click on the folder you want to share and select Dropbox > Share This Folder, then enter the e-mail addressees of people you want to share the folder with.
Pro Smart updates to big files
If a small portion of the file is changed it sends/receives only the differences (not the whole file), which is fast and bandwidth-efficient.
Pro Lots of addons and integrations
There are official and third-party Dropbox add-ons that extend the functionality of the service and add ease of use of existing features.
Additionally, Dropbox can be integrated with existing applications to bring its functionality to other apps.
Pro Folders can be downloaded compressed to save bandwidth
To save bandwidth and download speed you can choose to compress a folder into a zip archive for download.
Pro 30-day version control
Dropbox keeps deleted and earlier versions of files for a month.
Pro Up to 18GB of free storage space
Dropbox personal accounts start out free, with 2GB of space, but users can get extra space by recommending the site to friends, or taking part in events like "Dropquest", where users can win extra space by solving puzzles.
Pro Instant disaster recovery
Your files always synced online means instant disaster recovery. When your hard drive becomes unbootable, pick up another laptop and just carry on with your life from where you last saved.
Pro Desktop client has no file size limit
As long as you have enough storage available, you can upload files of any size using Dropbox desktop client.
Pro Available free storage can be increased with referrals
You get extra free space for you and your friend if they sign up.
Pro Adjustable bandwidth use
To not slow down the network or save traffic you can limit the upload and download speeds of Dropbox.
Pro Linux support
Dropbox offers native Linux support, integrates with Nautilus file manager.
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 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 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 Not open-source
This application is proprietary, and thus cannot be modified or freely distributed.
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 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 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 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.
Con Some feature require external apps
Sort Pages, find and replace, etc need external apps called onestatics.
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 Too little free space
There is just too little of free space available comparing to the competition.
Con Not secure
They don't apply end-to-end encryption, files are visible to admins, governments, etc..
Con Consumes a lot of CPU resources when syncing many files
Con Restricted only to 3 devices for FREE accounts
Recently dropbox decreased the number of linked devices to 3, so you can't have more than 3 linked devices. This is problematic if you use Dropbox to sync between your computers.
Con All-or-nothing (non-selective) upload
Uploading generated contents (cache, compiled code, etc.) is prone to conflicts, wastes bandwidth and free space.
Con No privacy
Extensive collecting and distribution of user data to commercial third parties.
Con Low bandwidth
Con Nocive development model
Takes a lot of decisions that usually damage community, from deleting features to making impossible to use with other filesystems than ext4 because they decided without a plausible reason (they said it was about xattrs, but all modern linux filesystems supports xattrs, so it's bs.)(they remove this later, but it's too late).
Con Does little more than storing files
Con Dropbox keeps deleting features, chasing customers away
For instance, all photo albums got deleted. It used to be very easy to share a couple og photos, now it's PAINFUL and must be done file by file.
Con Problems when synching between Linux and Windows devices (unconfirmed)
This summer I lost thousands of files due to this problem on older projects which subsequently needed revising and had to be rebuilt as tons of the source was gone.
Con Can unintentionally delete your files if you reinstall your OS without closing Dropbox
If you reinstall the operation system for your PC and you do not close Dropbox, it will delete all files.