When comparing Microsoft OneNote vs Remember the Milk, the Slant community recommends Remember the Milk for most people. In the question“What is the best cross-platform to-do list app?” Remember the Milk is ranked 19th while Microsoft OneNote is ranked 25th. The most important reason people chose Remember the Milk is:
Smart lists are configured using Remember the Milk's syntax, making it very customizable.
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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 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 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 Insert files into your notes
You can add a variety of different files into your notes including images, video, audio, and more.
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 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 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 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 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 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 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 Browser plugins allow easy saving of web pages
The ability to quickly file away web clippings is a key part of note taking.
Pro Has its own syntax for programming smart lists
Smart lists are configured using Remember the Milk's syntax, making it very customizable.
Pro Excellent cross platform support
Whether you depend on an iOS, Windows or Android phone; Google Calendar or Outlook; Evernote or Twitter: RTM has an app or extension for you.
Pro Powerful query language
Query language can be used to build your own GTD-based system, with tags and lists and queries. Such as system can be used for private life and work alongside several simple lists without things getting mixed up.
Pro Location-based notifications
You can set locations for each task (for example a specific store, or a general location like 'near the beach' for shell collectors), and RTM will remind you when you are near or in that location. This can help keep your daily list uncluttered and remind you of errands you might have forgotten.
Pro Tasks may have additional options
Extra options such as how often it repeats, the due date, and the location.
Pro Support of a "start" date
A start date can be set which can be used with smartlists or to set a reminder.
Pro Lists can be shared
Share lists with other Remember The Milk users, or with iCal and more. Shared lists can be collaboratively updated. This makes it great for teams or just to share progress with others.
Pro Quickly add rich text
Remember The Milk offers Smart Add – shortcuts that allow you to quickly add advanced information to a task. For example, you can quickly add a due date, set the priority level, add a tag, set repeat times, add URLs, and add notes to your tasks. For the full list, check out How Do I Use Smart Add?
Pro Manual sorting
Manual sorting is available on both the web app and android, allowing prioritization of tasks. This can be particularly useful for shopping lists, where you can put all the meat together, and all the cheese together etc. to make it easier to skim through when you're in the store.
Pro Semantic shortcuts
Remember The Milk has a list of semantic shortcuts that allow adding tasks and task options faster.
Pro Nice Android Widget
Compared to competitors like todoist, the widget doesn't use too much space.
Pro Really, really cool support
They react within hours, and they actually keep track of your issue.
Pro Support for keywords to set due/start date, add to list with one line of text
There are special characters which open a box so the user can select predefined values or a calendar picker.
Pro Lightning fast sync
Syncs quickly across all your devices and platforms.
Pro Many features already working in the free version
The majority of commonly used features are available for free. The pro version adds increased functionality such as advanced sorting, mobile push notifications and sharing permissions.
Pro Syncs with Evernote
Not only syncing, it's more of a "linking" with a two-way synchronization. Changing the title of a note in Evernote will update the title in Remember the Milk. So far, Remember The Milk is the only to-do app with a feature like this.
Pro Add tasks via e-mail
You can add tasks to Remember the Milk via email easily once you get the hang of formatting the messages.
Pro Twitter integration
The Twitter integration is excellent and allows for many types of automation.
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 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 Not open-source
This application is proprietary, and thus cannot be modified or freely distributed.
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 Requires a Microsoft account
You need to have a Microsoft email to sign up for OneNote (Outlook, Hotmail, or Windows Live).
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.
Con Free version lacks features
Mobile reminders, subtsaks, offline mode, Microsoft Outlook sync, priority, and more features are limited to the paid version ($39.99/year). To see the full list of restrictions, check out this page.
Con Subtasks only available in Pro version
Subtasks can break a longer to-do item into discrete tasks, helping you keep tabs on your progress.
Con Bad UI redesign
The web app takes up too much screen real estate and uses a half-screen format that requires a wide screen. The task edit screen is clunky. It still has UI bugs one year in. You can't complete tasks from the UI.
Con Does not support attachments
Cloud storage was recently added as a pro feature.
Con Cannot add task in notification bar
There is no pull down option to add a task in the notification bar.
Con Ugly icon
The goofy cow image does not fit well with a professsional office environment.