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Google Keep vs. OneNote (2022)

Google Keep vs. OneNote (2022)

Google Keep and Microsoft OneNote are two popular note-taking apps. Google Keep can be called the Google version of OneNote, and OneNote can be called just OneNote.

The purpose of both is the same, but many tools make them different. How do Google Keep and OneNote compare? The article covers Google Keep vs. OneNote.

What are both

Google Keep Overview

Google Keep is a simple note-keeping app offering text, checklists, images, voice, and drawing notes. Microsoft OneNote is an extensive note-taking program supporting rich text editing, drawing, tables, passwords, etc., to create simple to complex notes.

Desktop PC

Google Keep does not come as a desktop application, but we have multiple options to access it on a PC. The tool offers a plain interface with an option to enable the dark mode.

All the notes are on the main screen with an input field and a search bar on the top. As there is no desktop app, users can access the notes by going to https://keep.google.com/.

The app can also be accessed on Gmail, Google Sheets, and Calendar websites. Furthermore, you can download the Chrome extension and Chrome app to open notes on Google Chrome.

Along with text, users can add images and draw notes. The note pinning feature pins notes on the top for easier access.

OneNote, in comparison, is a multi-level app that offers notebooks, sections, and pages where pages are notes. The program comes as a desktop app, and it can be accessed online. The web version has a few options missing compared to the OneNote desktop. Users can access the account by visiting https://www.onenote.com/.

The app has a unique feature of saving text, images, drawings, etc., in components. Those components can be overlapped. For example, you can draw over a text component (example image).

Editing and tools

OneNote Overview

The most prominent part of Google Keep vs. OneNote is the editing tools. Google Keep desktop offers:

  • Text
  • Pictures (from computer only)
  • Draw
  • Link previews
  • Checkboxes (to-do list)
  • Reminders
  • Note labels (tags)
  • Shopping list (automatically suggests items as you type – example)

The app has a reminder option. In fact, we have a separate section in Keep to see all reminders in one place. The downside of the Keep’s reminding option is it only allows one reminder per note at a time.

The app lets you create and set labels for notes. The searchable labels also take a separate section in the app.

Google Keep does not offer rich text editing tools. Even if you copy something from the web, the app will paste it in simple language.

The desktop version of OneNote has all the below tools:

FontsFont sizeText bold
ItalicsUnderlineText color
HighlightTo-doTags
TablesFile uploadPictures (web & computer)
LinksAudioMeeting details
SymbolsHeading (1 to 6)Citation
CodeQuotesText indent
Draw (pen, pencil, highlighter)ShapesLists
OneNote desktop tools

OneNote supports Bing image search that opens up a sidebar to search and add images from Bing Images.

Other than the above, the OneNote desktop has some advanced options, including:

  • Assistant
  • Password protection
  • Dictate

OneNote Assistant is an AI-based tool that can do basic tasks such as paste text and text, create a to-do list, etc.

The sections can be password protected on the desktop. Users can’t open that section on any platform when a section is protected before inserting the password.

The dictate tool is another AI-based tool to help in converting speech to text. A user must speak for the AI to transcribe.

Review: The desktop battle goes to OneNote. Google Keep is still new, and the program’s simplicity makes it unique, but not enough to overcome OneNote.

Also consider reading: Samsung Notes vs. OneNote

Mobile

Google Keep and OneNote Mobile

Google Keep offers an easy-to-navigate interface. We get notes, left menu, sort, search, and an “add a new note” button at the bottom. The mobile app also offers a dark theme that follows the phone’s theme, but you can manually enable it in the settings menu.

Other settings include reminder timing (morning, afternoon, and night) and link previewing options.

OneNote mobile comes with lists of notebooks, sections, and pages. The app also has a dark theme, which follows the mobile theme, but you can change it in the settings.

One thing I must mention is that the OneNote mobile is buggy and does not function properly sometimes. For example, in this video, I’m trying to add some text, but the app keeps opening the note image. Although the issue was fixed after restarting, regular issues with the app are common.

Tools

This is where both are very different. Google Keep offers additional options on mobile, whereas OneNote has reduced tools.

Google Keep, along with desktop features, comes with the audio recording option. The audio feature saves the audio and transcribes it to text to save a text copy (supported language).

OneNote mobile does not have assistant, password protection, dictate, and some rich editing tools such as inserting tables and headings. However, you find the sticky notes option that is unique to the mobile app.

Related: Samsung Notes vs. Google Keep

Note sharing options

Regarding sharing and collaboration, I would say Google Keep is the winner. Google Keep web and mobile apps come with the same sharing features, whereas OneNote does not. With Keep, you can add people to collaborate, send a copy of the note via other apps, and convert and edit notes in Google Docs.

OneNote desktop offers to share notes with the view and edit permissions, while the mobile app only supports sending the note in plain text and PDF formats.

Widgets

Keep and OneNote Widgets
Keep and OneNote Widgets

Google Keep offers two widget types on Android. A user can write instant notes using the quick capture widget, while the note list widget is for seeing the notes on the home screen. It provides multiple options, including all notes, pinned notes, reminders, and user-created text labels.

OneNote comes with five widgets in total. A user can create notes, start an audio recording, start with a text note, start with a photo note, and open the recent notes.

Other features

Google Keep

Note pinning: Offers an option to pin the notes to the top

Background change: You can change the note’s background to one of the images provided.

Background color: If you don’t like to add background images, you can custom color the background.

Convert to document: You can convert the note to a Google Docs document file and edit it in Google Docs.

Save to Keep: Like the convert option, you can save text and images from a Google Docs document to Google Keep by highlighting and right-clicking.

Last edited date: Down the bottom, you see the last note’s last edited date. If the date is today, you see the edited time. On the desktop, if you hover over the date, it shows the created date.

OneNote

Ink mode: Offers an ink mode and enables the drawing mode when the stylus is out on Note devices

Disable sync: OneNote provides an option to control the synchronization by disabling the file and image sync.

Sticky notes: Unique to mobile, sticky notes quickly add notes on OneNote.

OneNote badge: The badge is a floating icon that is always visible to create a note quickly. The icon can be moved and removed.

Spell check: The desktop version of OneNote supports a basic spell check feature.

Note date and time: When you create a new note, the app adds the note’s date and time on the top.

Review: Unlike the desktop comparison, the mobile comparison was solid. Overall, OneNote gets this mobile round as well.

Which one is for you?

The answer to this question relies on the platform you will be using. If you want to stick with the mobile, both will do the job, but if you’re working on desktop/web and mobile, then Google Keep is the one you need. If Keep is not enough, you should consider a different note-taking app.

Wrap up

The Google Keep vs. OneNote article covered essential features. I hope the information was helpful. Please let me know your thoughts about both below to discuss more.

Keerthi

Tuesday 15th of March 2022

I am a big fan of One Note specially for work related notes. I build it from the day 1 with every minute details and its so easy to keep it organized under different pages and sub pages.

Recently, I lost an entire One note book (around 70 pages of it!!) when I moved to a new laptop even though I had logged in from my email. Reason: might be dumb! My organization uses Google suite and One note is from Microsoft and so, all the while it was just a local copy on the local system! I lost all of it! I assumed, One note stores data on Cloud if I have logged in but since the main package is Google, it never stored..

Madhsudhan

Tuesday 15th of March 2022

That's bad to know. 70 pages are all gone. It must be difficult for you to manage everything now. I hope others will read this and use the service with caution.

JoNatz

Friday 28th of January 2022

For those people having comprehensive workloads with nested tasks in their daily lives, OneNote can have an easy handling of these data in an organized manner, which Google Keep can't. Until now, I am still hoping the Google keep would at least create a separate version for this type of people.

P.S. I have both OneNote and G. Keep account which I am using, but for simple task in the classroom, I just get the G.Keep up in my phone

Randolph

Wednesday 18th of August 2021

Reminds me why I (with a cloud backup) used my 5GB ext HD with X1 search. Talk about old school. But it worked. Then cloud storage came along, Dropbox, Drive and various note taking tools.... ugh.

Thanks for the information. So given that OneNote is going downhill, I guess it means we live with what we have until somebody figures it out or OneNote improves.

Very much appreciated this dialogue. Thank you guys!

Madhsudhan

Thursday 19th of August 2021

OneNote is indeed going downhill. It is a good app, but while using it, I feel there is something missing. Hope Microsoft will look into improving it.

Gregory Winters

Friday 23rd of July 2021

There is no imperative that systems are "perfect" - however, the 'imperfections' should be instrumented. Data management principles have never changed: availability, reliability, validity. Regardless of all the new dog & pony features, any application that portends to be associated with user data must conform to these principles - but they rarely do. For OneNote to "forget" four months of Excel data, this shows that the integrity of data is completely ignored by Microsoft. For OneNote to have such a convoluted Backup/Restore system, this demonstrates a wholesale lack of understanding of fundamental UI/UX user requirements. For OneNote to have such breathtakingly limited data management features in the handheld app version, this reveals the child/toy bias present in most "apps".

Gregory Winters

Wednesday 21st of July 2021

What is missing from this article is a good, long dissertation on the massive reliability issues associated with cloud-based data management. I am not experienced with Google Keep, but I am a power user of OneNote and I can tell you that the latter is a certifiable disaster in re to trustworthiness. Microsoft has architected OneNote with a bewildering array of proprietary file formats - all inimical to Backup/Restore and Import/Export. In typical fashion, Microsoft rushed a feature-laden application to market, then has used customers as guinea pigs to iron out problems, and all you have to do is Google all this to see how prevalent these issues still are after all these years.

The latest disaster (among many) is that OneNote somehow has "forgotten" updates that I've made to embedded Excel spreadsheets - poof! Gone. Message from Microsoft? Copy everything out of OneNote and create my own backup copies - virtually negating the notion of OneNote as a reliable gold source of my data.

Cloud-based computing - as noted in the article - consistently short-shrifts UI/UX in favor of using smartphones, toys which have been designed for kids to text each other and take selfies. The elephant in the room is - of course - the requirement to consistently be connected to a reliable, high-speed network, which remains to this day a Gates/Jobs pipe dream.

As mentioned, I'm not experienced with Google Keep, but I have many war stories with Google Drive, and they're not pretty. Endless looping of the interface, extremely poor uploading performance, maddening failures with Windows File Explorer integration, etc. - all forcing me to drop this endeavor.

Good luck!

Madhsudhan

Wednesday 21st of July 2021

Thanks very much for the words, Gregory. Both companies have ups and downs. Technology and software are never perfect. But, as a user of OneNote, I know that the app is going downhill. They are not focusing on the right features. Instead, they are adding features that are not in use. And they don't test those features. They let customers try and run into many bugs first. The same thing happens with their "Your Phone Companion" and "Microsoft Editor" apps.