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Google Keep vs. OneNote

Google Keep vs. OneNote

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

Google Keep does not come as a desktop application, but we have multiple options to access it on a PC.

Users can access notes on the website or access them on Gmail, Google Sheets, Slides, and Calendar websites in the right sidebar.

The Chrome extension and Chrome app can also be downloaded to access notes in Chrome.

The tool offers a simple interface with an option to enable dark mode.

All the notes are on the main screen with an input field and a search bar on the top. The left of the interface has five folders:

  • Notes
  • Reminders
  • Labels
  • Archives
  • Trash

Along with text, users can add images and drawings. The note-pinning feature can pin notes to the top.

OneNote is a multi-level app that offers notebooks, sections, and pages where pages are notes. The program comes as a desktop app and 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).

Note-taking 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)
  • background-color change

One great thing about Keep is that you can take text from an uploaded image with a few clicks. Also, the app lets you mark all checkboxes within a note with one click.

The app has a reminder option, as mentioned earlier. You can set reminders and see the notes with reminders in a separate section.

The downside of its reminding option is it only allows one reminder per note at a time.

You can also set location-based reminders, where your notes open up when you reach the location—for example, a grocery reminder at a grocery store.

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
SubscriptSuperscriptText strikethrough
Live captionsMath equationsImmersive reader
Translator
OneNote desktop tools

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

Other than the above, the program has some advanced options, including:

  • Assistant
  • Password protection
  • Dictate

OneNote Assistant is an AI-based tool that performs basic tasks such as pasting text, creating a to-do list, etc.

The sections can be password protected on the desktop (also on iPhone and iPad). 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.

Also consider reading: Samsung Notes vs. OneNote

Mobile

Google Keep vs OneNote
Google Keep and OneNote Mobile

On mobile, I tend to go more toward Google Keep. OneNote is crowded and confusing to use. The layout is not consistent.

Scrolling down and up sometimes moves the layout to the right or left, making it difficult to adjust it again. The app also has some other issues, as shown in the video.

Google Keep is a simple app that does its job. The app offers a dark theme that can be enabled in the settings menu.

We also get reminder timing (morning, afternoon, and night) and link previewing options.

OneNote also has a dark theme. On the iPhone, you can add storage accounts as well.

Note-taking 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 an audio recording option. The audio feature saves the audio and transcribes it to text to save a text copy.

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

Related: Samsung Notes vs. Google Keep

Note sharing options

Sharing Notebooks on OneNote iPhone

Google Keep is consistent regarding sharing and collaboration, whereas OneNote is not.

Google Keep lets you 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 notebooks with the view and edit permissions. The app does not allow sharing individual notes. However, you can send a copy of a note in text and PDF formats.

The iPhone version also supports sharing of notebooks with view or edit permissions. You can set an expiration date for the link and keep your notebook password protected.

The Android app of OneNote does not have any sharing features. You can send a copy of a note in a different format, but that’s pretty much it.

Widgets

Keep and OneNote Widgets
Keep and OneNote Widgets

Google Keep offers two widget types on Android and a few on the iPhone.

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.

Integrations

Google Keep can convert notes to Google Docs documents. The app is also connected to Google Calendar to show you reminders.

Microsoft OneDrive can integrate with multiple apps. Connecting each app is different, and the list is available on the main website.

Some of the integrations include:

  • Office 365
  • Zapier 
  • AutoCAD
  • cloudHQ

Extra features

Google Keep

Save to Keep in Google Docs
Save to Keep in Google Docs

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

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 will see the edited time. If you hover over the date on the desktop, 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, exclusive to Android, 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 basic spell check.

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

Web page import: In OneNote iPhone, you can import the webpage from your browser directly to OneNote.

Note sorting: Users can sort notes based on the edited dates, creation dates, or alphabetical order in the iPhone app.

Which one is for you?

The answer to this question relies on your work type. If you need an app just to take notes, go with Google keep.

If you want something specific that OneNote offers, then go with OneNote. If you are unsure, I suggest starting with Google Keep.

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.

Geraldo

Tuesday 9th of August 2022

Keep offers less than 1% of the possibilities that One Note does. I can use One note to take meeting notes, One note gets the information of the meetings you have in the calendar to distribute the meeting notes amongst the participants. Also, you can organize your work files in books and share them for editing or reading with who you want. I used one note also at the university to take appointments from the classes instead of using paper. you can format thins using a variety of tools, create tables, attach files, etc.

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".