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Google Keep vs. OneNote (2022)

Google Keep vs OneNote
Google Keep vs OneNote

Google Keep and Microsoft OneNote are two note-taking apps. Google keep can be called the Google version of OneNote, and OneNote is just called OneNote. The purpose of both is the same, but many tools make both 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.

PC

Interface

Google Keep does not come as a desktop application, so that we will use the web version. 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/.

Besides the web, you can also download the Chrome extension and app and write notes on the go.

Alongside the text, users can add images and drawing notes. You can pin the most opened notes to the top.

OneNote is a multi-level app that offers notebooks, sections, and pages where pages are notes. OneNote web has a few options missing compared to the OneNote desktop. Users can access their notes online by visiting https://www.onenote.com/.

The app has a unique feature of saving text, images, drawing etc., in components that allow them to overlap. It uses other Office apps’ styles and offers the main navigation on the top.

Editing and tools

OneNote Overview

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

  • Simple text
  • Pictures (local)
  • Draw
  • Links
  • Text indent
  • Checkboxes (to-do)
  • Reminders
  • Text labels
  • Shopping list (automatically suggests items as you type. See an example image).

Google Keep has a reminder feature. The downside is it only allows one reminder per note at a time. You can also set labels (tags) to specific notes to distinguish between notes. Of course, labels can be searched.

Google Keep does not offer rich text editing tools. Even if you copy something, the app will paste it in simple language. The desktop version of OneNote has all the below tools:

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

Other than the above, more features of the OneNote desktop app are:

  • 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 software’s simplicity makes it unique, but not enough to overcome OneNote.

Also consider reading: Samsung Notes vs. OneNote

Mobile

Interface

Google Keep and OneNote Note Types
Google Keep and OneNote Note Types

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 comes with a dark theme, which follows the mobile theme, but you can change it in the settings.

Tools

Google Keep mobile and desktop versions offer the same functionalities. OneNote mobile, on the contrary, does not come with the assistant, password protection, dictate, and some rich editing tools such as inserting tables and headings.

Related: Slite vs. Notion

Sharing tools

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 comes with 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 colour: If you don’t like to add background images, you can custom colour 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.

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 synchronisation by disabling the file and image sync.

Sticky notes: Unique to mobile, sticky notes are quick to 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.

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

People also like: Samsung Notes vs. Google Keep

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 OneNote is the tool to select.

If you choose to go with Google keep, Google keep tutorial is all you need to learn about 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.

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.