Built for taking notes, Microsoft Office OneNote 2003 efficiently stores and organizes a myriad of information, including graphics, text, and handwritten data from a desktop or notebook computer, a tablet PC, or the Internet in one place--perfect for students or salespeople on the road. Designed to look like a three-ringer binder, OneNote comes complete with virtual tabs that organize notes into individual sections--convenient for workgroups collaborating on a project. You can record audio or video clips into OneNote, link them with specific notes so that you can record a live quote, or capture a thought as it occurs to you. While we applaud OneNote's cleverness, its competitor EverNote is the smarter deal, offering most of OneNote's basic features for free. OneNote 2003 is available via an 80MB download. Microsoft offers a generous 60-day free trial--more than enough time to take a test-drive. In our tests, the program installed without incident in a few minutes.
The interface shares the familiar menus-and-toolbars motif common among Microsoft's business applications--a comforting layout for longtime Microsoft Office users. However, OneNote isn't just a glorified word processor; for example, you can type notes anywhere on the OneNote page--top, middle, bottom, wherever. A gray box called a word container appears around a group of notes, letting you drag that segment anywhere across the page--handy for rearranging thoughts entered hastily during a meeting. In this regard, OneNote is more flexible than EverNote, where you start typing at the top of the page and work your way down.
But modern note-taking involves more than typed text. OneNote also lets you pull content from numerous sources: an Excel worksheet, a Word document, even a photo or a chart from a Web site for later export. If you're familiar with WindowsÂ’ drag-and-drop tools, data compilation with OneNote is a snap; simply drag content from your Internet browser into OneNote, for example. Online researchers will love that OneNote automatically posts a link to the source page of any data culled from the Web. (EverNote does this, too.)
OneNote uses colored tabs called Sections to organize notes into a virtual three-ring binder. This approach is handy for large projects but a bit cumbersome for basic browsing. We prefer EverNoteÂ’s presentation: a continuous sheet of paper with a time-stamped box for each dayÂ’s notes and quick indexing for rapid searches. EverNoteÂ’s interface is also much easier to navigate. Then again, note-taking is highly subjective, and some users may prefer OneNoteÂ’s three-ring binder motif instead.Priced at $99 (or $50 for students), OneNote 2003 is expensive for a utility that--let's face it--you may consider superfluous, especially considering that competitor EverNote makes most of the same, basic features available for free.
Then again, OneNote offers some features not found in EverNote--a spelling checker, for instance. Like its counterpart in Microsoft Word, the spelling checker inserts squiggly red lines under likely misspelled words and lists potential corrections via a right-click menu. One might argue that notes don't need letter-perfect spelling, but then again, they do if you plan to share them with a workgroup.