go ahead, mac my day

a Macintosh girl in a Microsoft world

why do you want OneNote on your Mac?

why do you want OneNote on your Mac?

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I've been noticing several requests for us to add OneNote to our Mac product portfolio. I have some questions for those of you who want OneNote. Tell me how you have used OneNote. Where is it especially useful? How would you compare it to the Notebook Layout View in Word:Mac 2004? Be as explicit and detailed as possible!

I should say that, as a non-Windows user, I've never used it myself and have no personal opinion about it. I've heard good things about it from both Windows and Mac users, though, so I'm curious.

  • (revised from my comment on Dan Escapa's blog):

    Spreading OneNote's reach would be a good thing! Its a great program; discovering it was the second reason (after TabletPC devices themselves; I have a Motion LE1600) that led me back to Windows after 13 years with a Mac on my desk at work. I'm in the middle of the transition so emotionally I'm still very fragile, rationally I'm manic. I keep wondering if this is all part of the characteristic mid-life crisis, only I'm not divorcing, buying a sports car, or dating girls half my age...

    Anyway!  Other than supporting any and all efforts to port OneNote to Mac, I wanted to point out a small thing that defies explanation in my usage of OneNote 2007.  When using the 'Send to OneNote' PowerToy in Internet Explorer 7, why does all the text lose its line feeds/carriage returns (not sure which)? Paragraphs run together and make a mess of imported text. The same thing happened in OneNote 2003. Is there a reason this behaviour continues, some technical reason why it cannot be corrected/improved? Is anyone else also experiencing this?

    The Mac is a consumer product that, with time, effort, and money can exist in a business environment, whereas Windows is a business product, first and foremost. Its a fact that Enterprise business influences Microsoft's OS decisions more than any other factor; Home computer usage influences Apple's OS decisions more than any other factor.

    The ModBook (from http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/ModBook) looks soooo cool. But given my experience with Tiger's and Panther's Handwriting Recognition, I wonder if Axiotron added any improvements to make it more robust - in the same way Microsoft added the features collected together in the TIP for Vista and WinXP TabletPC Edition? Some further handrails are necessary.

    Whatever the case may be, its the first step in what I hope turns out to be a successful product roadmap - it has the potential to make so many inroads into previously uncharted territory for the Mac, not the least of which is the Business Enterprise, which OneNote for Mac could also help precipitate.

    Microsoft's strategy is all about Collaboration, yet effective use of a Mac in a Windows-based office's 'collaborative workflow' is very poor. Until Mac users have Outlook, Groove, and OneNote its way too much trouble. I know, I've been trying; using Parallels takes me closer but the overhead is just too much work. By overhead I don't mean the speed and memory required for the Mac to operate well with both OSes; rather, Mac users coping with two file systems is, itself,  sufficient to make this unworkable for anyone but the most committed Mac user - no one else would put up with all the crap! Also, IT departments are faced with the lack of Mac client backup support on Microsoft's Servers (eg: Small Business Server). Though the Windows profile participates in the backup schedule just as it would if it weren't running under virtualization on a Mac, a separate backup solution must be provided for the Mac. There are further workflow problems: text formatting/styling between Word for Windows and Quark for Mac; Tasks synched to Exchange are unsupported in Entourage 2004; Windows-to-Mac image conversion in Powerpoint and Word 2004 for Mac is inconsistent at best; PDF conversion of Word/Powerpoint files doesn't maintain embedded URLs. On and on; death by a thousnad paper cuts.

    Assimilation is the overarching strategy and I can see no other course unless the business has loads of money to throw at the workflow problems but even if they do, it would only work if the Mac users were sufficiently committed to making the effort themselves to overcome the problems - money isn't the answer, unfortunately. This means, sadly, that businesses generally won't buy a Mac over a Windows-based PC for an employee. Anyone unfamiliar with Macs will find it too much trouble in the kind of collaboration scenario I indicated earlier. Its trouble enough getting it to work in a Windows-only environment, for Pete's sake!

    Cracking the business market is very hard for Apple but if there was feature parity between Mac and Windows versions of Outlook and other Office collaboration applications, things would be much easier.

    For this to happen, given Microsoft's strategies, small steps will be the only hope we have, like pressing for a Mac port of OneNote. But that won't be enough - Outlook and Groove will be necessary, the rest of the Office suite would be great.

    However, I'm not going to live long enough to see it (I'm not even 40!). I'm interested in making my job easier, not harder; the older I get, the clearer it becomes that the world I dream about will not come in my lifetime, so assimilation it is! Rather than stand by and wait, I've had to step in and use the tools that are available to make my own and my coworker's jobs easier. But the difference between us is, I get to go home to my Macs! I can catch glimpses of a better world in the midst of all the crap; but what do my coworkers see, if they glimpse anything? If they've never used a Mac, then theirs must be grim dreams, indeed! More likely, they don't think about it at all! Lucky them!

    I'm sorry to have gone off on such a tangent. Yikes. I wish I could buy everyone the extra-strength Tylenol you must be reaching for now!

    OneNote rocks! Macs rock!


  • OneNote is one of the most useful Window's apps.

    Having it available on my Macs along with the ability to share them between platforms would be of great use to those who use Windows at work, Macs at home, etc.

  • Oh come now, OneNote lovers - it's not bad at all, in many ways quite impressive, but AquaMinds NoteTaker does most if not all of the same things (and can also be shared over the Internet, using NoteShare). Although I love the free-mapping aspects of OneNote (and the new drawing tools), I still find it a fiddly, Microsoft-typical product (like the ghastly Outlook - can't believe the enthusiasm shown here for Outlook!). There are elegant alternatives out there, people (especially you Mac users - you should be aware of them).

  • Please do port OneNote to the Mac! I use OneNote 2007 today via Parallels Desktop and it beats every Mac-based notes application hands down. To have the same product available, and integrated with, Office for the Mac would be awesome!

  • I've been using Penabled Windows computers since 2004. I stated using OneNote only this year, but before that, it was Agilix's GoBinder for the same things (mentioned at http://miniaturemage.blogspot.com/2005/01/tabletpc-agilix-gobinder-and-this.html). At work, when we reload or replace users' PCs, we have to sign checklists that detail the applications and data we back up and restore; our users must sign them, as well. In the interest of using less paper, I do these on my Tablet PC or UMPC. These can be emailed from OneNote to my management, but Macs can't read them in either of the two formats OneNote uses. As a result, I have had to jump through hoops to email these to my boss. That boss has gone on to other duties, but now I'M looking into buying a MacBook, and I'll want to have access to my OneNote files. Now, of course a Mac can't be my main machine, because it hasn't got a digitizer, but I was thinking it would replace my desktop at work. I will have to be running Parallels to get along at work, but I don't want to have to run Parallels just to use OneNote. I can't compare ON to anything currently available on the Mac, because I don't have much recent experience with Mac apps.

  • I'm in law school, and half my class uses OneNote.  It's absolutely amazing for taking notes in class.  I'm using the notebook option on Word 2004, but it just doesn't compare in terms of functionality and features.  I've tried a few different Mac note-taking programs, but they all come up lacking compared to OneNote.  Please make OneNote a part of the Mac Office 2008 suite!

  • "Oh come on now" Bill,

    I've used NoteTaker for years on my Macs. I settled on it after trying out most (if not all) of the similar products. I've revisited most of those products every year to see if they're worth moving to from NoteTaker. Comparing NoteTaker to OneNote is comparing apples to oranges.

    With respect to OneNote vs. anything available on the Mac, I can't agree with your claim that "There are elegant alternatives out there, people (especially you Mac users - you should be aware of them)." OneNotes differs from anything available on the Mac in two important ways: 1) OneNote's Pen-based input: its searchable even if not converted to ink; the background conversion works flawlessly; the Mac's pen-based input is so far behind Microsoft's as to be useless by comparison. 2) Collaboration: NoteTaker's notebook sharing is cool for casual users but OneNote's multi-user NoteBooks are mature business tools; unfortunately this can, in some cases, require a lot of Microsoft infrastructure (like SharePoint Services) but for more casual users, OneNote's NoteBook sharing is easily as good or better than NoteTaker's.

    Its interesting that you refer to the 'fiddly' feel of OneNote since I always felt NoteTaker didn't sit well with my Mac somehow and your term (fiddly) is the best characterization I've come across. NoteTaker feels fiddly whereas DevonThink does not. NoteTaker has the feel of a badly ported app - mostly due to its UI, though, as it runs solidly.


  • 1.  Great place to store and organize information collected from the web.

    2.  Already used it on the PC.  Now that I've switched to a Mac it would be great to have easier access to all of that information.  Parallels is great, but ultimately I would prefer not to rely on it.

    3.  Great for storing and organizing non-web information as well.  The key features to include in a version for Mac (in my opinion) are the multi-folder and multi-notebook structures.

    4.  Fantastic UI.

    Note:  I used OneNote almost daily on my PC even though I did NOT have any way to use pen input.


    (an academic)

  • Actually, I already have it - it's called Circus Ponies NoteBook ( www.circusponies.com ).  NoteBook was originally written in 1992, and was what the "innovators" at Microsoft copied when they wrote OneNote.  Not to be outdone, innovators in the MacBU took a stab at copying NoteBook when they rolled the Notebook outline view contraption into MSWord.

  • Thanks to Gideon for his comment above regarding Zengobi Curio. We first saw OneNote as we were wrapping up Curio version 2 and, as former Windows users, we agree that it's one of the best apps we've seen on Windows. While Curio and OneNote have different primary goals -- brainstorming vs. note-taking -- we do have a number of Curio customers who have migrated to us from OneNote when they switched to the Mac. Check it out (http://www.zengobi.com/curio/) and please let us know if you have any questions.

  • I'm involved in optical physics research. We use both Mac's and PC's in the lab, and we need to be able to organize our data, with various images, text, and data files all together. Notebook and OneNote both work well enough for these purposes. But obviously they are incompatible. So it would be great to have one program that I can use anywhere to organize my work.

  • No other software I've used is as friendly about just letting you type whereever/however you want, and organize ALL of your notes for various projects one click away.  Creating separate word docs or similar just doesn't even come close to how cool and useful this is - individual docs on a harddrive become stale and lost in a way that one-note sections don't, because they are always there for review and updating.  

    I echo the opinion of many here who say OneNote is far and away MS best app.  It's the only MS app I enthusiastically encourage other developers to check out.  It and MSDEV/VStudio are the only apps I can honestly say just don't have any competition on other platforms.  

    I want it on my macbook because it's one of the most useful pieces of software I own (and I own a lot; I develop software for a living.  I got a macbook for some cross-platform scientific-viz work, and having OneNote would rock.

  • Well I use Onenote on my Windows laptop and I need to have my data on my iMac too :)

    It's obvious that this kind of tools, which is meant for business,  should be available on both platforms

    ..my two cents ;)

  • OneNote is probably the hidden treasure of MS (lack of marketing on it?). Each person that i know who tried OneNote more than one day can't go back : they all become addicts. Why? A lot of people already explained in comments why we all love OneNote ;-)

    And the only reason why people like me stop to use it is because there is no Mac version, and using a virtualization stack to run OneNote can be a little too much for mac users.

    Does the lack of native onenote on Mac is enough to make people stay on Windows? I don't think so. So why not provide to us, the users and customers, what we request and are ready to pay for? Native OneNote for Mac ;-)

  • I tried Onenote after seeing my manager use a 6 month trial of an academic version, that he acquired,  for a major project we were working on.  Being curious, I did a lot of reading on it and decided to buy it for my PC.After 2 weeks of using it, I was hooked.  I converted all of my PDF files (mostly with bad names, which was making the information hard to find)into nice organized notebooks.  I now have 3 notebooks (about 4 gig each, multiple tabs, multiple sections) with all my notes, books, etc for my ministry/church work and research.

    I have one notebook just on computer programming languages, 2 notebooks on an older platform I support at work (Mumps on OpenVms), one notebook for my Microsoft books and notes, and one for my MAC notes.

    I am hooked on the product.  I never used such an easy tool and it keeps everything straight.  I just wish my employer wasn't so cheap and would buy it for us.  I need it at work.

    Lately, I am looking to switch to MAC because of iLife and graphical needs for video production at my church.  Truthfully OneNote is the only product by Microsoft that I cannot live without.  Most schools are requiring Macs and I know a lot of College students and artists who use MACS who love OneNote, but do not want the problems of Windows OS.

    Please port OneNote to the MAC and make it compatible so that we can just drop in the .one  files, so we can share files from both Windows and MAC users.

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