Google Keep vs OneNote: The ultimate guide to note-taking apps

ramsac Note vs Keep

Note-taking applications are used all the time by busy professionals. Whether to jot down meeting notes and actions, or list priorities relating to weekly work tasks, note-taking apps are a way to effectively manage not only time, but also projects.  

Microsoft’s OneNote is a note-taking application that is a part of the Office 365 suite, available to accounts with a subscription. It’s been described as a hub for notes, which can be managed, organised and prioritised into ‘Notebooks’ and ‘Pages’, or separate areas of your digital notebook.

Similar to OneNote, Google Keep or Keep Notes is a note-taking application developed by Google. Keep Notes shares many of the same functionalities, including the ability to pin images in a notebook, or share task lists with fellow collaborators. So, just how different are these two applications?

Google Keep Vs OneNote: A Comparison

Many users often perceive note-taking applications like OneNote and Google Keep so similar that they’re almost interchangeable. On closer inspection, however, the two applications can offer users different benefits.

1) Editing tools  

Comparing the availability of editing tools is important as users will spend most of their time using note-taking applications to record, share, and manage content. Text editing features like the freedom to input other media types and files, or create checklists, are everyday tools that users will mostly benefit from.  

When it comes to editing and creating text, OneNote takes some inspiration from other Microsoft applications, namely Word. Many of the familiar controls are available, including basic text editing features (such as fonts, text colours, and heading tags), emphasis tools (like highlighting and italics), and additional tools like embeddable links. Keep Notes, on the other hand, is more simplistic. This application offers its users a laundry list of basic tools, including:

  • Simple text
  • Pictures
  • Reminders
  • Text labels

Editing tools are not limited to basic features on OneNote and they include a range of innovative ways to capture ideas and thoughts. OneNote’s ‘Dictate’ feature allows users to capture notes through their voice. Microsoft’s reputation for AI (artificial intelligence) precedes them, and OneNote is an application that embraces new technology through its ‘Assistant’. This can comprehend basic tasks, such as pasting text, or dictating task lists.

Google Keep differs from OneNote with its ability to set ‘reminders’ for users, but this can only be set once per note. Whilst a helpful feature, Google Keep is restricted with its smart features in favour of creating a simpler experience, without the functionalities that has helped Microsoft become so popular.

Lastly, OneNote has security features like password protection, which helps users manage permission to access content. Notes can be shared amongst users once the basic protections are setup, ensuring notebooks and files can be safely accessed and shared

OneNoteGoogle Keep
FontsSimple Text
Font sizePictures
TablesText indent
CodeText labels
DrawShopping lists
File upload 
Text bold and colour 
Meeting details 

2) Collaboration & Sharing

Both note-taking applications can be useful for collaboration or sharing content. Google Keep advertises this ability by saying how users can “share ideas and create together”, which aligns with OneNote’s goal to enable simple, quick collaboration across multiple users. To help users stay connected, both note-taking applications offer easy ways to share and collaborate on notes.

OneNote’s password controls, however, allow users to more safely share and store notes. This is especially helpful if they contain work-related or sensitive information.

3) Mobile

The inspiration to record a thought, an urgent priority, or simply to jot down a note can come at a moment’s notice. As note-taking can be spontaneous, both applications have made their notebooks accessible from anywhere, across many devices. Often, mobile versions of an application are compressed compared to when you run them on a desktop. Yet, Google Keep is agile and has an interface that’s easy to navigate, carrying across many of its key features from the desktop version, including ‘reminders’.

OneNote invites users to create lists, access their notebooks, and sticky notes from mobile. OneNote may exclude certain features on mobile, but Microsoft creates an application that’s uncomplicated and focused on capturing notes on the go.

For professionals who are often ‘plugged-in’ to their mobiles, both applications come with widgets along with other settings that can help users personalise the experience. This will make it even easier for busy professionals to stay connected to their digital notebooks, wherever their job takes them.

Synchronisation is critical to keep all of your devices connected and your notebooks up to date. OneNote, for example, even provides users an option to control synchronisation (including a feature to disable files and images for sync). Likewise, Keep Notes can automatically sync across devices. Syncing notebooks between different devices offers Microsoft users a distinct advantage over those working from Google’s workspace. OneNote gives you different features depending on your devices, meaning busy users can stream their notebooks to their mobile when they want to move.

Is Keep Notes really the Google equivalent of OneNote?

More than just a matter of personal preferences, note-taking applications can be adjusted to how you work. Each application offers the user freedom to capture and manage notebooks, so many will find benefit in using at least one of the apps to help organise their work and other thoughts.

Keep is more like post-It notes, whereas OneNote can feel like a compressed Word file. The differences between the applications will depend on what you expect from a note-taking application. Keep Notes is quite restrictive when compared to the variety of tools and features found in OneNote. This is partly because Microsoft has years of experience in refining workplace tools for a changing environment, especially for those working in a hybrid workplace.

Get help with OneNote

For businesses connected to Office 365, it’s possible to unlock the full potential of OneNote when you partner with a Microsoft specialist like ramsac. Find out how OneNote can help your business become even more efficient and productive when you get in touch.

Click here for more information on other Office 365 products

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