Sadly, a replacement for OneNote is needed
June 15, 2017 10:11 PM   Subscribe

After using OneNote since it was released for everything from to-do list management to keeping lists of my favorite quotes and pet names, I've come to a place where I find myself annoyed with the "software rental" concept, the constant drumbeat of cloud service enticements, and Microsoft's decision to make a "free" version available that will not read valid OneNote files stored on a local filesystem.

After renting Office for one month to see if I'm willing to spend $150 bucks to own it I've already had to spend two hours figuring out why the hell it makes a command window pop up once an hour and then fixing it by changing obscure task management permissions. I'm just unhappy on so many levels that the software's usefulness is overwhelmed by all these complaints. So, I need a replacement. Requirements:

1. Can handle tables and possibly even some minor spreadsheet calculations without using spreadsheet embeds.
2. Can handle images.
3. Can handle links to external web sites.
4. Files can be saved locally.
5. Searchable using keywords/tags.
6. To-do list functionality.
8. Minor formatting for attractiveness. Markdown preferred but rich text or HTML would be ok.
9. Works on Windows 7 64-bit.

Very strongly desired but not absolutely necessary:
1. Files are saved in a human readable format that could potentially be translated with a custom text manipulation tool.
2. Has a web clipper.
3. Has a "notebook" concept with tabs/sections.
4. Costs <$50
5. Outlines easy to make
posted by xyzzy to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Don't have an actual answer for you but AlternativeTo has a lot of OneNote alternatives.
posted by ropeladder at 11:18 PM on June 15, 2017

My suggestion is MyNotesKeeper, found at the eponymous web site.
posted by megatherium at 4:04 AM on June 16, 2017

?? One note is free and you dont need to rent anything to use it for cloud services either.
posted by radsqd at 7:41 AM on June 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

I, too, and interested in your findings. I gave up on some of those things and jumped into emacs and orgmode, but I'm a giant nerd, and so I'm okay with giving up on tables (which it can probably do but I don't know how to do) and inline images.
posted by uberchet at 9:04 AM on June 16, 2017

Sadly, I don't think there's an app that covers all your requirements, and isn't subscription based. Especially, the combination of 1. And 9. Is really tough to find besides Microsoft office.

I'd advise to stay with onenote- you don't need to buy office to use it, and its file format has improved over the years, even though it's not human readable like markdown.
posted by motdiem2 at 10:35 PM on June 16, 2017

I think you are mistaken. There are currently two free versions of OneNote available, one of them doesn't allow you to save files locally (this comes automatically with Windows 10) and the other one does (this one you download from You do not need to buy Office to get the second version, it's a free download.

Check out this help article explaining the two options.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 11:13 PM on June 17, 2017

I think Google Keep might tick a lot of your boxes, especially if used in conjunction with the Google Drive suite (especially Google Sheets, since I think the spreadsheet capability might be the one thing I didn't really see in Google Keep.)
posted by helloimjennsco at 10:05 AM on June 19, 2017

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