OneNote vs. Notability

Which one is the Better Note Taking Application

While OneNote is one of the pioneers of note-taking applications, Notability has done wonders for its Apple users. Both applications race to the top in terms of user usability and distinctive features. While OneNote was released in 2003, Notability has quickly stepped up the ladder after initially releasing in 2010.

Notability vs OneNoteEven though both applications have some distinct features which set them apart in regards to platform and pricing, we will take a detailed look at each aspect and let you be the judge.

User Interface

Both of the applications have an exceptional interface with a two-column layout. Both apps let you group and color code multiple notes and put them into separate folders for better readability and improved organization.

Notability User Interface
Notability User Interface

OneNote has a three-hierarchy system that lets you create folders in an iterative manner. You can also control the navigation space in OneNote to increase the area for taking notes. On the other hand, you get dividers in Notability.

OneNote User Interface
OneNote User Interface

Ease of Use

OneNote is a complicated and multi-feature application whereas Notability is very simplistic. As the app gets more complicated, the ease of use decreases for the user.

Notabily’s main selling point is its ease of use as evident by user reviews. So, Notability wins this one and hence it is more user-friendly and easier to use.


OneNote is a cross-platform application which means we can benefit from this application on Android, iOS as well as Windows devices whereas Notability is currently not available for any non-Apple platforms but the owners are still monitoring the demand and they promise to come up with something soon.


OneNote takes a longer time to sync and startup because it has to sync with multiple devices and load notes from all the devices while Notability takes very little time to load up. That’s because it has very little synchronization to do when it comes to startup.


OneNote syncs up on all your devices regardless of the operating system they have, as long as you have the application installed and logged in.

On the other hand, Notability only syncs across your iOS or Mac devices and not with any other app or cross-platform device which is shocking considering people own multi-platform devices. They are not planning to provide this feature anytime soon.

Multi Device Access

File Size

Notability’s file size is set to 1 MB per note without any audio notes whereas there is no set file size for OneNote’s file size. It depends on what you add to the infinite canvas you get.

Eraser and Highlighter

Notability has the better eraser tool because it let you erase by pixel and you can also adjust the size of your eraser but the highlighter tool is not so good due to the mess it creates while overlapping whereas the OneNote eraser is the worst because the process is clumsy and you have very little control over the tool but the highlighter is brilliant because it does not create messy shades and is smooth in use.

Stylus Support

Both apps provide stylus support through which you can take notes, draw, drag and rotate, highlight and erase the text. It is just like using your fingers over the screen; you will be using a tool but the functionality of any touch won’t change with the use of the stylus.

Handwriting and OCR

The writing experience in Notability is far more superior than OneNote even after the latest update in which the OneNote inking has improved so much.

Notability handwriting is clear and graceful and OneNote has a long way to go to compete with Notability on this. Both applications provide OCR features and convert your handwriting into text but Notability is more accurate than OneNote.

Media Handling

OneNote handles media better as it allows you to select images and move them with the notes around your page whereas Notability does not allow you to move your text and images or audio notes at the same time. Overall media is much simpler and easier to handle in OneNote in comparison with Notability.

Image Handling

Page Size

OneNote is an infinite canvas whereas Notability gives you a limited page size that is A4 size. Also, in OneNote, you can move around your notes on the page and make space for adding something after you have completed taking notes but you cannot do that in Notability.

Application Size

Application size for OneNote varies with the device and can take up a lot of space on your device for saving notes. On the other hand, Notability is 128 MB and takes very low space while saving a note.


The rating for OneNote on Appstore is 4.7 and the rating on Google Play store is 4.3 whereas the rating for Notability on Appstore is 4.8. OneNote users complain about synchronization issues whereas notability users complain about the app crashing randomly.


OneNote is a free note-taking application from Microsoft whereas Notability can set you back $10 and that too for your Apple devices only. But there’s a catch; OneNote uses space from the OneDrive and when you run out of free space from the drive, it may cost you additional money for more storage.

Miscellaneous Features

Both the applications have a large set of pen features which gives the user a lot of options to design and organize the documents, color-code different headings, group various topics, etc. You can also rotate text in both of the applications but OneNote gives only a 90-degree rotation whereas Notability allows you to rotate your notes at any angle.

Notability has multiple pen sizes so that you can have multiple writing options. Also, Notability has different handwritings which you can change even after taking notes. It also has a zoom feature. All of these things are not available in OneNote. The selection tool for Notability is also so much better than OneNote.

Images in Notability

In conclusion, we can never choose a winner because both of the applications have pros and cons but you can pinpoint the app that can prove to be more beneficial for you through this article depending upon your requirements.

Shaheer Asif

Shaheer is the lead troubleshooter at Computer Verge. He has over 7 years of IT experience. He has a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science and has completed various IT programming and support certifications.
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