Microsoft Products: OneNote

SimpleGeek has a great post about why he has left Windows behind that has me pretty nearly convinced and Mac’s OsX on my Emachine W3052 or my Thinkpad R31 is definitely a sexy thought… especially on the Thinkpad. You’ll find that most of us Thinkpad users tend be very, very attached to the hardware architecture of our computers. Especially as a writer, I find that using the trackpoint to be so much more effective than a touchpad because I have excellent control over the cursor without moving my hands from the keys.

OS discussion aside, I am going go to bat for two Microsoft products that I find useful. One I would miss if I moved to OsX–OneNote, which I have used 2003 for several years now and am now playing around with the 2007 Beta–and the other–Word 2007–is still in beta, but that I would expect to see on a Mac sometime.

OneNote – One of the great thing about OneNote as a notetaker as opposed to Word (or other word processing programs), is the ability to simply place your cursor anywhere on the page and start typing. Now, actually, Word Perfect used to do this, but OneNote takes it a step further because it automatically creates a text box that can then be dragged, or combined with other text boxes. So, if you think a note is going to be one thing (on rabbit biology for example) and discover that it is different (the story actually illustrates how pets are remembered), it is a snap to rearrange your notes into a more coherent narrative. Granted, all this can be done in a word processor, but OneNote can also have multiple columns of information without having to make columns, you just drag any set of notes you want anywhere on the page.

Additionally, the tab system (much improved in 2007 because you can have multiple notebooks), is fluid and intuitive – just as tabs in Opera or Firefox. I used the program throughout this past spring semester for taking notes in classes that were often long lectures. I was able to move quickly and even rearrange thoughts on the fly into outlines and patterns that made more sense. I have also found it to be helpful in rewriting papers, shuffling bits from here to there, moving other bits off to the side for later consideration, and in general being able to take apart and restructure sections in a more visual manner than I could with a word processor.

What about Evernote? For some people, it may be a clear winner. It organizes notes automatically by date, uses an “explorer” like structure on the side to move from notebook to notebook, and (most importantly), it’s free. I did try it last year when I was testing the OneNote demo and found that the organization of tabs and binders was more suited to how I organize information. Like D. Pamela Gaines, I haven’t tried the newest versions of Evernote, so it may in fact be better than the beta version. And if OneNote’s sync capability with PocketPC works well, that will definitely seal the deal for me. Anyone have thoughts on taking and organizing notes on the computer?

The next entry will talk more about Word 2007 and why I think is the clear choice for businesses but why I plan on using the beta and purchasing Word 2007 next year.

On this day..