OneNote Application for iPad Falls Short of Expectations

I have been using the PC version of Microsoft’s OneNote in my law practice for the past five years.  OneNote is a versatile virtual notebook that has allowed me to organize my case files and to minimize the amount of paper that I need to carry as a travel the country in my national litigation practice. See   Since I began using the iPad, I have been using the Application MobileNoter to sync my PC OneNote notebooks to the iPad.  MobileNoter will accept embedded files (PDFs, Word documents,  Spreadsheets, video files, etc.) and allow some minimal editing on existing notes, but will not allow the creation of new notes or notebooks.  MobileNoter also allows you to take handwritten notes on existing notebook pages, but you cannot add new pages.

Given the limitations of MobileNoter, I have eagerly awaited the release of the Microsoft OneNote Application.   Now that it is out, I am sorry to say that the application is a disappointment.  I have tested the free version which is limited to 500 notes.  My first issue is that the embedded files do not sync over to the iPad—this drastically limits the usefulness of the App for me.  Also, you cannot create new notebooks but can only add pages to existing notebooks.  Finally, there is no ability to take handwritten notes.

On the positive side, the ability to add new pages is one advantage the OneNote App has over MobileNoter.  Also, the Windows Live sync function seems to work well, although the test was not very strenuous since my extensive embedded files did not sync.  You can also add pictures from your iPad camera roll to existing iPad notebook pages—and they sync over.  This demonstrates that Microsoft could add the embedded file functionality to this application.

When they update this version, Microsoft needs to add at a minimum (1) the ability to add new notebooks, (2) the ability to sync embedded files, and (3) the ability to take handwritten notes on the iPad and sync the notes back to the PC.  Come on Microsoft—you can do better.



OneNote Application for iPad Falls Short of Expectations — 4 Comments

  1. I have to agree, the OneNote app is really disappointing.

    I am testing MobileNoter right now myself, and I am able to add new pages (just not new sections, but the MS OneNote app doesn’t allow for that either).

    • Andy are you still able to sync your MobileNoter with your PC? Something changed since I got out of school for Fall semester and now I can’t sync anything. I even bought three months of the cloud thinking it was a WIFI issue, but no luck. Reading reviews on the app page, apparently many other people are having this same issue. I am very disappointed and hopefully this issue is fixed soon.

  2. I have not tried MobileNoter, but the app Outline does a great job displaying OneNote notebooks, including the embedded files.

  3. I have used One Note since I went back to college and was excited about Mobile Noter so I could take notes on my Ipad rather than drag the laptop to school. I too am able to add pages to current notebooks (that I set up before hand on the PC) so I could add a separate page for each lecture day, and I could sync through WIFI with little effort. I did that through the Fall semester 2011.
    Unfortunately when I went to set up this Spring semester the app no longer syncs even after doing the usual deleting and reinstalling (I have read a lot of other reviews where people are having the same issue). So I did download the OneNote program hoping it would work and am disappointed with the reviews I have seen. I have OneNote 2007 on my laptop and apparently you need OneNote 2010 in order to sync (at least I have been unsuccessful) and that is one of my issues. I don’t really want to go out and buy another version of OneNote for my PC when the one I have is still working perfectly.
    I am using Evernote for now, and I do like the typing options on that app, but I still prefer having my college work in OneNote. Hopefully Microsoft with update the app soon to be more usable friendly and more efficient because taking the Ipad to class is much better and easier to take notes on than the traditional laptop.

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