Choosing the right OneNote client for iOS


Not long ago Microsoft launched its major update of OneNote which is its new version for iPad, iPhone and Android. Now we seem to have a nice company, as prior to us there was no chance to read and edit your OneNote notes on iPad. Truth be told, we don’t mind your placing its icon next to ours. Moreover, now users have a choice, which is always good.

When it comes to choosing between the two apps, in fact, we guess that’s not just a choice between two OneNote clients. Rather that’s a choice of ideology, what users want to view on their iPads daily: Windows system brought straight to the AppStore or OneNote notes wrapped in Outline which was initially designed in harmony with iOS ecosystem. IPad version from Microsoft doesn’t correspond to the principles of UI and style of Apple apps: Microsoft style was simply transferred to your Apple iPad without any dramatic changes. Certainly if you like it or not, it’s your choice.

So, that’s what we did: we installed both apps to clear up the difference between Outline and Microsoft OneNote on your iPad:)

Comparing Features of OneNote for iPad and Outline+ for iPad

Synchronization methods

OneNote for iPad lets you sync your notes automatically with SkyDrive and SharePoint. Microsoft only supports its own servers and you cannot use an app unless you have SkyDrive or SkyDrive Pro account. Outline, in contrast, has always been cloud agnostic – we allow you to store your notes on your favorite cloud, not only those designed by Microsoft. At the moment, we support Dropbox, Box and SkyDrive. Outline users are also free to work with files directly via iTunes or open sections right from e-mail. SharePoint (SkyDrive Pro) support is coming soon with the next update.

 Quick Start

If you’re new to Outline, you can start taking notes with Outline immediately. There are no barriers, like requirements to have a user account on MS servers, or gigantic app size. It is easy to start. We think it is important.

In case with OneNote, to get inside you need to sign in first or sign up if you’ve no Microsoft account. To get an access to your notes here you should open them from your SkyDrive (Sharepoint/Office365) account.

 Match with your iOS version

OneNote app for iPad is compatible if your iDevice has iOS 6.1 or higher, with Outline+ it’s already valid starting from iOS 5.0.

iOS 6 requirement

The sight from inside: Organization

Organization of your notes isn’t the same, there are some slight differences. For instance, in OneNote version for iPad there is a bar on the right where you’re free to add new pages or find the existing ones. Outline has it just the other way round, on the left.

The UI of Outline is outstanding. It differs much from other note-taking apps and from OneNote for iPad in particular. We wanted Outline both to work and look beautifully. We came up with a logical solution while designing it for you: we separated groups of sections from sections (in OneNote for iPad users cannot add sections or move ones, by the way). See how it works in Outline:


For easier navigation within your notebook we added a “tree” with a notebook structure which you are probably familiar with after using OneNote on your PC. If you swipe to the right, you’ll get a “tree” with all the way from groups of sections to the section which is on.

three vertical lines      tree

Unlike OneNote, Outline lets users move sections or pages and make sub-pages. Basically everything’s a few taps away: it doesn’t take you long to get to the point of destination, as the space in Outline is used efficiently.

Edit with comfort

In case some corrections are needed, it’s always simple to edit your notes. Let’s say you want to move your outlines to rearrange your ideas or something. It takes just a tap with Outline, while in OneNote there’s no such option.

As for the copy-paste option, it’s possible to copy the whole text within one text box in OneNote for iPad. Currently in Outline you can copy not more than one paragraph at a time. We’ve reconsidered and greatly improved selection in Outline already. All the changes will be available in the upcoming version 2.6. You’ll be able to copy and paste all sorts of content like multiparagraph texts, images, graphs and so on simultaneously (worth mentioning that it’ll be available to keep the title of the page. Watch the amazingly improved selection in Outline+:


Our users say the app is “worth every penny”. Indeed, you can get Outline for $14.99 (before that you can try our free version on the AppStore) and have further updates for free. Likewise, somewhat like a month ago we offered SkyDrive sync for those who had a paid version of Outline.

As AppStore description declares, now OneNote is free for a limited time.

 Sweet bonus from Outline

There’s a bunch of additional features making your app even sweeter. Outline is especially proud of these:

  • Any attachment from compatible programscan be opened (note that in iPad version of OneNote you can’t do it, while a business app is supposed to support it) 
  • UI perfectly matching iOS
  • Export PDF
  • E-mail delivery
  • Inks
  • External keyboard support which works better than in OneNote for iPad

 Moving forward

We are not showing off, but we’ve covered a long road and aren’t going to stop. Microsoft OneNote is in the game now holding all the aces, but Outline has royal flush in reserve :) In the upcoming update Outline users will enjoy:

- Advanced selection (

- Encrypted sections (read it in the next blog post coming soon)

- SharePoint sync

Dear users! We make Outline for you relying a great deal on your needs and requests. Your review is critically important to us. So, if you’ve already downloaded OneNote on your iPad, can you possibly share your impressions? Which app you like better on your iPad: Outline or OneNote? Leave comments, as we want to hear you and keep getting better:)

30 thoughts on “Choosing the right OneNote client for iOS

  1. Of course, Outline is better in many ways (like better organization, attachment support, sync via Dropbox, can handle the .one binary file, can move and add sections etc.). And ‘look and feel’-wise, Outline is clear winner.

    But there are some drawbacks as well: once the notes are edited with Outline, sometimes they appear corrupted in the OneNote Web App, I suspect that the Outline formatting is the issue here. And I terribly miss the ‘undo’ functionality. If you delete something accidentally (which could happen in a touchscreen device while selecting), you are gone :(

    Overall, I am happy with Outline, and currently I prefer using Outline over OneNote on iOS. You don’t know, how much I use OneNote on PC. And once I found Outline, I am using it on my iPad more and more. You have made my notes more portable and accessible. So thanks for that, and also congratulations! I know making such a piece of app is not easy, otherwise others would have made it.

    One advanced feature request: please add math equation support, at least viewing the equations.

    • Pranab,we’re glad there’re so many things you like about Outline:-)
      We know there’s still much place to grow. We should bring some changes and try to polish the app perfectly well.
      As for the downsides that you’ve pointed out:
      1. If some notes that were edited with Outline happen to be modified in the OneNote Web app, we will try to work it out now.
      Seems like only few users undergo this issue, but we’re still investigating the one.
      2. “Undo” feature is highly requested, which means our users won’t have to wait long:-)
      3. Equation support might take longer, I suppose. Anyway, we’ll consider it.
      Thanks one more time for using our app. Hope we’ll surprise you with our upcoming features soon:-)
      Stay tuned!

      • Equation support would be the best! It’s the one thing you can’t live without when you’re a student – it would be great if it was apart of the update for outline for Mac and iPad (and if editing on your Mac was possible too, outline will be the best note taking program ever) how can it be that equation support might take a bit longer?

        • The Editor for Mac is probably the main improvement in Outline:)
          Yeah, being a student is tough and you all guys need equation support. It’s not that certain when we’ll be able to implement it,though.

      • Hi, i always say this about teoonhlcgy that has a big impact in our life, butwhat did we do before we had tablet PC’s evidently they cannot replace the laptop, but watching TV or out and about they’re simplypefect, well love the post

    • Andy, we’re trying to find out if it is really requested among Outline users now.
      As the users probably really need this feature, we’ll give it a thought and will be working in this direction.
      No certain data so far, though.

  2. Dear Outline support,

    Thanks a lot for your comparison between OneNote and Outline.
    I was formerly an ipad/Outline Pro user but finally dumped Outline because several basic features were missing, for example, copy/paste of multiple paragraphs, Undo/Redo, copy/paste of pages, reliable sync with skydrive (several times my sync crashed and memos were lost), exporting sync-folders, no table and link support, ….
    Actually, I got the impression that you do not put much effort in further developing Outline as your release cycle was quite slow in the past and I expected much more advancements with your latest release 2.5.
    I finally switched to OneNote ( as soon as the new version 2.0 came out) which works fine with me as my main intention is to write memos during business trips and to transfer these memos to Onenote on my Windows PC later on (and vice versa).
    With OneNote the synchronization works perfectly and I didn’t run into any sync-issues so far, and it seems to be much faster compared to Outline (gut feeling).
    Other great features with OneNote on the ipad are:
    - new pages created on the ipad automatically adopt the respective template defined in OneNote on the Windows PC,
    - full table, link, icon support like check boxes etc.
    - …

    There are only a few minor items I am missing in OneNote on the ipad
    - resizing figures
    - option to open documents (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Emails)
    - option to create new sections
    - improved position of tab button (for indenting bulleted lines -> this is much better in Outline!)
    - adoption of categories/icons defined on the Windows PC

    Anyway, I must admit that I like the user interface in Outline much better; however, as long as basic features are missing (see above), Outline is no real option for me.

    I am curious about your next Outline release.

    Best regards


    • Andre, thank you so much for your feedback. Glad the comparison was somewhat helpful.
      We always appreciate when users share their likes and dislikes about our app.It’s critically important when you provide the corresponding suggestions which we can consider later on.
      We’ve greatly improved selection in Outline (next update coming soon) and seem to make sync with SkyDrive more stable.
      Other features that you mentioned still need some consideration and will be gradually integrated.
      Steve Jobs said, “Don’t settle”, and we’re all for it! We dont want to stop at the point of current development. There’s always much place to grow, that’s why we do.
      Outline UI is our trump card, we put so much effort just for you to enjoy while working with your notes.
      Anyway, we respect your choice and it’s up to you which one you will use.
      P.S. Hopefully the next update will meet your expectations and you’d love to install Outline v.2.6 :)

  3. Obviously outline is sleeker and much more functional on ios, but it seems a lot of files get lost between skydrive. Also it’s hard to paste pictures where you want them ( they by default go to the bottom of the page) and sometimes you lose the cursor for typing. That said, outline is still my choice after using them side by side.

    • Jake, thanks for your feedback! We’re doing our best to make our UI flawless:)
      We’ll be really hapy to help you out with the issues that you listed above.
      Nothing should disturb you while working with Outline, that’s what we’re striving for.
      Please, ask our support centre for help:
      Thanks that you chose us:) We will keep getting better and gradually will fix all the issues.

  4. I am also waiting for webDAV.

    I think Microsoft will never support it (because they need to sell their Skydrive).
    If Outline supports the ‘webDAV’, it would be the one of the significant feature which only Outline can has it.

    By the way, on the OneNote app, I can use it as a calculator, just simply typing the figures that I want to calculate and press ‘=’
    e.g. 1111+2222 =

    Unfortunately the outline doesn’t have this ‘handy’ feature yet.

    I hope the Outline team implants those features on the app soon.


    • Song, thanks for your concern and interest in Outline.
      WebDAV must be one of the killer features, indeed. Some other users already asked for it,so we hope soon it will be implemented.
      As for the calculation feature, we should consider it for sure.
      We’re really doing our best so that you enjoy our app. Gradually we will expand its potential:)

  5. Sharepoint is the Killer Feature. And from Microsoft you get it for free… So I think it is obvious what the next update is expected to do. And it definitely is not akzeptable to charge an extra fee for an enterprise Edition that only makes up for what you can get for free from your competitors.

    • Rainer, the thing is that Microsoft is a big company. That’s why they can offer the feature for free.
      We aren’t that big and we can’t afford to make the enterprise edition free of charge. What we can do is to try to make it better (and we seem to succeed in it).
      Anyway, the choice is always yours and we respect it.

  6. There is a huge difference in the experience between the OneNote and Outline. I switched back and forth a couple of times early on trying to see which was the better option for me. The update that gave us SkyDrive syncing made all the difference. I have been a OneNote PC user for years and love the program. Outline made it better for me by allowing my notebooks to travel. Thanks!

    • Stephanie, we’re glad you’ve found your best-loved method of sync in Outline.
      We expect SharePoint to come out not in the distant future, which we guess is also highly requested among users.
      Hope you’ll enjoy this feature as well. Thanks for being with Outline.

  7. I too am also loving the new updates to Outline… I’ve been using it for a couple of years now on my iPad with OneNote on my PC and the combination just works so well! But I really think the “search” function needs to then highlight the found word in your notes- this would be SO much more useful!

    • Anna,our following update is coming out soon.
      We’re sure the next update will be even more enjoyable:)
      Yeah, the “search” function has been put on our wish list already. No doubt, it should be implemented.
      Thank you so much for your feedback!

    • We’ve been perfecting our versions for iOS and iOS X so far.
      We’ll be grateful if you share how you see our app on Android platform, by the way. If you already have some ideas,that’ll be nice:-)

  8. For me, functionality has always trumped the user interface. (Don’t get me wrong — I love Outline+’s UI, and didn’t know of the landscape-only mode to swipe and view traditional tab navigation!) To me, the Microsoft OneNote application UI is familiar and useful, being similar to that present in OneNote 2013 on the PC.

    However, the killer feature for me with Outline+ has been true SkyDrive sync support. I work on a variety of machines, including my (mobile) iPad. With Microsoft’s SkyDrive implementation, it Just Works. Syncs are very fast, even with large notebooks. I don’t lose content that I create on my iPad in their OneNote app, which can sometimes happen in Outline+. If I can view it on the OneNote web app, I can view it in their iPad application. This is not true for me with the present version of Outline+, and I have been working with their support team to improve their product in a future release, which I look forward to.

    With (expected) improvements in Outline+’s support for SkyDrive sync, I will keep trying it as time goes on. There are still features that are useful which Microsoft’s implementation does not.

    Overall, I hope that the competition serves to improve the functionality of the product. As a pragmatist, I’ll use what works best — both apps, if need be!

    • Hey Mike,
      quite agree with you on the point that UI can’t do without true functionality.
      MS OneNote might be what you’re used to and here comes the question of preferences:)
      Once we implemented SkyDrive support, we keep working on it to make it truly smooth and flawless for our users.We really hope our users value this.
      With all new features coming in, we just wish Outline will become way more promising.
      Wait for the upcoming updates!

  9. Outline+ has been my go to app for OneNote synchronization, especially since it has supported SkyDrive. SkyDrive sync seems to work much better than Dropbox – way fewer errors.
    However, I’m loving the new OneNote for iPad app. It now supports tags, including to-do checkboxes, which is my number one use for OneNote on the PC. I find myself switching between the two apps: OneNote for tags and Outline for ink. Solid syncing makes this possible. Until Outline supports tags (and searching tags, which OneNote for iPad doesn’t do yet), I’ll be living in both worlds.

    • Hey Stuart,
      thanks for your suggestions and interest in Outline. We’ll bring some changes in Outline soon,by the way (but let’s keep it a secret so far).
      As for to-do checkboxes and tags, we truly need to implement them. We’ve already put them on our wish list.
      Living in both worlds is pretty tough:) Hopefully, our updates will ease your choice soon.

  10. Hi,

    When the Mac version of Outline is released will it mean I can add sections and move them? You mentioned that iPad users currently can’t do that. That’s a huge shame.

    • Hey Abaas,
      thanks for your concern. We already answered your post on Facebook:-)
      iPad users of Outline can add and move sections (it works pretty well).
      As soon as the Editor comes out, it will be possible for Mac users as well.

  11. Like many of the comments above I find myself flip-flopping back and forth between OneNote and Outline+. I like the Outline interface but need to sometimes access my notes on my iPhone (OneNote). Also I do like the spell checker/definition function in OneNote. Keep up the good work but I would really like to lose the flip-flops!!!

    • Hey Bruce,
      that’s quite obvious that switching from one app to another makes no fun. Believe us, such comments just make us work twice as much.
      Now we’re going to grow bigger and keep getting better.
      Thanks for using Outline. Wait for the new features coming soon!

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