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Mac OSX OneNote Alternative Software

Updated on September 6, 2014

Is there an Alternative to Microsoft OneNote on the Mac?

This page was created when Microsoft OneNote was not available on the Mac, but now you can obtain OneNote for in the Mac App Store! It is free for a "limited time"

You might still enjoy some of the OneNote alternatives listed here, but if you are like me, you just wanted to USE OneNote on the Mac, and now you can as of 3/17/14. FINALLY!

Important Update - 3/17/14:

You might not need an alternative to OneNote if you just want to use OneNote on your Mac. You can now get Microsoft OneNote in the Mac App Store for free for a limited time!

Growly Notes for the Mac
Growly Notes for the Mac

Growly Notes

Growly Notes is a free app for the Mac, and I think it may be the most similar app to MS OneNote. You can create multiple notebooks which will each be a file you save to your computer. You can have more than one notebook open at a time and it will show up as a tab at the top of the Growly Notes window. Within each notebook, you can have multiple sections, and under sections you have multiple pages. The tabs for sections and pages are along the side of the section you write in.

Thanks to those who in the comments who introduced me to Growly Notes.

Circus Ponies NoteBook 4 [Download]
Circus Ponies NoteBook 4 [Download]

You can get Circusponies Notebook 4 for download from Amazon.

 

CircusPonies Notebook 3.0

CircusPonies Notebook is the note taking software that I ended up getting for the Mac as a OneNote alternative before I found others (Update: And before OneNote itself became available for the Mac). It's not exactly like OneNote, but it's good in its own way.

You can have multiple notebooks with the idea that they are like paper notebooks. You have an index page, and dividers in your notebook and within those dividers you have other pages. You can create a writing page, an outline page, or a clipping page. You can of course clip things from the web or e-mail into the program. Some have mentioned it is buggy and I have had it crash on me a few times.

Note to Students:

You can buy Circusponies Notebook directly from the Circusponies site where you can choose an Academic license.

Curio

Thanks to those who mentioned Curio in the comments. I have not used it too much yet but it seems very cool. You can get a 15 day trial of Curio from zengobi.com. You can get the trial extended for another 60 days as well.

Curio 7 Professional Overview

Other OneNote Alternatives for the Mac

DevonThink is a very powerful information manager for the Mac. I am thinking of using this one in addition to Notebook but it seems to have a learning curve for me in order to learn all of the ins and outs of it. I haven't had time to sit down and learn how to use it properly yet. You can get a trial verson of the software and try it out.

Evernote is note taking software for the Mac, Windows, and the web. You can synch notes between all 3 if you want. It has a limited free version and a paid version. It also has an iPhone and iPod touch app so you can see all your notes on the go. I think I'll continue to use this for notes I want to have on my iPod Touch.

OmniOutliner is an outlining software for the Mac. I got a one day trial for it and it seemed okay but pretty complex and I did not want to spend the time to learn how to use it in one day. I think if you want to try it another day you can get a new key. I did however buy OmniFocus from them to use for GTD, but not for general note-taking.

Journler is a Journaling software for the Mac that you can store notes in. I tried the trial and liked the way it organized things in categories. The interface seems a lot like an e-mail interface to me.NoteTaker - a notebook app that looks promising, but I haven't tried yet.

Which Onenote Alternative for the Mac do you like best?

See results

Other Mac Onenote Alternatives?

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    • profile image

      Nicole_fromOneNote 3 years ago

      No alternative needed anymore. OneNote for Mac is available for free in the Mac App store or at www.onenote.com Enjoy!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Scapple, by Literature and Latte (who also wrote Scrivener) is very good, if clicking and typing is your thing. Very text oriented, compared to OneNote, but I like it. There's a 30 demo if you want to try it out.

    • profile image

      laguna_b 4 years ago

      I just looked over the coverage here on Growly Notes. It seems like the navigation on the left is similar to MacJournal which I use. I really like the old OneNote until it started popping up messages saying there was a problem with a note but don't worry we will fix it.....then it was deleted and a bunch of other notes were corrupted. I should not have been surprised, it was Microsoft after all.

    • VukiTuki profile image

      VukiTuki 4 years ago

      Nice lens. What theme is this?

    • profile image

      Krisenvorsorge 4 years ago

      Great lens. I was looking a long time for an alternative for Onenote. I have a Macbook Air since 5 month and now I can use a note software without installing Windows on it.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Outline for Mac. The first and the only native OSX app which works with OneNote file format. It was released in Mac App Store today! First version is a reader, but they work on editable version.

    • gottaloveit2 profile image

      gottaloveit2 4 years ago

      I just bought a screamin' 15" Macbook and installed VM so I could install MS Office. There's nothing like OneNote. Right now, I'm trying to figure out how to use it to organize my SQuidoo stuff.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Loving Growly Notes!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I use more than one program. For most everyday use, it's Sidenote, which lets you create pages for different topics. It hides away offscreen, and is always available, especially nice for quick notes. But most of my real work is done in Scrivener, which is really a writing app, but works very well for notes and keeping everything organized. I wouldn't use Onenote, even if they gave it away. I had so much trouble with lousy updates of MS apps for Mac, that my computers are now Microsoft-free zones.

      Circus Ponies Notebook is a wonderful app, but I don't have any use for it now that I have Scrivener.

    • profile image

      JennaBaxton 5 years ago

      Helpful lens, thanks!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      How about just using the OneNote web-app? Works fine in both Firefox and Safari.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Growly seems really good, colorful, tweak able, comprehensive. And, not (very much) grey. Ole'!

    • mihgasper profile image

      Miha Gasper 5 years ago from Ljubljana, Slovenia, EU

      Growly Notes are my favorite!

    • MJ Martin profile image

      MJ Martin aka Ruby H Rose 5 years ago from Washington State

      Thanks for such a great lens with all these great applications for macs. Sometimes I like Firefox for a change of pace. I agree, they are both awesome browsers. Thanks for great info, so I keep up with this writing rat race.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      this is very helpful. thank you very much! :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      The Problem with Curio.

      I have Curio Pro. I used it to set up my notes for a professional discipline exam studies. Its terrific to get things IN. And hopeless at exporting it in a useful format. Theoreticaly it can export into RTF or word or PPT or PDF...but the result is a mess that takes way too long to re-order. I rediscovered Omnioutliner in time. Real work needs real tools. Curio needs a far more accomplished export mechanism with usable output in my opinion. Its pretty, its easy - but at the end of the day - some mind maps from a dedicated mind mapper (imindmap or nova mind) and text done with omnioutliner. USe curio by all means - but only as an initial first step in putting data together. Scrivener is also good for text - but I would suggest again that it is most useful for putting a final manuscript together.

      My workflow FWIW - and after several months evaluating all of these is:

      1) Devonthink Pro Office to store the data. Bulletproof. Great search. Fantastic database. Give papers a miss. Its junk by comparison.

      2) Initial doodling - curio.

      3) Writing and thinking - Omnioutliner +/_ Omnifocus (or GTD as you like)

      4) Setting up for publishing / final notes - Scrivener

      5) Presenting - Keynote.

      Hope this helps

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I know this is old, but it's worth mentioning that Office Live does have a fairly decent web-based version of OneNote, which is really nice because it lets you sync between the desktop and mobile versions.

    • profile image

      jimmyworldstar 5 years ago

      I know Microsoft Office has its own note taking programs. There's some freeware programs I'm sure too but I prefer Microsoft Office.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I use Evernote. For me it's just as good as OneNote, especially as you can copy and paste screen clippings using Ctrl-Cmd-Shift-4. For the occasional times I need to use OneNote I have a virtual machine running Windows.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      OneNote is available on the web using skydrive and your windows Live account through your browser.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      This is for the iPad but really like OneNote or Curio for the iPad, it is called MagicalPad

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      This is an iPad app, but really like OneNote or Curio for the iPad

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      @anonymous: Do any of these have the ability to import a "onenote" formated file directly?

    • audiocloth profile image

      audiocloth 6 years ago

      Nice selection. Good to see OS X specific list, but like ozaz below mentioned, shame they're not that cross-platform.

    • profile image

      antassq 6 years ago

      @anonymous: Have OneNote, but also started using Growly Notes a few weeks ago. Growly Notes may have slightly fewer features although not sure but now using it mainly instead of OneNote.

      First thing to do is get rid of the color interface for the softer classic colors.

      The learning curve is minimal and let's you get on with the job without getting sidetracked by tons of unnecessary side shows...and does not mean it is less functional. One thing that did happen was that my mac crashed and I lost some pages. Don't think that was Growly notes though.. it is more a case of checking that the autosave has the latest copy.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      @anonymous: Well, you need to introduce a calculator into the Core version, as well as a the ability to insert voice clips. Core just feels too crippled, it's a drawing tool and not much else. Now, if Bento and Curio woudl marry and introduce a calculator...

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      A common problem with almost all of these is that they are not cross-platform (I'd be very interested in a similar article on cross platform alternatives to OneNote). Therefore, unless you are fortunate enough to have a job where you can immerse yourself in an all Apple world, they're not ideal.

      The only exception seems to be Evernote, which is rather good but suffers from one fatal flaw IMO. That is the omission of selective sync of notebooks (I want my personal notebooks on my home computers and phone but not on my work PC). Until Evernote (or someone else) offers this, I will continue to run OneNote on my Mac in a virtual machine.

    • profile image

      geradhoyt 6 years ago

      Just switched to a Mac and had the same problems, so thanks for the lens!

    • profile image

      markets 6 years ago

      Good info you posted here! Thumbs up!

    • blessedmomto7 profile image

      blessedmomto7 6 years ago

      I'm still trying to figure out my Mac.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Thanks for listing Curio on your site!

      We have an updated Curio 7 Overview video which you can find here on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUhHiThbj5s0

      Also we recently released Curio 7 Core to the Mac App Store. This is a $39.99 edition of Curio containing the essential features of our Curio Pro product with full support for our innovative freeform environment along with mind maps, lists, and tons of other features. You can get the full details plus a link to a trial version at http://www.zengobi.com/curio/core.

    • profile image

      Rpgkeys 6 years ago

      I like this valuable concept. I visited your site for the first time as well as just been your fan. Maintain posting as I am gonna come to learn it every week.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Nice lens.Thanks for sharing. Work Plan Platform

    • wizardgold lm profile image

      wizardgold lm 6 years ago

      The best of the bunch for me is Evernote. Syncs to all my devices and really easy to use when I want to clip something from a web page. I also like the way that I can tag notes.

      For one off small notes I use Notational Velocity which syncs up with Simple notes.

    • fefe42 profile image
      Author

      fefe42 6 years ago

      @Retro Loco: I only just got around to trying out Growly Notes and adding it to this page. It is pretty impressive so far and I can't believe it's free.

    • Retro Loco profile image

      Vicki 6 years ago from USA

      I've been searching for months for an app to organize my notes, thoughts and scribbles. Just as I was starting to use OneNote and really liking it, I got a Mac for Christmas in 2010. I used TextEdit for a while to write all my notes and had tons of folders to hold the notes. I discovered Circus Ponies Notebook a few weeks ago, downloaded the free trial, and have used it a lot -- I love it, but it does have some quirks. I like CPN better than OneNote (but I didn't use OneNote very long). One thing I like better about CPN than OneNote (aside from being OSX) is the clean UI that takes up less space on my desktop. Most of the space it takes up is for my actual work, not a bunch of toolbars.

      I was getting ready to buy a license for CPN yesterday, but I decided to search again for similar apps before forking out $50 for CPN (which crashes on me a lot and is a bit buggy). I found Growly Notes last night, and the UI looks exactly like what I need. I really don't need anything fancy such as audio, video or sharing. I need good organization with lots of tabs, color and customization to keep my little brain organized. After backing up my HD tonight, I am going to download Growly and give it a try. (I ALWAYS do a backup before downloading ANYTHING to my HD. Lesson learned back in my PC days!). I found your lens doing a search on CPN and Growly comparison. Thank you so much for the information! Thumbs up. ~Vicki~

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Growly Notes. Perfect alternative to onenote.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      @Dawn Michael PhD: I've been in search of One Note alternatives for Mac for long. Someone suggested Growly Notes and from what i"m seeing so far it totally has the feel and the essence of One note. And it's free.

    • Dawn Michael PhD profile image

      Dawn Michael 6 years ago from Thousand Oaks

      great information, really helpful, but I dont use a mac.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I searched for an OneNote alternative for almost the whole last year since i switched to Mac. I tried EverNote, OmniFocus, Word Notebook Layout, Notebook, and also Things. Each had their unique way to organize things and bells and whistles. but i wasn't completely happy with any of them. I initially excluded Curio from my list since it's a little pricey. Finally decided to give it a try. It is absolutely a joy to use. I was looking for just a OneNote alternative. however, Curio turns out to be much more powerful app than OneNote. I was delighted to see the builtin mindmap feature. No need to get a separate mindmap any more. Highly recommended for folks who hasn't found their OneNote replacement a try.

    • joanv334 profile image

      joanv334 6 years ago

      Thanks for the tips!

    • jackieb99 profile image

      jackieb99 6 years ago

      Some excellent information, thank you.

    • bruceeisner lm profile image

      bruceeisner lm 7 years ago

      This is a topic I am interested in. Good info.

    • profile image

      ssomu007 7 years ago

      It is new for me. Another great info. unfortunately, I don't use mac. Anyway, Thanks

    • profile image

      JTShep 7 years ago

      @anonymous: I bought Curio as well (the pro edition) a few weeks after I posted below. I now have been using it for about 10 months. And I agree, it is a lot like OneNote (which I only experienced the trial about 5yrs ago). And your right, I love it! My whole life is in it now. I use it constantly everyday. I am a web developer and SEO guy and use it constantly to keep projects organized. It has been rock solid. I don't remember even the least bit of flakiness ever. You definitely get what you pay for with it for sure!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Curio comes VERY close to OneNote. It is a great choice!

      I found Notebook to be VERY buggy and unflexible.

      Check out Curio and you will love it! Especially if you know OneNote.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Jarnal (http://www.dklevine.com/general/software/tc1000/ja... is a free note-taking and annotation software. It's java-based, so it'll run fine on the mac.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I have been using circus ponies notebook for about 2 weeks. I really like the concept. The multidex is awesome, I love the clippings feature, and the ability to add dividers with a table of contents. Its great for organizing, searching and keeping track of to-dos. You can have a specific page which displays all of your to-dos from all pages in your notebook which is genius.

      What is killing me though is that it is buggy. It has crashed twice on me, sometimes I can't select text areas that I have created in order to add to them and very often when I am able to edit them something goes heywire and the text becomes garbled and I can't see what I am typing. Really frustrating! I hate it because it would be such a great solution for me if it didn't keep flipping out. Fortunately, I have been using the demo and haven't paid for it.

      I am using it on OSX 10.4 (Tiger). Maybe its not so buggy in Leopard?

      I would love to know if someone out there finds a better alternative or has used notebook on Leopard without the probs I'm having.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      @anonymous: I tried Circus Pony , Notetaker, DevonThink OfficePro, Evernote, EagleFiler and others . None Comes close to the feature of OneNote . After all these applications after years of ploughing , I am convinced that OneNote is far superior. Out of all the aforementioned apps EF gets my votes as data base of all things ! Evernote for syncing single clippings and web pages ! But for my real work OneNote is THE organizer ..sigh

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      [in reply to diegs]

      You might have a look at EndNote.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I've had a MAC for three days and spec'd it with got with Circus Pony, having used OneNote for years i really expected anything MAC to be far superior but so far in the 36 hours i've been glued to my shiny new machine, Circus Pony is NOT impressing me at all. it is by now means as intuitive as ONote and lacks decent interface with entourage....

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I've looked for a Mac One Note equivalent for some time and have finally found it with Evernote. It has a fantastic User Interface and is very intuitive. I also have an iPhone and love that I can call up documents on it with the Evernote app seamlessly. Using the free version and have not run into any limitations that would require an upgrade. I highly recommend checking it out.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I am a law student with a Mac and am very frustrated with the Mac alternatives to OneNote. Does anyone know if there is software out there that allows me to take notes on one very long document and then tag certain sections of the one document? I would like a pop-out table of contents like Notebook or SOHONotes, but cannot figure out how to subdivide sections within one page. For example, if I am writing notes on different cases in one document, I would like each case heading in a smart folder that I can just click on to bring up all of the case blurbs.

      Thoughts?

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      After several years using Mori, I have to issue a strong warning against Mori. As of v.1.6.11 running under OS X 10.6.1, it has a fatal bug that has corrupted years of my data, whereby the software randomly switched pasted graphics that I had put into documents.

      http://leblog.exuberance.com/2009/09/mori-your-not...

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      i looked all over and curis pony notetaker is the best of all the notetaking programs ive found, i really miss onenote, but maybe they'll put a version of it on iworks 10 or something i only hope it includes some of the features of notetaker like the the different shape bubbles you can pull down and put anyware on the page and insert lines to each,

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I'm ready to convert a fleet of PCs into Macs but honestly OneNote is so much superior to all the Mac alternatives, it's only thing keeping me from doing so.

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      anonymous 8 years ago

      yes please get Onenote for the MAC it is the main reason I am still running with Vista...urgh hate it as an operating system, soooooo slow and painful with it's various quirks...!

      G

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Here's the list of free trials I'm gonna plow through to find the closest match:

      Circus Ponies Notebook, Zengobi Curio, Aqua Minds Notetaker, OmniOutliner, Hog Bay Mori, Tinderbox, Voodoopad, DevonThink, Yojimbo, and SOHO Notes.

      I really like the artificial intelligence aspect of devonthink... seems powerful for other purposes.

      Good luck

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I use Zotero with my firefox. Found it very useful for history research. It may be to much an academic program for business users - but it will work for notes - sources and taking snapshots of web pages.

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      anonymous 8 years ago

      No onenote alternative for Mac. I remain linked to Microsoft system on an emulator because a) missing OneNote - a killer application and b) MS Office for Mac was a waste of money compared to MS Office for XP. Can't someone negotiate a truce between these two giants?