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OneNote 2016 v. OneNote for Windows 10

By Rex Balboa posted 04-17-2019 12:10


OneNote 2016 v. OneNote for Windows 10

Is one note as good as another?

Since the release of Windows 10, Microsoft has supported two flavors of OneNote: the more traditional looking and functioning OneNote 2016, and one of the first applications using the Universal Windows Platform framework, OneNote for Windows 10. With the release of Office 2019, Microsoft announced the retirement of OneNote 2016.

The pain in your heart is normal when facing the loss of a loved one. Take a deep breath and realize that Microsoft will still support OneNote 2016 until October of 2020, and until October 2025 for extended support. Still OneNote 2016 is not installed by default with Office 365 and Microsoft has already stopped feature development on this version. It's only a matter of time before we all must switch over.

What does that really mean? What will we lose in this transition and what will we gain? Let's look at a few new features and limitations of OneNote for Windows 10.

The Good

Cross Device Functionality. As part of the Universal Windows Platform, OneNote for Windows 10 looks and functions the same regardless of the device used on. The online experience matches the desktop experience, matches the iPad experience, matches the Android experience. Features stay consistent across devices since they all use the same code.

Better Search. This will delight patent lawyers. In OneNote 2016, searching for "678" will not find the digits at the end of a number. "875,678" will get overlooked. OneNote for Windows 10 will find that number.

Note Sorting. It's possible to sort notes by last edited date in OneNote for Windows 10.

Improved Support for the Pen. OneNote for Windows 10 makes much better use of a pen than its predecessor. Handwriting to text will recognize color and effects. A user can add shading to drawings. A built in, virtual ruler can help with distance and straight lines. It's even possible to fast forward or replay handwritten notes to "better understand the flow of others’ thoughts."

The Bad

No Support for 3rd Party Add-ins. I am seriously going to miss Onetastic. If you don't know Onetastic, I beg you: don't look it up. I would save you the pain of losing it.

Say Goodbye to Ribbon and QAT Customization. Nope. Can't do it. There's not even a File menu.

Can't Create Outlook Tasks in OneNote. One of the most useful features is going away.

The Ugly

Can't Open Local Notebooks. Yep. If it's not in OneDrive or SharePoint, OneDrive for Windows 10 can't open it. Someone's started a campaign to re-enable this seemingly crucial bit of functionality. Go to and vote!

Like a river, updates and feature changes to OneNote keep flowing. Best of luck keeping all our heads above water. Learn more about the coming wave at