OneNote vs. Obsidian | Which is the Best Note-Taking App?

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Hi, it’s Nancy and today I am going to review OneNote vs Obsidian as we continue our quest to find the best note-taking app.  Each app has its pluses and minuses.  If you like the idea of a free app the OneNote is maybe the app for you.

OneNote vs. Obsidian | Which is the Best App for You

Obsidian is one of the newest note-taking apps available today.  I am going to compare it with OneNote which has been around forever.  Which will be your go to note-taking app?

Whereas, Obsidian will only cost you a one-time payment of $25 unless you need syncing capability then you will need to add this service.

OneNote:  Great Way to Get Organized.

OneNote is a compelling application.  You can create simple or complex notes from scratch, organize them into searchable, browsable notebooks, and sync them among various platforms. It has excellent note-creation tools for drawing, recording, audio and video, scanning images, embedding worksheets and reviewing edits that others have made. However, the ability of those tools differs depending on the platform.  The Mac app tends to receive fewer features than the Windows app.  OneNote provides you with 5GB of free space. Windows 10 users will find OneNote already installed on their device as OneNote comes standard on Windows 10. However, your data will be saved to your documents folder in your OneDrive Account.  However, Microsoft does allow you to change the default location to your local hard drive if needed.

Do You Have a Microsoft 365 Subscription?

If you have Microsoft 365 Personal, then you get 1TB of storage, although you must share that space with the other apps.  Microsoft 365 Personal costs $6.99 a month or $69.99 a year. Suppose you need a family account that costs $9.99 a month or $99.99 per year. Microsoft 365 is available on every platform.  Plus, you not only get Microsoft OneNote but all of  Microsoft productivity apps which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, OneDrive and Microsoft Teams App.  Depending on your operating system you may get other apps like Access.

Calendar Integration

OneNote integrates with Microsoft Outlook automatically.  If you need to link OneNote with your Google Calendar then you will need to use a third party for the integration.

Security

OneNote uses TLS for security like 90% of all note-taking apps.  It secures the data at rest and when transmitting across the Internet. 

Templates

With OneNote you can apply a template to any new pages in your notebook.  This allows you to create an appealing background, a more uniform appearance or a consistent layout.  Now, let’s look at Obsidian.

Web Clipper

OneNote is great at creating notes but fall short of Evernote’s considerable capabilities for clipping content from the web.  However, OneNote does offer a browser add-on called the OneNote Web Clipper which works on most browsers.  You will need to be signed into your Microsoft account to be able to use this clipper.

The web clipper has some problems.  It is frequently temperamental when trying to capture full-page clips.  For instance, you may want to clip the capture the web page and it only captures the link or worse, it displays an error message that reads, “NO content found. Try another clipping mode.”  Also, it may overlay the capture page on other content.

Obsidian

Obsidian is a note-taking and knowledge management app created by the same people who made Dynalist. Unless other note-taking apps with Obsidian, you control where your data is stored. Obsidian’s data stores your information on your hard drive in a folder of Markdown files.  Obsidian allows you to access your notes using any text editor or Markdown app.  You can also elect to store your information in the Cloud using iCloud, Google, Drive, GitHub, and more. As you can tell, Obsidian lets you decide where to store your data, and therefore you are ultimately in control of your security.  Just be sure to check out how secure your data is if you elect to store your information on the Cloud.

Templates

Obsidian says that it supports templates but they are not the templates that I am used too.  It allows you to input a date, time and location only.   Obsidian is not as flexible in this regard as other note-taking apps. The winner is OneNote.

Pricing

Let’s look at the pricing structure for Obsidian.  Like Evernote, Obsidian offers three tiers of pricing for their product.  The first is Personal, the second is Catalyst, and the third is Commercial.

Personal (Free Version)

The free version of Obsidian is known as Personal Plan.  It is 100% free for personal use and does not require you to sign up for an account. Wow, I like this!  You have access to plugins and API along with community support.

Catalyst

The Catalyst plan contains four tiers.  Depending on the tier you select will be what access you have to the community.  For example, Obsidian offers the Insider plan for a one-time payment of $25, allowing you early access to Insider builds and insider badges in the community. For a one-time payment of $50, you receive the Supporter Plan, which allows you early access to insider build, access to exclusive development channel, and supporter bade in the community. Next up is the VIP for $100, which provides early access to Insider builds, access to exclusive development channels, and a VIP badge in the community.  Lastly is the Obsidian Unlimited.  You gain no additional benefits for your most generous donation.  It would be best to upgrade to the VIP before you can go for the Unlimited plan.  Obsidian states that the monies will help them stay independent.

Commercial

Obsidian also offers a Commercial Plan for $50 per user per year.  You will notice that Obsidian does not provide a Synchronization of your notes.  That is because they offer this service as an add-on feature.

Add-on Services

Now, Obsidian does offer add-on services which I will discuss next.

 Website Push

The first add-on service is the ability to push your notes onto a website.  This website push-on service is available for $8 per month paid yearly or $96 per year.  If you want the monthly option, it will cost you $120 per pear or $10 per month.   As of this video, these were special pricing offered by Obsidian.  They are presently offering it at a 50% discount for future pricing.  Plus, if you sign up now, you get this pricing for a lifetime. I know what you are thinking.  But Nancy, what about syncing my data? Well, that is the next add-on service offered by Obsidian.

Sync Add-On Service

For just $4 per month billed annually ($48 a year), you can get syncing, including end-to-end encryption, build-in version history, and priority email support.

Web Clipper

Obsidian does not provide a web clipper for their app; however, you can use a third-party add-on like Markdownizr, a Chrome Extension.    I am sure that eventually, the Obsidian developers will create their web clipper extension as an app enhancement.

My Thoughts

Which is the better note-taking app?  Hands down it is OneNote.  OneNote offers a lot more for the money than Obsidian.  Obsidian is not as refined as other OneNote, EverNote or even Joplin.  The Obsidian app may be a contender in the future if the company can spend the money on enhancing the app.  They need to look at the top Note-Taking apps available today to find a way to compete. 

If you are a heavy Microsoft user then using OneNote is a no brainer.  If offers a lot more for less money.  You have integration among all the Microsoft apps. However, a major downside for me is the web clipper.  Microsoft’s web clipper extension is not as good as Evernote’s.  So, if you clip content from the web heavily do yourself a favor and get Evernote.  Of all the apps I have tested nothing beats their web clipper. Although Obsidian offers the best security that you can get for an app it does not measure up in so many ways that I can not recommend this product.  If you need this level of security then use Joplin.

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