What's the difference between OneNote and OneNote 2016

OneNote 2016 (as well as OneNote 2010 and 2013) comes with the Office suite and is available as a free download from www.onenote.com. However, you might have noticed another version of OneNote on your Windows 10 computer or device that’s simply called “OneNote.” This new app, built from the ground-up, works great with any PC, tablet, or smartphone running Windows 10.


Screenshot of the Windows Start menu with OneNote and OneNote 2016.


The OneNote app for Windows 10 and the OneNote 2016 desktop version are very similar, but there are a few key differences. OneNote for Windows 10 is easy to use and it’s regularly updated with new features. OneNote 2016, on the other hand, includes some classic features that existing users may prefer. Many of the top features in OneNote 2016 will be added to OneNote over time.

The app you choose depends on the type of user you are. If you need a feature that’s only available in OneNote 2016, feel free to use that version. OneNote for Windows 10, however, includes many exciting new features that you won’t find anywhere else, and it’s also simpler and easier to use. (Your company or school might recommend a particular version as well.)

You can stick with your favorite version or use both apps side-by-side — the choice is yours!


OneNote for Windows 10

Screenshot of OneNote for Windows 10


OneNote 2016

Screenshot of OneNote 2016


Note: If you already use OneNote or OneNote 2016 and don’t see your notebooks, you’ll need to re-open them. To do this in OneNote for Windows 10, click the icon in the upper-left corner, and then click More Notebooks. To do this in OneNote 2016, click the down arrow next to the current notebook name, and in the list that appears, click Open Other Notebooks.

If you have both versions of OneNote on your computer, you can make either one your default for opening OneNote-associated links and file associations. Learn how to change the default version of OneNote.

You can pin the OneNote and OneNote 2016 icons to the Windows taskbar and Start menu and switch between apps quickly.


To pin to Start

OneNote is already on the Start menu. Here's how to pin OneNote 2016:

  1. Click the Windows Start button in the lower-left corner, and click All apps.

  2. Scroll to OneNote 2016, right-click the icon, and choose Pin to Start.

To pin to the taskbar

  1. Click the Windows Start button in the lower-left corner, and click All apps.

  2. Scroll to OneNote 2016, right-click the icon, and choose Pin to Taskbar.

    Repeat the previous steps to add OneNote to the taskbar.

If you’re used to OneNote 2016, you’ll notice some differences in OneNote for Windows 10. For example, the page list is on the opposite side and the ribbon is more streamlined, but you’ll find it very familiar as well. This simplicity makes it ideal if you’re new to OneNote. It’s also regularly updated with the latest and greatest OneNote features.


Available only in OneNote for Windows 10

  • View all your notes sorted by when you last updated them

  • Preview your notes without having to open the page

  • Transform your drawings into shapes automatically

  • See who’s working with you in a shared notebook and jump straight to the page they’re on

  • Share a single page instead of the entire notebook

  • Replay your handwriting forward and backward to hide and reveal content, to provide step-by-step instructions, or to better understand the flow of others’ thoughts

  • Write out an equation, and OneNote will help you solve it step-by-step with the Ink Math Assistant

  • Use pencil ink to draw or sketch (requires Windows 10 Anniversary Update)

  • Jazz up your notes and annotations with new ink colors like rainbow, galaxy, gold, and more

  • Windows 10 integration, including:

    • Click the button on the Surface Pen to open OneNote and take a note, even when your device is locked

    • Tell Cortana to take a note for you with your voice

    • Quickly jump to a new page by selecting the Note button in the Action Center

    • Write on a webpage in Microsoft Edge and save your annotations to OneNote

    • Share notes with any app with the Share button

  • Use your device’s camera to capture documents, whiteboards, receipts, and more right into OneNote

  • Maximize drawing space by hiding the page list and Ribbon


Available only in OneNote 2016

While OneNote is great for all users, you might need to use OneNote 2016 if you rely on any of these features:

  • Capture a screen clipping (Win+Shift+S) and add it to your notes or the clipboard

  • Print anything on your computer directly to OneNote

  • Office suite integration, including:

    • Insert meeting details from Outlook into your notes

    • Insert an embedded Excel spreadsheet into your notes

    • Create tasks in OneNote and have them appear in Outlook

  • Convert handwriting into text

  • Take notes during a recording and have OneNote will highlight what you were writing when you play back the recording later

  • Use the equation editor to add complex equations to your notes

  • Insert basic shapes from the Draw menu

  • Categorize notes with custom tags and quickly find them later

  • Apply a template to pages to maintain a specific look or layout

  • Store notebooks on your local hard drive instead of in the cloud

  • Save or back up your notes on a local hard drive instead of in the cloud


The frequency of updates to OneNote for Windows 10 means you can expect to see more and more features added every month. If you have a favorite feature in OneNote 2016 that you’d like to have in OneNote for Windows 10, let us know on UserVoice. We’re constantly improving the app and your feedback helps influence what we’re working on next.

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