UPDATE: Microsoft has now released OneNote for Mac. Find our thoughts about the new app here or download here.

onenotelogo.pngMicrosoft OneNote is an information gathering and collaboration application that many Windows users miss when they switch to Mac. For some it may even stop them from switching they rely on it so much. Of course, you can always run it in Parallels instead but this soon becomes annoying if you use it regularly. OneNote doesn't come with Microsoft Office for Mac but the good news is there are some very good alternatives instead.

Here are 5 of the best Mac alternatives to OneNote you can try.


A simple and easy to use note taking application that is flexible for creating, collecting, and organizing information. It's ideal for student wanting to take-down lecture notes in a clear and organized manner or those who simply want to map their ideas and notes in a convenient way. OmniOutliner allows you to create hierarchies of main headings and sub-points that can be expanded and collapsed. This makes it ideal for brainstorming tasks, drawing-up plan of actions and mapping out ideas. However, OmniOutliner isn't limited to hierarchies - it also supports multiple columns, smart check boxes and customizable popup lists that make your notes and plans look really professional.



Journler is a daily notebook and entry based information manager. It will mainly appeal to scholars, teachers, students, professors, scientists that need to connect the written word with the media most important to them. Journler features iLife integration, audio and video entries, extensive document importing and instantaneous searching and filtering, plus Mail, iWeb and Address Book integration, some blog platform integration and Spotlight support.



MacJournal started life as a simple diary entry application but now its a fully featured note taker and organizer that provides a decent alternative to OneNote. MacJournal organizes all your important information and helps chronicle your life faster and easier than ever before. MacJournal allows users to add any kind of content, PDFs, QuickTime movies, images, text and has most recently been updated with Smart Journals which allows specific criteria to be searched upon. The handy thing about MacJournal is that it even allows you to blog video to blogs on Blogger, WordPress, LiveJournal, MobileMe and more - ideal if you need to share your notes with others.



The big plus of Evernote is that not only does it offer almost everything that OneNote does, but it also allows you to sync your data and notes over multiple devices including mobiles. EverNote is a simple application that allows you to copy and paste anything onto a clipboard that can handle almost everything you throw at it. This includes everything from simple text, to photos taken on your iPhone. If you see something you'd like to keep or read later, simple select it and then go to the EverNote icon in your toolbar and select "Paste to Evernote". The only slight drawback is that you can't add attachments to Evernote.


Circus Ponies Notebook

This is probably a last resort option as it is rather limited compared to OneNote but if you only need the most basic of note taking apps, the bizarrely named Circus Ponies Notebook might be of interest. Using a simple organizational tool such as Circus Ponies NoteBook can help you keep on top of tasks through a simple and easy to use notebook format. As you enter entries into NoteBook, much as you would in a real notebook, you can clip memos, add an attachment, check it or add flags to remind you when it's due.

Circus Ponies NoteBook uses a system patented by the developer called "Multidex" which makes it easy to view all of your to do tasks in a glance. You can view them all in one go, separately, by category or by importance. You're encouraged at all times to give context to your notes so that they mean a bit more than just "complete project assignment". However, you'll probably find it very inflexible compared to OneNote with how it will let you place items on a page.



  • Creek Jots ~ 2010-10-08 |
    Creek Jots ~ 2010-10-08

    [...] 5 Mac alternatives to OneNote (onsoftware.en.softonic.com) [...]

  • Adam Norman |
    Adam Norman

    You can add attachments to Evernote. You may not be able to add them to the free version, but you certainly can add them to the paid version.

    You also forgot to mention that Evernote works on Macs and PCs and syncs between them. It's awesome.

  • anonymous |

    Scrivener is really great too! Perfect for longer works or just lecture notes http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.php

  • zizo |

    evernote sucks... i was able to attach even 100mb file in onenote. I had many files like that. it is very bad that microsoft didn't put this useful program to mac office.

  • Katrina Paquin |
    Katrina Paquin

    I completely agree - I would pay a little extra to have OneNote since it's what I use on my PC and ebook.

  • DeadMan |

    I don't think that any of these are a good alternative from what I am seeing. One thing that I have seen is that you can use word on mac like a note book. Only problem with that is even thought the pages are as long as you want they are not as wide as you want. Also it is not as easy to have tables and everything else.

  • Suzette LaVallée |
    Suzette LaVallée

    There's a great program that's nearly identical to (perhaps better) than OneNote. I just switched from PC to Mac and OneNote, on which I'm terribly dependent.

    That is Growly Notes, by Growly Bird Software.

  • quantum flux |
    quantum flux

    Evernote isn't perfect but its probably as good as you can get. Still a far cry from One Note for anyone serious though. On a side note, I googled "growly" mentioned about and all I see it cheesy web marketing tactics BS like padding forums and posting "articles" on pseudo info sites (the new improved version of parker sites)... Bleh

  • Chris Mason |
    Chris Mason

    You can find Growly Notes at www.growlybird.com. We're just getting started so it will be hard to find us with a search engine. No marketing BS, and the software is free.

  • Michael Clancy |
    Michael Clancy

    Well, the link to Evernote did not work for me. Yes, its the one program that prevents me from going iMac at this stage because I use OneNote on a daily basis.

  • Ashley |

    I am absolutely addicted to Onenote, and when I found out you can't get it for Mac, I was nothing short of ticked. I have tried Evernote, CircusPonies, Zengobi and the Journaler. Nothing has come even close except for this last one I tried - GrowlyNotes from growlybird.com and the best part is it's free! Now it isn't as "pretty" as OneNote and not quite as user friendly (although it's much closer than any of the rest!) but it works just the same - you can write ideas anywhere and move them around, add tables, pictures, links, etc. So far, it's my top pick!

  • Nicky G |
    Nicky G

    Growly notes has almost the same funtionality of one note and its free. www.growlybird.com, before growlynotes i wouldnt have gotten a mac.

  • Growlynotes hater |
    Growlynotes hater

    Look out....it's a growlynotes hijack! Growlynotes, Growlynotes, Growlynotes......

  • Not a stupid consumer |
    Not a stupid consumer

    When I see something that looks like its being touted by people with a vested interest.... I make a mental NOTE to avoid that product at all costs. Why? Because its the most dishonest and despicable marketing tactic there is. It insults consumers intelligence, misrepresents the product and damages the company's reputation.

    Even intended plausible comments ring as cheesy when someone tries to falsely promote a product.

  • Jim VF |
    Jim VF

    Thanks for the tip - Growly is very much like OneNote!

    (No vested interest in anything but being organized).

  • Growly Notes lover |
    Growly Notes lover

    What's insulting is somebody saying that because I like a product and write a comment, I have a vested interest. I think it should be respected that each of us can make up our own mind without feeling that our intelligence is being called into question. I'm curious though as to how one does promote a product without telling people about it. Personally, I love Growly Notes and use it all of the time. I suggest looking at it and making up your own mind.

  • Scott |

    Gotta say that I normally avoid products that appear to be promoted through forum/comment padding, but figured it was worth a shot because none of the other listed apps are working the way I want them to.

    Growly Notes superficially resembles OneNote, but a little more candy-like. I haven't started using it, yet, but it seems to have some of the stuff I like about OneNote: tagging; separate notebooks; topic/page/item links; etc. What it doesn't have is coordination with your email client (I used Outlook w/ OneNote as my main business tool on any given day).

    Again, this is just after launching it and cruising through the UI.

    As a side note, I love Evernote for personal stuff, and use Scrivener for actual writing projects (presentations & books). Neither of these is useful to me in the office, so I'm keeping an eye out.

  • Douglas |

    Having scoured the net for a OneNote alternative in the several years since my PC to Mac migration, I have found nothing that captures the feel and essence of OneNote like Growly Notes. Admittedly, it is still emerging and lacks some functionality. But for an initial offering, at a great price (free), I am impressed. If Chris continues development of this product I see great potential for a true OneNote replacement.

  • Levi |

    I'm surprised nobody mentioned Curio.

    It's the closest thing I found to OneNote.

    Growly Notes looks interesting. I'll take it for a ride.

  • Louise Rohde |
    Louise Rohde

    The only problem about growly notes is that you don't have the palette (the thing with the headings and such), i miss that..

  • Mark |

    I vote for Curio. The latest version (7) gives me virtually all the functionality I was missing from OneNote.

  • cris |

    Don't have a mac yet, but considering it. Does OneNote Web application work (Microsoft Live)?

  • Nick Mead |
    Nick Mead

    @Cris, The OneNote web application should indeed work on Mac like every other Microsoft Live web app. However, it will lack some of the functionality of the standalone app. Note that it is already available for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch and probably won't be long before they eventually launch a Mac version. As for switching to Mac, I say go for it. You won't regret it and you can always use a virtual environment such as Parallels for your few remaining Windows needs.

  • Alex |

    I have macbook pro but installed windows for 3 years ago because of onenote :(

  • Kay |

    I don't know if someone commented on this yet, but Evernote does have the capability now of adding attachments.

  • Yves Beriault |
    Yves Beriault

    I'm considering switching from Windows to Mac but I'm not interested in installing Win 7 on a Mac so I can have the same benefits as before. I use Jot+Notes from Kingstairs on my PC. A gem! For now I have the impression that Mac users have to cope with second hand software, a far cry from what you'll find available for Window users. Plus, the look of the note taking software for macs that I've seen up to now seemed poorly designed. Not sure anymore of switching. But the aluminum casing is nice...

  • Ardentra |

    Hey NoteTaker is so much cheaper than Circus Ponies Notebook, and its much more convenient too.

  • ocbizlaw |

    I tried Growly Notes as a substitute for OneNote. The problem is that you can't create multiple levels of subsections. I loved OneNote because I could have create a client notebook then create a tab for "Motions" or "Discovery" etc. with unlimited subsections within each section. For example, I'd have a tab for each client, a subsections for motions then subsections under that with each of the myriad motions that would arise in the case and subsections under that for the motion, the opposition, the reply, etc.

    Growly Notes falls far short because you can create one main tab and one level of subsections.

  • CR |

    So -

    I have to say - Growly notes and One Noe bow down to the true big kahuna.

    Have gone to 2 solutions (having tried these):

    1) Get yourself the full blown version of this guy: Devonthink Office Pro. www.devonthink.com Bulletproof databasing and search capability. Not the App store version - the full Office version from the website. Absoultely smashes anytning here mentioned. I use this as my databank. All PDFs. Al word documents, powerpoints etc etc - anything with text in it at all - (also can store anything else too - but ideal for this)

    2) For free note taking you cant IMHO beat voodoopad -- www.voodoopad.com - Gives you a personal wiki evolving and remembering key words as you go and adjust it - making ordered thinking like Circus Ponies or even Omnioutliner No longer relevant

    3) When you need to publish in a structured format (as opposed to notetaking) - Scrivener cant be beaten

    4) and for general thinking and memorisation imindmap 5 with the "freedom" add-on is excellent.

    Tried the rest but this works guys. Try these products.

    And the guy saying that the growlynotes posts arent guerilla marketing - are kidding themselves.

    Try these. Then try going back to One Note or anyting else on your list.

    To the guy who wondered about mac - no one note - no problem. Try these.


  • Jacques Langlois |
    Jacques Langlois

    Some of your proposal may please some. But really, nothing of them, or anything else that I know can be an alternative and event a little bit close to one note. Also, very few program of all kind offer for mac, paid or free, are better than the best one in the same category offer for pc. iWork is for beginners compare to M OFFICE... and what else... ??? I like my mac, and some features are better than on a pc. But at all, if I know when I decided for a mac desktop instead a high-class pc to replace my old HP, what I know after 10 months of my experiences with a mac, I won't buy it. It is a lot to expensive for what it is better. I use my mac in french, and 90% + of what is available doesn't support french language. 75% of the programs are for children or ado, beginners users. And what about the real gamers (witch I am not, and won't become at 62 years old, but event for grands fathers games, it is not as good of what are offers for pc). So for me, after 10 months, it is not as good than a pc for serious and business use, and not as good for games also. So I am know ready to install Windows 7 with PARALLELS desktop and ad some memories. Just for finish: memory: I bought some 8 go for $60.00 3 months ago when it was over $500.00 if I bought it for APPLE. It is right now (I just check) at $200.00. Still a rubbish !

    p.s.: I change 3 times for a new one because it was closing after 2 minutes of a you tube clip or video. After experience-it I stop use SAFARI when I want look at videos and it was a lot better. Till a month ago, it was closing between 5 and 10 times a week, no matter for ! Since last few weeks, it didn't close...

    I still have an iPod and an iPad witch I like. But I don't know yet if I will replace them one day. But I have to admit, that nothing else exist to replace them with all the same advantages.

  • George |

    Why can I not find Growly Notes on the App Store? Is there an iPad version? Does it sync in any way?

  • Steve |


    has anyone tried using Parallel's plus Office 10 for Windows?

    so, not running windows 7 but just running the Windows version of MS Office straight from MacOS??

    if so, i'm interested particularly in hearing your experience...... a) Battery Life - does this negatively effect battery life?? b) Bugs / Crashes / Issues - how smooth is it, do you have any reliability issues with it crashing?

    I am going to grad school in the fall, i've been out of school for a while. I used OneNote extensively in my undergrad days, I took extensive notes in class. I would prefer not to have to plug my laptop in during class, so battery life is an issue. Also, OneNote allows easy sharing w classmates on the web. So i don't think i can settle for an alternative software, besides they all look terrible.

    Hoping for user feedback before I buy Parallels, TIA

  • CC |

    Get the version for Mac. I thought the experience of Parallels was terrible. It slowed my system and felt crotchety at best. I was running it purely to run One Note. I use Office for Mac. I gave up on using One Note through Parallels and STILL have not found another app that works as well, but continue my search.

  • Marmadukemark |

    I've been using Apple desktops since the Apple II, circa 1980. I upgraded to an Apple III, Macintosh (the Lisa didn't cut the muster for the price), sub-power Mac, Power Mac, to the G3. Then I started getting free PC's from my brother's company using XP Pro, before coming back to the fold with an iMac in July, 2012, about the time Mountain Lion was released. In fact, I sold Apple products and services in the '90s. To sell a Mac you had to be able to point to the Mac with one hand and collect the money with the other.

    As soon as I got the iMac last summer I had to buy a very expensive specialized software package that would not run on the Mac OS - boot camp, yes; fusion, no; parallels, well, yes but . . . It takes a lot of horsepower to push OSX ML, Windows 7, AND the software package simultaneously, and the low-end iMac does a pretty good job at it.

    I remember how cutting-edge we felt using a Mac SE/Pagemaker for designing a magazine "back in the day." I know some of you remember when Windows was this clunky, ugly, mess of error messages and blue screens. Now there's the Web 2.0, html5, smart phones (BTW, if you use an iPhone, an iPad, and an iMac, sync and cloud can be revolutionary.) So, I'll cry a river for all you One Noters - I understand having to compromise on your best software; but trust me, an even better solution is just around the corner.

  • celus |

    i don have my microsoft office onenote 2010 product key

  • tangled mind |
    tangled mind

    I'm intending to switch to mac, and worrying about onenote cause I rely on it for order information collaboration. By far the most similar app I found on internet is Growly Notes, but haven't got chance to try. Hoperully it's good enough to replace onenote on mac.

  • user 101 |
    user 101

    Growly notes is wonderful, next to one note, I find it IS the best for Mac, until microsoft release a onenote for mac well growly is the next best thing ... just wish there was a better way to sync my notes from one mac to the other ,,

  • Confused |

    Is there any reason why Microsoft are not making a version of OneNote compatible with Mac?

  • Paolo T. |
    Paolo T.

    Calling NoteBook "basic" just because it manages to hide its power behind the cleanest look is not fair. Actually, it is often compared to things like DevonThink (while not being as powerful, but you get the idea of how "basic" it is).

    I don't get the idea that you cannot move elements where you want. I can, but just grabbing them and moving them where I want on the page. I even used it, sometimes (before the iPad came out), as a virtual whiteboard.

  • Carolyn |

    I like growly notes not only because it is the closest to Onenote but because I found out you can password protect some if not all of your notebooks, very handy when you have list to make for password ed website sites and their links to their pages. or for bill paying... or just for every day needs that you do not want everyone else to know about. However the only thing I do not like about it is that it doesn't sync like Onenote if they do that.... the whole program will go from great to WOW!!! better then ONE NOTE.

  • wr212 |

    can growly or any other of the mentioned options allow for drawing images on a page in the same way that one note does?? I have an artist notebook created on an Asus with one note that I cannot seem to transfer to my mac so I m willing to start over but havent found something that will enable me to draw into the notebook. Any suggestions?

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