Microsoft OneNote is a digital notebook for free-form information gathering and multi-user collaboration. It can gather users’ notes (handwritten or typed), drawings, screen clippings, and audio commentaries and share them with other users of Microsoft OneNote over the Internet.
OneNote has a powerful search to find what people are looking for quickly and it offers a very good character recognition function for getting text from pictures or business cards. Notes can be synced between multiple computers and devices with free Windows Live online storage, and so that you can access them from virtually anywhere using your phone, PC, or web browser
OneNote is available as an application for Windows, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Symbian. Notes can also be edited from a web browser. A metro version has been released to the Windows 8 marketplace for beta testing.
OneNote is a proprietary software and is usually bundled with Microsoft Office. So, here are some great open source alternatives to OneNote for which you don’t have to pay even a penny.
Tomboy is a free and open-source desktop note-taking application written for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and Unix operating systems, written in C# using Gtk#. Tomboy is part of the GNOME desktop environment and is often used for personal information management. It is simple and easy to use, but with potential to help you organize the ideas and information you deal with every day.
Tomboy has an interface that is a notepad with a wiki-like linking system to connect notes together. Words in the note body that match extant note titles become hyperlinks automatically, making it simple to construct a personal wiki. Its features include text highlighting, inline spell checking using GtkSpell, auto-linking of web and email addresses, undo/redo, font styling and sizing, bulleted lists, notre synchronization over SSH, WebDAV, Ubuntu One, or Snowy. Tomboy’s functionality can be extended by the use of the plugins. There is also a port of Tomboy to C++ called Gnote which takes less resources than Tomboy.
The latest version of Tomboy is 1.10.2.
RedNotebook is a free and open source graphical diary and journal to keep track of notes and thoughts throughout the day. It includes a calender navigation, customizable templates for each day, a keyword search tool and word clouds. It is available for Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.
Its features includes tagging, text formatting, inserting files & links, spell checker, annotations live search, autosave, backup to zip archive, word clouds, templates and exporting to various formats including PDF, HTML, Latex or plain text. It is available in more than 20 languages.
The latest version of RedNotebook is 1.5.
3) Zim Desktop Wiki
Zim is a free and open source graphical text editor used to maintain a collection of wiki pages. Each page can contain links to other pages, simple formatting and images. Pages are stored in a folder structure, like in an outliner, and can have attachments. Creating a new page is as easy as linking to a nonexistent page. All data is stored in plain text files with wiki formatting.
If you only use one computer, Zim might be a better option than Tomboy. Zim is described as a desktop wiki and has a few features that you won’t find in Tomboy – namely, the ability to attach files to notes, a task plugin, and other goodies. Like Tomboy, Zim is good for taking notes on the fly or for more structured content. You can also use it to embed images in notes, and to take screenshots.
Zim handles several types of markup, like headings, bullet lists and of course bold, italic and highlighted. This markup is saved as wiki text so you can easily edit it with other editors. Because of the autosave feature you can switch between pages and follow links while editing without worries.
The latest version of Zim is 0.56.
4) BasKet Note Pads
BasKet is one of the most interesting note-taking apps for Linux. It’s full-featured and allows as much structure to your note-taking system as you like. Save your notes in “baskets” (hence the name), add files, all types of formatting, lists, create password-protected notes. It’s quite a powerful application. It works with the KDE PIM suite, so you can use it standalone or integrated into Kontact.
BasKet does have a couple of downsides. It’s not available for Mac OS X or Windows, so it’s not a great solution for users who use different OSes at home and work. The development has been a bit erratic as well, and the project has looked like it might die off at times. However, the project seems to be experiencing a bit of revival right now with a 2.0. Overall, well worth a look and an interesting project. It is licensed under GNU General Public License and is therefore an open source software.
The latest version of BasKet is 2.0 Beta 2.