My latest at ProfHacker: Switching from Evernote to OneNote, part 2

Book with notes flagged on pagesLast week, I explained why I made the decision to switch from Evernote to OneNote. This week, I want to give a brief overview of the how.

There are some important things to keep in mind:

  • Tags work wonderfully well in Evernote, and they’re highly customizable. OneNote has pre-defined tags. While some customization is possible, they simply don’t function the same way they do in Evernote. And for Mac users, at least, there’s no way that I’ve yet found to search tags (the function is available in the Windows version). Though it’s possible to add tags as text and search for them that way, if you have a lot of tags with a lot of associated notes, sticking with Evernote might be the best option for you.
  • Evernote uses the terminology of notebooks, but OneNote really relies on them for good organization of information.

I very much wish I’d read Andrew Connell’s “How I Migrated from Evernote to OneNotebefore I ran Microsoft’s importer tool (an overview of how to use it is available here), but even after the fact it’s been very helpful to me in thinking about how to organize my notes.

Prior to sorting the notes the importer pulled into my default OneNote notebook, I took some time to think through what really belongs in OneNote.

First, I took some time to consider what really belongs in OneNote. I’d been clipping a lot of things to Evernote that didn’t really belong there. For example, I’m a regular user of Pocket. Articles that I want to read later belong there, not in OneNote. Any that I decide I want to save for long-term reference should be moved to my reference manager — again, not OneNote.

Second, I looked at the tags I’d been using in Evernote. Many of them had very few (in some cases no) notes. Clearly, they weren’t needed, so they didn’t survive the migration to OneNote. Those that remained became notebooks or sections, as appropriate.

After careful consideration, I created the following notebooks:1

  • Current. This notebook contains a section called “Inbox,” where I send items collected via email, the OneNote clipper, the share menu from my mobile devices, etc. They stay here until I can decide what to do with them. It also contains sections for other projects that are current, but not so large as to warrant their own notebook. My current classes each get a section, for example. They’ll get moved to the Teaching notebook at the end of the semester.
  • Teaching. In this notebook, I gather teaching tips, resources, ideas for new courses, and the like. It’s also where I store course materials from previous semesters.
  • Research. Ideas and notes for current research projects go here. (References go in Paperpile, and I do most of my actual writing in Ulysses these days.
  • Rank and Tenure. This is where I gather any materials I might want to include in my rank and tenure portfolio when I apply for promotion. A current copy of my CV is here, and the notebook contains section groups for teaching, service, and scholarship.
  • WordPress. I manage a multi-site WordPress installation. Useful information that I find when reading up on WordPress or when specifically looking for solutions to problems that I encounter gets sent here, so I can access it easily.
  • Cabinet. This is my catch-all notebook, containing reference materials (e.g., user manuals, memorabilia, interesting non-academic articles) and anything else that doesn’t neatly fit into one of the above notebooks.

For each of these notebooks, I’ve created sections for each sensible subcategory. I’ve tried to follow a “less is more” approach, creating as few sections within each notebook as possible. OneNote can search across all the notebooks in a user’s account, so finding a particular note when needed is pretty easy.

The task to complete the migration, then, is to go through the default notebook I used with the importer tool, and make a decision about each note. There’s simply no getting around the fact that it’s a labor-intensive process. That said, I’ve found it refreshing to rediscover notes I didn’t remember I had and that are interesting. It’s also been an opportunity to get rid of notes that are no longer needed (that eight year-old receipt for an item that had only a five-year warranty can probably go!).

Have you switched to OneNote from Evernote? Let us know about your experiences in the comments!

[Lead image by Flickr user Brad P.]

from ProfHacker » Amy CavenderProfHacker – Blogs – The Chronicle of Higher Education http://ift.tt/2bvr1Gq


  1. Some sections really need to be further subdivided. Thankfully, sections can be grouped, so it’s possible to have a section containing other sections. For example, in my Rank and Tenure notebook, I have a section group called “Teaching.” In that group are sections labeled “Course development,” “Teaching evaluations,” and “Syllabi.” 

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