Microsoft delivers free OneNote for Mac and Windows

Microsoft delivers free OneNote for Mac and Windows

Summary: Microsoft has made available for immediate download the expected free versions of its OneNote note-taking app for Mac and desktop Windows.


A week ago, word leaked that Microsoft was preparing to release free versions of OneNote for Mac and for the Windows desktop. On March 17, Microsoft delivered both versions of its electronic note-taking and organizational application.


Microsoft is broadening OneNote's platform support so as to better compete with rivals, especially Evernote, on the note-taking/organizational front. 

OneNote for Mac is available for download from the Mac App Store as of today. It's the first time OneNote has been available for the Mac. Previously, OneNote was available for Windows, Windows 8, Windows Phone, iPad, iPhone, Android tablets, Android phones and the Web (OneNote Online, formerly known as OneNote Web App). Mac users should be aware OneNote for Mac automatically syncs to Microsoft's OneDrive cloud-storage service.

A free version of OneNote for the Windows desktop also is available for download from as of today. Previously, Microsoft made free versions of OneNote available for Windows 8, Windows Phone and the Web. But until today, users of older versions of Windows had to pay for the OneNote app as part of Microsoft's Office suite.

The new free version of OneNote for the Windows desktop doesn't include all the features in the paid version. It doesn't have SharePoint support, version history or Outlook integration. To get those features, users need to upgrade to the paid version. It's also worth noting that the free version is ad-free, not a temporary trial version, and limited to home/school use only.

Microsoft also announced that it has opened up the OneNote service -- available at -- to third-party developers by making available a cloud programming interface to which applications can be connected. New features available via the OneNote service include OneNote Clipper, which allows users to save Web pages to OneNote; a new e-mail feature for sending notes to OneNote; and Office Lens, Microsoft's optical-character-recognition technology for capturing documents and whiteboards with Windows Phone and saving them to OneNote.

Microsoft is working on a new, updated version of OneNote for Windows 8 that will be part of its "Gemini" suite of apps. The company also is expected to deliver an updated version of OneNote for the iPad as part of its release of Office for the iPad, which is expected to arrive any time now.

Topics: Cloud, Apple, Collaboration, Microsoft, Windows


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • That was quick!

    I notice for the desktop Mac version, the icon is aligned with the Windows version, could be a sign more of Office family apps like Visio, Project might be in the future.
    • Assume with Digitizing Touch

      With digitizing touch OneNote is an entirely new user interface experience. It know the difference between your finger and the pen and responses differently. I have gone paperless because of it and got rid of my 3 pound paper portfolio.
      • Agreed - OneNote with a stylus is great

        I've never understood why Microsoft didn't push this as the college student killer-app. It's something that would have made the Windows Tablet PC platform (that started a decade ago) a success instead of a curiosity.
  • That's a nice bonus!

    I was, for a second, thrilled by the surprise announcement of a free Windows version too... until I realized a moment later I already have the paid version. :-P
    • Customer Service

      So, I, a Mac user can get OneNote for free, but I'd lack some features. Sure. That makes sense. (I pay for software and if an app is free with ads, I pass it by.)

      I, as a Windows user, can get OneNote for free, but only if I use it at home or school. Not in school, I work from home, but still, isn't the better deal for the OS X user? If I'm not missing something, I find it surprising.
      • Clarification

        "Work from home" is a joke, I understand that I would be violating my license if I use it for work, regardless of whose chair I'm sitting in.
  • I've been waiting

    for the Mac version. That said, Office 2011 has so many problems, especially Outlook, I've pretty much given up on my iMac and gone back to using my PC for most work...
  • RE: "Microsoft delivers free OneNote for ... Windows"

    That's Windows 7 and 8. Not Windows Vista.
    Rabid Howler Monkey
    • Who runs Vista anymore?

      Well - have you tried it? How do you know this?

      And who runs Vista anymore anyways? Upgrading from Vista to Windows 7 is a no-brainer.
      • Upgrading from Windows XP is a no-brainer

        Windows Vista is supported into early 2017.

        Microsoft makes it clear at the OneNote download site that it's for Windows 7 and 8:
        "Works on Windows 7 and Windows 8"
        Rabid Howler Monkey
        • Well . . .

          "Works on Windows 7 and Windows 8"

          Officially. Unofficially, it may still work. I don't think there were that many changes to how software runs in Windows 7, save for the obvious performance improvements over Vista.

          Being that OneNote is becoming free, there's no real drawback to trying it.
          • The problem is

            that there is not [yet] an offline installer. Without something to examine, before the install, chances of getting it on Vista are slim, given the way that MS is treating everything that is not Windows 8.x these days. All it takes is a version check and, if the version is shown to be Vista, it's all over.
      • Vista

        Accidental 'up'vote, which I cannot retract, apparently. Meant to hit Reply.

        I use Vista and have no intention of migrating to Win 7. When my machine dies I shall go for whatever the current version is - I already know that my legacy apps that work in Vista work in Win 8 (tested on one of our laptops). (Only Outlook Express could not be brought forward.)

        I run Office 2010 and OneNote works fine. (Well, it is the paid-fpr version, I suppose)
        I never used it before last summer (despite having it on disc one war or another for years), but then I got my Windows Phone 8 with OneNote and it integrates/syncs beautifully with my laptop, so now I use OneNote for various purposes. Have even tried voice notes...
  • No OneNote for Business

    Looks like this version isn't capable of connecting the OneNote for Business cloud for Enterprise Office 365. :-(
    brian a.
    • If you're an Office365 user ...

      ... download the version of OneNote that's included with your subscription and which integrates beautifully with O365.
      • Not available on the Mac yet

        Unfortunately on the Mac, the subscription native apps only include Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint. The only option for OneNote on the Mac right now is still the web version which is still good, just not as convenient as native. Just find it strange they wouldn't release this for the paying enterprise customers at the same time as free users. Hopefully they'll update soon.
        brian a.
        • Available via the App Store

  • MS OneNote

    I've been performing similar functions as OneNote with various word processors for the past 28 years. OneNote makes tasks easier for the few who tolerate annoying inteface changes and the disappearance of features and shortcuts; but Microsoft's lack of Human Factors Engineering in assuring consistency in User Interface similarity and functionality in its future software releases will keep me from adopting OneNote.

    If Microsoft developers ever mature to be competent software engineers who embrace best practices in design and configuration control, such as those found in the Capability Maturity Model, I may reconsider. Otherwise, it's not worth risking the disruptive impact of lower productivity caused by relearning how to use updated MS versions of anything that MSFT spews out of its daycare center. Win8 should have taught MSFT that lesson. Hopefully, the new CEO will recalibrate his workforce by insisting on professional standards for software development.
    • Why the use of so many words, when all you had to say was

      "I'm infinitely so much smarter then all the MS programmers combined."?

      Seriously, gotta' love that quick dismissal of their abilities.

      I'm also confident that on your first trip to France, you'd likely go back to the kitchen and tell the chef to "step aside, let me show you what great French cuisine is, and how to prepare it properly".

      I'm sure you'd be laughed at there, too.
    • and what word processors were those?

      I've used OneNote (full version) during brainstorming and design meetings to take typed notes, insert photos (web cam shots of white board content), insert videos, and use pen features to create and annotate sketches and annotate the photos mentioned above--all on the same note page. Free form, without having to worry about formatting or having to insert special boxes for the other media. Oh, and I had OneNote recording audio of the meetings that it synchronizes to the note taking. And it allows text search of the recorded audio to find spoken content. And that was the version I was using 5 years ago.

      I'd like to know what word processors have doing that for you for 28 years. Maybe you ought to figure out what the tool can really do before ranting about it. Microsoft's only real failure with OneNote was not promoting what it can really do so that people would understand its power.