I’ve been a long time fan of Microsoft OneNote, getting my copy when it first came out in 2003 and upgrading through OneNote 2010. But since I switched to Macs for my personal use, I had more or less stopped using OneNote for much, even on my office Windows PC. When Microsoft released a version for Mac, I was initially excited and then quickly skeptical.
But I remained intrigued by the possibility of having OneNote not only on my PC and Mac, but also my iPad. So about a week ago I decided to subscribe to Office 365. It seemed the best way to fully take advantage of OneNote. I thought, if this works, I won’t need Evernote or TheBrain any longer, and will at last be able to consolidate a lot of my information management.
Once the subscription was in place, I was able to install the entire Office Suite onto my PC and my Mac. These bloated programs worried me a little, but they are also standards in the industry, so I figured they were just a bonus. Right away I found the flat, mono-toned interface of the Windows Office very bland and actually hard on the eyes. But I took to OneNote right away and started using it constantly.
I went into this knowing that the Mac version was limited in features, but I didn’t realize that it was missing one of the most basic of requirements: password protection. You can selectively password protect sections in the Windows version, but if you try to open those sections on your Mac, you find yourself locked out with no way in. This seems unconscionable in an app that forces you to store your data in the cloud. But worse, even after I removed password protection from the section in question, I still could not open it on the Mac. I contacted Microsoft tech support to learn an answer. After 5 minutes of chatting, which started off promising, I was told that I was in the Windows tech area and that I needed to chat with a Mac tech rep, hold on a moment. Twenty minutes later I was finally told that all the Mac reps were busy and I was given a phone number to call.
Instead, I went back to the support website and found someone who could cancel my Office 365 subscription and refund my money. Ironically, this person was very helpful and within 10 minutes I had my refund (well, I was told I had my refund; I guess I won’t know it until I check my credit card statement).
Obviously, this was a very disappointing experience. I wanted it to work. I wanted to make OneNote my go to data application. Maybe in a year or two, after Microsoft has had a chance to actually turn the Mac version into something that is worthy of use, then I will revisit this plan.
In the meantime, I’ll be sticking with my current, more cumbersome solution and continuing my pursuit of the perfect information manager.