Once upon a time, OneNote 2016 ruled desktops with a mighty justice, generously affording its users a king’s ransom of macros and other exciting tools. After two years of peaceful rule, power-hungry control freaks called software developers cast their magic upon OneNote 2016 to make the proud leader old and decrepit before its time. A series of successively levied OS updates would rob many unsuspecting desktops of the beloved software. In its place, the developers created a copy of the beloved monarch called OneNote on the strange, daunting domain of Windows 10. Confused users struggled to grasp with the gradual loss of OneNote 2016, and nobody really lived happily ever after… yet.

Besides making about the worst fairy tale imaginable, the story of Microsoft’s slow and strange transition from OneNote 2016 to OneNote is one that is still going on, and will be for about the next seven years. While the two entities carry the same name and seek to achieve the same function, the tools and setup they provide are different, and potentially frustrating to those who don’t have their ears to the ground for the latest software news. Fortunately, we do and are here to help you understand the differences between the two.


OneNote 2016 is a good, old-fashioned desktop application like Word, PowerPoint, Excel, etc. It is equipped with trademark features like macros and user-friendly toolbar that mirrors those found in other members of the Office 2016 family. Unlike its gradual predecessor, this software is capable of doing things like creating Outlook notes for the toolbar, record video, store notebooks on local hard drives and link notes to Internet Explorer.

Microsoft is gradually phasing out its old fan favorite in favor of the new, minimalist version of OneNote for its Window’s 10 operating system. Unlike OneNote 2016, its eventual  successor is not a traditional desktop application but a web-based downloadable built for total customization. This version allows you to create custom tags, view/edit cloud files and even create notebooks for classes. Its toolbar layout represents a significant is simplification from the previous version, allowing for users to add or remove a variety of features to their arsenal.

Whether you prefer OneNote 2016 or OneNote for Windows 10, this software transition has come with a unique problem that has caused much consternation among users. Those updating their Office suite to the 2019 edition, will find that downloading will automatically uninstall 2016. This cute trick is Microsoft’s not-so-subtle hint for stragglers to with over (although the company will continue to support the software until 2025). If this has happened to you, just click this link to re-download:

At Knack Training and our Everyday Office channel, we continue to focus our training on OneNote 2016, as most businesses continue to use this reliable software. As the clock tics closer to the softwares final bow our instruction will shift towards the new age, but for now there are still so many under-shared tricks and tips we feel are valuable for you to know! 

But if you are feeling bold, here is the link to download the OneNote of the future:

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