OneNote 2016 for Mac: Go Local or Go Home

Update 9/23/2015:  The standalone version is finally out and incredibly, as of version 15.14, still no local Save As in OneNote.  Thank goodness for alternatives like Outline.

Like version 15.7 currently available in Apple’s App Store, the spanking-new OneNote 2016 Preview heavy-handedly coerces the user to log in with a Microsoft account.  Either you can log in to Microsoft, or you can quit the app.  Simple as that.  If you submit and use a Microsoft account, you might think freedom awaits.  “Where do you want to go today?”

Nevermind.  Microsoft knows where.  And they will tell you where:  your Microsoft OneDrive account.

Eat Your OneNote and Like It
Eat Your OneNote and Like It

Beginning with OneNote 2013, Microsoft nudged users in the direction of Microsoft’s cloud products, but with OneNote 2016 Mac they demand a Microsoft sign-in and Microsoft cloud storage.  But don’t worry… it’s “free.”  Don’t you feel the freedom?  The initial Preview is version 15.8, a minor step forward from the crippleware version in the app store, and that’s exactly what it feels like.  The “Where” drop-down list above, historically a “Save As” location selector, is not a list at all.  It comically has only One Option:  OneDrive.   It might as well be replaced with a button:

Thank You Sir YouTube

When Apple adheres to a singular vision despite the naysayers and produces what Apple thinks the customer needs instead of what the customer wants, it’s somewhat annoying and sometimes a little endearing.  Why is it that when Microsoft tries the same thing and denies the ability to use local files, it’s just maddening?  It seems unnecessarily heavy-handed — taking away something that has been a part of the feature set since inception — and for what purpose?  Errant strategery.

“But Alex,” you say.  “You’re livin’ in the past.  How can you have your pudding if you don’t eat your meat?  Cloud is The Way.  Share it all with the One.  Allow the One to read it.  You don’t need local storage anymore.  These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.”

Maybe.  Cloud has its virtues.  Gmail is solid cloud email if a little creepy.  But in the words of John Locke, “don’t tell me what I can’t do.”  Time will tell if Microsoft continues to force their cloud-centric vision and de-feature OneNote. The rest of Office 2016 for Mac; Word, Excel and PowerPoint, work just fine offline and with local storage. Hope springs eternal that the ability to “go local” with OneNote is forthcoming.

If you love OneDrive and can’t wait to trust Microsoft with your data, download the OneNote 2016 for Mac preview here. If not, you can join the mewling chorus.

13 thoughts on “OneNote 2016 for Mac: Go Local or Go Home

  1. Fortunately there is Outline from Gorillized corporation. It reads and writes OneNote files perfectly. Don’t waste time with Microsoft OneNote on a Mac, Outline is the better choice. I use Outline in my Macs and sync with the Windows PCs. As Microsoft cloud is also inherintly insecure and offers no encryption, I sync it using Wuala. Alternatively I also recommend BoxCryptor on top of Dropbox, box, OneDrive, Google Drive.

  2. What a ridiculous comment from Jeffrey. Of course Microsoft’s cloud is secure *and* uses encryption (with Perfect Forward Secrecy since last year). Sure there are products that will add an additional level of encryption at rest, but this isn’t really necessary, especially if you’re using something like OneDrive for Business, which does multiple levels of at-rest encryption on the server.

  3. It’s true Jeffrey’s comment is technically incorrect about the current state of MS encryption, but I’d argue “of course Microsoft’s cloud is secure” is also ridiculous. As encrypted as it might be, it’s still not private. MS has never claimed they cannot read a customer’s cloud data, which is why the non-ridiculous service providers Jeffrey recommended exist. OneDrive with encryption, while improved, is no substitute for the ability to go local.

  4. The real problem with cloud-only access for OneNote is that it makes the program a useless tool for many corporate users. Large companies have very strict data policies that absolutely prohibit people from storing company data (including things like notes from meetings) in the cloud. You can argue all day about whether the policies makes sense, but at the end of the day they ARE the policies corporate users have to live by. OneNote is a very useful tool in a corporate environment, and the Windows version allows for local storage of notebooks. My guess is that this restriction is aimed at keeping Windows embedded in corporate settings as they see MacBooks becoming more common in the workplace.

  5. We can’t even get our OneNote notebooks to save to SharePoint. Looks like it should work, but doesn’t.

    It’s OneDrive or the highway, as far as I can tell.

  6. I work in public education and Onenote has the potential to be EXACTLY what I need to organise my class information, lesson plans, student lists, attendance records, marks, and track the strengths and weaknesses of individual students along with their progress.

    One little problem – we’re not allowed to store sensitive data, such as class lists and marks, in the cloud.

    Even if I WERE to go ahead and use it anyway, the proxy settings of the department prevent the app from contacting the server. So I CAN’T access my files, create new notebooks or save any changes I make.

    Seriously, Microsoft? This app would be AMAZING for me.

  7. I know – but I use SnagIt on a daily basis. But when using OneNote I like being able to skip SnagIt an get a screen dump straight into the program – even with links. That’s what I’m missing in Outline.

  8. Hello Folks,

    I have found a workaround for business use of OneNote.

    I use Mac and realized that I could not use OneNote for my work due to corporate policies.
    Therefore, I installed Windows VM using VMware Fusion AND installed OneNote on that VM.
    This way I am keeping all the confidential notes on my laptop.

  9. Yes but the problem with VMware Fusion is that it eats lot of battery life, have you notice that?

  10. I also work in public education and Onenote has the potential to be EXACTLY what I need to organise my class information, lesson plans, student lists, attendance records, marks, and track the strengths and weaknesses of individual students along with their progress.

    One little problem – we’re not allowed to store sensitive data, such as class lists and marks, in the cloud.

    Even if I WERE to go ahead and use it anyway, the proxy settings of the department prevent the app from contacting the server. So I CAN’T access my files, create new notebooks or save any changes I make.

    Seriously, Microsoft? Our education corporate policy even limits our access to all cloud storage so anything I can create cannot be accessed by my students or me when we are withing our network. This app would be AMAZING for me.

  11. I’m a corporate user and Mac Onenote should be called OneNoteforOneDrive as it’s completely useless. Hand waving about how secure you think MS’ cloud stuff is has ZERO to do with my, as a business user, not being allowed to save data there for lots and lots of good reasons. FAIL MICROSOFT. I run vmware regularly but I’ll forego Onenote on Windows just because it’s so darned irritating that a) Mac office is generally so much crappier than for Win, and b) because of this forced onedrive stuff.

Comment