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October 13, 2023

Microsoft Journal Vs OneNote

After a long time as an experimental project in Microsoft Garage, the note-taking app Journal is finally a full-fledged Windows application. Microsoft introduced a refreshed version of the app this week with a new look and features that aim to make it stand out from the crowd of note-taking apps for pen-capable devices.

The app takes an ink-first approach that tries to reduce the number of steps you need to take with your pen. For instance, you can lasso a block of text or circle it to select it. It also supports gestures like erasing a word or a phrase by scribbling through it and flagging a section of the notes by drawing a star. The idea here is that these actions categorize notes in a way that makes it easier to find them later.

This is where the app's AI-powered search engine comes in, which works similarly to OneNote's built-in handwriting recognition that turns your inked words into typed text behind the scenes. You can then search that text and filter results by things like headings, starred items, lists and highlights.

The refreshed version of the app also introduces a redesign that's aimed at simplifying some parts of the user experience. For example, the inking page can now take up just half the screen, leaving the rest for a panel that shows stored Journals and can be used to filter searches by type, like a list or a sketch.