Microsoft video shows how its Journal app isn't just a OneNote clone

11 best Windows apps for Surface Pen users
11 best Windows apps for Surface Pen users (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft Garage recently launched the Journal app.
  • It's an ink-first app with gestures and other features that make it easier to take notes with a digital pen.
  • A new video from Microsoft shows the app in action and highlights its unique features.

Microsoft launched an app called Journal last week. The app provides an ink-first experience for taking notes. It has Ink Gestures, so you don't have to jump around between different modes, and has a page-based canvas experience that's optimized for tablets.

Some around the web compared the app to OneNote, which at first glance is a natural comparison. Both apps are from Microsoft, support inking, and are for taking notes. But Journal isn't just a OneNote clone; it has several features that make it unique. A new video from Microsoft shows the app in action.

With the Journal app, Microsoft is testing out ways that people can ink more efficiently. Journal's ink-first interface supports gestures that make it so you don't have to tap around for different modes or features. For example, you can cross out text to delete it and circle text to see several options. The app can tell when you've drawn a bullet point list or starred an item. You can also "@" people by drawing the "@" symbol and tapping on their icon.

Microsoft's OneNote and other apps also have inking features, but Journal has enough unique features to make it stand out.

It's also important to note that Journal is a Microsoft Garage project. These projects provide an experimental outlet to test out ideas and features. They aren't meant to compete with or replace Microsoft's other offerings.

Sometimes, Microsoft Garage apps expand, such as Arrow Launcher becoming Microsoft Launcher. In other cases, the project can be completed but not be developed any further, such as Plumbago. In both types of cases, Microsoft receives feedback and can use it to either make a new app or improve existing apps.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at