Taking the cinnamon soil in the maize planting area of Shouyang County in Jinzhong City of Shanxi Province as the research object, the effects of the ways of long-term straw returning on soil organic carbon, active organic carbon and its components, and carbon pool management index were discussed, aiming to provide a theoretical basis for fertilize dryland cinnamon soil and improve soil quality. Here, based on a long-term (30 years, from 1992 to 2021) straw returning to field experiment, according to equal carbon content straw returning, 4 treatments were set up: straw mulching (SM), straw crushing (SC), cattle manure (CM), and no straw returning (CK). The results are as follows. (1) The soil total organic carbon content of CM significantly increased by 29.23% and 35.72%, respectively, compared with that of SM and SC. (2) Compared with that of CK, the soil active organic carbon content of CM significantly increased by 77.72%, and it was significantly different from that of SM and SC. The soil microbial biomass carbon content of SM, SC and CM significantly increased by 26.39%, 43.51% and 70.83%, respectively, compared with that of CK. The dissolved organic carbon content of SM, SC and CM significantly increased by 4.32%, 31.47% and 60.00%, respectively, compared with that of CK. (3) There was no significant difference in the efficiency of active organic carbon among SM, SC, CM and CK. The efficiency of microbial biomass carbon and dissolved organic carbon of SC were significantly higher than that of CK by 28.04% and 17.10%, respectively. Compared with CK, SM significantly reduced the efficiency of dissolved organic carbon in soil by 11.48%, while CM had no significant improvement effect on soil carbon efficiency. (4) Compared with that of SM and SC, the soil carbon pool management index of CM increased significantly by 138.89% and 72.32%. The results show that cattle manure (CM) can significantly improve the fertility of the northern dryland cinnamon soil, increase the soil carbon pool management index, and improve the soil quality. It is the optimal way of straw returning.