OneNote - It Rocks!

One of my biggest beefs with Microsoft is how terrible their marketing is. I mean - you'd think that as the world's second largest company behind ExxonMobil, these guys would get it right. But they don't - they are really, really bad. I mean, how many of you have heard about Mesh? (I hope you're reading this in Redmond.)

OneNote is one of those applications that is instantly useful to anyone who uses a PC - whether academically, professionally, or casually.

We all use our PCs to gather and consume data. The problem is that data is usually in many different forms: Documents, Emails, Web Content. Then - inside each of those forms you have many more snippets of information. (If you've ever done any research on the web you know what I can 'Favorite' yourself to death).

Enter Microsoft OneNote.

This application rocks because it's available in the applications you use everyday: Office apps, Outlook, and IE. You can collate tons of date, separate it by 'Notebook', and easily refer back to it at anytime. The power of Windows Vista/Windows 7 search really shines in this application.

You can share your Notebook with others for collaboration. You can link to-dos, assign tasks, create audio (ie: record a meeting), grab images, embed documents...the list goes on and on.

For those of you who are newbies, check it out at

For those of you veterans, here is a great list of top 15 from the One Note Team Blog.

Top fifteen OneNote tips (from Chris Pratley's Blog)

I tried to do ten but couldn't stop myself.

15. Send to OneNote printer driver. Print anything to OneNote from any app. PDF, Word, web pages, AutoCAD, whatever! (currently not now also on 64-bit Windows - bummer yippee!)

14. Email these notes button (Ctrl-Shift-E). Click the button in the toolbar, choose recipients, and my notes are distributed without any retyping or hassle. Even sends ink. (you need Outlook 2007 for this to work best)

13. Type a word, right click on it, click "Create Linked page", then click the link and presto you're on a new page with that title that is linked to from the first page. Great for things like "here is the recipe for Grandma's cookies". highlight "Grandma's cookies", right click, create linked page.

12. Type simple math (like "12*29.99= ") on the page, hit Enter (or space bar) and OneNote solves it!

11. Right click on anything (notebook, section, page, piece of text or image on page), and choose "copy hyperlink to this". Paste that in OneNote or in other documents. You can even hyperlink to other places on the same page. I often type "see note above" right click on the referenced note elsewhere on the page, copy hyperlink then put cursor on the word "above", then Ctrl-K, Ctrl-V, Enter to add that link.

10. Ctrl "." (period) to toggle bullets on and off. Tab to indent.

9. Ctrl-1 to triple-toggle ToDo checkbox (Todo|Done|nuthin). Customize the built-in tags and use Ctrl-1-9 to tag things, Ctrl-0 to remove tags. Don't forget View/All tagged notes to query across all your notes and build summary pages pulling out quotes you liked, questions to follow up on, ToDos, etc.

8. Right-click on image (e.g. screen clipping), copy text from picture (also works great when searching for a screen clipping - Find (Ctrl-F) will find text inside your images!)

7. Using Live Mesh ( to put notebooks in folders that are synced across my many machines

6. Win-N for a new "always on top" side note. Great for taking notes while reading other stuff like web pages, docs, PDFs.

5. Shared notebooks with my team (File/New/Notebook, select shared when the instructions ask you). anyone can edit at any time, even offline! Don't forget to use features like 'View/Pages I Haven't Read' and 'View/Pages Changed Recently'. Also right click on anything to see who added it. Work disconnected if you like - your changes will sync and merge cleanly later. Offline/online, easy to use super capable group wiki!

4. Tab key after text to create tables on the fly. Type the first column heading, then Tab (Table magically appears!), next column heading, Tab and so on. Enter when finished the header row, keep going. Use Enter twice on an empty row to break out - never touch a mouse while taking notes!

3. I'm falling behind with my notes! Click "record audio" button to capture what people are saying so I can participate instead of take notes. Take the occasional one word note to indicate what was happening. Later click on those words to hear what we were saying. Great for brainstorming and interviews!

2. Flag OneNote items as Tasks to track in Outlook with Ctrl-Shift-1 through 5. The task is created in Outlook, and the done/not done status is kept in sync with OneNote.

1. Win-S to take a screen clipping and auto-file it in OneNote! Bonus: right click on the system tray OneNote icon, customize screen clipping to send only to clipboard to paste in other apps or OneNote as you like. (my all-time fave)

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