8 ideas for getting the best from OneNote

Microsoft describes OneNote as an "electronic version of a paper notebook where you can write down notes, thoughts, ideas, scribbles, reminders, and all kinds of other information".

OneNote is part of the MS Office suite and a free app is also available for Tablets and Smartphones including iPad/iPhone.

Here are 8 quick ideas for OneNote:

Jot down thoughts, ideas and inspirations

... and file them later.

When you get an inspiration that you need to note, you can open OneNote and put it in the correct page. If you are in a hurry you can add it to an "Untiled page" (Blank note) and file it later.

All Untitled pages remain in your Unfiled Notes Notebook, until you do something with them. So they are all in the same place and you can't lose them.

To jot down a note quickly

On your Computer, Open your Untitled Page using one of the following methods:

  • Use the Keyboard shortcut Windows key + N
  • Click the OneNote icon in the Windows system tray.
    (If the icon is not there you need to open OneNote. You only need to do this once)
  • The Untitled page will open, jot down your notes and close.
    OneNote will automatically save the page.

To retrieve an Unfiled note

  • Open OneNote
  • Click the Unfiled Notes link. (located in the bottom of the Notebooks pane.
  • All your individual pages will appear here under the Unfiled Notes Section (tab).

Take a Screenshot

...also known as Screen Clipping.

You can grab a partial or full screenshot of anything you can see on the screen

To take the screenshot;
  • Make sure that what you want to grab is open on the screen and use one of the following methods;
  • With OneNote open, from the Insert tab, in the Images group, choose Screen Clipping (See below)
  • Use the Keyboard shortcut Windows key + S  (See below)
To select and save;
  • After you start the Screenshot process (as above) your screen will turn a "milky blue" colour.
  • Use your mouse to draw a box around the area you want copied.
  • Release your mouse and by default a Select Location … box appears asking what you want to do with the screenshot. ** You change this setting in OneNote Options
  • Choose either
    • A Notebook location – OneNote pastes it in a new page in the Notebook.
    • Copy To Clipboard - and paste it in any application.

Use notebook online

... store it or share it.

You can save your notebook to the cloud and access it from anywhere using the OneNote Web App.

>To save a notebook to the Web.
  • From the File tab, choose New.
  • Choose Web. You need to use Windows Live SkyDrive (Now called OneDrive). If you don't have an account you'll be prompted to create one).
  • Select the folder you want to use to store the file and then click Create Notebook.

Any notes you create in that notebook will be automatically synched with your Web-based notebook, and you'll be able to view and share your OneNote Web App notebook using your smart phone or by sharing the link through email.

Dock your OneNote

If you don't want Notebook to appear as a whole page in your window, you can dock it to the side allowing it to work as a column.To Dock your OneNote program
  • On the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) choose the Dock to Desktop command (1).
    Your OneNote will appear as a column down the right of the screen.
    Depending on what size it is you can still access menus from the top.
To Restore your OneNote program
  • On the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) choose the Full Page View command (2)
    (or press F11.)
  • From the View menu, choose Normal View.


In OneNote you can search on a keyword, a phrase, an image, an author or a tag. As you type in the search box, OneNote starts to identify any matches.

The arrow on the Search box allows you to narrow your search to a particular page, section, or notebook. All notebooks is the default.

Insert a picture

You can insert an existing picture by importing the file or simply Copy & Paste To insert a file

You can insert an existing picture by importing the file or simply Copy & Paste

  • From the Insert tab, in the Images group, choose Picture.
To insert a picture from your Smartphone

You can easily add your own pictures to OneNote from your Smartphone, when your note syncs with your OneNote Web App. You can access that notebook also through your PC version of OneNote.

Sketch out your ideas

The Draw tab offers a variety of drawing tools. You can scribble, draw shapes, sketch your ideas or highlight existing text. There is even an eraser tool for remove drawings.

Tag your content

You can tag specific text (words or phrases) to mark notes you might want to access later. To insert a tag
  • Right mouse click the text you want to tag and choose Tag.
  • Click the tag you want to add. OneNote adds a small icon to the left of the tagged text.
  • You can click Customise Tags, and click the New Tag button (bottom of box)
  • In the New Tag dialog box, enter a Display name, choose a Symbol (Icon), select a font colour and Highlight Colour.
  • Click OK. The new tag will appear in the Tags list.