Well I know I normally blog more about Microsoft Datacenter and Cloud stuff especially Hyper-V and System Center, but I am a huge fan of Microsoft’s Office Suite. I really live in Outlook and Microsoft OneNote. I organize my private life, my work and university stuff in OneNote. I get often ask by customers or friends how I work and how I get things done. In this case I always show them OneNote, which is maybe one of the best keep secrets inside Microsoft.This post shows you why OneNote is awesome and shows you some of the hidden features you didn’t know about.
If you have more hidden features leave a comment on the post.
OneNote Dock to Desktop
With the Dock to Desktop feature you can keep your notes visible by anchoring a OneNote window to the side of your desktop. Your notes will stay on top of your desktop while you are working in other programs.
Linked Note taking
While you are using the Dock to Desktop mode you can enable Linked Note Taking. This will automatically create a link to the page or office document you have open while you have taken note. This is perfect, while I was write a whitepaper for university and I had to do a lot of research I used this feature. While I was write the document I had to mention the sources as foot notes and sometimes it’s hard to find the source of something you have found on the internet. With linked notes I only had to check my nodes and all the sources and references were linked.
A lot of other Microsoft products to integrate into OneNote. One of them is Visio, if you have Visio installed on our computer you can add an existing Visio diagram to you notes. You can also directly create a new Visio diagram from OneNote and add it to your notes.
Audio and Video Recording
You can do audio and video recording of classes, meetings or sessions with OneNote. Or you could take some great audio notes. The great thing if you record a class or session, OneNote does link the notes you have taken during the recording to the specific time. So if you read your notes you can quickly jump to the position of the recording when you took the note.
Links inside your notes
A great thing to work with your notes is also to link specific words and notes to websites, files or other OneNote pages. This makes finding stuff very easy and simple, especially if you share notes with others.
Automatically adding the Source Link
If you are copy pasting something for a website into your OneNote, OneNote does automatically add the source link to your note. So if you are looking for the source you can find it very easily.
Using a stylus to take notes
Taking notes using the keyboard works great, but sometimes taking notes with a pen is much easier, especially when you add drawings to you notes. But make sure you get a good stylus. A lot of tablets out there like the iPad do only support capacitive inputs like your fingers, to some vendors created capacitive pens which are simulating a finger. But there is a other much better solution for this called digitizer pens like the Surface Pro has got one. The advantages of this technology is that the display can detect the pen input as different input. Which means that the display can turn off the capacitive input during the note taking, so you can put our hand down on the display while writing, or you can make use of different pressure inputs and an eraser at the top of the pen. The downside of this, not only do you have to have the write pen, also the display of the device it self has to support the specially pen. So if you want to take notes with a pen, I highly recommend you to buy a tablet with a digitizer pen.
As already mentioned, OneNote does integrate in a lot of other Microsoft products. Of course in also integrates perfectly in Microsoft Outlook. You can note only send email to your OneNote notes, you can also directly create meeting notes from Outlook appointments. This adds automatically the subject, date, location, the participants and a link to the Outlook item. You can start directly from your Outlook calendar or you can start from OneNote where you can scan for your appointments in Outlook.
Use touch mode on your OneNote Desktop App
If you are using the OneNote Desktop app on your Windows tablet, make sure you enable Touch mode, which makes the OneNote application and other Office apps more touch friendly.
Change the background of your notes
If you are using a stylus it can be hard to write on a blank white paper. So OneNote allows you to change the “background” of your paper which makes it much easier to write and draw on. You can choose between different styles like rule lines or grid lines.
Pin your favorite pens to the top
Another cool OneNote feature if you are using a stylus is to pin your favorite pens to the top. If you are taking notes you sometimes have to change from your highlighter pen to your drawing pen and maybe even different colors. This can take some time if you have to do this over the menu. But you can also pin your favorite pens to the top of the OneNote window, which makes is a lot faster and easier to switch between the different pens.
Ink to Text
If you are taking notes with a stylus you can convert your notes to computer text with a simple click on the Ink to Text button. This will use some OCR technology to recognize your handwriting and convert it to text.
For my friends in chemical engineering this is for you. If you have to do a lot of math this is great for you. With the Ink to Math converter can you write your formula and this will convert it. You also write the math down and convert it afterwards.
Get OneNote for free on all your devices
One of the most important things about a note taking application is to have your notes everywhere available. Microsoft does offer several OneNote apps for different platforms such as a Windows Desktop Application, a Windows Store app, an Windows Phone, Apple iPad or iPhone app and an app for Android. With this and SkyDrive you can access your notes on any device on any time.
Store your notebooks on SkyDrive
To have your notes available anywhere and anytime you can store your notebooks on your Microsoft SkyDrive. This will allow you to sync all your notes across all your devices. And you can also access your notes directly from a web browser.
Share your notebook with others
If you are working on a group project and want to share some notes, OneNote lets you do this. You can share your Notebook directly from Skydrive or on a SharePoint site. So all your team members have access to it and can work on it at the same time.
Use OneNote.com to access and edit your notes online
You can access and edit your OneNote notebooks by using Office Online or OneNote.com. This allows you not only to view your notes, you can also create new notes and edit existing notes directly from your web browser.
OneNote Windows Store App
Microsoft does not only offer an OneNote Desktop Application, Microsoft offers also a Windows Store app for Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, which is not only more touch friendly, the app also offers some unique features. One of the great features in the OneNote Windows Store app is the possibility to take pictures of documents or whiteboards and OneNote does automatically resize it and format it so it looks like a simple note inside OneNote, and not just a picture.
If you want to take a screenshot or just a simple snapshot of a part of your screen, you can use the screen clipping tool to take a snapshot of your desktop. You can simple press “Windows + S” in Windows 8 and Windows 7 and “Windows + Shift + S” in Windows 8.1 to get the screen clipping tool where every your are. After you have taken the snapshot you can insert it into a note page or copy past it into Word or another application.
Print to OneNote
At university we get a lot of documents and most of the presentation in PDF file format. Well I don’t like to take my notes directly inside the PDF files because it’s most of the time very limited and I love to have a centralized notebook with all my notes in it. To get PDF and other documents such as Word or PowerPoint into OneNote you can simple use the Print to OneNote feature. If you install OneNote on your computer a new “Send To OneNote” printer shows up which let you print documents to OneNote.
OneNote has a build in OCR software which allows you to convert text from pictures into text. This also works if you Print a PDF into OneNote with the Print to OneNote function.
Make Image text searchable
The OCR technology build into OneNote does not only allow you to copy text from pictures, it also allows you to make Images searchable, so you can find text content on pictures via the search function.
Search Text in Audio and Videos
This is one of the features which is really hidden and not a lot of people know about. You can not only search text in pictures, OneNote also allows you to search for words inside audio and video recordings. This is great if you have a lot of audio recordings from classes, sessions or meetings and you are looking for a specific discussion.
Take Quick notes with the Send to OneNote feature
With the Send to OneNote function you can quickly add notes to OneNote without having to open the OneNote application it self. By using the “Windows + N” keyboard shortcut or the Windows Tray Icon.
Send Websites to OneNote
Something often happens to me is that I am surfing through the web looking for something but I find some other interesting pages which I don’t have time for to read it right now but I would love to read them later. If I don’t bookmark the page I simply for get about it, so OneNote has a cool feature where I can send websites directly to OneNote. This makes it later easy to find via the OneNote search function. I also recommend to create some kind of a inbox notebook or section where you can send a websites to, so you don’t have to organize them later, and you can focus on what you are looking for.
Create ToDo lists
You can use OneNote to create a simple ToDo list. This is really helpful in meetings and other appointments where you take notes. And with the link features you can also link ToDos to other items, such as other notes, websites or documents.
Create Outlook Tasks / ToDo’s
You can create Outlook Tasks or Outlook ToDo’s directly from OneNote. Or you can link Tasks in Outlook to OneNote notebooks.
OneNote offers a huge list of keyboard shortcuts, so you can quickly add and edit things. It also allows you to quickly navigate through your notes. Some of the shortcuts are system wide shortcuts such as “Windows + N” or “Windows + Shift + S” and others are just shortcuts inside OneNote.
Use Tags for Important Items
You can use tags for important items inside your notes. This is not just a simple icon inside your note, it also helps you to organize and find your items inside OneNote.
Send Your Notes Per Email
You can not only share your OneNote notebook via SkyDrive or SharePoint, you can also send notes via mail.
Export Your Notes
You can export your notes to other documents such as PDF files or Word documents.
If OneNote because one of your most important tools, and you store most of your documents and information in OneNote, finding things is key. You can organize your notes into different notebooks, Sections groups, sections and pages but still it can be hard to find. That is why OneNote has a great search function built in.
Password Protect Your Notes
OneNote is not the place to store your critical information, but still sometimes you want just to make sure not everyone can quick access some information on your notebooks. So OneNote allows you to Password protect your sections.
Insert spaces between notes
If you take notes during a meeting or a class it often happens to me that I don’t have enough space between different things or I would like to add something between them. With the insert Space option you can make very easily space between your notes.
Share a Notebook via Lync
If you are working with Microsoft Lync, you can share your OneNote notebooks directly in a conversation or Conference call.
Do Math in OneNote
OneNote does recognize different times of text, so if you try to do some math OneNote will automatically help you and calculate stuff.
Equations – Doing even more Math
OneNote cannot only help you by doing simple calculations, it also does help you with equations.
Add Photos to your notes
If you have installed OneNote on your phone you can simply add photos to your OneNote pages.
I already mentioned that finding things is key and that OneNote has a great search integration. With the History you can not only search for notes and text you are looking for, you can also search for authors or recent edits. This makes especially sense if you work with a team on the same OneNote notebook.
Open multiple OneNote Windows
Something a lot of people don’t know is that you can have multiple OneNote windows open at the same time. This is really helpful if you want to copy past or compare something.
Use your Windows Phone Start Screen to pin OneNote Live Tiles
In Windows Phone 7 Microsoft introduced the concept of Live Tiles. With OneNote on your Windows Phone you can make use of this by adding the “New Note” button to the start screen to quickly create new notes. You can also pin existing notes such as shopping lists, electronic flight tickets or hotel reservations to your start screen so you can quickly access them.
Use Tables to organize things
Sometimes it is just easier to organize things in tables. OneNote helps you to do this very easily and quickly. Not only can you create a new table from the menu. If you type something and press TAB OneNote will automatically create a table for you.
OneNote does not only integrate with Outlook, Word or PowerPoint, it also integrate with Excel to help you calculate or create charts.
Take notes on PowerPoint slides
With the send to OneNote integration you can also take notes on PowerPoint slides.
Taking Voice notes with Windows Phone
With Windows Phone you can create new voice notes directly from by pressing the Windows button. After that voice recognition does start and if you say “Note Your note text” Windows Phone will automatically create you a new OneNote note. Which does not only save the audio file, it does also save your notes in words. So if you are waking up in the middle of the night and you remember that you have to buy more whiskey, just use the voice recognition feature of Windows Phone and you can go back to sleep. Thanks to one of the commenters on my blog which remembered me of this cool feature.
I hope I have showed you somethings you didn’t know about OneNote. If you think there is something cool missing, leave a comment and tell me why you think OneNote is awesome.