Updated by Tina Sieber on 7 March, 2017.
I am going to ruffle a few feathers here by saying that Microsoft OneNote is just as good as Evernote. OneNote is the digital equivalent of a binder, giving you more organizational control.
The showdown will continue, so for the sake of productivity and peace, let’s say that both are great note-taking apps with their pros and cons. I use both, as and when the purpose dictates it. And I have come to love both because they have made me more organized with my note-taking.
We have covered a bit of OneNote’s capabilities with:
- The Only OneNote Guide You’ll Ever Need
- 12 Tips to Take Better Notes with Microsoft OneNote
- How to Create Your Own Wiki with OneNote
But effective note-taking requires as many tips and tricks you can pull together. So, here for your productive pleasure are ten more.
1. Create Your To-Do Lists in a Jiffy
That’s how you start your day. An organizer and a diary aren’t complete without a to-do. Here’s how you set up a quick to-do list in OneNote.
You can start your daily to-do in a new Note page. Select the Home ribbon. Click on To Do Tag in the tags box or use the shortcut key of CTRL+1.
Type your first to-do item. Hit Enter and then CTRL+1 to add succeeding items. If you complete your to-do, you can check them off one by one.
2. Use Templates and Get off the Starting Blocks
It used to be difficult to find Page Templates in OneNote. It’s probably because in OneNote, there are Notebooks and Pages, two different entities. But once you know where OneNote stores its templates, using them for productivity could become a habit.
Go to Insert and under Pages, expand Page Templates, then click on Page Templates… This will open a sidebar from which you can choose templates from various categories.
You can choose a template and set it as the default template, or customize a page and set it as a template.
3. For the Visual – Doodle or Sketch Your Ideas
A real world diary or organizer is not always neatly written. You find doodles, little sketches on the sides, and what not.
OneNote being a digital equivalent gives you the Draw tab on the ribbon with quite a few drawing tools for visually representing your ideas. Draw your ideas, color them, and flesh them out.
4. Feel Like Writing on Paper?
Does a white sheet of paper make you more creative? Or maybe, it is the soothing yellow of a legal pad? OneNote isn’t about paper at all, but two simple choices can help you duplicate the feel of writing on paper. Check out the View tab on the ribbon. Combining Page Color and Rule Lines, you can create your own writing “environment”. You can even set the color of the ruled lines.
5. Carry Your Notes with You
Note-taking is often a flash-of-the-moment process. One way to capture a note anytime anywhere is to quickly use the Android or iPhone apps that OneNote has. You can sync it across to your computer using OneDrive as a bridge. After downloading the app, you need a Windows Live ID to log-in (same as for your OneDrive account). You can create rich text notes with pictures, bulleted lists, checkboxes et.al.
You can capture instant photos with your phone camera and create a note from there. You can create multiple notes, and also view all your previous notes and notebooks on the first screen. All notes automatically get saved to your OneDrive cloud. From the cloud, you can sync them across to your desktop OneNote too.
The combination of your mobile device and OneNote is great for capturing and archiving items like receipts and business cards.
6. The OCR Tool That’s already on Your Computer
I had mentioned in a previous article when we talked about Top 5 Free OCR Software Tools to Convert Images Into Text. The feature is retained in Microsoft OneNote.
Open the document from where you would like to capture the text. Without OneNote opened and minimized, use the Windows + S shortcut (or the Screen Clipping tool in the Insert menu) to grab the section of the document you want to optically recognize.
Send the screen clip to a OneNote page. Right-click on the image that is inserted in the page, and click on Copy Text from Picture. The optically-recognized text is copied to the Clipboard.
7. Multimedia as Quick Notes
The quickest form of note-taking after photos is definitely recording of audio and video clips. In OneNote you can quickly record sound notes and videos (quick voice memos, meetings or class lectures) and insert them as media files into your notes.
Open the page and place the cursor where you would like to insert the media file. On the Insert tab, choose either Record Audio or Record Video. You can control the start, pause, and stop motions of the recording from the Audio-Video Playback menu.
8. Make Them Searchable Too
OneNote’s Audio Search feature enables you to search your audio and video recordings for words, just like you would search for keywords in your notes. You can enable the Audio Search feature under File > Options > Audio & Video.
If you have loads of voice memos, this could be a fast way of trawling through them to find the needed one.
9. Guard Your Privacy
OneNote uses the 3DES encryption standard to password protect your sections in OneNote. This step is highly recommended if you are keeping any personal information like credit card info, passwords, legal documents etc.
To set a password for a section, right-click the section tab and select Password Protect this Section.
Your section will be secured until you click and enter a password to unlock it. It will also be locked automatically after a period of time if you leave the section or leave your computer unattended.
10. The One OneNote Tip I Always Forget to Use
Simply because I don’t have to. The tip is: You don’t have to save your notes, as OneNote does it automatically. It’s only when you need to save a notebook, page, or section, under a different name, you need to use the Save As… function.
Though if you want to make sure that you never lose a note, make sure to customize your backup and sync options.
These ten OneNote tips do not even begin to cover the awesome range of features OneNote gives you.
OneNote is more often than not one of the neglected applications in the Office suite. Hopefully, our advice just helped you you turn your eyes away from the prima donnas and take a look at the wallflower who could be a princess.
How do you use OneNote? Please share your favorite OneNote productivity tips with us!