5 Ways to Take Advantage of Microsoft OneNote

Danny Stieben 18-05-2013

microsoft onenoteMicrosoft’s OneNote is arguably the best note-taking software out there. It can simply take care of all your note-taking needs, and there’s virtually nothing that comes close to it besides Evernote. While you can do some creative stuff with Evernote Get Creative With Evernote: 10 Unique Uses You Haven't Thought Of Evernote is one of the ultimate tools in productivity, and with a wide variety of multiplatform apps, there's no limit to the way that you can use the service. We're big fans of Evernote here... Read More , OneNote can pack quite a punch as well in helping ease your life.


While some of you might just use Microsoft OneNote in very simple ways, note that there are a few scenarios which can greatly increase OneNote’s effectiveness for you. Here are five tips that can help you get more out of OneNote so you can reduce your stress, become more organized, and find time for other things in life.

Get OneNote for Free!

microsoft onenote
If you use Windows 8, Android, iOS, or Windows Phone, did you know that you can use OneNote absolutely free? While it won’t be as fully functional as the version found in the Microsoft Office suite, there are official OneNote apps available for Windows 8, Android, iOS, and Windows Phone absolutely free from the respective app stores. You can even use the OneNote Web App How SkyDrive And OneNote Web App Can Help Your Online Research I was really excited to learn was that SkyDrive provides you with a free OneNote web app that you can use to do just about everything you do with your desktop OneNote application. When it... Read More .

These apps allow you to use the main features of OneNote that make it so great. The only limitation are the number of notes you can have, which won’t hurt you if you do some routine cleaning. So anyone can get their lives organized with OneNote without having to pay anything.

Sync Your Notebooks

microsoft onenote tips
Synchronization of OneNote’s notebooks is key if you have multiple devices. Being able to access and modify your notebooks from any of your devices can help save you time and possible frustration. Recent versions of OneNote can automatically sync via your Skydrive, which makes it easy to access the current versions of your notebooks from any computer or mobile device.

If you’d rather not use Skydrive, but instead use a different cloud sync service like Dropbox, you can simply save your notebooks in your Dropbox folder instead. It may help to enable sharing on the notebook, however, so that you won’t encounter any issues if you have the notebook open on more than one device at a time.


Organize and Use Often!

microsoft onenote tips
OneNote can be used for a lot more than simple note-taking — it can be used to store everything important in your life. This can include anything from keeping up with a simple to-do list to organizing client info for a business to organizing research when planning out a trip. If you come across anything that may be important in both the short-term as well as long-term, put it in OneNote!

Just remember that there is a difference between keeping random daily notes and keeping organized notes. With organized notes, it’ll be a lot easier to find things you’ve saved, making OneNote a lot more useful for you.

Busy Student Lives

microsoft onenote tips
If you’re a student who hasn’t used OneNote before, then you seriously need to take a look at it. OneNote’s organizational structure for notes makes it perfect for students to organize their notes by class and topic or lecture. OneNote also offers a great template which students can start off with and then modify to meet their own needs. Microsoft OneNote is simply fantastic for a student’s every need — homework lists, quick notes, lecture notes, reviews, and more.

Additionally, as a student, it’s even more important to have a system set up for synchronization, so that you are able to access your class notes wherever you are, even on the go.


Do Math in Your Notes

microsoft onenote


Besides being great for a number of different usage scenarios, OneNote also has a few features that aren’t very well known. One of them is OneNote’s ability to take care of mathematical problems right in your notes. You can give this feature a try right now: open up any random note and type out a simple math equation like “25/5=” but without the quotes. As soon as you hit enter or return after the equals sign, OneNote will automatically calculate the value for you. This helps combine notes and actual math work at the same time.

Microsoft OneNote’s math capabilities reach much farther than that, however. OneNote can also calculate trigonometric functions, logarithms, radians, derivatives, integrals, and a few other common math functions. Please note, however, that some of the advanced math functions can only be found in the paid version of OneNote, so your experience may vary if you are using a free app.



Hopefully these five tips have convinced you that Microsoft OneNote is definitely worth a try, or worth diving further into if you’re just a casual user. You can also check out some other great OneNote tips 10 Awesome OneNote Tips You Should Be Using All the Time Microsoft OneNote is just as good as Evernote. OneNote is the digital equivalent of a binder, giving you more organizational control. We show you effective note-taking tweaks you'll love. Read More , or check out this comparison between OneNote and the infamous Evernote Comparing Evernote to OneNote on an Android Phone It's no secret that folks at MUO really like note-taking apps. Evernote in particular has become a favorite for a lot of people. It's constantly mentioned around the net as one of the best note-taking... Read More .

What OneNote tips do you have? What note-taking solution do you use if not OneNote? Let us know in the comments!

Related topics: Microsoft OneNote, Note-Taking Apps.

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  1. Anonymous
    June 19, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    haw to recover the deleted files ???

  2. Szuruburu
    March 30, 2015 at 2:13 am

    Ah yes, OneNote... truly brilliant. You cannot delete sections on mobile. To delete a page you might want to disable your internet connection. Not to mention simple things like customizing background. It's a failure s an app.

  3. Sherry Miller
    January 5, 2015 at 6:51 pm

    I am in the same situation as Laurel Gaskill, June 18, 2013. I cannot print. One note keeps wanting me to do something. I do not understand. I just want to print. I need to print a resume, but I cannot unless it has lines around it and changes to smaller print. Help.

  4. Ed
    October 24, 2013 at 12:17 am

    All I want to do is print a document, a short one. However, the program from which I am printing, (in a previous edition, all I had to do was "Print,") requires me to go through OneNote, which will not print to my printer even when I find and set that printer as a default. This seems like a monumental mistake. How do I get rid of the OneNote require so I can print?

  5. Laurel Gaskill
    June 18, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    OneNote has taken my computer hostage. I can no longer print from commercial sites that I am ordering on, or print from my email or facebook without using OneNote. I do not have it on my operating system, and do not know how to get it, furthermore I don't think I should have to use it if I want to use my own print command. What do you recommend?

  6. Kay Fritz
    May 21, 2013 at 5:39 am

    To get my colleagues to use OneNote I created the slogan "Stop searching, start finding" and I stand to that. If you spend just a few minutes a day on it, you always have the answers at your fingertips.

  7. null
    May 20, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    I really like the way you can use it(One Note) to0 do complex math.

  8. moorpipe
    May 19, 2013 at 11:23 am

    Good to see a positive review on OneNote once in a while. In contrast, there are a lot of articles about Evernote and how wonderful it is. I almost felt guilty about using OneNote. I've tried Evernote and it's not bad, actually quite good, but I couldn't find a compelling advantage over OneNote. Actually OneNote beats Evernote in almost every respect, especially the organizing features of OneNote are unrivaled. I have to admit that Evernote beats OneNote in web clipping; OneNote certainly can learn from Evernote in that respect. The new Send to OneNote feature in version 2013 is not an improvement.

    • dldf
      May 19, 2013 at 7:37 pm

      I use both OneNote and Evernote. OneNote's text formatting features are infinitely more powerful than Evernote's. For instance, automatic bulletting is such a useful feature when taking notes in a lecture hall, and Evernote just doesn't have this! Even OneNote online has this, which is why *all* of my School lecture notes are in OneNote, not Evernote. But Evernote's presence as a capturing tool on almost every platform imaginable still warrants a place in my arsenal.

    • Danny Stieben
      May 31, 2013 at 5:55 pm

      You should never feel guilty about using an app that works well for you. There's no reason to switch to something which ends up being less functional for you.

  9. jose
    May 19, 2013 at 8:52 am

    Definition of "infamous": "Well known for some bad quality or deed."

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      May 19, 2013 at 10:46 am

      That gave me a chuckle too.

  10. Christian Velasquez
    May 19, 2013 at 4:57 am

    Shame there's no official Chrome/Firefox add-ons from Microsoft themselves.

    I wish it were it easier to clip web pages from Chrome/Firefox aside from manually cutting/copying the page content into OneNote. Like we could clip the page to OneNote via the context menu, but this only works in IE, not in Firefox/Chrome.

    • michel
      May 20, 2013 at 12:38 pm

      Clip to OneNote requires a secondary add-on (see above link) which in turn require Java - no thanks.

      Instead, just try the Print To OneNote function.

      • Suzi Love
        May 24, 2013 at 10:49 pm

        I use the print to One Note option constantly and love it.

  11. Shaun Campbell
    May 18, 2013 at 8:51 pm

    I have owned OneNote for years and never knew about the math function. Thank you MakeUseOf.

  12. P R
    May 18, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    OneNote is also excellent for a few other reasons. If you hit the windows key and then S, it will take a screenshot of whatever is on the display. It automatically brings the screenshot to a OneNote page, which you can then quickly either save it as a graphic (I think PNG is the only format allowed), or you can right-click and then ask OneNote to OCR any text in the screenshot, and then it automaticallly brings it to the clipboard, so you can paste it into OneNote or MS Word, for example.

    Most of the time, I use OneNote as an organizer for classroom lectures. I can write down a daily agenda, links to any videos I want to show, you can also post links or entire documents of other germane files.... all in one place.

    What is most helpful for me, is a three-tiered hierarchical structure. OneNote books are listed in tabs on the right; each book on the right has sections in tabs above the window, and each section can have multiple pages, in tabs along the right. This is allows for quick and easy filing.

    OneNote is not one of the Big Three (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) programs in the MS Office suite that you hear spoken of all the time, but its by far more useful for my purposes than any program on my laptop apart from Word itself.

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      May 19, 2013 at 10:45 am

      OneNote's structure by far is the best I've found in an everything bucket. However, the price pushed me to find free alternative.The OCR is superb too, but I don't like that the only way to turn OCR'd documents back to PDF is to print the note page to PDF, which wil not be the same as the original document.

      • P R
        May 19, 2013 at 12:46 pm

        Lisa, I know I've struggled with printing ON pages myself. Are you referring to the fact that the print is so darn small?

        • Lisa Santika Onggrid
          May 19, 2013 at 4:54 pm

          That too, but my case goes approximately like this: I have this PDF which I 'copy as printout' to OneNote. I delete the original file (stupid, I know). One day I need to piece back the pictures into PDF again, but there's no feature to reverse the function. I can either print the page as PDF which will include note title and turn my printout pages into image (see this screenshot-, or save the pictures one by one then use a software to convert the pictures into PDF. None of the options can produce the original document's layout.

        • P R
          May 20, 2013 at 1:52 pm

          Lisa, I typed up a response yesterday but the site said that it had to be moderated. Basically, I said that (for the future) you can simply insert documents onto a ON page, instead of pasting the contents. You simply drag the entire doc onto the ON page, and then double-clicking on it will open it up. This way, you dont' have to clutter up ON pages with pages and pages of text. Now as far as retrieving pages that you have already pasted onto ON, yeah that's a tough one. I would copy all the contents, then open up a word processor, and paste, then print to PDF to create a PDF file of it, but you're right that wouldn't have the original formatting. But at least it would eliminate the crud at the bottom and top.

        • P R
          May 20, 2013 at 2:26 pm

          You can see what I mean (in my 20 May post) here:

    • Danny Stieben
      May 31, 2013 at 5:53 pm

      Great to know! :)