Productivity

12 Little-Known Microsoft OneNote Features You Will Love

Rahul Saigal Updated 14-04-2020

Microsoft OneNote is a personal information management app designed to help you take notes of all kinds into one digital notebook. You can organize your notes in any way you want, share them with others, and sync the content across devices, so they’re always at your fingertips. But the best thing about OneNote is that it’s packed full of features.

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If you’re already using OneNote for Windows or OneNote 2016, then these features will speed up your work. And if you’ve never used it before, you’re about to find out how useful these OneNote features can be to organize almost any aspect of your life, work, and projects.

1. Sticky Notes

OneNote sticky notes

Sticky Notes creates virtual Post-it notes that you can stick anywhere on your screen. You can jot down quick notes, to-do items, paste in links or phone numbers, or store any snippets of text you need to remember. The app is not only deeply integrated with the OneNote app on Windows but also syncs your notes with all the devices.

Sticky Notes is a built-in app for Windows 10. If you can’t find Sticky Notes on your PC, you can install the app free from the Microsoft Store. On all your devices, you can create new notes, format them, add bullet points, or even insert pictures from a computer or camera.

2. Page Templates

project planning template in OneNote

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When you develop a proper note-taking structure, you can start focusing on the content and your ideas. In the same way, when you create a template from scratch, it not only give pages a consistent look, it also provides flexibility in structuring different types of documents and saves time.

You can use OneNote templates in recurring projects to organize notes in a particular way. If you’re the minute taker for office meetings, you can manage attendees, conversations, and key points in a fixed tabular format.

Check out our guide to page templates How to Use OneNote Templates: Everything You Need to Know OneNote templates are essential for true productivity. Here's all you need to know to edit and create your own OneNote templates. Read More and some of the best sites to download templates The 6 Best Sites to Download Microsoft OneNote Templates A Microsoft OneNote template can help you organize your life. Grab these ready-made OneNote templates from these websites. Read More for use in different projects.

3. Custom Tags

create custom tags in OneNote Windows 10

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OneNote’s system of organization with a typical notebook, section, and pages approach is excellent for organizing notes. But you can be more specific with tags.

They add a visual marker to help identify the type of information and contextual relationship across different notebooks or sections.

OneNote comes with a bunch of default tags (e.g., Important, To-Do, Question, etc.). But you can also create as many custom tags you want. Just remember that it should be specific, widely used across all your projects, and of high value.

Read this piece to find out how to use OneNote tags and why you should use them Why Every OneNote User Needs to Start Using Tags Right Now Microsoft OneNote tags are easy to overlook. But if you're a note-taker, tags are crucial for organization and productivity! Read More .

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4. Internal Links

link to pages in OneNote 2016

One of the most powerful OneNote features is the ability to make connections with other notes. Its deep linking structure ensures that you quickly engage in knowledge construction, critical thinking, and contextual learning.

To create a link, highlight a text or paragraph, right-click and select Link to Pages or Copy Link to Paragraph.

Then switch to another page and insert your link through the link dialog box. Alternatively, type [[, the name of the page verbatim, and then ]]. This will automatically convert it into an internal page link.

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Check out our guide on how to create a personal wiki using OneNote How to Create a Personal Wiki Using Microsoft OneNote A wiki is a great way to store and share large amounts of information. Here's how easy it is to create a wiki with OneNote. Read More .

5. Version History

page versions in OneNote 2016

Every time you make changes to a note, OneNote keeps track of the previous versions instead of completely overriding them. So if you delete any note by mistake, you can look through the page’s history to find the item you want.

In OneNote 2016, head to the History tab and click Page Versions.

You’ll see all the edits you made with their dates in the page navigation bar. And if you decide to restore that page, right-click the page or section and choose Restore Version.

Version histories consume OneDrive storage space. You can either delete the history of the different versions or disable them all together on a per-notebook basis.

6. Split and Merge Containers

merge containers in OneNote Windows 10

One of the nice things about OneNote is that you can position content anywhere on the page. If you later decide that you want to organize them in a particular way, it quickly becomes a problem.

To pull out content from a container, select your text, then press and hold the left mouse button and drag the selection to a new position.

To merge the contents of two containers, hover your mouse to the three-dot title bar of the source container. A four-sided cursor will appear. Press and hold the Shift + Left-click key.

With the mouse button pressed, drag-and-drop the source container into the destination container. The contents will get automatically merged.

7. Translate Text or Entire Page

translate text to other languages in OneNote

As communication at work is increasingly getting multilingual, the need to translate text in different languages is becoming essential. Microsoft provides you the powerful Office translation tools to decipher content in various languages and puts it into a note.

In the OneNote app, select a paragraph of text, right-click it and choose Translate.

For translating the entire page, navigate to the View tab, and choose Translate > Page.

A side panel appears with your native language at the top. From the bottom pane, select the required language from the dropdown menu. If you translate the entire page, OneNote will create a new translated version of the page.

8. Sort Pages in OneNote

sort pages in OneNote app

Every time you add a new page, it gets added to the bottom of the list by default. Although you can tweak this option in Settings to create new pages At the top of the page list or Below the selected page, the ability to sort your pages with individual preferences cannot be ignored.

To sort your pages in OneNote, click the Sort button next to your notebook. Then choose any one option from the list — Alphabetical, Date Created, or Date Modified.

You can select the sorting order on a per-section basis. In OneNote 2016, use the Onetastic add-in and install the Sort Pages macro to sort your pages.

9. Quick-Formatting Mini Toolbar

quick formatting mini toolbar in OneNote app

OneNote includes a hovering toolbar called Mini Toolbar. It appears when you select a piece of text and want to take some relevant action. While you can ignore it and perform the actions through Quick Access Toolbar, you’re missing many minute features.

Through the mini toolbar, you can adjust your fonts, annotate the text, tag your content, and more. Click on the three-dot icon to further expand the toolbar with a context menu. You can edit your notes much faster with relevant tools.

10. Solve Math Equations With Math Assistant

If you need a little help with your math homework, the built-in math assistant can help you solve or display step-by-step instructions to learn how to approach a particular problem.

This feature is only available if you have an Office 365 subscription. Here are some ways to get Microsoft Office license for free 6 Ways You Can Get a Microsoft Office License for Free Free Microsoft Office licenses are hard to get, but they do exist. This article covers six ways to get Word and Excel for free. Read More .

In the Draw tab, write or type in your equation.

Use the Lasso Select tool to draw a circle around the equation.

Then select Math to open Math Assistant pane.

To solve the equation, click the Select an action box and choose an action.

Review the solution or click Show steps to learn more in detail. Generate a practice quiz to keep practicing similar types of math problems.

11. Email to OneNote

email to OneNote app

Apart from typing notes on an OneNote page, you can also send it by using the Email to OneNote service. It consists of an email address me@onenote.com to which you can forward email messages (trip confirmation, receipts, or important emails) or share any type of content.

The subject field of the email becomes the title of your OneNote page. Also, any link you include in the body of the message automatically gets expanded into an article and a full-page screenshot.

Apart from Outlook, you can even use Gmail or iCloud ID’s. You just have to set it up once.

12. Paste Text Without Formatting

paste text without formatting in OneNote

When you copy and paste content, OneNote will paste the text along with its formatting and a source link whether you use the Ctrl + V shortcut or Paste option from the context menu.

If you don’t want the link and formatting garbage, having to choose Paste > Keep Text Only repeatedly becomes tedious.

To change the default paste settings, open OneNote and click on More > Settings in the top-right corner of the window.

Click Options, and just under the Paste Options section, choose Keep Text Only from the dropdown menu. And turn off the Include link to source option.

Unique Ways to Use OneNote

These little-known tips are some of the best features of OneNote. The app can be useful for so many things with these advanced features. To know more, read this piece to find out some unique ways to use OneNote 10 Unique Ways to Use Microsoft OneNote OneNote is one of Microsoft's most underrated apps. It's available on almost every platform and can do many tricks you wouldn't expect from a note keeping app. Read More to organize life and work projects.

Related topics: Microsoft OneNote, Note-Taking Apps, Productivity Tips.

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  1. William Russo
    August 13, 2017 at 1:46 am

    OneNote does not allow sending of the text of the note. Apples Notes does. For that reason Apple Notes stinks.

  2. JA
    February 20, 2017 at 6:52 am

    Evernote cannot beat the multiple reminders and multiple tags with reminders within the OneNote. I switched an year ago to onenote and never looked back. Although i wish onenote will make the reminders independent of outlook

  3. May
    February 17, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    Love one note but feature I miss from Evernote is ease of emailing notes. I use one note app a lot for minutes, but have to wait to sync to a PC to email out. Can't do straight from the app. ?

  4. Patrick Saunders
    October 10, 2016 at 9:38 am

    embedding youtube video (in OneNote 2016)
    Also the free OneTastic add-in offers a macro function which I find handy.

  5. Jay
    April 12, 2016 at 5:34 pm

    How does the mac version differ?

    • Jonathon
      July 11, 2016 at 2:13 am

      The Mac version is a somewhat gimped version of the Windows OneNote. Lack of recording, additional add-ons and features and overall presentation make the Mac version a bit inferior.

      Still, it operates just the same, just a lack of extra features.

  6. Vedderhead
    March 8, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    I mainly use Evernote for the "Article Clipping" feature (for research, and to read later so I don't waste too much time going down a rabbit hole of articles). Is there any workaround with OneNote that could do something similar?

    • Andrea Doyon
      November 17, 2016 at 12:39 am

      The full version of OneNote comes with a "Clipper" feature that acts much like that in Evernote.

  7. Justin Klyczek
    March 3, 2016 at 3:34 pm

    I love Evernote! But I'm digging on OneNote as well. My school corporation went all Microsoft so I've been using it as my main note-taking app for awhile now. This is a great list of features. I'll share it with my fellow teachers!

    • Joel Lee
      March 14, 2016 at 8:12 pm

      Thanks Justin! I'd appreciate that. Glad you found the post useful. :)

  8. Bart
    March 2, 2016 at 9:23 pm

    Very useful!

    In this piece you mention Evernote twice: If there’s one thing that OneNote offers that alternatives like Evernote don’t, it’s the Docked Note-Taking feature. In short, you can dock Evernote to any side of the screen, which prevents all other windows from overlapping with it.

    Don't you mean OneNote the second time you mention Evernote? :-)

    • Anonymous
      March 4, 2016 at 3:35 am

      Dang, Bart! You beat me to it! :)

    • Joel Lee
      March 14, 2016 at 8:12 pm

      Thanks Bart. It's been fixed. :)