When using OneNote on a Windows PC, you have two choices: the desktop app or the Microsoft Store app. While both are fully functional, OneNote 2016 (the desktop app) has always been more advanced and flexible than OneNote for Windows 10 (the Store app).
But that’s all changing. Microsoft has kicked OneNote for Windows 10 into gear over the past several months, adding all kinds of new features with regularity. It’s gotten to the point where most users could easily switch over and not miss a thing, and we expect to see plenty more updates and additions over the next year.
Here are some of the most recent and notable features in OneNote for Windows 10 that you may have missed. None of them require an Office 365 subscription.
1. Print Sections and Notebooks
Instead of printing individual pages one by one, OneNote for Windows 10 now supports printing for entire sections or even entire notebooks.
Here’s how it works:
- Navigate to any page in the section or notebook to print.
- Click the three-dot button (…) at the top right.
- Select Print.
- For Printer, select the printer you want to use.
- For Pages, change to Current Section or Current Notebook.
- Click Print when you’re ready.
2. Navigate Back and Forward
If you navigate between many pages, sections, or notebooks often, then you’ll love the new Back and Forward buttons located in the title bar at the top left.
These work just like the buttons in your web browser, allowing you to go back and forth between pages.
3. Multiple Windows
Wherever you are in your pile of OneNote pages, you can switch to the View menu in the Ribbon and click New Window to create another instance of OneNote for Windows 10. You can keep clicking it to create more and more windows, however many you want.
Each window can navigate to its own page independently of the others. This is great for multitasking, especially when combined with Snap Assist, which is one of Windows 10’s best and underrated features. Run two OneNote windows side by side for productivity!
4. Page Previews
Up until recently, the page list in OneNote for Windows 10 was nothing more than the titles of every page. This made it hard to spot certain pages at a glance unless you kept everything neatly organized by hand, such as manually sorting in alphabetical order.
Now you can toggle previews by going to the View tab, clicking on Navigation Panes, and selecting Show Page Previews. This grabs the first sentence found in each page, plus a thumbnail of the first image if one exists.
5. Create and Hide Subpages
If you right-click on a page in the current notebook section, you can now select Subpages > Make Subpage to turn that page into a subpage of the page above it. When a page has subpages, it gains an arrow next to it that you can use to collapse and hide. This is fantastic for that extra bit of organizational decluttering that we all need.
Subpages can have subpages, but only top-level pages can collapse. You can turn a subpage into a normal page by right-clicking on it and selecting Subpages > Promote Subpage.
6. Page Version History
OneNote keeps track of changes made to pages and labels each one as a “page version.” You can see the history of a particular page by right-clicking on it and selecting Page Versions. You can then revert to a past version by selecting it and clicking Make Current Page.
Note that OneDrive also has a similar File Version History feature. By combining OneNote and OneDrive, you’ll never make irrecoverable mistakes again.
7. Page Zooming
For pages full of handwritten or hand-drawn notes, you may grow tired of constantly scrolling around to jump between everything. Use the new Page Width button (found under the View menu) to instantly zoom out and see everything on the page.
If you want to zoom back in, click the Zoom to 100% button right next to it. You can also use the Zoom In and Zoom Out buttons for on-demand zooming of certain areas.
8. Notebook Colors and Nicknames
Personalizing your notebooks makes it easier to jump between them at a glance. And if notebooks are shared with you, renaming them may be desired but impractical. Fortunately, you can now right-click and select Nickname Notebook to change its name only for you.
You can also right-click and select Notebook Color to give each notebook a different color, which also helps with the whole “switching at a glance” aspect of productivity.
9. Text Search
One thing long missing from OneNote for Windows 10 was the ability to search and find text. Well, now you can! Simply press the Ctrl + F shortcut to bring up the search panel. Type what you want to search for, then select whether to search the current page, current section, current notebook, or all notebooks.
Note that this search will also return images and handwritten notes that contain text that match your query. This is possible due to OneNote’s excellent support for optical character recognition (OCR).
10. Link to a Specific Paragraph
OneNote can link to specific notes on a specific page. Just right-click the text you want to link, then select Copy Link to Paragraph. You can now use the copied URL in a link anywhere else in OneNote. When clicking that link, it’ll open the page containing the paragraph you linked.
Note that you can also send these copied URLs to others who have shared access to the page being linked. If you need a coworker to look over a certain section of notes, for example, you can link it to them in an email and they can instantly check it from wherever they are.
11. Convert Handwriting to Text
OneNote’s ability to draw and handwrite notes directly within the app is one reason why we prefer OneNote over Evernote.
As of September 2017, you can use the Lasso Tool to select handwritten text, then click Ink to Text in the Draw menu to instantly convert it into text — all while retaining colors, capitalization, and relative sizes.
12. Easy Table Dimensions
Creating tables in OneNote has never been easier. Now you can use the easy insertion button (located under the Insert menu) to instantly create as many rows and columns as you need.
When any cell in the table is selected, you’ll see a new Table menu in the Ribbon. Use it to insert new rows and columns relative to the selected cell. You can also use it to sort the table’s rows alphabetically or delete the table entirely.
13. Get Help With “Tell Me”
If you ever want to do something but can’t figure out how, click the Light Bulb icon and start typing what it is. OneNote will provide real-time results, and when you find the right one, click it to get instructions and/or helpful resources on the subject.
Use the Alt + Q keyboard shortcut to quickly pop open the Tell Me search. You can also use the same feature to type in a query for Smart Lookup, which provides definitions (for words) or performs a wiki search (for concepts).
Making the Most of OneNote
On top of the above features, there are several other ways to wring value out of OneNote as a productivity tool. We recommend reading up on the best way to organize OneNote, key lesser-known OneNote features, and for power users, our master guide to OneNote.
One big takeaway from all of this is that Microsoft Store apps are catching up to desktop standalone apps, and OneNote is proof of that. Learn more about the differences between desktop and UWP apps and why you should use UWP apps instead. Get started with these popular official UWP apps worth using.
Do you use OneNote 2016 or OneNote for Windows 10? What are your favorite OneNote features? Did we miss any good ones? Share with us down in the comments!