The OneNote FAQ: Answers to Your Note-Taking Questions
Whatever the case, you probably have some questions about OneNote. We have answers for you.
What Is Microsoft OneNote?
OneNote is a digital notebook that allows you to create and store notes that can contain anything, like typed text, handwritten text and drawings, images, web links, clipped web pages, audio, video, and more.
Information stored in OneNote syncs across your devices, like your computer (Windows and Mac), your iPhone or Android phone, and your iPad or Android tablet.
OneNote is not a word processor. Content is added to notes, or pages, in a freeform manner. You can click anywhere on a page and start typing. OneNote is not designed for creating documents for publication. It’s meant to organize and store your thoughts, ideas, research, etc.
What Is OneNote Used For?
You can store just about any kind of information in OneNote. Here are just a few of the many uses for OneNote.
- Manage shopping lists
- Manage recipes (download the recipe notebook shown below from Microsoft)
- Store articles from the web (using OneNote Web Clipper )
- Scan and manage receipts (using Office Lens )
- Project management
- Media player
Is OneNote Free?
OneNote is a free alternative to Evernote , especially after Evernote hiked up its price and further limited the free version.
There are two free versions of OneNote for Windows. If you’re running Windows 10, the OneNote for Windows 10 universal app is already installed. If you find the app is not installed, you can install it from the Microsoft Store.
OneNote also comes with the Office 365 subscription as the OneNote 2016 desktop app. While the Office 365 subscription is not free, OneNote 2016 is a free download. Click the Windows Desktop link on the OneNote download page.
Which version of OneNote should you use? Read our comparison between the Windows store app and the desktop app. We cover the differences between the two apps and the features you get with the OneNote 2016 desktop app that are not available in OneNote for Windows 10 universal app.
In addition to Windows, OneNote is available for Mac, iOS, Android, and Windows Mobile. There is also a OneNote web app. The Mac version does not have as many features as the Windows version. Check out our OneNote for Mac guide to find out what OneNote can and cannot do on a Mac.
How to Use OneNote
Information in OneNote is organized into notebooks, sections, and pages, like a digital version of a three-ring binder. Just like the pages in the binder, you can write anywhere on a page in a OneNote notebook.
See our guides for using the OneNote 2016 desktop app and OneNote for Mac for more information about each version and how to use them. There are basic text formatting tools and you can create lists and tables. You can also insert images and links and even record audio and video on a page.
There is a big difference between notes in OneNote and documents in a word processor like Word. OneNote simulates taking notes on paper. Thus, it employs a freeform entry method. Consequently, there is no page layout structure on pages in OneNote.
Where Are OneNote Files Stored
By default, OneNote saves notebooks to the Documents folder in your OneDrive account. You can create local notebooks that are saved to your hard drive, but only in the OneNote 2016 Windows desktop app, not in OneNote for Mac or the OneNote for Windows 10 universal app. Local notebooks are saved in your Documents folder, by default.
You can change both the default location for notebooks and the location of individual notebooks. See the next section for more information.
How to Save OneNote Notebooks
OneNote doesn’t have a Save button because OneNote files are automatically saved. But you can change the default save location for local notebooks and the location of individual notebooks in the OneNote 2016 Windows desktop app.
See our article about never losing a notebook in OneNote for more information.
How to Sync OneNote Notebooks
Saving your OneNote notebooks in your OneDrive account allows you to access them across your devices. Notebooks saved to your OneDrive account are automatically saved and synced. Local notebooks are automatically saved but not synced. You cannot access local notebooks in the OneNote for Windows 10 universal app.
You can also sync your notebooks manually in the OneNote 2016 desktop app. Open the notebook you want to sync and use one of the following methods to manually start syncing that notebook.
- Press Shift + F9.
- Right-click the name of the open notebook and select Sync This Notebook Now.
- Go to File > Info, click the Settings button next to the notebook you want to sync, and select Sync.
To check the sync status for any or all notebooks, right-click on the notebook name and select Notebook Sync Status. You can also go to File > Info and click View Sync Status on the right side of the Info screen. On the Shared Notebook Synchronization dialog box, you’ll see a progress bar to the left of the Sync Now button for each notebook that’s in the process of syncing.
Click Sync Now next to an open notebook to manually sync that notebook, or click Sync All to sync all open notebooks.
OneNote defaults to syncing your notebooks automatically. If you’d rather sync your notebooks manually, select Sync manually under How should we sync your notebooks.
How to Print From OneNote
Generally, the point of using a note-taking app is to avoid having bits of paper lying around that you could lose. But sometimes the need to print a note may arise.
Notes printed from OneNote may not print the way you like because of the freeform nature of the program. If you’re concerned about the format and layout of a printed note, copy and paste the content into Word or Notepad and fix the formatting and layout to your liking. Then, print from that program.
We’ve covered how to print notes in the OneNote for Windows 10 universal app.
If you’re using the OneNote 2016 desktop app, go to File > Print > Print Preview. You’ll see a preview of what your printed note will look like. You can change the Print Settings and then click Print to print your note.
How to Delete Notebooks in OneNote
Deleting notebooks in OneNote is not as simple as it might sound. OneNote does not include a delete option for notebooks. But there is a way around this. You can delete the notebook files outside of OneNote.
Manually Delete a Noteook
Before deleting a notebook file, you must close the notebook in OneNote. Right-click on the notebook name and select Close This Notebook. You can also go to File > Info, click Settings next to the notebook name, and select Close.
To delete a notebook stored in OneDrive, log in to your OneDrive account in a browser. Go to Files and click on the Documents folder to open it. All your OneNote notebooks will have the OneNote icon next to the file name. Find the name of your notebook in the list of files, right-click on the name, and select Delete.
To delete a notebook stored locally on your hard drive, open File Explorer and navigate to where your OneNote notebooks are saved. Locally saved notebooks are folders, rather than files. Find the folder with the name of the notebook you want to delete and delete the entire folder.
You can also delete sections and pages from your notebooks, one at a time, by right-clicking on the section or page and clicking Delete. A copy of the deleted section or page is stored in the recycle bin for that notebook for 60 days.
Deleted pages are stored in a Deleted Pages section in the notebook’s recycle bin. To access deleted sections or pages, open the notebook in question, right-click its name, and select Notebook Recycle Bin.
Restore Deleted Sections and Pages
You can restore a deleted section from a notebook’s recycle bin by right-clicking on the section and selecting Merge Into Another Section. Then, choose a section in the original notebook, or even in a different notebook, and click Merge.
To restore a deleted page, right-click on the page and select Move or Copy. Then, choose a section in an open notebook and click Move.
OneNote in a Nutshell
We’ve covered some of the basics in OneNote here, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much you can do with OneNote , we can’t cover it all in one article. But the tips here should give you a good start.
OneNote is a useful and versatile program for keeping your life organized, and we’d love to help you learn how to make the most of OneNote’s features.
What other tips, tricks, and features do you want to learn about? Is there something about OneNote you don’t understand? Share your questions and comments below.