5 power user tips for Microsoft OneNote

Try out these little-known features of OneNote, the note-taking component of Microsoft’s Office suite, and watch the app really shine.

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Rob Schultz/IDG

While Evernote is the undisputed king of the computer note-taking world, there is another player in the market that deserves some attention, and that’s Microsoft OneNote.

Although it’s not well known, OneNote has been around since 2003 and a member of the Office suite since 2007.  Now in its fifth edition and with a Universal Windows Platform (UWP) “companion” app available from the Windows Store, OneNote has become a mature, full-featured tool for taking notes, transcribing ideas, organizing thoughts, and in general acting as a place to store the results of a “brain dump.”

In what scenarios would using OneNote make more sense than using Evernote? We have published a comparison of the two tools here on Computerworld.com, and as you will see checking out that piece, there are many points in favor of both tools. However, right off the bat I can think of three reasons OneNote might make sense for you:

  • If your organization uses Microsoft Office, particularly if it subscribes to Office 365, there are many useful integrations between OneNote and the rest of the suite, including some interesting cloud options and the ability to have your notes everywhere on your work computer, your home computer, your smartphone, and your tablet. Some companies prohibit the installation of Evernote, but OneNote generally is allowed as part of Office.
  • If you make heavy use of the pen and the ink support on Windows tablets like the Surface Pro or the Lenovo X1 Yoga, then OneNote is unquestionably superior to Evernote, as it will read your handwriting, accept your drawings, clean things up for you, and generally give you the best hybrid experience between pen and typing.
  • Evernote is a paid app when you grow past a couple of devices, so if you have five or six pieces of electronics and want your notes synced on all of them, OneNote becomes the cost-effective choice for anyone who uses Microsoft Office.

Since OneNote is a “stealth” member of the Office suite, I wanted to give a deep-down look into some of OneNote’s best, and littlest known, features — the ones that really make it shine.

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