Microsoft OneNote is the best software for taking notes digitally. Use this OneNote tutorial to learn everything you need to know for creating the most organized notes.
The main information in this tutorial applies to using OneNote for Windows.
How to Create a Notebook, Sections, and Pages
Notebooks are going to be on the left side of the screen, followed by columns for sections and pages. To create a new notebook in OneNote, simply right-click on the list of notebooks and select New Notebook. The same goes for the sections and pages.
How to Rename a Page
You can rename a section by right-clicking on the name, but to rename a page, open it and type the title at the top.
How to Use Quick Notes
To choose a notebook for Quick Notes, go to the settings button on the top right-hand corner of the window and click Options. In there, you can check all the current settings for quick notes and choose a notebook for them.
How to Change the View in OneNote
You can take notes on full-screen or half-screen with the notebooks, sections, and pages displayed. To switch between views, go to the View tab and select Navigation Panes. You can also access Navigation Pane settings by right-clicking anywhere in the window.
How to Work with Multiple Accounts
Add both your personal and work accounts. Click your name, which is at the top of the left column of the window, to pull up Account where you can add an account.
How to Use Tell Me in OneNote
Tell Me is a quick way to search for any tool in Microsoft. When using OneNote, the Tell Me feature is in the top right corner next to the Share button. Search by keyword or phrases and keep it general for the most suggestions.
How to Add a Default Font
Get your OneNote account up and running, then set a default font for it to use every time you open MS OneNote. Find your Options again through the settings button in the top right corner and scroll down to Default Font. Change it to the font you use the most.
How to Add Checkboxes to a To-Do List
While you are typing a note, you can add a checkbox to the current line of text by clicking the Tag as To Do tool. Hit enter to keep adding boxes with items in the list.
Password Protection on a Mac
On Macs, to password protect a note, you can right-click on a section and select the Password Protection option. It is also under the View tab.
How to Insert a Video
Copy and paste a video link as normal. OneNote pulls up the video clip automatically and displays it on the current note page. You can paste the video link anywhere on the page.
How to Customize Your Pages
Customization will make your note pages easier to view. Change the color or lines on a page by using the View tab. Rule Lines will make the note appear as a regular lined notepad.
How to Insert a Table
Go to Insert > Table. You can move the mouse to select the boxes according to the size of the table you want. That way, you use the table and navigate around it relatively the same as in Word.
How to Insert PowerPoint PDF in OneNote
You can insert a saved PDF PowerPoint from your computer by selecting Insert > File. When you insert the PDF as an attachment, it puts a shortcut link in the note, but if you insert a PDF printout, it will display the presentation slides large on the page.
A PDF printout of a slide show in OneNote looks like this:
How to Insert Images and Links
Images are inserted from the Insert tab as well. Click Picture and select whether you want to insert from a file on your computer or from online. If inserting an image from the computer, find the image file in the window that pops up and click Open.
To insert a link, press the Link button instead and type in the text you want displayed along with the URL address. If the URL is good, the link will be active and have its own box that you can move around the page. It should look like this:
You can also insert Online Pictures. Search general topics, and it will pull up images that are free to use. Click and drag online images that you find right into your notes.
How to Record and Insert Audio
The Record button on the Insert tab will start recording immediately after clicking. You can view the time at the top and stop recording by pressing the Stop button. The recording inserts straight into the current note page.
How to Connect Outlook with Microsoft OneNote
Another item on the Insert tab is Meeting Details. Click this feature to access the meeting details from Outlook. You can sign into your Microsoft Account straight from the Meeting Details feature.
Research and Citations
Find research and add the source as a citation in a note by pressing the Researcher button on the Insert tab. The right pane lets you search for a topic, and then when you open an item, you can click “Add this source as a citation,” and it will insert into the note page.
How to Add Math Equations on OneNote
Click the Math button in the Insert tab. Type an equation and then find the solution using the Math panel that pops up when the equation is selected.
How to Search for a Note
Use the search tool to find any notes within a notebook.
How to Use Drawing Tools on OneNote
The Draw tab on OneNote is something you can use to draw directly on a note. Use the pens at the top or add pens using the plus button next to them. There is also an eraser, highlighter, and shapes that you can use.
Ink to Shape
Select Ink to Shape to have drawn shapes automatically transform into a perfect shape. It will clean up the notes and make them easier to see.
Ink to Text
You can also change ink to text. Make sure to select the drawing first, then click Ink to Text.
How to Get OneNote Web Clipper
OneNote Web Clipper is a Chrome extension, so you will have to go to the Chrome Web Store and add it to your browser. This extension acts as a tool that uses OneNote functions to save clips from websites to your notes.
To use the extension once you have it, click the small OneNote icon on the top right corner of your browser. It should pull up a clip from the current website. Type a small description above the clip. Use the Location drop-down menu to choose where the clip will go in your notes, and then select Clip.
How to Save Emails to OneNote
You can add a note to your OneNote account by sending a message from your email. Add email accounts to your OneNote by using onenote.com/emailtoonenote. Once you have everything set up, you can then send an email from your email straight to OneNote by putting the recipient as firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to Publish Pages and Share Notebooks
Publish a note page from OneNote by clicking the Share button in the corner of the window.
Copy the link it provides, then make sure to stop sharing when you do not want that person to access the page anymore.
How to Print
To print a page, use the Options button with three dots to select Print. A print preview will show up from there where you can choose the correct printer and change print settings such as orientation and color mode.
Go Mobile on OneNote
You can use OneNote on most mobile devices or online. If you know your Microsoft login information, you will be able to see all of the notes you have saved.
How to Permanently Delete
To permanently delete notes that are still in your OneNote account, you can do so by going to OneDrive, which you can find through the Microsoft website when you log in.
Find the note by looking at Recent or Files and right-click it and select Remove.
Using OneNote for Mac
OneNote on Macs switches better between laptop, iPad, and an iPhone with little differences in how it looks – compared to Windows. You will need this version if you typically use a mac laptop, desktop, or tablet.
Add a Notebook
On a Mac computer, you can add a notebook by pressing the down arrow by the name of your current open notebook and clicking the plus sign in the top right corner of the drop-down menu. It will look like this:
Change Paper Color
On the View tab, change the color of paper for a note by clicking the Paper Color button on the left side of the ribbon. Choose a color, and it will apply to the current note.
Change Paper Style
You will find the Paper Style button right next to where you changed the paper color, under the View tab. This changes the lines on the paper. Notes usually do not have any lines, but you can add regular notebook lines or gridlines to make the notes easier to read.
Tags are one of the benefits of using OneNote on a Mac computer. When you click one of the tags, it adds to the current text to show if it is important. You can find these tags under the View tab:
Insert a Table
Inserting a table in OneNote on a Mac is very similar to Windows. It is in the same location – Table on the Insert tab. The only difference is that there are more quick options in the top ribbon for inserting rows and deleting columns.
To share a notebook with someone from OneNote on your Mac, click the little share button in the top right corner of the window and enter the names or email addresses of the people you want to add.
Using OneNote App on iPad
Microsoft Office offers its software in apps, as well. When you operate OneNote on an iPad, use these tips.
Creating Notebooks, Sections, and Pages
To add a notebook on OneNote on your iPad, tap the plus by Notebook on the bottom. Type a name and tap Create. You can add sections and pages the same way.
To delete, open the section and tap the trashcan symbol at the bottom.
Quick Notes Location
Tap the gear symbol at the top of your OneNote window and go to Quick Notes. This will show you where your notes are automatically going.
Tap anywhere on a note page to type a note. Use the font and color options at the top of the screen in the Home tab to change anything you need for notes. Use the star tag and other tags to mark important notes for better visualization.
Inserting Files, Images and Pdfs
Use the Insert tab to add images, tables, and other items, the same way as you would with using OneNote on the computer. For inserting tables, you can click Insert or Delete at the top to add rows or columns.
When you insert pictures using the camera, you can select Whiteboard, Photo, or Document to adjust the color and brightness settings automatically.
Files are easiest to insert on iPad when you use Google Drive or OneDrive. Make sure your cloud accounts are on. To insert a file, select the Insert tab then File.
Click Link to insert a hyperlink.
Use the Draw tab to quickly take notes by drawing with your finger or a stylus pen. If you want to use a stylus, tap the stylus icon on the right and turn off the Draw with Touch option. Make sure to click Other Stylus to tell OneNote how you hold your pen.
Make the note full screen by clicking the two arrows in the top right corner of the screen, to make drawing easier.
On the View tab, you can change the zoom and page width, as well as the style of the paper. You can add password protection to a note section from here, as well.
Adding the OneNote Widget
Pull down the top screen on your iPad and edit the widgets. OneNote should be under the list of Other Widgets, click the plus to add it so that it will be easy to access in the future.
Searching in OneNote
You can quickly search all your notebooks in OneNote by tapping the search tool icon in the top left corner of the screen.
Using Split-Screen and Taking a Snapshot
With the iPad turned sideways, pull from the right side to open another app or book and take notes at the same time while it is in split-screen.
You can also take a screenshot by holding down the home and sleep buttons. Insert the screenshot straight into your notes.
Taking Notes with PDF Printouts
Insert a PDF printout from a slide show, which you can insert from a cloud drive. You can draw directly over the printout in your notes.
Deleting a OneNote Notebook
To delete a OneNote notebook, you have to go to the OneDrive app. Find the document for the note you want to delete and hold down your finger until the trashcan icon pops up, and then you can click it to delete the note.
Other Versions of OneNote
The OneNote setup is similar on most computers, but there are some variances in the tools when using OneNote 2016 or OneNote on a Mac.
OneNote 2016 looks different from OneNote, but it also has some extra tools. You can use the Find Tags tool to find tagged notes quickly. You can also connect to Excel spreadsheets easier and link notes.
OneNote Online has all the same features as the downloaded version of OneNote, and you can use it for free without Office 365. However, you do need a Microsoft account.
Tips for Using OneNote
Use these tips to help you make the most out of your OneNote software.
1. Ink Math Equations
In your Drawing tab, you can write an equation using one of the drawing tools. If you select the equation you drew and press the Math button, you can see the answer as well as steps for solving.
2. Playback Notes
You can replay notes by clicking the Replay button on the View tab. Click the Replay tool button, then click and drag to select the area of notes to see an animation of how it came together.
3. Ink to Text
After writing a note in the Draw tab, click the Ink to Text button in the ribbon to change the drawing to regular font text automatically.
4. User Researcher
Through the Insert tab, you can use the Researcher tool to find sources for different topics quickly. When you find something you would like to add to the current note page, click the plus button.
5. Immersive Reader
In the View tab, you can find Immersive Reader. When you use this tool, it pulls up selected text and reads it to you. You can change the text size to help you focus on what is read, as well.
6. OneNote Web Clipper
We talked about this early on in this article, but it is such a vital tool for making the most out of OneNote. OneNote Web Clipper allows you to clip screenshots and information from web pages and insert them right into your notes without even leaving your browser window.
7. Save Emails to OneNote
Send emails to OneNote to save as a note. Make sure your information is set up with OneNote, and you have the correct email address on your account. Then, you can use the email: email@example.com to send directly to a note.
8. Embedded Links
You can copy links from presentations on Sway, articles online, and even audio from Spotify. Just copy a link and go to your note, right-click and select paste. OneNote pulls up a clip or snippet from the link you added.
9. Send PowerPoints to OneNote
When you finish creating a presentation in PowerPoint, you can send it over to MS OneNote by going to Print and selecting “Send to OneNote” instead of one of your printers. You can do the same action in Microsoft Word by sending documents to OneNote, as well.
10. Linking Notebooks
Right-click on a notebook or section and click the option, Copy Link to Section. This action adds a link to the current note page.
Use this Microsoft OneNote tutorial as a tool for learning to use Microsoft software. Practice these skills and consider taking all your notes in OneNote.