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January 14, 2008

Cool OneNote Features

Flying home Sunday night I decided to organize my notes in Microsoft OneNote. OneNote, if you haven't played with it yet, is a pretty simple application for taking notes (duh) but I found it has a lot of interesting features. With OneNote, you don't think so much about files, but rather about Notebooks, sections and pages. I've noticed that people seem to either be fanatics about using OneNote, or they've never tried it.

I'm writing this right now in OneNote, and when I get home I'll just copy the next into typepad and post it into my blog. (OneNote has a "Blog This" command, so when I get back on I'll see if it supports TypePad - maybe I'll discover another interesting feature. Update – it does support TypePad.  OneNote exports it to Word, which does the publishing.)

When you open up OneNote 2007 (Part of Office 2007) there is a page titled "More Cool Features." Here are some of the features that either already use or that I just discovered tonight.

  • OneNote will allow you to capture audio and video directly into a OneNote Page. What surprised me though was when I did it for the first time, OneNote popped up and asked if I wanted to enable Audio Search. This is really cool and I can't wait to test it out. If you record an audio or video note, when your computer is idle, OneNote combined with the Vista Speech Recognition Engine will search and index the audio so it can be searched later using text. This is so cool! As you can see in the image below, it supports Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean and Spanish. I've written before about how well the Vista Speech Recognition Engine works, so I expect this to work very well. When is someone going to make a little recording device that will integrate with OneNote for audio notes? OR . . . Maybe they already have?!? With OneNote Mobile you can record audio notes on your Windows Mobile device, so I wonder if those notes get imported and indexed? I'll report back if they do! 

Video recording started: 8:02 PM Sunday, January 13, 2008



  • Sometimes while looking at a web page, I'll want to save the page. "Save As . . ." Doesn't always work if the page is dynamic, such as a page of flight information. In Internet Explorer (if you have OneNote) there is a new button "Send to OneNote" that when you press it will send the page to OneNote. Even if the airline changes the page five minutes later, you'll still have it captured, complete with working links.
  • Something that I just discovered tonight is really cool. If you copy an image into OneNote 2007, and then right click and select, "Copy Text from Picture", then "Paste," OneNote will magically extract the text from the image using Optical Character Recognition. I tried it on half a dozen images on my computer and except for one it captured the text perfectly. The OneNote documentation says that you can photograph business cards with your Windows Mobile Device from within OneNote Mobile, sync them to the computer and then extract the text into your notes. I'll try that later when I can turn my phone back on. It turns out that whether you extract the text or not, OneNote automatically makes any text it finds in an image searchable. Neat! 




  • Let's say I'm taking notes and need to do some quick math. I just type the equation, like 394 / 9 = 43.7778 and as soon as I type the Equals sign and hit the space bar, OneNote fills in the answer.
  • Suppose someone sends me a PowerPoint, a Word Doc or even a PDF. I can insert the document into OneNote as a printout. When OneNote was installed on my computer, I magically got a new printer called "Send to OneNote 2007" Now anything that can be printed can be sent to OneNote as an image and then edited, drawn on or noted. I took a PDF that someone sent it to me and from within Adobe Acrobat I clicked File/Print/Send to OneNote 2007. It was a big PDF, so it took a minute, but then it appeared in OneNote. This brings me to the next trick . . . 
  • I took the PDF that was converted to OneNote, and then from within OneNote I clicked File/Print/Send to Microsoft Office Word. Now I had the PDF, converted back to an editable Word Document, which it turns out was about a 40% smaller file than the original PDF. 


The last thing I'll mention really isn't a OneNote feature, but I used to do this post. I wanted to snip a piece of the screen showing the Audio Search Dialog box, so I used a neat little tool that comes with Vista called Snipping Tool. I use it so much that it has a permanent place on my taskbar. You start the little app, and then using the mouse to select a box around anything on your screen. You can then save it as an image, print it, or copy it to the clipboard for pasting into some other Windows application. I use it all the time.


It took me awhile to get in the habit of using OneNote, but now it's becoming one of my most used applications. Give it a try if you haven't discovered it yourself.

January 14, 2008 | Permalink


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» OneNote Blog round up - January 2008 from Daniel Escapa's OneNote Blog
Another set of feedback from Mike that I wanted to share with everyone (if people get tried of this please [Read More]

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» OneNote Blog round up - January 2008 from Noticias externas
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Another cool feature of OneNote is that it automagically syncs...

So I put all my notebooks on my server, and my workstations and laptops all sync to the server. Any time I make a change off-line, as soon as I'm back on the network, onenote re-syncs.

Posted by: Jack Poller | Jan 14, 2008 12:57:11 PM


Thanks for the post. I was amazed when I first saw OneNote in action a few years ago. Using OneNote as your note taking method becomes a very powerful way to record and replay information from a meeting or conference call. OneNote allows you to turn on the "audio record" while you are taking notes during the meeting. When you are finished with the meeting and want to review your notes, OneNote will play back the audio and provide a synchronized pointer to your notes. This is really powerful when you are using a tablet PC and taking notes in OneNote by hand - when you review your notes you hear the synched audio and see where in your notes the audio occurred. It is a great cognitive learning tool leveraging touch (handwriting or keyboard), sound (meeting recording), and sight (the visual notes). Imagine if you had this technology as a college student! Great stuff.

Posted by: Ted Bray | Jan 14, 2008 4:28:26 PM

Yeah, speech in OneNote is pretty cool. But be sure to get a good recording.

But if you have OneNote, don't bother with the Snipping Tool. Just hit Windows-S and whatever you snip goes straight to OneNote.

Posted by: Richard Sprague | Feb 1, 2008 7:01:16 PM

Hi Terry

If you and your readers would like get tips and tricks on how to use OneNote and network with other OneNote fans, come and join the world's one and only community site dedicated to all things OneNote.


Posted by: Marcus | Mar 12, 2009 1:57:19 PM