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Microsoft OneNote for beginners: Everything you need to know

Derek Walter | Feb. 23, 2015
Microsoft’s purple paper eater may just help restore your sanity when you’re fighting digital clutter.

You can share a notebook with others: Head to File > Share > Invite People  in the notebook you wish to share.

Got it? Good. Now let's explore the differences between the various versions of OneNote.

Want the full OneNote? Get it on Windows
While OneNote apps are all slick and supported on numerous platforms, the most full-featured version of Microsoft's note-taking app is--naturally--found on Windows, where all once-premium features are now free in OneNote 2013.

Likewise, OneNote's closest physical companion is Microsoft's own Surface Pro 3. You can click the top button on the tablet's bundled digital stylus to wake the device, automatically fire up a new note, and start inking away. Users with touchscreen devices can write notes with a stylus or finger. An entire tab in OneNote's Ribbon menu is devoted toward inking tools, including highlight, circle, or digitize options.

For example, I've clipped map screenshots and used OneNote to draw specific instructions on them. 

Other little tricks that set OneNote apart from the other tools in Office. For example, there's a clever Ink to Math tool that lets you hand-write an equation, and OneNote will convert it to text. You can also record a lecture or meeting--throw it in a shared note for friends who slept through it.

Another interesting feature is the ability to embed other Office files within OneNote. You could, for example, create a miniature Excel spreadsheet and edit it directly within OneNote. It's probably not a use case you'll need every day, but hey, it's there if you need it.

You can also quickly toggle between personal and enterprise accounts. OneNote will keep both synced up, yet separate. It's pretty useful for grabbing something from your personal account while on a work machine.

If you're one of the few and proud rocking a Windows Phone, OneNote comes pre-installed. Windows Phone users can also grab the sublime Office Lens, OneNote's sister app. Office Lens lets you take a picture of that whiteboard session, business card, or anything else and save it directly to OneNote. Text inside the pictures can even be automatically converted to editable Word or Powerpoint files. (The iOS and Windows Store OneNote apps have similar functionality baked into their camera capabilities.)

A less robust version for Mac
Earlier this year Microsoft released OneNote for Mac, bringing it to the OS X desktop for the first time. The interface is extremely similar to the Windows version's, but there are fewer tabs in the ribbon across the top--which unfortunately means fewer features.

The deeper integration with Office and the ability to sign in with multiple accounts, for instance, is found only on the Windows variant. IA web app for Chromebooks

 

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