Category Archives: OneNote

Add meaning to your notes using OneNote Tags

The need

OneNote is used to capture notes, thoughts, ideas and so on. You can either type things or scribble things using a stylus (on touch based tablet devices).

OneNote helps you mark the notes in a meaningful way. It provides many small icons called Tags. You can also create your own tags.. Let us explore how this simple feature can improve your work dramatically.

OneNote tags

Continue reading Add meaning to your notes using OneNote Tags

OneNote: It is free, but what is it?

I am very happy to see that OneNote is now free across all platforms. Some features do require payment. But most of it is absolutely free… including the full featured Windows Desktop version.

This is a great news. As a result, I am starting a mini-series of articles dedicated to this brilliant product – which is trying to get noticed for the last 11 years!

Yes, it was launched in 2003. It has evolved consistently over the years and is now a complete platform because the programmability is also enhanced using the OneNote API across all platforms.


Continue reading OneNote: It is free, but what is it?

How to search scanned documents with OneNote OCR

The Problem

Legal documents are archived by scanning. Scanned documents just contain an image for each page. Therefor it is impossible to search for specific text.

That means you have to spend lot of time groping in the dark trying to find a small paragraph in long documents.

It is possible to make searchable PDFs using Adobe Acrobat as well as many other third party applications. However, most documents are usually scanned as just standard images.

Don’t worry. There is an solution available. In fact you may have had the solution on your PC for upto 10 years.. but you may not have known it.

The solution is OneNote OCR – a part of Microsoft Office since 2007.

How to check if you have OneNote?

Press Windows key with R key. Run dialog will open.

Type onenote and press Enter.

It it is installed it will open.

By the way, this method can be used to run other Office tools and other Windows applications as well. Here are the exact phrases winword, excel, powerpnt, outlook, mspub, paint, …

Using OneNote to search a scanned document

Open the PDF file containing the scan


Choose File – Print – Send to OneNote (The version number ).
Choose the desired notebook. For testing purpose just choose the current notebook.

It will print the pages to a new page in OneNote. Each page from the scanned document will be one image in the OneNote page.

Now press Ctrl F to go to Find on Page

search for text inside scanned documents with OneNote OCR

Type search text and see what happens…

OneNote highlights the words which start with the characters you are searching for. This is very helpful in finding various word forms. The up and down arrows allow you to navigate instances of search results quickly. Of course, you can also scroll manually and check visually.

Want the text?

Of course you will want it sooner or later. So don’t worry. That is also available.

Right click on any page image and choose if you want it from that page or all pages (thoughtful feature… is it not? That is called User Focus).

Now you can paste it anywhere.

Of course the recognition depends upon scan quality.

Practical considerations

  • The page must be in vertical layout
  • Slanted text is difficult to recognize so rotate the image as required
  • OCR is available in multiple languages, depending upon which Office language packs are installed.
  • In case of multi lingual text, you can choose the OCR language by right clicking on the image
  • Handwriting can also be recognized if it is clear and legible. Like text, handwriting also needs to be horizontal. Tilted handwriting is more difficult to recognize

Manage business contacts with OneNote and OneDrive

Practical Problem

There are many methods available for managing contacts and visiting cards. Using a card scanner and using OCR works well. But most methods fail due to lack of discipline.

Here is what you can do. By the way, this can work for you as a person or the entire organization.

Use OneNote

    1. Create a new notebook using OneNote. DO NOT make a local notebook.
    2. Store it into OneDrive or SharePoint. This way you can access it from any mobile or pc anywhere. Name it Contacts. Create sections like personal, business, friends, recruitment, customers, etc.
    3. Everyday, take photos of new visiting cards which you received. Just use any simple mobile camera. Make sure the photos are sharp. The resolution does not matter. Even 2 Megapixel camera will be fine.
    4. Import the images into OneNote and put them in the correct business contacts as scanned image
    5. Now you can search for any text in that notebook. CTRL F – find , type any text. Choose the area to search – section, this notebook or multiple notebooks.image
    6. OneNote can search for text automatically. The OCR (optical character recognition) software is built-in to OneNote. It also supports multiple languages.image
    7. If you want the full text from a visiting card, right click and choose Copy Text from Picture and paste it into any other place.image
    8. This way you can create a simple but effective contact management system!

Adding photos directly with OneNote on Mobile

OneNote is available for free on Windows Phone, Android and iOS. Using OneNote mobile makes it even more easier. Just open the notebook – Insert Picture – take a photo of the visiting cards. That’s it.

Working in a team

Share the OneNote notebook with your team members. Create a section for each person and ask them to add photos directly.

Adding the backlog

Remember that you don’t need to take the photos separately for each visiting card. You can arrange multiple cards on a table and take a photo. This way you can add all your existing cards quickly to OneNote. Make sure you add all the past cards.

Show Off Demo: OneNote and Outlook

This is a new type of article. Impress your colleagues, boss, spouses, partners, soul mates, children by showing this impressive demo! I show you the steps and tell you what to speak Smile

Before you start this demo, check the requirements

Office 2010 or Office 2013

OneNote and Outlook installed.

Outlook must have at least one mailbox configured.

Demo: Meeting notes

What you have to do is in black color. What you have to say is in blue color.

  • Open Outlook calendar
  • Click on any meeting
  • How will you take notes for this meeting? Open a blank Word document and type meeting details all over again? Obviously not!
  • Right click on the meeting, choose Meeting Notes
  • If it asks what type of notes, Choose


  • Now Outlook will ask you to choose the notebook in OneNote. Choose any one.


  • A new page will be created with meeting name.


  • Unlike Word, all the meeting details are automatically added. Did you expect that?
  • Now type some random notes. One sentence should be “Action Point Demo”
  • Let us say this is an action point which must be completed by tomorrow.
  • Right click in that sentence and choose Outlook tasks – Tomorrow

    OneNote Task demo

  • Now go to Outlook and open Tasks folder. Select Tasks. Not Follow up.
  • Point to the task which was automatically created by OneNote.


  • See – even before I finish the meeting, I already know my tasks.
  • Pause for people to appreciate the integration
  • Now when I mark this task as complete (mark the task as complete in Outlook) what do you expect?
  • Your audience will say something like, the OneNote task should be updated
  • DO NOT go to OneNote yet.
  • This is an amazing example of how these OneNote and Outlook integrate with each other. Usually we would have received the Minutes of Meetings a day later and I would have forgotten to execute my action point on time. What happens then? Delays and fire fighting! Sounds familiar?
  • One more thing – this was my own task. But what if I wanted to delegate task to someone? No problem, we could have chosen Custom task and Assigned it to someone else. That way I can still monitor the task and check for delays.
  • Wait for some response from the audience
  • Basically you have to spend at least 20 seconds before you return to OneNote
  • Now go to OneNote and notice that the Task is already marked as complete


  • That is OneNote for you. Use it next time you are in a meeting. 

    Practice this few times to perfect the demo.

    Cheat sheet

    Mark as task in OneNote – it reflects IMMEDIATELY in Outlook task folder.

    The catch is – when you mark it as complete in Outlook, it takes around 20 seconds to refresh the OneNote task status. That is why you have to mark it as complete in Outlook and kill some time by talking some relevant stuff before you return to OneNote.

    If you return to OneNote too soon, the task will not be shown as complete and the demo will fall flat Sad smile



10 reasons to use OneNote

OneNote logo

Why use OneNote?

  • OneNote allows you to create many organizer diaries. Each diary can have many sections (topics) and any number of pages.
  • You can type anywhere, draw anywhere. No saving required.
  • Record audio or video while taking notes. Notes are auto-linked to the audio/video.
  • Amazing, multi-lingual OCR (optical character recognition) even for scanned documents
  • Works in shared mode with SharePoint (or SkyDrive)
  • Live, automatic updated on a single shared page while taking notes in a meeting
  • Links automatically to web pages, Word paragraphs or PowerPoint slides while taking notes
  • Synchronizes across devices
  • Available for free on Android, iOS and Windows platform
  • Tags allow notes to have more meaning

Usage scenarios

Many scenarios listed here. Just scroll. Look at the titles.
If you like it, then read it. Else, skip it.

How many notebooks to make?

  1. Analyze your work. Divide it into broad areas. Each area needs a separate notebook
    1. HR example: You handle Recruitments and Reviews. So make two notebooks to start with. Recruitments and Reviews. Recruitment notebook will have one Section for each department you work with. Each page will contain one position to be filled.
      Reviews notebook will also contain sections for each department. For each employee, create a new page in the respective department.
    2. Sales example: You handle sales for 5 large customers and 15 small customers.
      Create one notebook for each large customer. Create one notebook for small customers. Each customer gets a section. Every activity you do with them becomes a page
    3. CEO example: Create separate notebook for key strategic initiatives. Another one for research. One for competitor information. One for Shareholders. One for key partners (distributors, suppliers)

How to manage meeting notes?

  1. If you have the meeting in Outlook calendar, right click on the meeting and choose Meeting Notes. OneNote will show you all your notebooks. Choose which notebooks the meeting should go into. Now a new page will be created. That page contains all the meeting details and link to the meeting item.
  2. If it is an important meeting, take permission from all attendees and start recording – Insert – Record Audio.
  3. Type few, important notes. These will be linked to the audio automatically.
  4. If the meeting contains visual information, like brainstorming, whiteboard usage, physical objects, artwork, etc., then use Insert Video and adjust the webcam to capture the visual activity (and audio).
  5. If something confidential is being discussed, you can pause the recording.
  6. Audio recording is very lightweight. 10 min audio is usually just 1 mb in size.

Managing To Do items and Tasks

  1. While taking notes, mark action items as TO DO from Home – Tags
  2. If it has a deadline, then choose Outlook Task – and select the deadline. If you want more details – then choose Custom Task
  3. Delegate work while taking notes by choosing Outlook Task – Custom and Assign Task – specify name of the person
  4. This way, before you leave the meeting the work is already created and is easy to monitor as well as execute!

Easy way to manage visiting cards

  1. Create a new notebook called Contacts
  2. Whenever you get cards, take a photo using a simple mobile camera and put all images in that notebook
  3. You can use sections for customers, events, occasions, etc.
  4. You can now search for any name automatically
  5. You can right click on a card and choose Copy Text From Picture and paste it anywhere.

Checklists and Standard Operating Procedures

  1. Create a list of things. Add the To Do tag to all the items. Now it is a checklist.
  2. Now choose Insert – Page Templates – Separate window will open on right side showing all existing templates. At the bottom, choose the option Save current page as a template, give it a name
  3. Next time you want the same checklist, go to Insert – Page Templates – My templates – choose the template

Working with a team on a common project

  1. Create a new notebook on SharePoint. It will automatically create a local copy of the notebook as well.
  2. Send a link to that notebook to your team
  3. Ask them to go to the web page and choose Connect to OneNote
  4. Now let everyone keep typing everything related to the project in that notebook
  5. This works even when you are offline
  6. When there is internet connectivity, OneNote automatically synchronizes all changes with each other
  7. This way, you eliminate the need for sending hundreds of mails with CCs to each other!

Annotating artwork received in PDF files

  1. Usually we use Print Screen to capture the image, annotate in Paintbrush (or similar editor) and send the changes back
  2. Now, open the PDF, choose File – Print – choose the printer Send to OneNote
  3. It will ask you which notebook to print to
  4. The document will become images in the new OneNote page
  5. Open the Drawing tab in OneNote and use pen, highlighter, text to annotate the artwork
  6. When you finish, choose File – Export (or Save As) choose PDF format and send the file to the agency

Take photo notes while reading a book

  1. Take photo of important paragraphs using mobile camera
  2. Same thing works with magazines, newspaper articles, any printed matter
  3. Put photos in OneNote. Add additional notes if required.
  4. Very good idea to capture PR coverage, Competitor advertisements, useful snippets, ideas for writing… anything.

Different style of writing used here

In this article, I tried a different approach. Only Text, quick and easy steps, no graphics.

Do you like the style? Take few seconds to answer this poll. This will help me write more effective articles. Thank You!

What is OneNote? Spend 4 min to find out!


Writing this video from rooftop restaurant in HCMC, Vietnam… amazing view of the bustling city. What is OneNote? Do you know the answer?

panorama rooftop - writing what is onenote article

What is OneNote?

It is part of Office since 2003 . Till version 2007 it was a part of Office Professional edition. So many users never noticed it. But since Office 2010 it is part of standard Office.
Unfortunately, even today (Jan 2017) people don’t know What is OneNote.

OneNote joke

In every session I conduct, I always take an instant poll – how many of you use OneNote.

Usually only ONE hand goes up. Then I say “that is why Microsoft chose the brand name ONEnote!”

But trust me, after a short demo, everyone wants to use it immediately.  Amazing product – when you know it!

View this popular video

This video, created by me, was posted by MS New Zealand some time back. Now it has 150,000+ views. It is not a large number for YouTube popularity. But considering that OneNote is a fairly unknown product, it is a very encouraging sign.

Have a look and you will understand What is OneNote.
More importantly, you will think “why did I not know this earlier!”

The amazingly ad-hoc yet powerful tool : OneNote

This video was created for MS New Zealand in 2011. During those days, I was just learning the art of video creation. Therefore, the video is not as refined as I would want it to be. However, the content is very popular. 123,000+ views as on Jan 2017. It covers OneNote 2010. However all the features are still available.

Video Recap

  1. OneNote is used for storing anything which is not yet a formal document
  2. Use it for taking notes while studying, researching or during meetings
  3. It integrates very well with Outlook. Action points noted in OneNote should be converted to Outlook Tasks.
  4. Use OneNote tags to categorize your notes. Finding tags across notebooks is a great feature.
  5. Do NOT create a single new notebook and stuff everything into it. Create as many empty notebooks as you need, based upon your work.

In the next article, I will discuss How to start using OneNote