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The Free App That Will Change the Way You Work


April 18, 2018 | Elliott Carter | 4 Minute Read

Elliott Carter


The most popular question I hear day by day is “So, what is OneNote?” Well, for starters, it’s a free to download program as well as being a part of the Office suite. Yeah, it’s that purple one you’ve never clicked on. In my opinion it’s the master tool for organisation, collaboration and doodling.

We’ve all been there; To-Do lists noted down on paper that get accidently binned or left around. Then, when you most need them, are they there? No of course not…. Or, when you’re working on a project with peers do you find yourself reading through endless trails of emails trying to find out what everyone is working on? These are just simple examples of issues OneNote can help fix.

“I love being able to email an entire page from a notebook to someone by simply clicking on one button.”

The basics

To give a brief overview, OneNote works by creating “Notebooks”. From these, you can create “Sections”, and in those Sections you can create “Pages” and “Subpages”….and this process can go on and on. This layout feature is great for projects: for example, you can create pages for a particular client, subpages for departments, and project briefs making it easily distinguishable and available to all. Sounds simple, right?

What makes OneNote stand out from other similar tools is its supreme ability to easily collaborate with others. Simply invite them, set their permission level and there you have it. Whether they edit online or locally, their additions / changes will be automatically saved and tagged so you can easily see who has worked on the content. Inhouse, we share multiple Notebooks with peers: from our Marketing Notebook, where we collaborate on new ideas and store useful details, through to our Sales Notebook, where I can grab templates, check To-Do lists or just view essential day to day details.

Favourite features

I have OneNote open every day, fixed on half of my second monitor as it is in constant use. I store all sorts of details in my personal Notebook from useful links to contact details, password clue information through to payment details.


But what does one do with confidential details? Rather brilliantly you can password protect sections to keep those all important details safe. Another thing I love and use all the time is the set of icons you can add. From Stars to ‘Mark importance’, from Exclamation Marks to show ‘critical items’. One I use often is the to-do tag where you can click on it and mark it as complete – this is great for organising an event: ticking off people when they have submitted details for menu choices/ organising taxis through to table arrangements and marking critical tasks. It has made my life so much easier and I couldn’t imagine organising it any other way.

I constantly find myself moving from device to device, like most people, I’m sure. My main device is my Surface Pro 3 but I do use my iPad or iPhone constantly, and with the OneNote app available on iOS this means I can pick up and go, yet have my notes available to me. And of course, any changes I make on my other devices sync. By the way – there isn’t actually a “Save” button, as OneNote constantly saves any changes as you make them. It also saves to your OneDrive, so you’re not constantly having to track down where you saved it… similar to Microsoft Sway.

OneNote Clipper is like the Snipping Tool, but on steroids. Instead of just screen clipping it can pull text from the page while keeping the imagery and layout. There are 3 options you can do: whether it be clipping the full page, a region or just the article. I’ve actually done a video on this so check it out to see how it works!

Now that OneNote supports Optical Character Recognition (OCR), this adds two great advantages for me, firstly when I save an image into OneNote the text in the image will automatically be indexed by search (both within OneNote and in SharePoint or OneDrive if I’m saving my data in Office 365) – just look for option “Make Text in Image Searchable”. Secondly if I need that text I can simply select the image and select “Copy Text from Picture”. No more rekeying!

So, how has OneNote changed the way I work?

I’m much more organised than I used to be! Being able to type out my To-Do lists gives me the ability to access them from any device, keeping me organised at all times. Further to this I incorporate icons to allow me to tick off jobs, or mark them as important / priority, which at a glance allows me to prioritise work. OneNote has also helped colleagues see for themselves what I am working on and, on the odd occasion, help me out if they know they can!

Best of all, I don’t have to send out as much email as I can leave notes for people who check the pages periodically and comment if needed. I’ve always found when I attend meetings I can write things quicker than I can type, so using OneNote on my Surface or iPad allows me to use a stylus and instantly jot down notes straight into OneNote – no paper required. Once the meeting is over, I can share my notes with colleagues instantly within the app. In addition, hen at events I can take down contact details and colleagues who have access to the Notebook can instantly grab them and add into our CRM system.

OneNote has so many uses and really has changed the way I work and many others in our office. So go ahead, and try it. Start a checklist, share notes with a colleague and collaborate, and share the #OneNoteLove

Now go ahead and download it, here’s some handy links:
Windows Phone