In short it is Microsoft OneNote, which has been part of every Office suite since 2010. This means that on most desktops OneNote is available but sadly most people don’t even know that it even exists. Hopefully by the end of this post you’ll not only understand what OneNote is but you’ll also find that it can help you do your job better.

Most people, personally and at work, write stuff down. Some use scrap pieces of paper, others Postit notes, others a notebook but I’d bet that if you look around your desk you’ll find a multitude of things written down in multiple locations. Writing stuff down is only half the battle, how you actually find it when you need it again days, weeks, months and even years after the fact? Most people would struggle to find something even a few hours after they wrote it down.

The problem with the stuff you write down is that it is all pretty ad hoc. Something to remember here, a to do list over there, a web site location somewhere else. That’s why writing is great for ad hoc information because it is quick and easy. However, what would you say if I told you that Microsoft OneNote can accomplish much the same function? However, what would you also say if I told you that everything you insert in OneNote is searchable? Yep, just type what you are after into the search box and it will search across everyone OneNote notebook you have?

i am getting ahead of myself here so let’s look at exactly what OneNote is. In essence it allows you to create digital notebooks. Into these notebooks you can place text, pictures, text, handwriting, voice recording, links, files and more.


You can create as many notebooks as you want. One per meeting, customer, project and so on. Each notebook contains a number of sections across the top of the page. Within each of these sections are a number of pages. You can continue to add as many sections and pages as you want to help organize your information.


Now to find what you have entered all you need to do is use the the search box in the top right and you’ll see results from across all your notebooks.

Now with so many people using mobile devices like phone and tablets you might ask how can you use OneNote on non Microsoft platforms like iOS and Android? Have no fear there as OneNote is available on just about every device platform and in most cases for free.


There is also a free version that runs on the new Windows 8 interface. Simply go to the Windows 8 app store and search for OneNote.


The dedicated Windows 8 app has a unique feature that being the radial menu as shown above. This menu operates like a dial and is intelligent enough to surface common commands you use over time. On a tablet this interface just has to be seen to be believed!

So you have OneNote on your desktop and on all your devices but what if I told you can access and update all your notebooks on every device? What if I told you that you can share OneNote notebooks between all members of your team across all their devices? You’d be impressed right? Well you certainly should be, because you can.

Imagine how much easier it would be to share and collaborate on information using a shared digital notebook rather than relying on traditional email chains. Imagine how much easier it would be for anyone in your team to find the information they need.

If you are not yet using OneNote there is very good chance that your kids are at school. For more information about the benefits OneNote generates in education read:

Teaching with OneNote: How students benefit

If you’d like some more training on OneNote Microsoft has a free video Jumpstart course available that is very worthwhile.

OneNote has so many more features that I could go on forever but I certainly hope that after reading this far you are itching to get give it a try. If you don’t already have OneNote on you desktop then look for some of the free versions in the various app stores, otherwise it maybe time to upgrade your version of Office so you can get OneNote and all the goodness that latest versions of Office provide.

I am confident that once you start using using OneNote you’ll find like me, that you can’t live without it.