Software Quality

October 16, 2014

Why I love Microsoft OneNote – it helps me be more effective

Filed under: Uncategorized — David Allen @ 12:16 pm

Why I love Microsoft OneNote

1. It works well for a person on the go (mobile traveler or a Work-From-Home employee)

I can take it on my laptop, access lots of info while offline (perhaps on the plane or in a restaurant without WiFi), and then when I am connected to my network, it synchs up reliably and quickly, without drama.

2. It has quick and effective search tools

3. It works well for taking notes during a meeting.

You can easily flag things that need attention elsewhere later without losing your engagement from the meeting. I  find it very annoying when others are taking notes and are so distracted by their program (Word, Excel, whatever) that they become disengaged from the conversation. Though you can still be distracted while using OneNote, I find it is the easiest program so far for taking notes and doing research during a meeting with the least amount of distraction penalty.

4. It has ways to easily organize large amounts of data (notebooks, section groups, sections, pages, sub-pages)

5. It runs on all my platforms (PC at work, PC at home, iPhone)

I especially enjoy being able to get o OneNote on my iPhone.

And here are some of my favorite features

Below is a list of my favorite OneNote 2013 features. There are many more, features but I didn’t waste the space on obvious features. I listed things you might not notice when you first start using it. The list is concise, so if you don’t see the value, play with the feature a bit or lookup the feature in Online Help for more details.

Quick Access Toolbar

Back, Dock to Desktop


Export page/section/notebook to Word, PDF, …

Send page to E-Mail, Word, Blog

Go to

and you will see a version of this page that I posted from OneNote.


Tags – WAY more than just visual indicators.

Tag something

Try “Find Tags”

Search results span entire notebook

Example use:

I take notes in OneNote for every meeting.

I mark any to-do items with the To Do tag.

Later, when I have quiet time,

I Find Tags

Click each To Do tag, which navigates to the item

Then I copy the item to my main worklist, where I can prioritize it.

If I were to switch over to my main task list during a meeting, it distracts me from reading the agenda and taking notes. I know, I started out that way.

Shortcut to “Email Page”



Or just type something and press the “tab” key and it will make a table.

Screen Clipping

Or use the Send-To-OneNote tool (shortcut: Windows Key – S)

Send to a page, then annotate it as desired.



’nuff said


Recent Edits

Did you note something recently but can’t even remember a search term or the search term is too prevalent to be useful?


Recycle Bin



Dock to Desktop

Cool for taking notes about some other application you have open.

Restore with one click

How can I keep a LOT of data well-organized?

Otherwise, it becomes a jumbled mess  

  1. Learn the basic data containers and rearrange stuff as you learn more. The basic data containers are
    1. Notebook
    2. Section Group
    3. Section
    4. Page
    5. Subpage
  2. You can easily move pages and sections around. Right-click on a page and check out the options.

Example of how well this tool scales:

If you had 10 notebooks, each with 10 section groups, each with 10 section groups, each with 20 pages, each with 10 subpages, you would have 200,000 pages of information.

In my role, I have personal agendas for 2 subteams, a dozen groups, 30 people, and a couple dozen projects.

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