OneNote LogoMicrosoft’s OneNote is the note taking & productivity tool. It works on most devices and all – fully featured – versions are free to both download and use; no licence required.

It can not only help you free-up space in your brain, but it is also a perfect base for life planning, list writing and generally making you productive.

I have been using OneNote for over 10 years. My life is indexed within my notebooks and I’d be very lost without the system that I’ve slowly built for myself, which I now use to run my life and my business.

OneNote is really good. Good enough that I’ve dedicated this section of my blog to share some of the things that I’ve learned over the years. I hope that it will help more people discover the power that is available to them for their organisation and planning (amongst all of the other things it is also good for).

OneNote & emoji 🏃💨


OneNote 2016 with emoji in page and section titles

It turns out that OneNote supports emoji in page & section titles (notebook names too).

I had no idea, though I shouldn’t be surprised really; they are just fancy Unicode characters after all.

Anyway, I’ve tested this on the full Windows desktop version, iOS and the online web view. They consistently render as you’d expect for the operating system that you’re viewing them on. Continue reading

OneNote Sync To OneDrive Explained


To get the most power out of OneNote you want to be able to synchronise the contents of your notebooks between devices and possibly share them with other people.

Cloud based save, sync or sharing is a standard requirement for most software these days and OneNote is no exception by offering such a feature.

However, due to the smart way that OneNote handles synchronisation and coupled with the fact that it’s generally called OneDrive sync – OneDrive of course being Microsoft’s cloud storage platform – confusion can ensue when people start to migrate to using OneDrive for notebook sync.

What they tend to do is copy their notebooks from wherever they used to store them and then paste them into their OneDrive folder. This seems pretty sensible because it’s called OneDrive sync, so we just put the files into OneDrive, right?

Logical, yes. Correct, no.

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OneNote Synchronisation Strategy

Setting up OneNote to send screenshots and print-outs to a local notebook

Setting up OneNote to send screenshots and print-outs to a local (non-cloud) notebook

OneNote does some clever things under the hood to provide you with pain-free multi-user synchronisation across your devices.

However, a common complaint is that it can be slow to update if the notebook has lots of large embedded PDFs or files.

This is pretty understandable if you take a minute to think about it. Adding a lot of new class notes or handouts and then syncing them over dodgy WiFi (along with the rest of your class) is going to be slow; there’s a lot to update.

That said, I concede that you just want your technology to work, right? So, a good workaround is to be a bit more careful with how you organise your information.

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Hiding Text with OneNote

An entire section of text hidden using the collapse feature

An entire section of text hidden using the collapse feature. Note the small arrow/handle at the top left. Also note the little [+] which can be used to reveal the hidden text.

An often overlooked feature in OneNote is the ability to collapse and expand hierarchical text.

This allows you to free up valuable page space by hiding content that you don’t need to always see.

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