A start-up guide to OneNote

Since 2003, OneNote has been available to many Office users as part of their Office suites or subscriptions. It features free-form note-taking and multiuser collaboration, plus it’s fairly straightforward and user-friendly, so why not give it a try?

What is OneNote?

OneNote is a place to keep notes of all kinds and serves as a digital scrapbook of sorts.

It provides the feel of pen to paper, with the ability to type, write, and draw as you desire.  Use the app for taking notes, recording audio, drawing sketches, scribbling ideas, screen clippings etc. It’s available as both a mobile app and web application that will work on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Chrome devices.

In past centuries, people would keep a Commonplace book which would have snippets of text, sketches and other information they’d copy in. But OneNote offers that, and a lot more.

OneNote was originally intended for students to make notes during lectures and whilst studying.  But Microsoft has also been promoting OneNote’s sharing features to corporate users, with the ability to share and store notebooks on OneDrive.

Feel free to add anything to OneNote.  Whether it’s rough notes for that book you’re working on, travel ideas, or plans for the next outing or adventure, OneNote has it all.

Getting OneNote

OneNote is free from Microsoft and doesn’t expire.  You can download the Windows or Mac desktop software here. Windows 10 version of OneNote comes pre-installed on all editions of Windows 10 and is available as a free download in the Microsoft Store.

There are also mobile apps available for Apple and Android devices. 

Most Office users will already have OneNote desktop software for Windows or Mac.  OneNote comes with Microsoft/Office 365 and is automatically installed.

Starting OneNote

Start OneNote and it’ll create a notebook for you with some pages explaining OneNote basics.

Most people just start using that notebook.  The in-built pages can be deleted or moved once you’ve finished with them.

Of course, you can make your own notebooks from Home | Notebooks | Add Notebook and eventually people do that as they find more ways to use OneNote.

Understanding all the parts of OneNote
All the goodies inside OneNote Pages
OneNote for Windows changes now clarified, sort of
OneNote in Teams and other temporary changes
OneNote for Windows changes now clarified, sort of