5 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Microsoft OneNote

It occurred to me that most people I meet do not even know what Microsoft OneNote is or does. Most people know Outlook, Word and Excel. Some know Access or Visio. But never ever do I hear someone who is enthousiastic about OneNote and I just don’t get it.

I LOVE ONENOTE! And I will tell you why! In my profession as a consultant I need to gather data all the time. At meetings, when I’m on the phone, during a webinar, at a training course and/or especially when I’m at a customer site. I take notes and capture as much data as possible in every way possible. I make notes, write minutes, take pictures, make videos, write on whiteboards or flipovers… And I do it all with OneNote.

Here are five awesome things I bet you probably did not know about OneNote!

It’s completely free!

Yes, it comes with the whole Office suite, but even when you don’t have Microsoft Office, you can still download OneNote for free here. And not only for Windows, but also for Windows Phone, Mac, iOS, Android and Amazon Kindle.

Using Windows 8.1 or Windows 10? Don’t bother! OneNote comes pre-installed!

It’s a calculator!

The first thing you learn to do in OneNote is using OneNote for taking notes. Just create a new Notebook (or open an existing one), create a section (or… well, you get it), create a page and start typing. Not much to it.

But did you know OneNote is also a calculator? Just type “1 + 2 + 3 =” and press the spacebar. OneNote will automatically come up with the answer (6). More supported arithmetic operators are – (minus), *, x or X (multiplication), / (division), % (percent), ^ (exponentiation) and ! (factorial computation). It even supports functions like SQRT (square root), ABS (absolute), SIN (sinus), COS (cosinus), TAN (tangent), PI (the number PI), etc.! You can find all the supported functions and operators here.

It’s an audio- and recorder!


Want to record what you hear, or even what you see? OneNote makes it possible by simply pressing Record Audio or Record Video button. A recording starts as soon as OneNote places a media icon on the page.

Even more amazing: if you select the See Playback button on the Audio & Video tab, OneNote will position the cursor within any notes that you took during the recording! For example, if you’re recording an interview and you took notes three minutes into the clip, OneNote will jump to that exact part of your notes whenever you play back the clip and it reaches the two minute mark. This is immensely useful for retaining context between a recorded event and any reactions, thoughts, and ideas that you had at any particular moment during that event!

It’s just a shortcut away!

Even when OneNote is not active, push Windows-key + N to send something to OneNote. This might be a section on your current screen, a new note or (when you’re in another Microsoft Office application) the content of the file you’re working on.


It’s incredible with Outlook!

OneNote is tightly integrated with Outlook. You can send an email from Outlook to OneNote, and you can email notebook pages directly from OneNote. This is particularly useful when you schedule a meeting. You can send a meeting agenda as a shared notebook to all participants. If you’re the meeting organizer, any changes you make to the meeting request will be reflected in OneNote.

You can also create tasks in OneNote that are automatically added to your Outlook tasks, or insert Outlook meeting details into notes from that meeting and when you’re done taking notes you can send you’re notes as an e-mail to all attendees of the meeting with just one click on the Email Page button!

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