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How to use OneNote: step-by-step guide for beginners to get started

how to use OneNote

Outlines how to use OneNote, with step-by-step guides for beginners to get started in creating notes and notebooks, customizing them, syncing and grouping.

Microsoft OneNote is a note taking application that exists for Windows as well as an app for iOS and Android. In this practical guide, we give you tips for getting started with OneNote.

OneNote is a free notebook program from Microsoft. Up until the 2016 version, the application was also integrated into Microsoft Office, but development for this was discontinued. Instead, a new OneNote app for Windows 10 was further developed, which is free and optimized for mobile devices.

OneNote is a type of digital notepad and is your digital alternative to notebooks, bound calendars and a mess of paper. In addition to the implementation of e-mails, websites and videos, the scope of functions also includes sketches or handwritten notes. You can save your digital notebook in the cloud or share it directly with friends or colleagues in order to work together on content. OneNote is part of the Microsoft Office software suite. The program is available as an app and can be downloaded free of charge or as a premium paid version.

You can do the following with it:

  • You can create as many notebooks as you want, which are divided into individual pages and sections.
  • Each notebook is an infinitely large page on which items can be arranged.
  • Text, drawings, images, audio and markings can be inserted into notes.
  • For example, you can create shopping lists, task lists, schedules or diagrams.
  • OneNote syncs the notebooks across platforms to all of your devices.
  • Saving web pages with Microsoft Edge also works.

Basic steps to get started in OneNote

  1. To use the new OneNote app for Windows 10, you need to sign in with your Microsoft account. The first time it is started, it will automatically create a new notebook.
  2. If you would like to create another notebook, select the name of the selected notebook at the top left and then select “Add notebook”.
  3. With the new OneNote app, everything is automatically saved on OneDrive.
  4. The screen is divided into a left area, in which the desired page can be selected, and a right area, in which the notebook page and its contents are displayed.
  5. You can add as much content as you want on the blank notebook page. To enter text, click where you want to and start typing. You can copy and paste images, videos, PDFs and many other programs, or add them using drag and drop . The various elements can then be moved anywhere on the pin board.
  6. Each notebook you create can be divided into several sections. Each section then contains the individual pages of a notebook. In addition, you can subordinate one page to another, or create a group of several sections. 
  7. To add a new section, all you have to do is select the “Add Section” button at the bottom left. To create a new page in the selected section, select “Add page” next to it. Pages can be copied or moved to a different section or even a different notebook at a later time.
  8. In addition, each side is infinitely large. So you can add as much content as you want both to the right and to the bottom.
  9. You can also add as many notebooks, sections, and pages as you want.
  10. Note: This description applies to the OneNote App for Windows 10.

How to create a notebook in OneNote

  1. After opening OneNote, sign in to your Microsoft account so that your notes can be synced across your devices. Then click on the button of the currently opened notebook at the top left and then on the entry ” Add notebook “.
  2. Name the new notebook and click the ” Create Notebook ” button .
  3. Do you want the notebook to change , click again on the button in the top left and select the desired notebook .
  4. To delete a notebook, right-click on it and select the entry ” Close notebook “.

How to take notes

  1. To open a text box, click anywhere on the page and start typing. You can create multiple text boxes on a page and drag them anywhere you want.
  2. Click in a text field to format the text in it however you want .
  3. You can add a new section by clicking on the plus at the top next to the colored tab. Sections are like chapters and are used to connect notes on a specific topic.

Customize page properties

Similar to the analog notebooks, you can make different presets for the pages of your OneNote notebook, such as borders, lines or boxes and colors. So you don’t have to go without lined paper for your handwritten notes. A newly created page in OneNote is basically white and has no hard and fast limits. This can be useful for gathering information and summaries, but it can be difficult once it comes to printing.

To set the paper size of your OneNote pages, select the ” View ” tab and then the icon titled ” Paper Size “.

The change of the paper color or style is located under ” View ” right next to it and is labeled with ” Page Color “.

Sync notebooks

OneNote allows you to edit your content across multiple devices – both as a desktop program and as an app. All changes are automatically synchronized so that you always have the latest version available.

You can tell that an automatic synchronization is running by the green loading symbol in the lower left corner of your notebook icon. When all changes are saved online, it disappears again. In addition to the automatic backup, you can also perform a “forced synchronization” to be really sure.

To do this, right- click the notebook and then click ” Sync this notebook now “. Or press the key combination [Shift] + [F9] .

You can also right-click in your notebook and select ” Notebook synchronization status ” to call up the status of all notebooks and synchronize all of them if necessary .

Create Section Groups

With the help of so-called section groups, it is possible within OneNote to map a more complex folder structure. If you’ve made too many sections, you can group them together to make your notebook more organized.

1. First click with the right mouse button in your notebook, and then “on New section group .”
2. Right-click on the new section group to ” rename ” it.
3. Finally tighten all the sections you this assign group want by dragging and dropping into it .

Password Protection

In addition to the ability to share your notebooks, you can also protect certain content with a password. In this way, you can restrict the visibility for other users or employees despite approval. Here, however, it is only possible to regulate access for entire sections and not just individual pages.

1. Right click on the section that you want to protect. ” This section protected by password Select”. The ” Password protection ” column then opens .
2. Now click on ” Set password “.
3. Finally, you have to enter your password twice . Close the window with ” Ok “. Your section is now password protected.

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