OneNote 12 Beta 1 released!

Beta 1 of "OneNote 12" (and "Office12") is now available for download for those people who are signed up (you know who you are). This is not a public beta so if you're not already on the beta you are not going to be able to see it. Sorry. If you want to play with pre-release OneNote you'll have another chance in the Spring when we release Beta 2, also called the "preview" release. That release will be much more suitable for people who are not inclined to risk data, crashes, etc. You can register to get the preview here (click "Register Now" - it's at the bottom right of the large picture at top). There's more general Office 12 info at that site too, including an RSS feed.

Now, to people who have Beta 1, hold on to your hats.

As has been mentioned in various blog posts, check out a bunch of new capabilities:
1. Multiple notebooks

2. Shared notebooks (multi-user, online/offline no holds barred rich "wiki-like" experience)
3. Sync notebooks between your multiple machines (same as #2 but with yourself only)
4. Hyperlinks between and into/out of notes

5. Instant search
6. Tables
7. Embedded documents
8. Drag and drop of sections, pages, folders, notebooks

9. All images made searchable and indexed using OCR (if they have text in them) 
10. Print documents to OneNote from any application - and these are indexed and searchable too.
11. New ink model (Lasso tool etc.)
12. D
rawing tools
13. Save as PDF (and "XPS")

14. Live sync of task status and other connections with Outlook2007
15. Extensibility
16. OneNote Mobile!

There are other capabilities in the beta as well - Owen or myself will write about them later.

It's also worth mentioning that this beta is not "feature complete". I've already mentioned a few things that arenโ€™t there (audio/video search, the rest of Outlook integration, WebDAV support for shared notebooks). There is also more stuff which I'm not going to talk about just yet (and it is meaty). Many things are not yet the way we expect them to be in the final release, so don't draw conclusions yet but most definitely give us feedback.

Lastly I'll remind people who are beta testing that this is a very rough build. This early beta has had next to no polish work done on it. It is not "just about done". That would describe the "preview release" next Spring. You are going to have no trouble finding nasty bugs and bad experiences. Please post those bugs to betaplace per the instructions you got as we do need your help! Report crashes and anything else that OneNote (or Office) asks you to report. We're especially interested in problems you have upgrading your notes from 2003 format to 12, as well as problems with inking, and data loss (if any). Where you can, provide your files with the bug report since that makes it WAY easier for us to understand and reproduce your situation. There are known issues in the beta of course (we have a huge stack of bugs on our work list that are not fixed in the beta) but also lots more to discover.

Comments (34)
  1. j says:

    the updates in onenote 12 sound great. but please also include the ability to use equation editor!! currently you can only paste equations produced in word as pictures into onenote, but it would be much nicer if they were included as embedded equation editor items (maybe this will work with word files embedded into onenote???).

    keep up the good work, we’re all excited to see what else will be improved.

  2. Glenn says:


    I applied for testing the one note beta on connect.

    So far, I can`t find a place to download it, so how am I supposed, to report bugs?

    I`m kinda new on MS Connect, so maybe someone can help me out?

    Thanks for understanding,


  3. Andy Lin says:

    Thanks for this. Do we need to re-register for Beta 2, or are we automatically in if we are in the Beta 1 program?

  4. Patrick Schmid says:

    The beta is certainly very popular. My OneNote download has been at 66% since last night. Let’s hope it’ll get there soon

  5. j: Word12 has all-new native equation capability and Equation editor is no longer the way we expect to do equations in office apps. That may end up in Onenote some day but not this go-round.

    Glenn: MS Connect does not run Office beta programs. We have a OneNote 2003 (current version) program going on there so people can submit bugs on the current version.

    Andy: yes, beta 1 people automatcially get beta 2. that registration is for beta 2 as well.

    Paul: WebDAV (and therefore SharePoint) support for shared notebooks will be in beta 2. It had too many kinks for us to feel Ok about releasing it in beta 1. You can try it with UNC shares for now to see what it is like. Same with the other features that ended up getting pulled from beta 2: Audio/video search just missed a check-in window – works fine though. Outlook integration other than task syncing also ran into a last minute glitch.

  6. Patrick Schmid says:

    Chris, I just installed OneNote on both of my machines and I am wondering about shared notebooks:

    Could there be a conflict between Offline File synchronization and OneNote’s own synchronization? In my OneNote 2003 setup, I used Offline Files, now I see OneNote synching things.

    As a general feedback: WOW!! Major congratulations to you and your team! I only played with it so far for a few minutes, but I am totally impressed. I can’t wait to really get to use my tablet tomorrow at work!

  7. Jim says:

    I’m getting the strangest bug trying to install this beta – it will extract all files then tell me it is installing PlanPlus (FranklinCovey software) and do I wish to continue?

    I’ve tried restarting, redownloading beta, etc. I have PlanPlus installed, so I’m sure it is just some cache thing I have to clear out.

    does anyone have any ideas?

  8. Andy Lin says:

    Hmmm, I don’t see the new OneNote Import Printer, and Send to OneNote 2003 no longer works. What should I do?

  9. Andy Lin says:

    Ah, nevermind, I just added the printer manually.

  10. Andy Lin says:

    Hm, I specified my "General" folder, but when I try to print to OneNote it gives me an error saying it can’t find the file. Am I missing something here?

  11. Guys, I am not "beta support guy", so it is best to report these problems through the beta system. The beta support engineers actually track issues and can figure out the causes. I just work here ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. David K says:

    Any news of the rumoured OneNote Mobile ? Could be the best idea Microsoft has had for the Pocket PC in years….

  13. Hermann Klinke says:

    You didn’t mention flags, did you change anything regarding flags? I would like to know wether you have increased or removed the flag limit or did you do any other improvements on flagging.

    The link to register for the preview points to the general office page and I can’t find where to register. Could you please post a direkt link to registering for the preview of OneNote 12.

  14. Jay says:

    I was just reading about testing on Owen’s site, the use of personas. I’m really hoping that you got some students to do Beta testing so they can give you feedback on what works and doesn’t work specifically in this area.

    More specifically, I hope that you have some Beta testers who are taking some serious courses that require extensive diagraming. Stuff you could never do by using a keyboard. I’m thinking engineering, biochemistry, molecular biology, etc. As a pre-med, and now as a medical student, one of the biggest challenges for me is taking notes that make sense when they are highly dependent on visual information. Without making things stand out, all the stuff (reactions, pathways, anatomy, etc.) just becomes information "Where’s Waldo." For me, COLOR is the key. And judging by the packs of 12, 24, 36, etc. colored pens that people sitting around me use, I’m not alone in my need for chromatic variation.

    In the "old" OneNote, I made a custom toolbar just for pen color selection. The goal: color change in an instant. I needed them out and easy to change in the middle of a fast-paced lecture. I had to give up different widths of pens to maximize number of colors.

    I have always hated that I am limited to colors defined in the application and I can’t add my own custom colors. Another gripe: I am limited to 8 pen colors! My daughter’s crayola marker set has 24!

    I understand that not all people who use OneNote would need so many colors, and not all students use Tablets and OneNote. Not yet, anyway. As such, I can see why you might not think that a huge color palette would matter. But think of the potential! I conviced 3 of my classmates that they couldn’t live without a Tablet and OneNote. They aren’t as inclined to come to internet forums and give input. My point is that I am speaking for 3 other people. They all have the same complaint as me. Too hard to change pens, not enough colors!

    So, in sum, I hope you have some STUDENT Beta testers, make sure their note taking is demanding enough that they have to use lots of colors to make sense of everything, so that they can take note of what is useful and what is frustrating, and then you can make it better! I’m sure your local medical school wouldn’t mind you sitting in on a lecture – how about the compliment cascade in immunity, the intrinsic and extrinsic clotting pathways, or even the function of tumor supressor genes so you can see what I mean. I’m sure you can handle that in all your spare time ๐Ÿ˜‰

  15. Jim R says:

    Chris, you mention ‘drawing tools’ as one of the things you haven’t blogged about….as a laptop user of OneNote I really miss the standard drawing and charting tools available in the Office suite but not available in OneNote. It’s harder than it has to be to draw pictures and make a quick chart while taking notes in a meeting – the only work around I’ve found is to switch over to Excel, Word, or Powerpoint to create the quick drawing and then copy and paste it back into OneNote. This just isn’t practical in a meeting. I know, I know – "switch to a tablet." As a corporate user I am limited in the hardware that I can use so unfortunately a tablet isn’t an option available to me right now.

    The create a table on the fly feature is great! That was another basic capability that I’ve missed in the current version. Can’t wait for the production version of 12 to be released so I can get this feature.

    While I’m adding my two cents (sick of me yet?), I have a suggestion on note flags as well. It would be great if you could give us a few more choices around which flags to show on the Notes Summary. Right now my only choice is to turn on/off the unchecked items. I would like to be able to choose which other of the flags I am currently using that I want to show up on the summary. I make extensive use of the flags so showing everything makes the list way too long. It would be good to be able to just choose to see a summary of one type, or a couple types, of flag(s).

    Thanks for continuing to work on this product – it has been a lifesaver for a detailed note taker like me!

  16. Bill Ridmann says:

    Finally! OneNote has Drawing Tools! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  17. Alex says:

    Just wondering if Onenote will ever have the capibility to display all files as side tabs and not just onenote files. For example click on tab finace would display side tabs of not only onenote files but excel and word as well.

    this will be a very very useful feature for me.


  18. Hermann Klinke says:

    I downloaded Office 12 and I am trying to install it and I don’t know whether I should laugh or cry: When I start the setup there are two buttons, "Upgrade" & "Customize". I click on "Customize" where I can customize everything, but I can’t go back to the menu to click "Upgrade" and there is no other upgrade or install button. So I can customize everything but I can’t actually install it! WTF?

    Please help!

    Note: I can’t just click on "Upgrade" because I don’t have enough free space on the default harddrive and I just want to install OneNote 12.

  19. Hermann Klinke says:

    Oh, you can install it by pressing Alt+U, even though you can’t see the "Upgrade" button. Alright, already great setup experience…

  20. Jay: ON12 lets you pick a new pen color directly from the toolbar using a new "ink color" dropdown, so if you just want a new color, you can use the color picker and get one without having to customize your pens. The current pen temporarily takes on the color you chose. That gives you about 40 colors to start with. We do have lots of students on the beta (and not just med students!)

    Jim R and Bill Ridmann: I will blog about ink and drawing tools shortly.

    Alex: what you describe would be a sort of "folder viewer", which Windows Vista is trying to do. Our view is that OneNote is a place you put things, not a viewer of other data. It is a side effect of our data organization transparency that we happen to use folders in the file system. If we had used a single file database then this would not seem like a feature we would add. That said, you can drag files into OneNote 12 now and have them sit embedded as icons or "print them" as before. This is handy for organizing files with notes and adding annotations about their contents or uses.

  21. Bill Ridmann (OneNote intern) says:

    Chris, I don’t if I can put into words how much I am anticipating you writing about drawing tools.

  22. Bill, you sneaky self-promoting son of a gun…..

  23. Jay says:

    Hi Chris – I’m a big fan of Onenote, and am looking forward to the new release. One question – will the new onenote have tags (a la That would be a fantastic feature. If it wont, can you put it on the wishlist? It would be great to be able to, for example, right click any entry, section, page, or folder, and assign tags to that entry; and to be able to view onenote by its tag and tag bundles in addition to its regular tree-heirarchy. This would be a great way to search for ‘related items’ (much easier than just doing a keyword search which doesnt organize its results in the same way). It would be a great step towards making onenote the one-stop application for Personal Information Management.

    I do think any real robust PIM should have all three ways to organize and retrieve one’s data: regular tree structure on the left, viewable and clickable; instant search on keywords; and tags and tag-searches.

    The tag system could, for example, replace the current "noteflag" system in onenote, which is rather clunky by comparison to tags.

    Hoping you will find a way to implement tags (if you havent already)!


  24. Jay, take a look at note flags, and note flag summary. You have 25 customizable "categories", and you can apply as many of these to a note as you like. Then use the summary to see the roll up of the flags across your notes.

    We’re also thinking of other ways to use more category-like ideas.

  25. TK says:

    I would love the new release ONLY IF it includes the option to *eliminate the annoying arrow box* that appears on the left whenever the cursor hovers a (hand-written) text. Thanks.

  26. Jeanette says:

    Another plea for upgraded note flag functionality and customization.

    Also if there is an ability to print the page list, note flag summary, and listing under My Notebook. I’m not able to find it.

  27. Derek M says:

    And while we are at it (in terms on much needed functionality) is a viable link to Outlook that allows you to browse and _link_ to a meeting or contact. Add to that a timer feature in OneNote and you have a very handy ToDo system that is much more powerful than the current View Flag Summary (which is one of the great features). Agree with Jeanette that extended functionality in terms of hot-keying flags (and seeing what hotkeys you already have) owuld be nice.

  28. Roberdan1 says:

    Is it possible (or in plan) to use OneNote as a blog editor? or use tags inside it?


  29. TK: yes, that selection handle is gone while inking. yay!

    Jeanette: we’re going to be doing some small things in the note flags area but exactly what I can’t say since it is being done soon and I don’t know which part of all the stuff we want to do we will actually get done. More later.

    Derek: I still need to blog about the links to Outlook and back.

    Roberdan: Sure. Someone needs to write the PowerToy though. I think it wouldn’t be terribly hard but we weren’t able to fit it into our list of "in the box" functionality.

  30. jtinsky says:

    There’s a mention of the ability to "Sync notebooks between your multiple machines." I’m doing that now using FileShare (work and home computers).

    What I’m missing is synching my note flags between two computers. Will that be supported with this new functionality?

  31. Sheila says:

    Hi Chris!

    This may be unrelated to Office 12 but I have Office OneNote 2003 (I think)  Beta Trial on my computer & cannot get it off. It won’t let me delete it through my Add/Remove program, it won’t let me fix it so I can use it. So I’m just stuck with it there with no use. Do you have any tricks up your sleeves on how to delete a stubborn program that just doesn’t want to go & doesn’t want to work? I would really appreciate any suggestions on how to get it off of my computer. Thanks! By the way… it’s a great program when it does work, just not affordable.

  32. Kyla says:

    Hi Chris

    I bought OneNote and installed it on my home computer. However, in the mean time I got a new Laptop and the old PC is a thing of the past. I would like to register OneNote for my Laptop, but I have no idea how to go about it.

    Can you pls help?


  33. We’re done! As you may have heard, 2007 Office System (including OneNote!) went golden on Friday. We

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