"Virtual Notebooks" that include files from anywhere

I got the following question recently, and thought the answer might be valuable to others.


I have a notebook called customers, containing about 40 sections (one for each customer). I also have a SharePoint site for each customer. I’d like to track my customers through OneNote and store customer notes in each of my customer SharePoint customer sites. Right now, the only way I can see to do this is to have a separate notebook for each customer. Is there a better way to accomplish this?”


There is a power user feature which meets your needs. It takes a little setup though. You need to use Windows file shortcuts. You want a notebook folder that has file shortcuts in it that point to section files (.one files) in each of the SharePoint sites. This acts like a “virtual notebook” that aggregates these sections.

  1. Copy the relevant .one section files to where you want them on each of the customer sites (e.g. the “CompanyX.one” file to the CompanyX site, and the “CompanyY.one” file to the Company Y site).

  2. In Windows explorer create a folder for your roll up notebook on your local machine (or in redirected mydocs or wherever you keep your notebooks, it can be on a windows file share server if you want)

  3. Navigate to your first customer site file in SharePoint. In the browser right click on the file (e.g. “CompanyX.one”) and choose “Copy shortcut” so you get the URL to the file saved on the clipboard.

  4. Go back to the folder you created in step 2.

  5. Right click in the folder and choose “New”->”Shortcut”

  6. Paste the link to the file in the location field

  7. Give the link a name (e.g. “CompanyX”) then close and save your shortcut

  8. Repeat 3-7 for each of your customer sites/files

  9. When you’re finished go up to the parent folder of your notebook folder, then right click on the notebook folder you created in step 2, then choose “Open as notebook in OneNote”

It may take a while to sync correctly given the number of files and SharePoint sites involved, but this should work fine. The nice thing about this process is that if you have other people involved in some of the clients, you can create different “virtual notebooks” that point to different subsets of the files. Also, you could change what you include in your “virtual notebook” over time. For example you can just remove the shortcut link to “CompanyZ” if you no longer work with them, but you don’t have to remove it from the SharePoint site, so you’d have a permanent archive of the OneNote file along with other associated files there. This works for Windows file shares, or files on your local hard drive as well as SharePoint sites.

Comments (3)

  1. Ben Gardner says:

    Fantastic, we are looking to do a large scale deployment of OneNote 2007 in conjunction with SharePoint 2007 to use it as a team eNotebook. It is easy to see how these align to each project team (vertical axis) but how we can provide the cross notebook view (horiontal axis) needed by functional support lines was problematic. Looks like this might be a great solution.

  2. Mark Zacharias says:

    Is it possible to create a virtual notebook within a SharePoint site rather than on the file system?  I tried the method you described but SP doesn’t allow shortcut files within a document library.

    Clients SP site

       Client X SP subsite

           Project Y SP subsite

    Given the SP structure that we have what I’m trying to accomplish is to have a client notebook living in "Client X SP subsite"  I then want a section group living in "Project Y SP subsite"

    Is there anyway you know of to accomplish this?