Last release we had a feature called note flags, this feature was very popular and was something that most users used and loved (once they discovered them). They are just little tags you can put on a page to mark something as important, just as if you would star an note from class or mark something as important on real paper. On real people many people would do different things, some people would put stars next to their important notes, other people would highlight, etc. The team converted this into a digital way of doing things, by putting little icons on the page on the left hand margin (or the right hand margin for right to left languages).
The default set that we shipped with include 5 items: todo, star, question and a couple highlighted items. We saw that people mainly used note flags in one of two ways (with some overlap of the population (I love how Venn diagrams can explain so much)):
People who used OneNote to keep track of tasks and todo items. For lots of people they used note flags just to keep track of what is going on and what they needed to do. They would choose the default note flag (which was a todo button) and mark up their pages. Typically these people would roll up (search) their note flags and then create todo pages from there (“Create summary page”).
Another group of people didn’t want to just use OneNote for task management, they wanted to keep track of ‘things’. They would use the note flags as descriptors. I always thought about it as the “important exam question”, “interesting idea”, etc…there are many types of visual clues we leave on paper notes to help us know what is interesting vs what we need to do. You would underline something or put it in a box, etc…those are the notes that you would flag/tag as such. Hang in there I will get to it.
I fell into the world of #1, I used lists on paper, then Notepad and then OneNote (and now increasingly Outlook). Also many of our customers wanted more with Outlook and tasks sync. The team has done some great work with this release and working better with Outlook, heck even I am using it now. Okay so that is the history behind note flags. Let’s talk about what we did this time around!
#0 We added Outlook task sync
This is the first and foremost more important feature for this, you can now mark items as an Outlook task and you will have an item appear in Outlook that links back to OneNote. Mark complete in one app and it will be complete in the other. This feature will totally nail things for people who use note flags for the first scenario.
#1 We added more default note flags:
The first set of note flags were too limited and there were many more possibilities out there! Just look at that list there are many different types from the todo like items (Todo, Discuss with <Person A>, etc) and also other describers you would put on a note (website to visit, phone number, person, etc). I feel that this list better shows what you might want to do with note flags, we want to plant a seed in your mind so that you can customize your note flags for your own needs!
#2 We added more customization support!
First of all we increased the limit from 25 to 100, not everyone needed this but now we allow you to have 4 times as many note flags as before.
Another requests from users was the ability to remove a note flag, which we did as well (see the buttons on the bottom of the task pane).
#3 More icon types
In this release we have updated not only the existing note flags but we also added new icon types, see the new note flag gallery:
The new icons give you more flexibility of what you can add. No we don’t support your own note flag icons yet (the ability to upload an image file and make it a note flag), however that is something worth looking into for the next release.
#4 Better sharing of note flags with others
Of course we want more people to be sharing notes in shared notebooks (I know it has made my work life more productive), but we also want to help people share note flags more easily especially in shared environments. In OneNote 2007 whenever you see a note flag that you don’t have you can right-click on the note flag and add it to your note flags:
We feel that this will really help teams work together and share note flags.
Note flags are great feature that I feel when people start using them it will really make their OneNote note taking more effective. Also make sure you use the keyboard shortcuts (Ctrl+1, 2, 3, etc). Finally I would like to thank the team for their hard work on this especially Maria and Myung who helped make this a possibility.