Overview of OneNote 2010 – What’s new for you

David Rasmussen, the OneNote Group Program Manager also know as my boss, has posted a great overview of what’s new in OneNote 2010: http://blogs.msdn.com/david_rasmussen/archive/2009/07/15/onenote-2010-what-s-new-for-you.aspx

David did an excellent job outlining what we have been working on since 2007 and it is just so exciting to be able to unveil these new features for you (our customers).

I have pasted it below but I would also subscribe to David’s blog as he will be blogging about OneNote 2010. Without further ado:

OneNote 2010 Investments Overview

1. Universal Access

We repeatedly hear that access to your notes and the ability to take them anywhere is very important, whether you’re at work, home or on the go. OneNote 2007 already provides offline availability and seamless sync, and a basic OneNote application for Windows Mobile. But we knew that was just the beginning. With OneNote 2010 we’ve added:

  • Sync to Cloud (Windows Live): Your notebooks sync and are available anywhere from any machine. Of course this is in addition to all the existing ways you can sync notebooks (file shares, SharePoint, USB drives etc.)
  • OneNote Web App: You can access and edit your entire notebook from a browser. Even on a machine that doesn’t have OneNote installed.
  • OneNote Mobile: A more complete OneNote version for Windows Mobile phones. Syncs whole notebooks. Syncs directly to the cloud. No need to tether your device. Richer editing support.

Note: The above are not yet available in the Tech Preview unfortunately. We’re still finishing some integration work for sync to Windows Live.

2. Sharing and Collaboration

With OneNote 2007 we pioneered simultaneous multi-user editing of notebooks. OneNote 2007 auto-magically merges the edits, even simultaneous edits on the same page. This is valuable for single users (you can edit on desktop and laptop and not have one machine lock the file), but it’s even more valuable for  teams sharing a notebook for plans, ideas, meetings and so on. Or perhaps a family notebook shared with your significant other. We’ve heard lots of positive feedback about this, and  it has completely transformed the way many teams work and collaborate. We’ve also heard about many families that use it for sharing home renovation plans, gardening info, recipes, wedding planning and so on.

In OneNote 2010 we’ve added a number of features to make the experience of sharing with others more productive and intuitive. These include:

  • What’s new (aka Unread) highlighting: New content that someone else added or changed since you last looked at a page is highlighted so you can see what’s new on that page. Also, the notebook name, section tabs and page tabs are shown in bold so you can quickly navigate to pages with new content.
  • Author indicator: Content written by anyone other than you has a small color coded bar to the right with their initials. At a glance you can tell who wrote something.
  • Versioning: Quickly show past versions of any given page, who wrote it and when, with changes relative to previous versions highlighted.
  • Fast sync on same page: When multiple people are working on the same page we speed up the sync of that page so you can see other peoples edits in near real time.
  • We also added capabilities to be able to quickly search for recently added content (last day, week, month etc.) or get an overview of what given people changed on what days.
  • Merge two sections: This feature is more of a detail but it fits here. Sometimes people share notebooks using Live Mesh or Dropbox or other file sharing solutions. And you can end up with two forked copies of a section if you happened to make changes on two machines at once (you can read earlier posts for context, but OneNote cannot auto-magically merge simultaneous edits when working on these systems that copy files around underneath OneNote). So we’ve added the ability to manually merge any two sections if you ever get into this situation. Just tell OneNote which two sections you want merged and OneNote will take care of it.

3. Better ways to Organize and Find your Notes

Capturing, organizing and finding your information has always been at the heart of what OneNote does. We’ve made several enhancements in this core area. Some of these will be more understandable once we have detailed blog posts with screenshots.

  • Section and page tab improvements: making notebook navigation work better with a larger number of sections and pages, easier to create new sections, better page tab hierarchy visualization, collapse sub page groups, just drag left and right to create sub pages and organize your pages, insert new pages directly anywhere in your page tabs.
  • Fast “word wheel” search for navigation: the goal of this is to make search a super fast way to get to your regularly used notes. Historically search has been more of a “last resort” feature when you couldn’t find something. We’ve completely revamped this experience so it is now designed to make it the fastest way to get to any page including pages you visit regularly like your To Do list.
  • Wiki linking: you can easily create a link to an existing page or to a new page for a topic. You can do this by just typing the Wiki link syntax (e.g. just type [[The Page Title I Want]] ), or use our new page search experience from within the link dialog. This enables you to easily create Wiki like notebooks with lots of cross links across pages.
  • Quick filing: there are many ways to send content to OneNote (Print to OneNote, send mails from Outlook, send pages from Internet Explorer and so on). Our new Quick Filing experience pops up to let you pick where in your notebook you want to send it. It remembers the last places you sent things. You can search in Quick Filing to find a specific section or page if you want it somewhere else.

4. Research and taking notes linked to documents, web pages

OneNote is often used as a companion while researching topics and collecting information (e.g. a market analysis study, a class paper, a home renovation, a car purchase and so on). This often involves looking at web pages or documents and taking notes. You could also be reviewing a document or class lecture slides and taking notes as you’re looking through them. We’ve enhanced a number of things to make this experience better.

  • Docked OneNote: you can dock OneNote to the side of your screen. It docks alongside other windows (e.g. browser, Word, PowerPoint). OneNote minimizes UI and just shows the notes page alongside your document/browser.
  • Linked Note Taking: while in this mode, OneNote automatically links the notes you take to what you’re looking at – the web page URL, the selection point in Word, the current slide in PowerPoint. Later in OneNote you can hover on that link and you’ll see a thumbnail preview of the original document, you can click on it and it will open and take you back to what you were looking at when you wrote the note.
  • Auto text wrapping: this goes well with Docked OneNote but is useful in other cases too. OneNote now wraps text outlines to fit the windows size if there is only one outline on the page. This makes it easy to see all your notes even when OneNote is docked to a relatively narrow window on the side.
  • IRM protected printouts: this is mainly for enterprise and training scenarios. The idea is that companies can distribute things like product manuals or class notes in OneNote that are protected intellectual property. The recipient can view these in OneNote and take their own personal notes on top of these materials and beside them. If for some reason the materials were viewed by an unauthorized person they would not see any of the protected material.
  • 64 bit print driver: Yes, OneNote 2010 has a new native print driver that fully supports 64 bit. It’s based on the XPS technology from Windows. It also has other virtues like better rendering quality when scaled.

5. Editing improvements

There are a number of basic editing improvements in OneNote. Below are some more prominent ones.

  • Basic styles: OneNote 2010 adds very basic styles like Heading 1,2,3. This does not have the power of Words styling features. OneNote is not designed for that level of document formatting. But it does give you a way to quickly have your meeting notes have a little structure.
  • Bullets improvements: this is a simple one but oft requested. First level bullets now indent from previous text.
  • Equations: OneNote 2010 now supports the ability to add math equations. Great for students or people who need to input math into their notebooks. OneNote will also support the ability to recognize hand written math equations and convert them when running on Windows 7.
  • Translation tooltips: OneNote can now show you a tooltip with a translation into your native language when your mouse hovers over a foreign language word. Great for language students, or if you’re working in a bi-lingual situation and need help understanding a word in a shared notebook or that you clipped from the web.

6. Touch support

With the rapidly increasing availability of touch enabled PCs and the enhanced touch experience in Windows 7, this was a natural thing for OneNote to support.

  • Finger panning and auto-switch: you can use your finger to scroll and pan around any page in OneNote. OneNote auto switches between pen, pan, and selection depending on your input device. So for example you can pan around a drawing with your left finger and draw with a tablet pen in your right hand. This makes for a very natural two handed interaction model.
  • Pinch zoom: we enabled pinch zooming within OneNote centered on the fingers.
  • Navigation controls improved for touch: we’ve made some small optimizations to make the UI easier to use with touch.

7. Fluent UI

OneNote now adopts the Fluent UI along with the other Office applications.

  • Ribbon: OneNote now has the Ribbon. We’ve designed this to optimize for the key OneNote scenarios and make them easier to use. This is also what enables us to more easily add features like math equation editing (the common controls for that use the Ribbon), and potential future features.
  • Office Backstage: This is new for Office 2010. OneNote will be taking advantage of it to make tasks like creating new notebooks, and new shared notebooks on the web easier (we’re still doing work on this).

Comments (46)

  1. Ken Stone says:

    Did the file format change? i.e. can I use OneNote 2010 with my existing notebook and have the sync still work when I use it on OneNote 2007?

  2. Boris Dušek says:

    Hi, I want to clear this up once and forever  – by "Sync to cloud", do you mean that

    1. the notebook will be on a PC and then synced to the Windows Live cloud whenever I change it. When I am not on the Internet, I will be able to work on the notebook on my PC; when I connect to the Internet, the changes get synced back to cloud. When I work on the notebook from the Web app only and then come to my PC, it will sync back the changes made in the Web app to the PC.

    2. The notebook (if I choose to) will be exclusively in the cloud and OneNote will access it (write to it/read from it) "directly" on the cloud; When I am not connected to internet, I will not be able to work on it/read it.

    I ask because with Word/Excel/PowerPoint and current Office Live, option 2. is currently what happens. Having option 1. (at least for OneNote) would be awesome and something I have dreamed of.

    Thanks, Boris

  3. techiebird says:

    Oh you *beauty*.  Following on from Boris’ comment, assuming when you say sync you mean *sync* and not just cache to view, the Universal Access feature could be amazing if it works well.  This was something I requested on Connect ages ago, so I’m going to kid myself I had a small part in making it happen ;o)

  4. DavidRas says:

    Yep. We most definitely mean sync as in your number 1. This is the model for OneNote 2007 today and it works today against Windows File Shares, SharePoint servers, DAV servers etc. (basically any supported single master file server…). We’re extending that by giving you a default place in the cloud that will work against.

    The beauty of OneNote (even in 2007) is that it syncs and is available to you offline from anywhere, and yet we still merge in simultaneous changes from different machines that may have been offline to each other for some period of time. It’s seemless. If you have access to a Windows File share or SharePoint you can try that today and see what I mean. We’re just extending that to the cloud.

    David Rasmussen

    Group Program Manager, OneNote

  5. 1. Will the Web app work w/ Firefox?

    2. What version of Windows Mobile will the new mobile app run on?  6.5 only? (I hope it works on 6.1.)

  6. edgebert says:

    This was something not yet available, will it now be available?

    Thank you for making sub-pages adjustable!

  7. matzer says:

    Will OneNote 2010 provide better capabilites to automate things? Extended object model for VBA like the other Office apps…

  8. Dominic says:

    Oh, please do not remove the ability to make custom toolbars. I am a tablet user and some feats I just need really quick (change my predefined pens, get more space!, delete selection,…) and I used to arrange them in a custom toolbar that I keep alway "in range" of my writing hand.

    Besides, looks really promising – I’m especially looking forward to the "equations" thing.

  9. Sandra says:

    "Ribbon: OneNote now has the Ribbon. We’ve designed this to optimize for the key OneNote scenarios and make them easier to use. This is also what enables us to more easily add features like math equation editing (the common controls for that use the Ribbon), and potential future features."

    Read: We know the ribbons suck, but we were forced by the Office Program Manager to integrate it…

  10. Cliff says:

    Is it just me, or does the concept of docking OneNote make you giddy too?

  11. Clinton says:

    Please tell me that ability to crop images is included in Onenote 2010?

  12. David says:


    You mention that 2010 will highlight new information.  Is there any way when posting new information to notify people of the changes other than manually sending them an email?  It would be really nice to be able to right click on a page and notify people.  Highlighting is an improvement, but still requires people to search through various notebooks to see if there are changes, which frankly is not of much use as soon as you have more than a few notebooks.  I need team members to *know* when new info has been posted.


  13. David says:

    I downloaded the technical preview.  Still no option for the often asked for basic ability to password protect a notebook, or section group?!

  14. Mark says:


    If you right click on a section you get the option to Password Protect this Section…

    (This is also available in OneNote 2007).

    Hope this helps – unless of course you wanted it less granular.


  15. David says:

    Hi Mark,

    Many of us want to be able to password protect a notebook or section group.  So yes, less granular as you put it.



  16. Tim says:

    A really useful feature would be the ability to number pages when you "Insert File as Printouts". I use OneNote to take notes in class, but sometimes the professors will refer to previous slides by slide number, which is easy to find in Powerpoint, but (as far as I’ve been able to tell) impossible in OneNote except by going to the beginning and counting


  17. Paul says:

    The ability to embed other office documents would be great – I’m note just talking about the inserting a file or printing a copy as a background image but having an embedded spreadsheet or word document that you could work with – This would make life a whole lot easier

  18. embedding and mind mapping would be great says:

    I second the request for embedding documents such as spread sheets.  

    I would also love to see some sort of mind mapping tool that allows for brainstorming and concept mapping… something like a light version of Mindjet MindManager.

  19. Dr Nagendra says:


    Im using Onenote 2007 to make notes of medical kind and its proving handy to organize my information and help me memorize better which i could never do before and its wonderful ..

    Could you please improve text search within images …sometimes it shows nonsense in search ..there are lots of Google books ..It would really help doctors …

    Hats of to Onenote again ..A miracle of this century …

  20. aaabbb says:

    I don’t want all of there features,I just want searching character by character。

    When onenote use wds as its search engine,I have to uninstall onenote 2007。

  21. Gerard Ilott says:

    This sounds great. I support the idea for some basic mind mapping – even a cut-down of the brainstorming feature in Visio would be great. Just to be able to do it within OneNote.


  22. Onenoter says:

    The great inconvenient in onenote is the lack of "justify text" feature !

    Please Microsoft’s developpers, make it possible to justify text in OneNote 2010 ! With such a feature, Onenote would be a GREAT programme!

    This will make texts easier to read, print and overview !

    Thanks !

  23. Onenoter says:

    A great inconvenient in Onenote2007 is the lack of "justify text" feature !

    Please Microsoft’s developpers, make it possible to justify text in OneNote 2010 ! With such a feature, Onenote would be a GREAT programme!

    This will make texts easier to read, print and overview !

    Thanks !

  24. Onenoter says:

    Onenote is the best programme ever made !

    Everything could be organized with Onenote ! But it still lack some interesting features:

    – improving research feature

    – justify text !

    – customize blocnote folder’s color!

    – enable to add new page by "double clicking" on the page’s bar!

    – ability to roll-up all folders in one!

  25. Onenoter says:

    Oh sorry, I have to edit!

    Onenote is the best programme ever made by Microsoft!

    Everything could be organized with Onenote ! But it still lack some interesting features:

    – improving research feature

    – justify text !

    – customize blocnote folder’s color!

    – enable to add new page by "double clicking" on the page’s bar!

    – ability to roll-up all folders in one!

  26. Maria Bonleu says:

    Will the canvas navigation be improved? I would like to be able to pan and zoom flexibly (e.g., like in Photoshop, etc.), save views and have multiples simultaneous views of the same document. Essential when working with very large canvasses containing many images.

  27. W. Blom says:


    Make it possible to GROUP objects, so images and notes and annotations stay TOGETHER.

    OneNOte is hopeless without it!

  28. Cindy says:

    As I use it in college, there’s no point for me to convert it to Word for formatting. I just wish we could justify the text for better reading (directly on Onenote), instead of wasting my time converting to Word so I can have readable text.

    To format first paragraph line would be wonderfull as well.

    Also, is not very nice to convert text do PDF without any formatting (or worse, have convert to Word, then to PDF!).

    Kinda looks like you’re scared that Word will lose its place on market?? Witch makes no sense at all. Add formating to Onenote will not make it surpass Word ever! Would be like saying that people will stop using Excell if Word can add a table (and it can…).

    Faster and easier is better!

    PS.: Congratz on this almost perfect software!

    I wish it could cook for me to! 🙂

  29. Cindy says:

    Forgot to mention…

    Would be nice to have an easier date change system. Sometimes I find some old notes from class and is very dificult to change the year (I have to roll all the months…). So here is another feature that would be fine, month and year indepedent on date pick-up.

  30. Susan says:

    If I edit or add to OneNote via 2010, will I be able to open and edit in 2007?

  31. Luke says:

    I’ve just installed the public beta. Great improvements to OneNote indeed! Especially love the new searching.

    There are a few key highly requested features missing though. A bit surprised they didn’t make it to the release, but I guess there’s only so much time:

    1) Filled shapes… I mean… I even feel stupid asking about this. Can’t be that hard to implement.

    2) Improved shapes – link (group) shapes with text, basic shape recognition for tablet PCs. The inability to group notes to shapes is extremely annoying.

    3) Basic sorting, filtering, and formulas in the tables – come on it’s 21st century!

    4) Ability to switch to a visual, mind-mapping-like view

    5) OLE automation (VBA) and embedding (e.g. embed and show a group of selected Excel cells) – use your own technology 🙂

    6) Split view horizontally or vertically

    7) Do the linked document notes feature work with Firefox and PDFs? I can’t seem to get this to work…

    8) View all notes (one after another, ‘merging’ all notebooks, sections, etc.)

    9) Link to objects, e.g. Access database table, Excel named cells etc.

    10) Basic templates?

    Other than that, fantastic job!

  32. Steve says:

    > OneNote now has the Ribbon

    ok, then I will be staying with 2007 (unless ther is a way to keep old interface)

    I hate that stupid ribbon

  33. Peter says:

    You can freehand select the stuff you would like to be grouped, cut it, paste it as picture, however you can’t edit it then.

    I agree I think there should be some way to group objects e.g. an illustration and some text.

    Also what about the default word drawing figures etc. Please implement these.


  34. Mike says:

    I can’t say this enough – link to Objects like an Access Database. This is what will make our organization move to One Note. Without key features like this we cannot begin to move over.

  35. MachinTrucChose says:

    Other than thins like math equation input most of those features are pointless, and Microsoft’s efforts should have been spent on making OneNote stop struggling with the basics:

    1) It regularly (meaning as often as 5 times a minute) forgets the scroll position of the previous page you were working on. I shouldn’t have to open 2 different OneNote instances and keep ALT-TABing between both to be able to work on 2 pages at once.

    2) It offers no keyboard shortcut (like SHIFT+TAB) to switch between the last 2 pages in the same section. Again, I need to keep 2 OneNotes open.

    3) When inking or drawing a diagram, nearly everything is in its own small note container, which are impossible to merge into a single note container. God forbid I do a couple of linebreaks earlier in the same page: then the containers created by the drawing tools remain stationary while the ink or text containers scroll down, and my fancy diagram is essentially destroyed.

    4) It’s impossible to automatically resize a printed PPT/PDF after it’s sent to OneNote so that it’s shrinked to fit a OneNote page. I have to use a poor-quality 3rd party plugin or manually resize every page.

    5) Impossible to have printed PPT/PDFs put each of their pages on its own OneNote page. GoBinder has had this since at least 2005!

    These are real problems to anyone who actually uses OneNote every day, particularly students, and should be prioritized ahead of essentially "marketing" features like Web App, Mobile, Cloud Sync. Have any of them been adressed?

  36. Scott Z says:

    With Windows 7 and 2010 Onenote in X64 I don’t see a "send to Onenote" printer driver.

    I have found, no easy way to put a long PDF into One Note 2010.

  37. Olisia says:

    OneNote really needs to add an option to insert and edit Excel spreadsheets while maintaining existing formatting. It would be of great help!!

  38. Shane says:

    I would LOVE to have the ability to add custom icons for use as tags.  I’m not the only one, either.  It’s not enough to have X many icons, created by MS, for use in OneNote; I NEED the ability to add my own icons.  I track natural disasters…I don’t want to have to use a picture of a book to indicate "hurricane," if you get my meaning.

    A lot of people use Onenote for vastly different things and this would be a desirable feature.  I’d even upload my custom icons for other people to D/L, and I could see other people doing that too.

    I can’t even find the file where Onenote stores the images used for tags so I can add my own to it.

    Anyone know of a workaround until this gets added?

  39. paul says:

    hi in answer to the question regardsing the need to password protect onenote pages etc. It is very simple to do and if you have particulrly sensitive info say within a note book you can actually secure just certain pages! Brilliant actually! Go to this link that explains it all better than i could Paul


  40. Don says:

    We use this at our institution and require a way so that there are different levels of access.

    For the most part all users will need read only access and then a couple people will need editable access to update, add, delete, etc.

    Multiple versions of old and edited information sounds nice but in our case would be a headache and just provide more clutter that is potentially useless.

    We need this to be a book, not a notebook. We need people to be able to access information for use but te group decides on updates and one or two people are assigned to make the changes that everyone ulimatley uses.

    This is for educational delivery by instructors in case you are curious.


  41. hanna says:

    How do you switch the dock to desktop view from horizontal to vertical?

    I accidentally split mine to a horizontal split and I cannot figure out how to switch it back to vertical split.

    please help!!!!!!!!

  42. Discoveryellow says:

    These are baby steps impovements. The features loyal users were asking for are still not there.

  43. Tracy says:

    In 2010, can you drag and drop to file unfiled pages? It's such a pain to right click, find the notebook on a list and then file it. I would like to select pages and then just drag and drop them to the sections listed on the left.

  44. Oneplace says:

    I organise almost everything in Onenote, so it is not Onenot but Oneplace 😉

    In my mind, it could be improved by adding:

    1) possibility to add separator between pages in a given section.

    2) possibility to sort pages by date or alphabetically.

    3) possibility to customize page color/font to easily distinguish different pages dealing with same or different themes.

    4) reduce the upper dock bar. In my mind it is so large and place consuming.

  45. Mr. Golden says:

    Onenote is a very good organizing place! As pointed above, it lacks some formatting features;

    Backup should be easier than currently. Why not a backup button placed on the main interface remembering that you can backup (copy) yours folders/sections and pages to any place (local or external drives, folder..).

    So far, my Onenote's files are ~ 5 Go and this is increasing constantly! I hope this will not slowing Onenote down and Onenote will be unlimited capability without compromising functionality!

  46. JohnGuin says:

    There is a powertoy Dan and I wrote to sort pages alphabetically at blogs.msdn.com/…/updating-the-page-sorter-powertoy-for-onenote-2010.aspx