Showing the full name of an attachment in OneNote

    A week or so ago in a previous entry I uploaded an image here. You can see where I used my pen to annotate the photo, and if you look at it again, you may see the odd comment about "the truncated file name."  Let me explain that comment.

    Well, I got an email last week from a lawyer who uses OneNote to track documents related to his clients. He has a specific naming convention on his hard drive for tracking the documents (some Word, some PDF, etc…) in which the name has a long, common base and is differentiated only by the last few letters of the file name, which is usually a date. I imagine this is an example:


    When he pastes the document into OneNote, the file name gets truncated to this:


    He wanted to know of a way to preserve the full name to show in the UI of OneNote. The workaround we use is to drag and drop the file onto the page a second time and choose to insert a link to the original file:



    Then you can either leave the link as it is, or "clean it up" by removing the path name.

    (Oh, and this entry has another subtle testing purpose behind it. I use the beta version of Live Writer to upload my blog entries, and I have never tried to upload an attachment other than images with an entry. I expect LiveWriter will upload my zero byte Word doc when I try this, but I feel compelled to try and verify if that is what happens.)

    Questions, comments, concerns and criticisms always welcome,



    PS: the Word document I wanted to attach did not upload, so I converted it to the truncated name image above.

Comments (62)

  1. Corliss says:


    Another way to add the link to the document is to right click on the attachment and then select "Copy Hyperlink to Original" from that menu.  Next, right click and Paste.  


  2. Seth says:

    yet another way: Ctri-c (copy) the document in windows explorer, go to the onenote page and hit ctrl-v twice, answer the dialog box each time, faster than mouse action.

  3. JohnGuin says:

    Seth – thanks!  Keyboard shortcuts are incredibly valuable.  It’s worth saying again: I wish I could take a week off and do nothing but learn keyboard shortcuts.


  4. Bernard Vander Beken says:

    I see the same behavior in OneNote 2010. I am afraid there is no improvement in this area, is that correct?

  5. JohnGuin says:

    Correct.  I'll add this as a suggestion with our design team.

  6. Vadim says:

    Please do…  this is my first 15 minutes of using OneNote and I am already looking for workarounds! So far so good otherwise… 🙂

  7. G. Calvert says:

    I also would like to see full file names.  Whey I have to hover, the whole at a glance thing goes right out the window.


  8. John says:

    I seconded the original suggestion – thanks for the feedback, G.

  9. SY says:

    This behaviour (like "Medium Icons" view in Explorer) is still apparent in OneNote 2013. Would it be possible to show the full filename next to the file icon (like the "List" view in Explorer) ?

  10. John says:

    This is not currently possible.  I will send this request to our design team to see if we can change the behavior.

  11. Malcolm says:

    I use both OneNote (work) & Evernote (personal).  The way Evernote does it is very nice (compact & shows a lot of info)…ends up in a much cleaner & more compact flow of notes w/in-line attachments.  2nd link below shows it will shorten long names…but it trims the middle of the file, still showing beginning and end (including extension).  Also shows last modified date & time + file size for most file types (1st link).  FYI, just did google image search for "evernote attach file" to find these links.…/attach-file-to-evernote.gif…/Screen-Shot-2013-02-21-at-3.56.50-PM.png

  12. AP says:

    I would like to echo the requests above to see full file name. Malcom's examples from Evernote would be perfect. Icons are nice but the complete filename is a lot of more valuable.

    For years, I have been using specific filename conventions to keep track of versions and coordinating work with teammates. Our filenames are long with dates and key descriptors like John's post at the beginning.

    Example: 123MainStreet repair list 20130625 SEND.xls

    I'd love to migrate from Windows Explorer to OneNote to keep files and notes together, but the filename truncating is a real sore point. I can mouse-over and see the entire path. HOWEVER, this is not helpful when I am searching for specific versions or needing to research various versions. Filepath is extremely long for files sitting on Skydrive.

    Pasting as links with a descriptive name is not ideal either. It means I have to keep another copy elsewhere (version control) and it's extra work to add extra names in OneNote.

    I would also love to see functionality to add thumbnails for pictures, that I don't have to manually resize and align.

  13. John says:

    I forwarded this feedback verbatim to our designers.  I don't want to set false hopes but did want to let you know that we hear your comments.

  14. Louis says:

    5 years and 3 versions later and Onenote still cuts off the file names.  Why can Evernote get it right from day 1, yet Onenote still screw this up.

  15. Clint says:

    Another request to show full filenames. I like to send emails to OneNote the have a lot of reference material in them, but while they're very easy to review in Outlook, the tool made specifically for this (OneNote) handles it in a very clunky way.

    It's time to start stealing ideas from Evernote at this point. I just don't understand the Microsoft mentality. It's like people in the organization don't even use their own software.

  16. Can't Read File Names! says:

    Send that request to the designers again! The Filename issue is so frustrating I cannot use One Note.  

    This product is another "could be great…."  only we didn't listen to the users and here we are.

    Alright developers….game on – whoever can create the plug-in or other simple programming maneuver to show file names wins!  (and can sell if to all these poor souls….like the guy that came up with Start 8 <–genius!)  I am not using Windows 8, however withe Start 8 being an option I would at least consider it now.

  17. Tony says:

    I have to agree, it's clunky.  The work-arounds are OK for files but I, and others I know, do this with e-mails a lot, dragged them from Outlook.  When you do this the "Copy Link to Original" right-click is not available and you cannot paste a link, only the file or a printout.  A couple of list type options when dragging or pasting Outlook e-mails as well as files would be great.  A faint hope perhaps; Microsoft often seems set in its ways and its embedded icons have looked like this for years.  At least we get a bit more than seven characters and a ~ nowadays!  And other things are changing….

  18. Brian says:

    Please?  Anyone?  Microsoft, have you listened and decided you're not interested in letting us see full filenames of attachments?  Or have you not listened at all?  If no relief is on its way, how about just telling us?

  19. John says:

    I am following up.  I can't set any expectations here but I hear everyone on this.

  20. Steve says:

    Yes please change the file name view…….

  21. Dusi says:

    Disastrous as usually Microsoft… 6 years… Such basics… Not impressed!

  22. Hans says:

    Adding to the list that OneNote (found this thread doing a search to see if OneNote 2013 had a way to show the full file names, emphasizing this need).  Ideally, one could set how to view attachments (so those that like chopped off filenames, and I am not sure who would, could have that option).  I really like OneNote a lot (over EverNote) with the exception of (1) attachment handling (EverNote allows you to show attachment or preview on a per-attachment basis – the attachment view is so much better than OneNote, (2) Ability to add security on a per tab (notebook in EverNote terms) basis, rather than on a OneNote notebook basis, and (3) Add custom color option for the tabs, or at least a lot more colors.  The attachment filename view is the most import though 😉

  23. John says:

    Hans – I forwarded your comments to our design team.  I wrote a section color picker a while back:…/onenote-section-color-powertoy-updated-for-onenote-2010.aspx that may help you as well.

  24. Chris says:

    Apologies – just started using OneNote and the first item we wanted to change was 'how can we see the full file name'…..This thread is close to 6 years old and still don't have full file name displayed?

  25. Vishal says:

    Moved from Evernote to OneNote yesterday. Just find out cannt see my attachments file names….

    John, can you let us know more firmly from your design team when can we expect this to be complete…If your team needs some volunteers and you know we are here


  26. John says:

    I'm passing this along but don't want to promise a quick fix just so I won't set any unrealistic expectations here.  I hear all of you!

  27. Ray says:

    My god "Long File Names" as a feature was added to MS Windows with 95 in 95 and before that we had aftermarket software that did the trick  

    Sorry, OneNote is promising but the inability to use long file names with hundreds of Docs in play so cripples OneNotes utility for me that I'm now abandoning the effort to learn the software.

    John if this isn't doable just tell us.

  28. JohnGuin says:

    All I can say is this in on our list of work items for future releases.  But I also don't want to overpromise anything so I can't give a timeline or anything like that.  Thanks for the feedback!

  29. Ray says:

    Good news for ON users and potential users, GEM for OneNote features linking to individual files, or folders while retaining complete file names.

    This makes the difference for me so I will be implementing ON.

    Note: Redit has a many useful ON discussions.

  30. JohnGuin says:

    Feel free to post a link for GEM.

  31. Stephen Pappaterra says:

    What is GEM?  I too would like to see the full file name.  

  32. Rahman says:

    I guess GEM is this add on for MS  One Note:

    But its a paid add in. I am not sure I would be able to convince my organization to pay for this.

  33. John Beresk says:

    The best fix i found on onenote 2013 is to insert the file and select the Insert a chart or table option(or select the insert printout option is word or adobe), then simply delete the chart.  You are left with a full size read out of most file names, as long as the file name doesn't exceed the width of the table/chart generated originally.


  34. John says:

    Cool – I had not thought of this workaround myself!

  35. Oliver says:

    Hi John.  Appreciate your sending our recommendations in.  I, too, would like to add my extreme frustrations with a beautifully done piece of software let down by a few major irritations.  This being one.  If you are the person to vent to as well about the drawing capability being so limited, then may I?  

    I don't understand why Microsoft has all these brilliant programmes under it's belt that only do 1/3 of what people require before needing to step into another programme to do the rest.  Being a programmer myself, I don't see the problem with combine the potentials of Microsoft Paint, excel, word, pretty much all Office products, SharePoint, Windows Explorer and Internet Explorer and the entire framework of .net Visual Basic (at least) as apposed to the useless VBA, tied in with OneNote.  People love OneNote's presentation and style, however get so frustrated when we can't use it for what we really need!

    OneNote's bonuses are it's tiered systems, search, file attachments, sharing, security, exporting/printing systems, the any-device-can-view/edit functionality, recorder and basically being a great note-taking scribble pad.  So a lot of greatness there, however then USING the software for anything other than notes and storage is completely out of the picture.

    It's cons (for me) are: no visual basic platform, no calendar functionality, drawing is severely limited and frustrating to use, files integration is 110% perfect in how it interacts with file imports however a huge -50% disadvantage for the display issues mentioned in this thread, no data manipulation functionality (ie, you can't use a table for simple maths).

    Clint's post is exactly right: "It's like people in the organization don't even use their own software".  Each of the Microsoft products feels different or has limited functionality that we see in their other products.  Why separate Outlook and OneNote when their married functionality (as apposed to the way they compliment each other now, but are still separate programmes) would be brilliant!  Something as basic as having a native calendar in OneNote would be brilliant (that also ties back into Outlook of course)!

    And having a great product development suite like Visual Studio and yet torture people with a problematic and severely frustrating and limited language like VBA in it's Office suite?  I understand limiting certain things because you pay for what you get, however giving people VBA when everything works off a .net environment now, there's no words for the level of frustration this gives the user.

    Sorry this is so lengthy and my need to vent falls on you.  If you have any way of passing these suggestions to the relevant teams and encourage them to WORK TOGETHER to create a great product experience, then I beg that you do if only for us to vent our frustrations.

    Thanks for your time.

  36. Tim C says:

    I have just started using OneNote and I have the same frustration. If this can't be fixed, I'm afraid that my entire staff will be moving to another application. Like the world of the lawyer mentioned above, we simply have to see the entire file name. We are not willing or able to change our file naming convention to make OneNote work for us….OneNote should make this easy. WE HAVE TO WORK VERY HARD ON YOUR BEHALF JUST TO USE THIS SOFTWARE. WHO IS THE CUSTOMER?

    The ideal scenario for us: enable showing the files in LIST VIEW, in OneNote.


  37. Jonie says:

    Need the entire file name on attachments please

  38. Justin says:

    …Yet one more frustrated user, finding this thread that was created nearly half a decade ago – and still cannot view filenames properly…

  39. John says:


  40. S. P. says:

    I want to join to the request for adding full names. It's kind hard to believe that the company like Microsoft needs more than 7 years to adjust this issue.

    Nevermind, kind regards,


  41. Martin Nikolaev says:

    We need that as well… can you please just insert it ?

  42. Matt says:

    Guess what I would like. Guess. Go on, guess.

    Full file names….File icon view options.

    What we don't need: a large file-type icon.

    What we do need: the complete filename.



  43. Clemens says:

    I want to add to the list of people who request full file names

  44. Uli says:

    ditto need long filenames.

    I'm working in IT and am completely annoyed by anything that is not able to display as a list.

  45. SM says:

    Ha ha.. Not surprised that it's taking MS long – but 8 years and running to fix a simple front end issue?

    Count me in for all the requests mentioned above:

    1. File names being visible

    2. Calendar integration

    3. Some simple math (excel like) functionality

  46. JJ says:

    Right-click > Insert as Printout > Delete new Pages generated > Check file name of attachment, should be full length

  47. Esox says:

    Count me in as well for the full filenames. Workarounds are interesting but I have large docs that change filenames quite a bit so need the full name.

    Shame as I use OneNote as my main productivity tool.

  48. Todd says:

    Just started using one note two days ago for storing notes and files but looks like I have to abandon that plan as not being able to see the filename makes it impossible. Strange that it has been this long and not fixed. Makes me think the one note dev team must not actually use the product or they would have seen and fixed this long ago as it is such a basic thing that makes the product much less useful.

  49. TheNorm says:

    Another vote for this as well. I just found this site after a quick Google and can't believe how many years people have been requesting this. OneNote does so much but can't do this? Come on Microsoft this is 2015 not 1980.

  50. Michelle says:

    Another vote for this. I went a-googling to find a workaround and ended up here – can't believe this is something that has been requested so often and not resolved.  I figured it would be an easy fix and I just wasn't looking in the right place… nope.

  51. eemc says:

    Another vote for longer filenames…

  52. BexWade says:

    Seriously, all we need is list view instead of icon view… this cannot be that hard.

  53. Todd Wadsworth says:

    This is linked to the number of characters between special characters, not just the length of the entire link.  Try pasting each of the following into OneNote.  This track could be followed to identify the exact parameters, but I don't have time for that.  Hopefully this will spark the dev team to see where the problem is and fix it.  This is hastily constructed, but see the last very long link, which should paste perfectly.  Tested on OneNote 2010.

    http://123456789012345678901234567890123456789012345678901234567890   (cut off at 50 char)

    http://123456789-123456789-123456789-123456789-123456789-1234567890  (hyphens instead of 0's, added 5 char)

    http://123456789$123456789$123456789$123456789$123456789$1234567890   ('$' instead of '0's, added 15


    http://123456789/123456789/123456789/1234567890123456789012345678901234567890   (added '/'s, added 15 char)

    http://123456789/123456789/123456789-123456789-123456789-1234567890/123456789/123456789/123456789-123456789-123456789-1234567890   (ENTIRE link is copied because the distance between '/'s is not too large.

    The limit between '/' , '$', seems to be approx 50 char.  So, if each section of

  54. trw412 says:

    BTW, (Todd again, from 8-24-2015, not the previous).  The posting just shows what the real problem is, it does not fix it.  But, one work-around is to ensure that each 'section' of the hyperlink is not too long (unless it contains some '-').  Underscore also seems to reset the section length counter.  Thx.

  55. Don says:

    I'm disappointed that this still hasn't been fixed. The company I work for is looking for a replacement for One Note.

    Its obvious the user is not important or they would have fixed this 8 years ago.

    I think its bull that we aren't getting any real answers either just " I hear what you are saying"

  56. Dave says:

    Just ran into this issue. I was a long term Evernote user who made the jump to OneNote… looks like I'll be going back to Evernote.. and anxiously awaiting Dropbox's note taking program.

  57. Lynda says:

    Ditto to all of the above. Former Evernote user – switched to OneNote – going back to Evernote all because I cannot view attachments as a list instead of icons. This is a huge problem when you have lots of attachments.

  58. Joël van Gogh says:

    Piling on the big heap of unnoticed request to fix this.

  59. Roman says:

    Still in OneNote 2016 the same problem. Unbelievably when you read this feedbacks here…

  60. Gonzalo says:

    Google'd for this and ended up here.

  61. Kwilliams says:

    4 versions, 8 years and still can;t display a full file name of an attachment.  This is kinda beyond ridiculous at this point.  The solutions to double the amount of work we need to do it crazy.  Fix this display to list or something, but are we back in a 16-bit os with long file name considerations?

  62. Peter says:

    Well ok then – googled this problem and ended up here – so – Evernote huh?

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