OneNote and Outlook Task Syncing – OneNote notes as context for your tasks (from Olya Veselova)

Here is a post from Olya Veselova of OneNote. A few of you have mentioned in comments How I work with Outlook 12 that you use OneNote; the following should really interest you. Look for more posts from Olya here in the future.

From Olya:

I am Program Manager on the Microsoft OneNote team. I am big fan of the new Outlook 2007 task flagging system (now I fully switched to using Outlook for tracking my tasks).

In OneNote 2007 we built synchronization with Outlook tasks, so that you can use OneNote notes to add context to your tasks. I want to share with you how you can use that as part of your task management system.


Wait a minute. What is OneNote?

If you are not familiar with OneNote, try out the OneNote 2007 Beta 2 here.


We call OneNote an "add-on pack for your brain". I use it to collect my ideas, thoughts, meeting notes, customer requests, various project-related materials, web-page clippings, etc. - anything that does not go into a formal document, e-mail, or calendar. OneNote makes it very easy to organize all this stuff and keep it accessible. For example, in the past week I've been collecting preliminary thoughts for this post in OneNote.


Creating Outlook tasks directly from OneNote. They will be synchronized.

Outlook is my central place for managing tasks. I add new ones to the To-Do bar, or I flag incoming mail as tasks. However, tasks also come to mind when I am taking notes in OneNote. At that point, I can flag a note paragraph as an Outlook task:


The note is flagged in OneNote:

The task also appears in the To-Do bar in Outlook, where I manage it together with all my other tasks. If I mark the task as complete, it will synchronize back to OneNote.

Jumping between OneNote and Outlook


In OneNote - right-click the task:

In Outlook - open the task and click the OneNote link in task body:

When is creating tasks from OneNote useful?


While taking meeting notes - create follow up items

I often take meeting notes in OneNote. I flag any action items that come up as Outlook tasks. For example, I write down something like "Need to confirm schedule", and flag it as a "Next Week" task. Next week, I stare at this task in my To-Do bar in Outlook and have no idea which schedule I was thinking about. But I can click the OneNote link in task body to jump to the OneNote meeting notes page to get the context.

At the next meeting on the same topic, I may also check the previous meeting notes page to see if all the action items were completed. I can see that, because the task state of the flags is synchronized with Outlook.


Tasks related to a particular project - seeing them together in OneNote, with other related notes

In OneNote, I like to create pages for my project with a summary of remaining issues that I am tracking. Often there are tasks involved that I need to complete, so I flag them as Outlook tasks.

Same as with tasks from meetings, I jump from the Outlook task back to OneNote to refresh my memory about the context of the task.

The Outlook To-Do bar and the calendar view of tasks lets me manage my time. Whereas, the project page in OneNote gives me a project-centric view into any remaining issues and any remaining tasks.

For other OneNote and Outlook integration features, check out Chris Pratley's post: OneNote 2007 and Outlook: Best Buddies



Comments (25)

  1. Kevin Dente says:

    Cool stuff! Is this sort of task linking available on OneNote Mobile/Pocket Outlook as well?

  2. Here is a great blog post on how creating tasks and flagging them in OneNote 2007 automatically creates…

  3. It appears that Olya has a great post up on Melissa MacBeth’s Tasks and Time Management in Outlook blog….

  4. BeerBong says:

    Ok, I’m fun of OneNote 2007 & Outlook 2007.

    There is inconvinience althogh.

    You’re right, OneNote is great thing to combine all tasks for all projects on one page. That page is good point for observe situation. But the most common way to create task is using Outlook or even PDA, not OneNote. And I want to link all these Outlook tasks to projects summary page in OneNote – I don’t want to recreate them via OneNote for maintenance whole picture. These tasks should appear as Outlook tasks created via OneNote.

    I can’t do this now.

  5. Chris says:

    Do any of the fans of OneNote do NOT use a tablet?   How useful is OneNote on our average laptop without a touch or pen based digitizer  screen?


  6. I use OneNote on both my desktop machine and on my tablet – though I have yet to use my laptop as a tablet (i.e. using a digital pen.) All of the features that Olya lists above don’t rely on any of the tablet features.


  7. Chris – without a tablet OneNote gives you everything but ink. I use it for organising all my notes, typed, copied or handwritten, across multiple PCs. I keep saying this – there are areas to improve but it still rocks.

  8. dougcar says:

    I am not seeing the link in an outlook task created in onenote that takes me back to onenote. What am I missing? (both are beta-2).

  9. Andy Bryant says:

    I’ve got the same issue – the link from OneNote to Outlook works fine, but I don’t get the icon in the task to get me back to OneNote.

    I can manually copy a hyperlink to the OneNote page, but it would be better to have the link there as intended (above)

    Any ideas?

  10. Perry says:

    Very useful!  I love both Outlook and OneNote and I think the improved integration between the two in 2007 is fantastic.


    I work on the OneNote team and help design product features. I have posted a couple of times…

  12. If you are not familiar with creating Outlook tasks flags from OneNote notes and synchronizing them,

  13. Hogan says:

    Is there a way for me to create tasks as a manager for my subordinates? This would be a very useful feature for me. When in meetings, it would be nice to create lists of work and get them assigned at the same time.


  14. mmacbeth says:


    In Outlook, you can assign tasks to others (just click the assign button). So you could flag all of the action items in OneNote, and then assign them out from Outlook. In OneNote, there isn’t any direct way to assign tasks to others, though if you are using a Shared OneNote Notebook (where the notebook is stored on a shared drive or on SharePoint) each person can flag tasks in the notebook for themselves, and those tasks will sync into their Outlook.


  15. Ashwin says:

    If I’m reading this right, then I can create Outlook tasks for items created in OneNote. But can it work the otherway?

    I’m trying to find a solution that will allow me to make notes on say a task or an email flagged in outlook. Is this even possible?

  16. I recently was passed a blog that I thought might interest some of you about how to use OneNote as part

  17. Jenny says:


    I am a fan of onenote. I’m now using Office 2007. Is there any configuration I need to do before I can use the outlook task and calendar in one note? It’s inactive in my onenote. Hope you can help.



  18. Michael Ebstein says:

    How come the "No date" flag is dark red in outlook and faded red in OneNote?  I like faded red better because almost all must tasks have no date.  But, it’s lame in Outlook because all my "no date" tasks are flagged with a bold red flag making the flag color sort of useless to me.  Is there some way to make Outlook act like OneNote in this case?

  19. carl says:

    This looks interesting. Currently I use EssentialPIM for keeping a wide range of tabbed notes plus it syncs with Outlook.

    What I have been looking for is an easy way to integrate lots of tasks whereby I can add say 1 or 2 per day imported from a spreadsheet or other format.

    For example, I have a long-term project to redesign a website and also to do search engine optimization. I have about 150 individual tasks for each one. I would like to be able to have 1 to 2 new tasks for each to show up each day. Is there an easy way to set this up and import other than typing in manually?

    Would also like a way to click on a link in a task that will launch EssentialPIM and open the tab that it references. If this cannot be done through the Windows registry, then I’ll have to take a closer look at OneNote.

  20. Matt Buzz says:

    I’m able to create a task in Onenote & have it "moved/sync’d" to Outlook… Can I create a task in Outlook and "move/sync" it to Onenote?  I’m using 2003 NOT 2007. Thanks. Matt

  21. Mike Johnson says:

    When I create a Outlook task in Onenote and then move the task in Outlook to a task folder other than the primary task folert the link is broken.  Any idea on how I can keep task linked when I move it.  If I open the task in the new location and click the link, I can get to the task in Onenote but I loose the ability to have one syncronize with the other.  I appreciate your help.

  22. Guy says:

    i am syncing my sharepoint onenotes with outlook

    but when i try to open the onenote through outlook, it gives me a read only

    how can i have an open onenote to work on it when offline and then sync back up, all through outlook

    thought that was the point ?

  23. BAS says:

    Does anyone know how to show the Start/Due date for a task in OneNote?  

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