So, let’s go over some of the basic storage details. Let’s start with notebooks. They appear along the left edge of your page, in what’s called the ‘Navigation Bar’ (or NavBar for short), as pictured below.

The NavBar can be expanded to see the sections contained within the notebooks. Some people like to keep the NavBar open all the time, however that reduces the amount of real estate you have available to you on your page, so it’s really up to you to decide how you like to work with the NavBar.


        Note that in Windows Explorer:

        • Notebooks are regular folders
        • Sections are regular files


A notebook can be local, (meaning it’s stored on your own personal computer and available only to you), or it can be shared, (meaning that other people can open the same notebook and add/contribute content at the same time that you are). One of the most compelling uses of notebooks is the ability to share them with others. Here on the OneNote team, for example, we use a shared notebook to discuss our priorities in our weekly team meeting. We all sit around a table in a conference room and, during our meeting, go over items that need to be discussed. At any time any member of the team can add some notes to the notebook and within a few seconds we all see those notes appear on our own screens.

I use this same feature to sync my notes on my laptop to my notes on my home computer. I can add notes to my notebook on my laptop and when I get home they automatically sync up with my notebook at home. I don’t have to do anything special, it just works. Likewise, if I add notes on my notebook at home, boom, it syncs with my laptop so I always have my latest notes with me, wherever I go.

In the picture above, you’ll notice the little green synchronize icon next to the notebook. This indicates that the notebook is being shared. The checkmark in the icon indicates that the notebook is up to date with the latest changes. The synchronization takes place automatically, so you don’t need to do anything special, other than open/create a notebook outside your default notebook location. If you wish to see the details of the synchronization, you can do so by opening the Shared Notebook Synchronization window. To do this click File -> Sync -> Notebook Sync Status. This allows you to change the online status of a notebook, see the synchronization progress, or check for sync errors.

Sharing a notebook is easy. You can do it one of 2 ways:

    1. If you know beforehand that you want to share the notebook, you can use the Notebook Wizard, (File -> New -> Notebook -> then just follow the prompts), to create your notebook.
    2. If you have already created a local notebook and want to begin sharing it, you can simply change the location of the notebook to a more suitable location, (right-click the notebook -> select Properties -> then choose Change Location -> select the location, and you’re done). Now just point the other people to the new location of the notebook.
      • You can also do this via Windows Explorer if you’re adventurous enough.


  • The Notebook Wizard will guide you through creating any kind of notebook you desire. When you get to the ‘Who will use this notebook?’ step you’ll be asked where the notebook will reside.
    1. You can select ‘I will use it on this computer’ to specify a local notebook.
    2. Select ‘I will use it on multiple computers’ to specify that the notebook will live in a central location that you specify, but will be accessed on 2 or more computers.
    3. Or select ‘Multiple people will share the notebook’ to specify that the notebook will reside in a shared location, such as a server or a shared folder on your computer.
  • You can specify the location of the default notebook location in OneNote. Generally this is located at C:\Documents and Settings\[your name]\My Documents\OneNote Notebooks. However, to change to a different location, click Tools -> Options -> Save -> select Default Notebook Location -> select the desired folder -> click OK.
  • To close a notebook, right-click the notebook -> Close. While this closes the notebook, it does not delete it. You can always reopen it later by clicking File -> Open -> Notebook.
Comments (8)

  1. Henry Vanston says:

    Hi Jeff,

    I became a OneNote fan a while back, and have bought a tablet pc so I can take notes anywhere. Maybe you can direct me to where is the best place to ask questions … for instance, when I "copy hyperlink to this page" the link includes the name of my PC. Clicking on the link asks me if I want to open the section or notebook, even though the notebook is already open. However, if I replace the name of my PC with "c:" I don’t get that message.

    So for instance copy hyperlink produces:


    Replacing "HENRY-PC" with "c:" fixes the issue. Is there anyway to make it default to "c:"


  2. jeffcardon says:

    Henry, this generally occurs when you are copying a hyperlink address from a shared notebook.  For example, ‘Notebook A’ is a shared notebook.  You copy the hyperlink from a page in the notebook and paste it somewhere in ‘Notebook B’.  Since the hyperlink is pointing back to a shared notebook (in this case Notebook A), it pastes the UNC path (\HENRY-PCUsersHenry…"), instead of the local path, ("C:UsersHenry…").

    This is an issue we’re aware of and currently looking at for a future service pack or release of OneNote.  In the meantime, the only known workarounds are to either do as you have already discovered and change the link to a local link ("C:…"), or to change the notebook back to an unshared notebook, which you can do through the folder properties in Windows Explorer.

    I hope this helps, and please let me know if you have any additional comments or suggestions.


  3. Parul Gupta says:

    Can one view the Clipboard in OneNote?

  4. Maria says:

    Is there any limit how many people can work on one notebook at the same time?

  5. Steve W says:

    I've really become dependent on OneNote, mainly as a document management system. When I upgraded to Office 15, I lost many pages in the conversion. Also, OneNote seems to have made duplicate copies of all my notebooks stored in multiple locations, e.g., on my desktop, laptop and Office365 site.When I open OneNote now, I see all copies of all notebooks. I need help with 2 things: how can I merge my backedup notebooks with current notebooks and how do I get just one copy of each notebook to open in OneNote.

    Any help is appreciated.

  6. Cheryl says:

    Hi, I am sorry but I cannot help with the above question, I have a question of my own,what app do I use to open my notebooks. I tried opening with notepad and wordpad. Not a good idea.

  7. Debbie R says:

    Hoping someone can help.  Using 2010 OneNote.  First issue I found a solution for but would like a better one.  When trying to share a notebook section, I have to go to the shared drive, hold down Shift+right click and do a Copy path as.  Then I have to go to body of email, insert hyperlink. in the hyperlink window I paste the path and click ok.  This adds the UNC path.  When I tried this from within OneNote I don't get the UNC Path.  Is there a better way?

    Issue 2 – similar to issue above.  When I want to add a PP slide or Word doc page I do the OneNote links from those products.  This opens OneNote and I select section/page where I want the links to be.  However when someone tries to open the link they get error message because it points to drive and not the UNC path.  It is impossible to have everyone linked to the same drive letter.  Is there a solution to get the UNC path into the Link?

  8. Specify the notebook properties says:

    I have many 'notebooks', but one specifically requests me to 'specify the notebook properties' EVERY SINGLE TIME I open One Note…. I've tried to 'create' and that doesn't help.. tried to just hit 'cancel'.. same.. HELP.