Microsoft OneNote 2010 part 2 : In
Versatile, easy to use, and invaluable
Store, save, and
subsequently search and retrieve all the information in your
life through Microsoft OneNote.
Part two of a two part
review of Microsoft OneNote - please see
part one for the
first part of this review.
One of the biggest potential
uses of a computer - the ability to store and sort and search
through information - has generally been handicapped by the
inability of a computer to work with a mix of different types of
information, all bundled together.
This simple seeming capability
is actually very difficult to create, programmatically.
So perhaps it is not surprising
there have been no programs offering a truly flexible and
convenient solution to this need - at least, no such programs
Microsoft's updated OneNote
software is the excellent solution to this requirement that we can
all use and benefit from.
It is a great program of great
value to almost every computer user. Best of all, there is a
60 day free trial available so you can try it for yourself before
deciding if you want to purchase it or not.
....continued from Part One
If you directly landed on
this page from a search engine, you might find it helpful to start
off by reading the first part
of this two part article.
Sharing OneNote via SkyDrive
One of the interesting
features of OneNote is the ability to have your OneNote files
reside on Microsoft's free SkyDrive feature.
SkyDrive is the name
Microsoft gives to its internet cloud service - you can store
files there and then access them from pretty much anywhere as long
as you have an internet connection.
Using Microsoft's free
SkyDrive online or 'cloud' storage service, you can have multiple
files, each of up to 100 MB (and in total no more than 25GB)
online and shareable. Amazingly, Microsoft does not charge
for this service (well, being as how it is an adjunct/enhancement
to other Microsoft products which they do sell, it makes
commercial sense nonetheless).
Not only can you place copies
of your files on SkyDrive for you to access, yourself, elsewhere; there are a
couple of other valuable things that SkyDrive allows as well.
The first of these is that you
can allow other people to access your SkyDrive OneNote files.
You can decide, file by file, who can access them. You can
also decide who can only view your files, and who is allowed to
not just view but also edit and change your files.
The second of these is that
you don't even need OneNote to be able to open and edit your files
when you are away from your home computer. A web based
application - the OneNote Web app, part of the Office Web apps
suite, enables you to access and work on your files through a
web browser, and you can do most things through the browser
interface that you could do directly through OneNote.
So you can not only access
your own files from anywhere, on any computer, but you can also
allow other people to do the same, without requiring them to have
to go out and buy a copy of OneNote.
This is amazing. A few
years ago it would have seemed impossible, and now it is a
practical reality. Well, almost a practical reality.
There are some unavoidable limitations - if you have a very large
OneNote file, then it will take a measurable amount of time to
open it via the internet as compared to opening it from your local
But once a OneNote file has
been opened, working on it is fast and interactive (because only
the changed data is being updated, not the entire file).
When you first are confronted
by OneNote, it may seem like an overwhelmingly complex piece of
software. But this perception is erroneous - it is actually
a very simple piece of software. The only hard part is
deciding what to use it for.
Once you've decided on what
you want to store, what could be simpler than cutting and pasting
from other programs into OneNote? If you want to add
something that can't be cut/pasted, you can take a screen shot of
it instead. So everything you can display on your screen,
you can add to your OneNote file.
Sometimes you'll choose to
add new tabs or pages for a better layout and split of
information, and that's very simple too.
Finding the information
subsequently is also completely simple and easy.
An analogy between
spreadsheets and OneNote is partially valid.
It could be said, in most cases with Excel, actually using the program is
the only hard thing is deciding what to use it for. The same
with OneNote; once you've determined a use for it, implementing
OneNote for that purpose is quick and simple. Indeed, the
actual operation of OneNote is a million times simpler than the
operation of Excel (okay, so that is an exaggeration, but only a
little!). OneNote's functions are enormously simpler and
easier to learn than those offered in Excel.
You will quickly find that the
more you use OneNote, the more you think of new ways to use
OneNote in more parts of your business and your personal life.
In my case, I like to keep
files of story ideas for future articles I might want to write
about in the future, and also keep files of background information on topics I
need to refer back to.
OneNote is excellent for such
tasks. As I browse around the web, it is very easy to cut
and paste from web pages into OneNote files, and to add quick
comments after phone calls or whatever else, and to supplement it
with scans from newspapers articles and magazines.
There is one feature of
OneNote I absolutely adore. It auto-saves your work, as you
do it. You don't have to worry about a computer crash or an
automatic reboot that causes you to lose your data.
OneNote for Travel Purposes
Microsoft provide a sample
OneNote file to show how it can be used for researching and
planning and documenting a trip.
As the sample file shows, you can first of all collect
information on things such as hotels, special deals and offers,
places to go, where to eat, what to do, and all that type of
Studies suggest that one of
the most fun parts of any trip is the planning and preparation.
OneNote ensures this truly is fun.
Then, working through the
collated information, you can put together an itinerary (also in
OneNote, of course).
Next, you can use OneNote to record all your booking confirmations
and other travel details.
This can be particularly
useful in connection with storing the file on SkyDrive and being
able to access it from any computer, anywhere, even if the
computer doesn't have OneNote loaded on it. If you find
yourself in a problem with a lost reservation, you can (either
yourself or even have the supplier do it) access the exact details
of the reservation, including copies/scans/screen shots of emails or faxes) to
show exactly what was reserved and confirmed, without needing to
carry bulky files of printed out materials. You could even
do this from your phone (if it is an iPhone or Windows
There's more. You can
also use OneNote to create To Do lists of things you need to do
prior to your journey, and even a packing list of things to take,
then you can check the items off, one by one, as you get them
Hopefully you're traveling
with a companion, so the two of you can share the OneNote file,
and you can each individually add to the travel file and make
comments and work together on researching and planning and
selecting your itinerary, even if you're not physically together
during this part of the proceedings.
You can share some or all of
your travel plans prior to your journey with family and friends
and colleagues - perhaps just your itinerary so they know where
you are and how to contact you.
You can also create a trip
diary, pasting into OneNote pictures, video clips, other souvenir
images, your written impressions, maybe even spoken commentaries
and audio clips. You can share this 'real time' with family
and friends while you're traveling, and of course complete it
further upon your return.
OneNote first came out as part
of Microsoft's Office 2003 suite of programs. It was
enhanced in the subsequent Office 2007 version, and then was
upgraded further both in the initial Office 2010 release and then
in the major service pack/update released in June 2011.
If, like me, you had looked at
OneNote in one of its earlier releases and then forgot about it,
you should have another look at it now. The latest version
is massively improved compared to its predecessors.
Some of the improvements of
particular value include the ability to add simple
spreadsheet functions into OneNote files, and a much improved
layout and hierarchy of notes.
Talking about layout, there
are better formatting features too, if you wish to make a 'pretty'
appealing OneNote file, perhaps to impress clients or colleagues
or bosses or whoever.
The search functions - an
absolutely essential part of the program, of course - are now
And, adhering to the new
'cloud computing' paradigm that is pervading all aspects of
computer usage, the program has now become completely 'cloud
compatible' and works efficiently even if the data files reside
primarily on a SkyDrive somewhere in the internet rather than on
your local computer.
You can even access and work
on your OneNote files via a Windows smartphone or an iOS device
using OneNote Mobile for iPhone (but not yet on an Android or RIM/Blackberry device).
Competitors to OneNote
OneNote is far from the only
note taking software product in the market today, but it is
probably the best.
table of other products currently available, and as you can
see, OneNote is the only product to score positive results in all
the categories analyzed.
Microsoft OneNote is an
amazingly flexible versatile program, giving you a whole new way
to save and store and subsequently search and select information
of all types, both on your computer and through the internet.
It is easy to use, and you'll
quickly wonder how you ever managed without it. Don't just
take our word for it - you can download a 60 day free trial and
see for yourself.
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15 Jul 2011, last update
21 Jul 2020
You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.