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Using OneNote

OneNote is Microsoft's extraordinarily versatile note-taking machine. You can use it as a personal organizer, recording outlined and free-form notes, drawings, embedded video and audio, attached files, and so on. You can also use it as a collaborative tool, sharing notebooks with other members of a project team.

Like Skype, OneNote comes in desktop and modern variants. The Store app, officially known as OneNote for Windows 10, is included in all Windows 10 installations; the desktop version is part of the Microsoft Office family and is included with Microsoft 365 business subscriptions. Versions for Android devices and iPhone are also available through their respective app stores.

OneNote for Windows 10 uses OneDrive to store and sync notebooks, which means you can add or edit pages from any device in any location and access that content on every other device where you're signed in with the same account. The desktop OneNote app allows you to open, save, and edit notebooks stored locally or on OneDrive or OneDrive for Business.

Over time, the capabilities of the modern OneNote app have expanded dramatically. Unless you have a specific reason to prefer the desktop app, we recommend using this version.

If you're new to OneNote, these core principles will get you started:

  • Notes are stored in notebooks, which are subdivided into sections. Each section consists of one or more pages. OneNote creates a default notebook that contains a single section (called Quick Notes) with no pages. Sections are identified by tabs arranged vertically beneath the notebook name, and pages appear in a vertical pane to the right of the selected section. You can create an unlimited number of new notebooks and add as many sections and pages to existing notebooks as you want.

  • OneNote saves everything you enter immediately and instantly. If your notebook is stored on OneDrive, you have access to it from anywhere, including mobile devices.

  • OneNote is a free-form editor. You can type or jot anywhere on the page. With drawing tools, you can create sketches or annotate your notes.

  • From OneNote for Windows 10, you can share any notebook.