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5 Ways to Use OneNote at Work

Written by Andy Small
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If your IT department is like my IT department, the thought of you downloading something like Evernote would make their heads spin. Most IT departments are wary of something you don’t have to pay for.

Additionally, a lot of us are stuck with Windows at work and can’t take advantage of the great tools on the Mac — ones that are Mac-only. However, there is something you might not know about something that is likely already installed on your office PC. That’s right: Microsoft Office. And it has a pretty neat tool that you can use…and it’s called OneNote.

Here are the 5 reasons why you should use OneNote at work.

1. It’s a good tool to implement GTD

We have explained in the past why Getting Things Done is great, OneNote is very much an empty notebook with which you can implement GTD at work. Use folders, sections and subsections like you would use physical folders. Instead of printing out that email or webpage, simply print and hit “send to OneNote” in the drop down menu. You can then file the “printout” where you need to.

2. Shared Notebooks means instant and real time collaboration

Put the OneNote notebook file in a place where it can be accessed by the people who need it and setup it up to share. And as simple as that, you have an online version of a whiteboard. Use OneNote to manage projects among many people, or simply as a place to throw ideas around. If there is sensitive material you can password-protect some or all of the notebook so that only certain people can see it.

In my day job we have a weekly report we have to file with our supervisors. We use a OneNote notebook to make our weekly report accessible to everyone in the division. That way we can see what everyone is up to — and maybe help pick up slack in areas that need it.

3. Take better notes in meetings

If you have a laptop as your work PC, bring your laptop to meetings and have OneNote open and ready to take notes. Use the tagging feature to flag important tasks or questions as they arise. Then, if you have a shared notebook with someone, share your notes so you can see if you were thinking the same things in the meeting.


When I was still attending college I used OneNote for my lecture notes. I was able to tag things to look up later or for items I had questions about. More than once I had fellow students come up to me and ask what app I was using to take notes. They were very surprised to learn the program was included in Microsoft Office.

4. It is an awesome wiki

Since OneNote updates and saves in near real time, the ability to use it as a wiki is clear. Linking inside a notebook is a new feature and allows for a more “wiki feel”.

5. Take fast and simple screen shots

By using the keyboard shortcut Windows+S, the screen will grey out and you will see a crosshair cursor. Select the area you want to grab and that area will be placed into your unfilled notes section of OneNote. You can either cut, copy, and paste (or save) the screen grab as a PNG. You no longer have to hit the print screen button and crop the photo in an image editor (like Photoshop, for example).

OneNote is a great tool that is often overlooked when talking about how to be productive. But if you’re like me and your IT department doesn’t allow you to install apps on your work PC, it is a tool that is indispensable.

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