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Microsoft OneNote

OneNote 2013 Title bar

Quick Start Guide

Microsoft OneNote 2013 looks different from previous versions, so we created this guide to help you minimize the learning curve.
Microsoft OneNote 2013 Quick Start Guide

Keep you notes in the cloud

If you're brand-new to OneNote, you'll be asked to connect to the cloud, where OneNote will create your first notebook. You can use your Microsoft account (for example, MSN, Hotmail, or Messenger) to use with OneNote. If you don't already have an account, you can create one for free.
Keep your notes in the cloud

Keeping your notebooks in the cloud means you can access them from just about anywhere, such as any other computers you use, your phone, a tablet, or even a Web browser.
Access notebooks from anywhere

What happened to the Share tab?

If you're upgrading to OneNote 2013 from an older version, you probably have at least one notebook stored on your computer. You can easily move these notes online so you can access them from anywhere. Select File > Share to begin.
Share your notebook

OneDrive is the best and easiest option for your personal notes. If you're working in an organization that uses SharePoint to collaborate online, you can select the Add a Place button on this screen to set up your existing SharePoint account.

Any OneNote notebooks that you store online are kept private unless you give other people permission to view the folders in which your notebooks are stored.

Things you might be looking for

Use the list below to find some of the more common tools and commands in OneNote 2013.

  • To open, create, share, convert, export, send, or print notes, select File and then look in the Backstage view (select the commands in the left pane).
  • To apply formatting to text, apply note tags, and email a notebook page, select Home and then look in the Basic Text, Styles, Tags and Email groups.
  • To insert tables, pictures, links, files, audio and video clips, or apply page templates, select Insert and then look in the Tables, Files, Images, Links, Recording, and Pages groups.
  • To draw sketches or shapes, take notes in your own handwriting, customize pens, rotate objects, or convert ink to text, select Draw and then look in the Tools, Shapes, and Edit groups.
  • To mark notes as read or unread, find notes by author, view page versions and history, or empty the Notebook Recycle Bin, select History and then look in the Unread, Authors, and History groups.
  • To check spelling, do online research, translate text, protect notes with a password, or take linked notes, select Review Spelling, Language, Section, and Notes groups.
  • To maximize screen space, turn rule lines and page titles on or off, set page margins, zoom the page, or create Quick Notes, select View and then look in the Views, Page Setup, Zoom, and Window groups.

Save time with templates

OneNote templates can give the pages in your notebook a consistent look by applying colorful, decorative backgrounds. Templates can also save you time by adding functional content to pages, such as to-do lists, calendars and planners, and forms that you can fill out or customize.
Save time with templates

You can browse through the built-in collection of templates by selecting Insert > Page Templates.

In the Templates task pane, select to expand any of the categories, and then select each template name to view it. When you've found a template you like, you can begin taking notes on its page.
Templates task pane

You can customize any of the build-in templates to suit your needs, or download more free templates by visiting the OneNote website on

If you like, you can even create your very own template designs from any of your notebook pages.

Where is the Save button?

OneNote doesn't have a Save command because it automatically saves everything as you work -- no matter how small or large the changes. This lets you think about your thoughts and ideas instead of your computer files.

Export notes whenever you need to

If you need to send a snapshot of a notes page (or a section or an entire notebook) to someone who doesn't have OneNote, you can easily export a static snapshot of such notes by selecting File > Export and then selecting the format you want.
Export notes whenever you need to

Capture anything with Screen Clippings

An easy way to bring stuff into OneNote is to insert a screen clipping, which lets you capture anything on your computer screen so you can keep it as part of your notes.
Capture any with Screen Clippings

Start by bringing into view whatever you want to capture -- for example, a travel itinerary in Internet Explorer or a chart in an Excel spreadsheet.

Switch to OneNote and then select Insert > Screen Clipping. As soon as the screen dims and OneNote disappears, drag a selection over what you want to capture.
Switch to the Insert tab and select Screen Clipping

When you release the mouse button, a picture of the screen region you selected is sent to OneNote, where you can move or resize the picture exactly how you want it to appear in your notes.

Meet the new Send to OneNote

On your keyboard, hold the Windows key and then press the N key to launch the redesigned Send to OneNote tool, which makes it easier than ever to import random information from other programs and files into your notes.
Send to OneNote feature

Here, you can create a screen clipping without switching between apps, import entire web pages or documents to your nots, or create quick sticky notes that automatically become part of your notebook.

You can select the command buttons in the Send to OneNote tool, or use the additional keyboard shortcuts that are shown in parentheses next to every command (for example, press S to take a screen clipping).

Using the Send to OneNote tool is optional, which means you can keep it running while you're in the middle of a research project and then turn it off again when you don't need it.

How to work with people who don't have OneNote 2013

Here are some things to keep in mind when sharing or exchanging files with people who are using an older version of OneNote.

  • In OneNote 2013 when you open a notebook that was created with OneNote 2007, the notebook opens in OneNote 2013, but you'll see the worlds [Compatibility Mode] on the title bar. This tells you that the notebook is currently saved in the older file format, which doesn't recognize newer features like math equations, linked notes, multi-level subpages, versioning, and the Notebook Recycle Bin.

    If you want to use all of the available features that OneNote 2013 offers, you'll need to convert the notebook to the newest file format.

    Before converting an older notebook to the newest file format, consider if you need to collaborate with people who are still using OneNote 2007. If the answer is yes, you should continue working in Compatibility Mode.

    If no one you share notes with is using OneNote 2007, it's best to convert the notebook to the newest format. To do this, select File > Info, and then select the Settings button for the notebook you want to convert. Select Properties, and then select Convert to 2010-2013.

  • In OneNote 2013, when you open a notebook that was created with OneNote 2010, the notebook opens in OneNote 2013 without any feature limitations. No file format conversion is needed. Notebooks created in the OneNote 2010 and OneNote 2013 formats can be shared and used together without any conversion.
  • In OneNote 2013, when you convert your notebook to the OneNote 2007 format, downgrading a notebook to OneNote 2007 turns off the newer features that are available in OneNote 2013 (including math equations, linked notes, multi-level subpages, resigning, and the Notebook Recycle Bin), but doing so makes the notebook compatible for sharing with other people who are still using OneNote 2007. After converting a notebook from OneNote 2013 to the older ONeNote 2007 format, be sure to inspect the pages where you might have used newer features like math equations, linked notes, and multi-level subpages. Content that was created by newer features may not be visible or editable when the notebook is downgraded to the OneNote 2007 format.

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