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OneNote to bind them, OneNote to rule them all

Published: May 25th, 2015 By: Lynn Greiner


With the number of devices most of us carry around, it has become increasingly difficult to keep track of what information is where, and to access what we need when we need it.

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That’s where Microsoft OneNote comes in. Although it’s been around since Office XP was introduced, all too few people are even aware of it. Why? Because Microsoft positioned it poorly to begin with, and only sold it as a standalone product. It was an unfortunate beginning to an extremely useful product.

Fortunately, Microsoft belatedly realized the error of its ways. Today, those issues have been remedied. OneNote is a first-class member of the Microsoft Office family. It’s included in the Office suites, including Office 365, and freely available on multiple other devices.

OneNote is, as the name suggests, an infinitely expandable virtual notebook. Users create a notebook (think of it as a file folder), and then add pages to it in which they can enter text, paste any sort of content, and capture Web pages or emails. For example, authoring a report can be done entirely within a notebook, with separate pages for research and the final document. Microsoft Outlook even has a “Send to OneNote” button, and Windows includes a pseudo-printer which works much as many PDF writers do, sending the output to OneNote instead of to a physical device.

It’s ideal for project management and collaboration too; OneNote notebooks can be shared among team members. Since they accept any content, they can serve as repositories for all of the bits and pieces that accumulate while planning and executing a project. OneNote will even interpret handwritten notes into text, if the device supports pen input. It was, in fact, one of the first Microsoft applications to be truly pen and touch friendly.

To gain maximum utility, OneNote notebooks can be stored in the cloud, on OneDrive for Business, making them accessible anywhere Internet connectivity is available. Microsoft offers a financially-backed 99.9 percent uptime guarantee for Office 365, so OneNote versions that are part of business plans will be almost always available. And, of course, Active Directory integration in the suite provides secure authentication.

Since OneNote, like the other components of Office 365, spans multiple platforms, users can refer to or capture notes whenever the need arises. If inspiration strikes during the commute, just type the idea into OneNote on your phone, and continue from where you left off on another device. If you can’t remember what was assigned to each team member during a meeting, as long as the minutes were captured in OneNote, the information is at your fingertips, anywhere, at any time, on any device.

There are financial benefits to the Office 365 version as well. As well as ensuring that the software is kept up-to-date, it allows companies to better manage licensing costs. The Rogers pay-as-you-go model, for example, permits rapid adjustment of the number of licenses, rather than forcing companies to pay upfront for the entire year.

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