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OneNote 2010 Technical Preview: Hands-on Review

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After installing the Office2010logoMicrosoft Office 2010 Technical Preview (msft), OneNote 2010 was the first application I fired up. While OneNote grew in popularity from Office 2003 to Office 2007, the impending release of OneNote 2010 is going to offer longtime users even more to like and, quite possibly, create some new fans.

This post is going to deep dive into some of the new enhancements you will enjoy when OneNote 2010 is publicly available.

Improved Ribbon. OneNote 2010 really benefits from the ribbon improvements in Office 2010. While the introduction of the Office ribbon drew some slings and arrows from long time Office users, the Office 2010 ribbon is greatly improved and smoothes over some of those rough edges.

Tagging. While previous OneNote versions always garnered praise for usability and organization options, OneNote 2010 adds tagging to the “Home” ribbon. You have the option to tag your important notes with predefined tags or ones you create yourself. This new option really complements the already strong organizational capabilities of OneNote notebooks.

Sharing Tools. OneNote gained its popularity as a note-taking and research tool. OneNote 2010 includes sharing tools to make it an even more effective for research, including the capability to email OneNote pages, support for multiple authors sharing notebooks, and page versioning. With OneNote 2010 due to be available in more editions of Microsoft Office, both geographically dispersed and traditional project teams should be able to take advantage of OneNote collaboration.


Improved Drawing Tools. While I am a big OneNote user, I still rely on an old school yellow legal pad and pen for taking notes in meetings. The reason is that my work as a technical writer means I do a lot of drawing of process flow diagrams and such. The OneNote 2010 drawing tools offer the drawing options I need so I can finally leave my yellow legal pad and pen behind.


Audio Tools. While you can’t escape client meetings, you now have the option to record meetings directly into OneNote (provided your laptop has a microphone) and then search through the audio files later.

Office Integration. When I first read the news about OneNote joining the Microsoft Office suite proper, my hope was for better OneNote/Office application integration: the upcoming Office 2010 is working to deliver on it. While I try to keep my expectations simple, I am already enjoying the Linked Notes feature, which enables you to keep notes on saved documents. There is also the capability to send OneNote pages directly to Microsoft Word. I was also excited to see the capability to attach documents to OneNote pages because I can see me using it to attach drafts, research and other project artifacts to keep my projects better organized.

Final Thoughts
While the Web Component of OneNote 2010 isn’t available for review yet, I see it as an addition could directly challenge Evernote and should drive innovation in the note-taking market. Additionally, just as Microsoft is bringing Outlook to OS X (s aapl), expectations are going to rise that access to Microsoft needs to make OneNote available on the Mac.

OneNote 2010 is a standout in the Office 2010 Technical Preview and I look forward to seeing the final version.

Have you tried out OneNote 2010 Technical Preview?

16 Responses to “OneNote 2010 Technical Preview: Hands-on Review”

  1. David Emme

    Never used one note and the 2010 version was a bit goofy. Open it up and a peach color screen opens up. With this, the standard buttons with “home”, “File”, and “view”. You click these buttons and will bring up sweveral options that…I aint got no freaking ideal. Of course, having already gone to the Microsoft website on this app and for the most part you will find this little by-line, “This car will get you where you need to go”. Well, not really. You will find all over the place the same pattern given, “One note will help you organize your notes”.

    I imagine if you go to a website to find out about an automobile, stating this car will get you where you need to go is the only thing you can find about that car, well most will look for a different car.

    Most times you can find out quite a bit from MS by pressing the question mark button. Usually, you can find out what you need to do right in the program or it can also take you to a MS website that usully does a pretty good job taking you where you need to go to find your answers. Micrososft Onenote took you to a place where you will find…Onenote will help you organize your notes.

    The next day, I try again with really no help from MS. Like many not so profficient in music, you start pressing every button like some kid trying to figure out what sounds a key board will make. Youn thinki you are making music whyen your parents scream that the keyboard is not a toy.

    Finally, you press a button that looks like a page on the top left hand corner and now Onenote looks different with a guide on theleft hand side of the page.

    What does all this mean? This was a bit like my experiance in getting my first drivers license. As a Marine inOkinawa, Japan, I talked a good friend in teaching me how to drive. Everything is opposite compared to the USA. The drivers seeat is on the opposite side compared to the USA. So is the breaks, gas pedal, and even the clutch is reversed. When on leave back home while taken the driving test, I had to silently keep saying, “drive on the rught side of the road, drive on the right side of the road.” Yes, I larned how to drive in a country that drives on the wrong side of the road. Wrong in the relative term how most Ameriucans learn to drive.

    What is the point? Most MS programs turn the question mark to find quite a bit of info on how to navigate the program or whatever you also need to figure out. In almost every program or software that comes out, the question mark is used the same way.

    So MS also decides to go away from this and when approaching the program for the first time, even though my dad is dead and mom lives in a different part of the country, I still hear them screaming to stop playing by pressing every button. I think next time I visit my mom, I can honestly say I have an excuse for pressing every button-apparently MS wants us to start acting like kids-in a bad irritating to the people around us way.

  2. OneNote is one of the best pieces of software available for use with Windows. Now the latest version OneNote2010 launch with advanced features over the previous versions (OneNote 2003 and OneNote 2007) is its ability to sync over the web. You can have password protect a section. You can also add tags to any part of a page and search for the tags later across a single notebook or all notebooks. If you want to try this software. You can get the regular download for $79.99. & you can get the Home and Student version download for $10 less for $69.99. you can install it on 3 computers instead of 2 with the regular license.

  3. My problem with OneNote 2010 is that when I tried to copy text from picture, it does not retain the paragraph setting of the copied text, contrary the OneNote 2007. It is a problem if you have many pages of scanned text you would like to convert. Or do I miss something to tweak here?

  4. mark petrilla

    does anyone know if 2010 Onenote will allow for “paintbrush” type manipulation like MS Word? This has been a challenge for me in 2007 Onenote. Also does anyone know how to incorporate “org charts” easily into Onenote? Maybe visio?

  5. i am wondering how does ON 2010 do re:
    -being able to drag notes between pages/folders?
    – or boolean searching of tags?
    – more complete boolean searches of content
    – or being able to send web pages to onenote from firefox (i don’t know if it works from IE)?
    – or speed up sending large notes into ON?
    – show search results as thumbnails in main page window?
    – native support for merging notes

  6. Oops, I apologize, I see you were specifically referring to the online aspect of it that Evernote has previously offered but Onenote has not (at least not without Sharepoint or similar). Nevermind (best Gilda Radner impression).

  7. “While the Web Component of OneNote 2010 isn’t available for review yet, I see it as an addition could directly challenge Evernote and should drive innovation in the note-taking market.”

    Dude :-), what planet are you living on? That’s like saying “with some work Microsoft Excel could challenge Lotus 1-2-3.” Evernote is a nice product too, but “could directly challenge”? You’re joking, right?

  8. cybertactix

    Create new fans is an understatement. Everyone I’ve shown OneNote too has become a fan. The biggest problem is that Microsft hasn’t (until now) made this a part of their suite and as a result it hasn’t received the exposure it needs. Many companies are hesitant to roll it out because its an extra expense and its just too “generic” (until you use it you don’t understand what it does or how much you miss not having it). By making this a part of the basic Office suite Mirosoft will push this product “over the top of the hill” and you can expect to gain a LOT of momentum as it rolls down hill.