OneNote 2010 Features

When looking at software that I’m interested in, I always want to see screenshots.  When reading reviews sometimes I don’t even read the review — I just look at the screenshots as a first test.  If it doesn’t seem like what I want, I move on.  Therefore, I will give you some screenshots here of OneNote 2010 features along with some explanations.

The Best New Feature in OneNote 2010

The most important feature added to OneNote 2010 over the previous versions (OneNote 2003 and OneNote 2007) is it’s ability to sync over the web. I use OneNote on 4 different computers — my home desktop, personal laptop, work desktop, and my wife’s desktop.  That is why syncing is so important to me. It’s actually pretty easy to set this up over multiple computers.  If you don’t have a hotmail/msn account, you need to create one to use the syncing.  Then create a new shared notebook by going into the File, then New menus:

New shared onenote notebook
New shared onenote notebook

Just login to Windows Live SkyDrive (just below “3. Web Location:”) and pick a name and put it in whichever folder you want and viola you’ve created a shared OneNote notebook!  I have two different main folders that I put my notebooks in.  One for stuff that I only want me to see and one for stuff that I want to share with friends and family.

Now, if you want to open your new shared notebook on another computer, login to your hotmail account and click on “Office” at the top.  This is what my screen looks like at that point:

onenote 2010 in internet explorer
OneNote 2010 in internet explorer

As you can see I have several books here.  Several of these were books I started and never use, but generally I have 3 or 4 open at the same time on each computer.  Once I click the notebook I want, it takes me to a screen that looks very close to what the desktop OneNote 2010 application looks like.  From there, you simply click on File and then Open in OneNote.  It’s really easy.  You do have to give OneNote about 30 seconds to a minute to open the workbook the first time if it’s of a significant size.  After that, you don’t need to wait anymore or jump through any hoops.  You just open up OneNote and your notebooks will be there with the latest changes.

onenote in internet explorer open in onenote
onenote in internet explorer open in onenote

Is OneNote better at syncing than it’s competitors?  Actually, I think it’s a wash. Once you set OneNote up on a computer, it’s not any harder or easier to sync than with another program.

OneNote 2010 Basic Features and Layout

First, let me describe the basic layout and how it works with a large set of data spanning many areas.  Here is the main screen that I deal with on one of my computers.

onenote 2010 within links and gtd

  • On the top is the ribbon where you’ve got all of your menu actions.  The ribbon is familiar to you if you’ve worked with Office 2010 or Office 2007.  If not, don’t worry, you get used to it.  Granted, it’s probably more than a little different from what you’re used to, but you should find it really convenient once you adjust.
  • The notebooks and sections within those notebooks are on the left side.  For example, I’m currently in the section “GTD” within the “MyBook” notebook.  That’s tier 1 (notebooks) and tier 2 (sections).  You can also see the sections for the current notebook at the top as tabs like a real notebook.
  • The 3rd Tier is on the right side.  I’m currently in the “Home” page within “GTD” within “MyBook.”  You can also make sub-pages for an extra half-tier or so, but I don’t think that’s necessary really.  If I need sub-pages, I usually turn a page into a section.
  • You can see the links to another page within OneNote at the top of the current page.  Also, you can link to files and websites anywhere within OneNote.
  • Note that the links at the top of the page are kind of floating there.  That’s because within the program, you can put text, pictures, etc anywhere you want — just like an actual piece of paper.

With these 3 tiers, you can organize anything and make it easy to find.  For example, I have 4 main notebooks — one for my personal stuff, one for my work stuff, one for my personal projects, and one for me and my wife.  I have a ton of stuff stored in those notebooks and it’s always super easy to find.

Some of the other important OneNote 2010 features and screenshots

You can have password protect a section as shown below. This is key to putting all your necessary info into OneNote.

onenote password protected 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.  This makes it easy to find different information that goes into different areas, but are still related.

There are a ton of other features that it would take forever to go into.  These are just the ones I like and use the most.

To buy or not to buy?

If you have a lot of information to organize and never seem to get a handle on it, forget where you wrote something, or need to reference things you learned more than a few months ago, I highly recommend OneNote.  For me, I want to remember lots of things — recipes, to-dos, shopping lists, gift lists, goals, fun ideas, project ideas, and so much more.  Therefore, it’s worth it for me and probably a lot of other people too.

Now, the big question is how much is OneNote?

You can get buy it for the regular download for $79.99.  Not cheap for software.  Then again, for me, it was totally worth it.  It has saved me countless hours having to figure something out a 2nd and 3rd time.  Honestly, in the last month alone, it has probably saved me about 20 hours of work.  I’m not kidding.  It is that convenient — especially with the syncing.

If $79.99 is too expensive, then you can get the Home and Student version download for $10 less for $69.99.  Not only is it less expensive, but you can install it on 3 computers instead of 2 with the regular license.  What’s the catch?  The license says, “Not for use in any commercial, nonprofit, or revenue-generating business or government organization.” Basically, a business couldn’t buy it for its employees.

UPDATE: I’ve found it cheaper on

I like Amazon and use them all the time. The only drawback to this is that its not a download, so you don’t get it right away. But, if you’re willing to wait a few days, its a much better price.

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