Tuesday, April 29, 2008

New Blog Site

I've decided to use a new blog site (blogs.msdn.com). You can now find this blog at http://blogs.msdn.com/onenotetips. Hope to see you there.

Monday, April 28, 2008

What's the best way to use OneNote?

So one of the most frequently asked questions we get here at OneNote is "what's the best way to use OneNote?" People really want to know. Well, my response to you is "what's the best way to take notes?" Is there really a definitive answer to that question?

We have many different types of people who have discovered a new way of doing their work in OneNote. From the college student to the medical doctor, the professor to the real estate agent, the sales associate to the shopper. And the list goes on and on. We even had a software developer who once told us he writes all of his code in OneNote because he loves the outlining capabilities. To all you developers out there with one eyebrow raised, we don't regularly recommend this, but…to each his own. With as many different varieties of people we have using OneNote, we have equally as many different styles of using it.

There really is no 'one size fits all' approach to using OneNote. After all, we're not your typical application for refining documents. Our purpose in life is to give you a free-form way to gather your thoughts, ideas, research and more in the way that best suits you.

Having said that, there are many ways in which OneNote can help you make your life more productive. In the way you organize your stuff, for example. You can think of our storage model, (the way OneNote saves your stuff), as somewhat of a hierarchical structure. You have notebooks, which contain sections or section groups, which contain pages and subpages, which is where all your stuff lives.

As I was writing this blog, I discovered that there is much more material to cover in this particular topic than I could reasonably fit into a single post. So I decided to break it into 4 separate posts that will cover each of the following topics:
  • Notebooks
  • Sections
  • Pages
  • Unfiled Notes
Over the next few days, each post will cover tips associated with the topic itself. My intent is not to tell you how to use OneNote, but to open your eyes to some of the different ways to discover how you can use it to improve your workstyle. So get ready, and I hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Introduction to OneNote Tips (plus Screen Clipping tip)

OneNote's user base has been steadily increasing over the years. So I thought this would be a good forum to share some of the useful tips and tricks in this fantastic software application that have made people's lives more productive.

OneNote is a software product that is part of the Microsoft Office family of products. It was originally introduced as a standalone application in 2003, but has since been included in the Office Home and Student 2007 and Office Ultimate 2007 suites.

Now, if you're a regular user of OneNote, you already have a taste of it's many flavors of productivity. However, if you're new to OneNote, you might be asking yourself, "what can OneNote do for me?". I hope to answer this question and many more through this blog.

OneNote was originally conceived as a digital note-taking application. A way to take notes on your computer so you can easily find them again. It was designed to make your experience as close as possible to a real paper notebook and still retain all the digital advantages of a computer. With that in mind, there are many more features that let you capture your thoughts, ideas, research, class notes, journal and much, much more. So stay tuned to this blog and hopefully you'll discover new ways to use OneNote that'll promise to make your life more productive.

My intent is to appeal to both the new user, the seasoned veteran and everyone in between who's interested in using OneNote. So I hope you enjoy this blog. I'd also be interested in hearing some of the ways you've found to make yourself more productive with OneNote.

Now, on to the first tip:
  1. Capture Screen Clippings.

  2. It's easy to capture a Screen Clipping in OneNote. This is essentially the same thing as taking a picture of what's on your screen and storing it in OneNote. Then you can add your notations above, below, to the side or right on top of it.

    This is useful for a number of reasons, but to put it into an easy-to-understand scenario, let's say you're a college student and are currently in a biology class. On the big screen, your professor navigates to an internet site that contains a picture of EscherichiaColi, also known as E. coli. He requests the students in the classroom who have computers to also navigate to the site. Then he begins explaining its genetic makeup.

    After you navigate to the site, you open OneNote and take a Screen Clipping of the picture he's explaining by clicking on the Insert menu, then on Screen Clipping and then you draw a rectangle around the picture. The picture appears on your page in OneNote and you begin taking notes, pointing your notes to the area of the picture he's explaining. After the class is over, you head to your next class.

    A few weeks later you're preparing for a biology exam. You're trying to remember some of the terms the professor used to describe E. coli. You open OneNote, type "E. coli" in the search box and just like that you're taken to the notes you took on that day. Now you have all those notes and the picture you took from the Screen Clipping. What's more, the internet address from which the clipping was captured appears beneath the picture so you can easily navigate back to it.
Tip: There are a few ways to capture a Screen Clipping:
  1. From the Insert menu in OneNote click Insert -> Screen Clipping -> draw a rectangle around the area of the screen you wish to capture. Once you release the mouse button, the picture is dropped right into your OneNote page.

  2. Right-click on Side Note in your Windows System Tray -> Create Screen Clipping:

  3. This will put you into Screen Clipping mode and you can draw a rectangle around the area of the screen you wish to capture.
  4. You can also press the Windows + S keys on your keyboard to activate the Screen Clipping feature.
  5. Note that this will only work if you currently have Side Note running in your system tray:

Additional information: You can customize the Screen Clipping feature to do any of the following:

  1. Copy the image to the clipboard only, (useful for when you want the picture to be dropped into another application).

  2. This is done by right-clicking the Side Note icon in the Windows System Tray -> Options -> Screen Clipping Defaults -> Copy To Clipboard Only.

    Note: When this feature is enabled, it only works when capturing a Screen Clipping via the Side Note icon. When accessed through the Insert menu in OneNote, it places the picture on your page in OneNote in addition to copying it to the clipboard.
  3. Disable Screen Clipping notifications, (the little bubble that appears above the Side Note icon in the Windows System Tray when the Screen Clipping feature is activated).

  4. This is done by clicking the Tools menu in OneNote -> Options -> Other -> Disable screen clipping notifications.