I have to say that in the months since MS Office 2007 came out I have only used OneNote a little bit. In my old job I used it to keep emails and ideas, instructions and stuff (like what gets written on sticky notes and scraps of paper) in some sort of organized system. But now that I am an independent contractor (read: HIRED GUN) I really have a lot of projects that I am working on at the same time with several different clients. In order to keep track of this whole mess (the sticky notes were covering my monitor) I decided to expand my use of OneNote.
Here are some cool points I have discovered by playing with OneNote:
It is like an outlook PST file in that you do not have to open a file, once the program is open you just click on tabs or add content. If the program is closed (either by you, the idiot user, or some event beyond your control) you do not lose any data. There is a OneNote icon in the tray that controls some of the preferences as well.
You can have as many notebooks open in OneNote as you can imagine and as many tabs as you want (within reason – shesh, you tech guys are unrelenting – no, not unlimited but a lot, ok?). There are a lot of controls for color coding and categorizing. The benefit here is this is a program where your content from all other sources can be organized into a logical (or several logical) orders.
You can send email directly to OneNote. This was how I got started. Ever put an email away somewhere and never find it again? If the answer from you to that question is no you are either lying or you don’t get a lot of email. The folder and category system in Outlook is great, don’t get me wrong. And I know professionals that can find anything at a moment’s notice. But some details are better pulled out and ordered differently and that is where OneNote shines.
I created several Blog entries today with one note. Even though I am a long time Word user (I mean version 1 and 2.0 – that is a LONG TIME brother) there are things about OneNote that I consider cutting edge. At least for Microsoft. In OneNote you can do pretty much whatever you can do in word for short documents but you can also grab and reposition any block of text or image using the marquee tool (you know, right-mouse click and hold, drag a box around it and release). This is not highlighting like Word or Excel. This is similar to the table feature. But the imaginary box containing the items you are moving can be resized and positioned anywhere on the page. Combine blocks by holding shift and dragging one into another.
You can create tasks, meetings and contacts in Outlook with OneNote and they will stay synchronized. Notes made in a connected meeting entry in OneNote will show up in the Meeting invite which can be emailed as an update for ongoing meetings. This is just too easy.
When you are looking at any screen that you need to capture into a document, just pres the Windows key + the “s” key and the screen goes hazy. Marquee drag around the image you want and “PRESTO!” your image pops into OneNote on an un-indexed page ready for you to copy and place or edit. It is so much easier than doing a screen capture and editing in Photoshop or worse, MS paintbrush – EECH.
All of this can be found in the included notebook OneNote 2007 Guide that opens automatically when you start the program. But using it and playing with it yield the most rewards.
The interesting aspects just keep coming like: right mouse clicking opens the usual menu with the addition of a “send to Blog” function that I am using right now.
It might sound like Microsoft is paying me, and I wish they were. Usually I have nothing good to say about them except that they are the program of choice for most of the business world. But this program is a true productivity enhancer. I welcome you to check back and review the comments and add your own regarding this program. As I discover new aspects or bugs I will post them here.
Oh yeah, Microsoft makes trial versions available so clients and colleagues can work with you (yes, of course you can share OneNote!) and get hooked without purchasing the software until you are addicted.