I couldn't do X before OneNote, solve for X

I couldn't do X before OneNote, solve for X

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I wanted to ask you all a question/favour, what can you not do without OneNote?  The other day I was listening to a focus group of information workers (what we call regular office workers) and they were talking about the problems that they face at work with sharing information and working together.  It was really interesting to see what they had to say and what problems they were facing in their workplaces.  I thought that OneNote would solve a lot of their problems, but of course that might just be me.  With the OneNote hammer everything looks like a nail : )   But seriously I thought that OneNote and other Office apps could solve a lot of the problems people face, but I wonder how you explain what OneNote is to people.  I think sometimes it is almost too generic for someone who has never seen OneNote before.

So my question for you all and the discussion I would like to start is what can you not do with OneNote?  What is something that you couldn't do before without OneNote?

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  • Frictionless note taking. I use OneNote like a whiteboard, and it's great that I can freely type text anywhere, easily format data into tables, and embed just about document into it. The Outlook integration is great, too, and I make use of the task sync more than anything else.

    What I couldn't do before OneNote (reliably!) was organize my stream of consciousness. I record just about everthing in my notebooks and hardly ever use paper anymore (and when I jotted things down on paper before, I could never find it again!). The search functionality is really great and is enhanced by the power and integration with WDS, especially through the Start menu search in Vista. My OneNote application runs all the time and I use it about as much as I use Outlook.

    OneNote is a life-saver and life-organizer. It is versatile in so many ways and I love it. It is really an undersold product and I think it is an easy sell if people just "try it".

    By the way, did I mention I love OneNote yet?


  • Thanks Paul!  This is exactly how I feel about OneNote and I am glad to see that you are taking advantage of the full power of OneNote.  But how do you explain this to other people?  I don't know if everyone feels the same way or has that 'problem' internally, do most people think that they need to be more organized?  And do they think a notebook helps?

    For me yes it does (and I guess you too)!

  • When explaining what OneNote does for notetaking, I explain about the different note taking methodologies (topical, chronological), and explain how OneNote is better than both at finding info.

    The one thing that I wish it would still do is simple math using pen input.  Nothing fancy, just addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

  • I can barely gather a qualitative thought (excel is great for other sorts) without a blank OneNote page.  I just started a new job and I have been pestering the IT dept. to load it on my computer.  Being able to rearrange seemingly disconnected thoughts has been paramount for organizing outlines for papers and projects.  I wish more people used it so I could take advantage of the great network/sharing features.  I rarely print on to physical paper now.  Print to OneNote is the best.

  • "Clipboard on steroids" is how I start explaining OneNote to friends and colleagues. Its my primary use for OneNote. All those webpages, word docs, notes and scibbles that are too small to justify an entire Word document or screengrab that end up getting lost in the File System quagmire. OneNote brings it all together and makes it searchable.

    To paraphrase SteveB - "I, Love, This, Product"

  • I work in drug research. at our company OneNote has become indespensible in sharing and collaborating. OneNote seems to have been aimed at students, in Research all we do is study! so the taking of notes, screen clippings, dragging and dropping of files and the ubiquitous "Send to OneNote" means that people put their information very easily into shared notebooks for all to see (we share notebooks via sharepoint) rather keeping to themselves on PCs and email.

    This has begun to speed up drug research because IDEAS as well as information are far more accessible.

  • I'm a fan of GTD (David Allen's <i>Getting Things Done</i>) although not a devout follower.  But the ethos of GTD is recording stuff rather than trying to remember it so you aren't left with that distracting "I'm sure I've forgotten something" feeling.  OneNote allows me to get to that calm state of knowing everything important is in my notebook, I can find it all at a moment's notice, and I can't spill Diet Coke over it and ruin it!

  • I'm a complete OneNote lover, but I haven't been able to fully move away from notebooks and notecards because I often need to lay out the notecards and pages from my notebook on a table to sort and arrange them--especially useful when trying to bring various ideas together into one project, or for collapsing brainstorming notes.

    For recording and organizing my notes--for outlining or keeping track of a project--OneNote is great. For brainstorming--for pulling disparate notes together by arranging them in a visual space--I still rely on paper, especially for larger projects.

    I would love to be able to have a view option that let me see all the pages in a section at once, and ideally allow me to interact with them and visually rearrange pages and notes--even just to be able to drag a note from one page into another while being able to see them both at the same time would be great without needing an array of monitors set up.

    Another thing I can't do (easily) with OneNote is reorganize a collection of notes and pages. I would love to be able to select multiple pages at once and click a button that moved or copied them to a new section in the same space.

    In addition to that, I would love some sort of ability to establish relationships between different sections and pages in a notebook. While I know it's not a database program, I've reached a sufficient volume of notes that some database functionality would be tremendously helpful, even just the ability to add text tags. The existing tag system and tag report is fairly useful right now, but I would love to be able to tag an entire section or section group, or just tag a page of notes, but not the entire section.

    Ok, now I'm just digressing into my Feature Wish-List. :) Anyway, I love OneNote and still think it's the best note-taking software out there (trust me--I've tried them all).


  • Completely agree with the above power note takers :) especially when it comes to research and organizing my thesis notes into bloggable sections. The only thing left for me would be a built in handwriting calculator on the page and a little circle telling me where to put the coffee mug on my tablet screen ;p

  • 1. Collect all information regarding one topic in one place (with references back to the source).

    2. Make notes about anything in a way that makes sense to me.

  • I notice that most of the comments are things that people couldn't do before OneNote, which I agree with. I'm a student and I have a tablet, so OneNote holds all of my school notes. I really enjoy being able to record the lectures, and take notes on them, and get related info off the internet to drop in, and being able to keep it all organized. It's an invaluable tool. However, I am also an amateur programmer. I know this might sound silly, but one thing that I can't do with OneNote that I would love to be able to do is keep my programming projects in notebooks. I already keep parts of them, like research and brainstorming, and the occasional flowchart for difficult flow problems, but I don't keep the source code in them because there's no syntax highlighting (which is really not surprising, since it's not a plain text editor). So. That's my thing. A little silly, but you asked.

  • We are using OneNote in combination with SharePoint to provide team wiki's. OneNote provides a fantastic user friendly interface onto the SharePoint document library. This is revolutionising the way teams are sharing information. For example nobody bothers to fill in the metadata around a document when they drop it into a document management system but with OneNote the teams are spontaneously annotating the files on the page with contextual information. This is great and really enables the team to work together. However there are a number of areas where improvements could be made:

    1) Many people work in a matrix organisation and we need to support the cross team perspective. While creating virtual notebooks across several notebooks is possible this could be made much more simple.

    2) Using OneNote in a collaborative fashion does produce conflicts with synchronisation. Can anything be done to allow forced synchronisation of specific files, pages, sections? Or allow a user to check to see how else has a file open?

    3) RSS alerting off each page, section, section group would be fantastic. This would really enable you to keep track of what was happening in a shared notebook. Yes I can do it off the SharePoint document library but it's ugly.

    4) Bring OneNote up to equivalence with the rest of the office suit. For example if I embed a excel table into word I can click on it and it opens as an editable object. This should occur for all MS Office files. Dropping slides into OneNote is great but they are only images. If I want to edit a slide I have to open the file better to allow me to click the slide image and that slide opens.

    5) finally from a wiki perspective it would be great to see automatic hyper linking where you have an exact match between a word on a page and a section group, section or page. If not automatic then something as simple as the [[name]] mark-up language of MediaWiki.

  • "4) Bring OneNote up to equivalence with the rest of the office suit. For example if I embed a excel table into word I can click on it and it opens as an editable object. This should occur for all MS Office files. Dropping slides into OneNote is great but they are only images. If I want to edit a slide I have to open the file better to allow me to click the slide image and that slide opens."

    I couldn't agree more - I use onenote as my engineering design notebook.  I still have to switch back and forth between excel and onenote - being able to "inline" excel worksheets would be amazing (and logical).

  • All other value is already written.. for me,

    OneNote is a great Document management tool.  I use it to put scan and put ALL my bills and other communications - and I can plan my payments/ correspondence and other elements easily.  

  • What I couldn't do was to manage the various strains of my life / interests in a way that actually saved me time and was dependable.

    The ability to quickly SendtoOnenote, things I might need, DO need, for: work projects from admin to project development to collaboration to future reading to meeting notes; personal info and records; journaling, outlining; pulling together info from diverse programs like - I love mind-mapping my thoughts in Inspiration, but need to have a central place to access annotate without always opening other files - I now print these to OneNote and can browse, annotate, while working with info from other programs as well.

    The simple text recognition features are priceless. Using my TabletPC in meetings is unobtrusive, and without a secretary (I run a small staffed nonprofit with a large footprint covering North America, increasingly expanding) the ability to edit notes, prepare typed output and send, cuts out hours of past labor. I could do these things, but the speed and simplicity have improved dramatically in the two years.

    That's what comes to mind first.

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