Navigation in OneNote 2013

Navigation in OneNote 2013

  • Comments 63

This post was authored by Olya Veselova, Senior PM Lead on OneNote

Organizing and finding content is an important part of your note taking experience, and we've spent a lot of time this release thinking about how to improve navigation in OneNote 2013. We've also been working on making OneNote better for touch based devices, which have an entirely different set of constraints. It's also important for the UI to scale well  for casual and power users - we wanted to make it easy to get around your content whether you have a single notebook or dozens of them.

 As David touched upon in his earlier post, we now have two modes in OneNote:

  • Normal  View, an updated version of the layout from 2010 designed for mouse and keyboard use
  • Full Page View, a completely new style of navigation designed specifically for touch


Normal View

Normal View is an updated version of the OneNote layout you've always known - pages are on the right side, sections are on top and a list of notebooks on the left.

Notebook Dropdown

In OneNote 2010 the notebooks were shown collapsed in a bar along the left side of the screen , and we realized that there were some shortcomings to that approach: sideways text was harder to read, and the visual layout didn't make the relationship between notebooks and sections entirely clear.  It also wasn't very obvious which notebook was current and the UI didn't scale very well when you had many notebooks.

The dropdown in Normal View will be the default view for most mouse and keyboard users, and the name of the current notebook is displayed prominently next to your sections, so you're never in doubt about which notebook you're in. To navigate to another notebook, you click on the notebook name which brings up the dropdown. The layout also scales well - if you add several notebooks, the icons will be shrunk so that you'll almost never have to scroll.

If you have only one notebook, we don't take up the extra space on the side of your screen - this view is good to use if you spend a good amount of time in each of your notebooks, rather than constantly switching between notebooks.  It is also best suited for notebooks of medium size - without section groups or too many sections - such that your most used sections can fit across the top.


Notebook Pane

Now, if you're more the power user type and you like to switch between your notebooks frequently, fret not - we've updated the old Notebook pane view from OneNote 2010. You can get to this view by clicking on the pin button in the notebook dropdown (pictured below)

When you turn on the notebook pane, we display a list of all your open notebooks and highlight the notebook you're looking at. The pane takes up less space, and wraps your notebook names if they are too long.  This view is great for large notebooks with many section groups and sections.

If you have several sections in your notebook, the bar on top can get filled quite easily and then you have to click twice to get to your section. To make this simpler, the notebook pane also displays a vertical list of sections so that you can get anywhere with a single click.


Full Page View

Full Page View is our minimalist, touch friendly mode that you can get to by clicking on the button in the top right corner of any page. Full page view gets rid of both the ribbon and our navigational chrome, and keeps you content in focus. 

As you can see the layout is very clean, keeping your content front and center while removing all but the most necessary UI elements. The extra whitespace  is really useful for working with wide tables or taking notes next to inserted documents.  It's great for a tablet when you're writing with a stylus, and you won't accidentally go to a different page when your rest your palms on the screen. In fact, if you rotate your tablet to portrait mode, OneNote goes into Full Page View to provide a better experience.

Notebook Dropdown

In this mode, you tap the notebook name in the top right corner to bring down your notebook dropdown.  If you're using a slate, this button will be within easy reach of your thumb so that you can jump between pages easily.

To make our navigation more touch friendly, we brought notebooks, sections and pages into a single 3 column layout. You can tap on a notebook, section or page to preview it instantly in the background and then tap on the page to dismiss the dropdown.  You can also double click or tap or navigate instantly to a particular page,

You can right click any item in here for context menus and drag and drop to reorganize. There's also a shortcut to the search box, and if you're using a mouse, you can take advantage of our new floating page button to insert a new page exactly where you want it:

Editing Notes in Full Page View

You probably also noticed that the ribbon is hidden by default in full page view in addition to our navigation. Users can still edit and interact with content through the context menus, which can be brought up by : 

  • Right clicking with a mouse
  • Selecting and tapping with touch


The layout changes depending on whether you're using touch (pictured above) or a mouse and keyboard. Of course, You can always bring back the ribbon temporary by clicking the '…'  bar at the top of the screen or you can pin the ribbon to have it always appear. 


If you have feedback on any of the changes we've made to navigation in OneNote 2013, please let us know in the comments below. 

Olya Veselova
Senior PM Lead, OneNote 

Leave a Comment
  • Please add 8 and 5 and type the answer here:
  • Post
  • Please keep the keyboard shortcuts as much as possible.

    For instance I use very often the shift key when clicking on a netbook so that I can choose to go directly to the section I want, instead of the "active" one.

    And I would also want to better navigate around TAGS, there is too much clutter in that pane. I want as many tags as possible to be shown on the screen, not to keep scrolling and scrolling.

    Thank you.

  • Could we have on first screen the same menu as on screen four. Touch menu is fantastic on Tablet, for keyboard use too. There is plenty of space and when somebody have lots of section it helps faster choosing what you want.

  • I love all the changes you've made, especially the full page view and Notebook Dropdown, which I am using all the time on my tablet.

    But the "..." at the top does not work most of the time with my Stylus and it's vertically to small to be able to hit it with my fingers. Right-clicking on a selection with the Stylus also does not work at all.

    I also find automatic selection of text with your fingers rather annoying. Why would I want to select text with my fingers? That is almost never the case. The selection circles are too small anyway even if I wanted to (they should be much bigger). The default finger mode should always be panning unless I explicitly choose another mode. The icon for panning is already a hand, so fingers should pan.

    I second Kamil on the Notebook Dropdown in Normal View. It is so incredibly good that it should also be the primary navigation method for the mouse and keyboard. This would also make the UI more consistent because there would be only one navigation method.

  • Thanks for the feedback Daniel, Kamil and HK, I've passed it along to the rest of the team.

  • - Invent a "Favorites", like all browsers have, that would allow you to organize your own list of pages (or even bookmarked portion of a page) into quick pick menu.

    - Keyboard short cuts and right click (context menus)

    - REALLY WANT - Calendaring integration with Outlook (online) rather that the desktop only + other calendaring options within the program.

  • OneNote is one of my must-have software, but for digital note this software, now we he needs far exceed the note itself, proof of the popularity of Evernote is the best! In particular, multi-platform synchronization and the prevalence of smartphones started, figures notes people I hope that it is a personal information manager! OneNote from 03 I have always insisted to the present, some ideas in mind always wanted and OneNote development team reflects and want to reply to and improvements:

    1 exactly like Evernote notes a "label", we usually encounter a note properties can be stored in more than one partition at the same time "label" will give us a lot of help

    2 on Office other file and PDF support enough perfect, we for information of sources not only is through page, for other Office file and PDF is is important of, if can in OneNote in the import export, and view, and edit these file on too Rod has, such as OneNote for table of edit capacity worst, if can directly import or insert xlsx file and in OneNote in the directly for edit or view on too good has, Seem to OneNote2013 will improve this and look forward to!

    3 lack of opposing complete scheduling and task management features, insert a to-do without reminders; task management features through Outlook tasks to complete, scheduling or Conference is also indirect uses Outlook to complete? Don't you think the trouble? Do not think very short Board? Why not let OneNote directly over the schedules, meetings, travel, task, to-do, the matters entrusted management function (edit, view, reminder, more important is the multi-platform sync!!! )

    4 is just mentioned, synchronization for multiple platforms, in addition to the PC port, and editing capabilities for other platforms should also be enhanced! It is impossible for us to sit in front of the computer, hunchback abandoned pen and paper, the only 24-hour is around in smart phones such as Android or Apple, as a "one note" not enhanced multi-platform sync, enhanced editing functionality in the Smartphone version, want you to use?

    5 plugins and templates can provide richer, Evernote's treasure chest is worthwhile!

    Sincerely hope that OneNote will get better!!!!

  • <a href=''><strong>Ofis Mobilyaları</strong></a>

  • Great job on the new UI.  I've been using it the last few months and especially love the full screen mode.  Everything is out of the way but still within quick reach.

  • any plans for a hierarchy with more levels?  Notebook/sections/pages just isn't enough.  Why not have some arbitrary nesting level?  This would add a tremendous amount of flexibility.

  • @Travis: You can use section groups to create an extra level of hierarchy for large notebooks. Just right click on any existing section, and you should see an option for creating a new section group

  • I used OneNote 2010 extensively, and one of the things I've become accustomed to is leaving OneNote in Full Page View while writing & editing Notes. In this view, the menu bar is still available, though the ribbon is hidden (and I can pin it to visible when I want).

    Nowadays every time I enter Full Page View using F11 or the button I put on my Quick Access toolbar, it also puts me into Full Screen View.  That's an extra click, then, to show my menu bar and disable Full Screen View. I love Full Screen View for side-notes, but not for the majority of my note-making. Is there a way to enter Full Page View without entering Full Screen View as well? There should be.


  • Is there a keyboard shortcut to display Notebook Dropdown? Once I enter Full Screen mode, the only way to bring up Notebook Dropdown seems to be to click on the current notebook name in the upper right corner of the screen.

  • @Ilya - Yes there is a way to pull it down just hit Ctrl-G for the navigation or Ctrl-E to open search and you can navigate to pages just by searching.

    Both of these work in standard view as well.  

  • Yes, Ctrl+G from full-screen mode was the keyboard shortcut I was looking for. Thanks, Daniel!

  • Is there a way to configure size of an indent in OneNote 2013 (or, equivalently, the number of whitespace characters in one tab character)? I see that it currently is set to 4 whitespace characters, and would like to be able to set it to 2 (or even 1).

Page 1 of 5 (63 items) 12345