Every so often, I'll get the same or very similar questions all at once. I'm not sure why this happens, but this last week I received several different variations of this type of request.

    "I wish there was a way to quickly mark and find all my To Do items."

    Well, there is, and I'll show the feature first then explain a little about how it works.

    First, the easiest way to tag an item (a piece of text, a picture, etc…) is to apply the "To Do" tag. There is a keyboard shortcut for this (CTRL + 1 is the default) and the Standard toolbar also has this right at the top of the Tag dropdown:

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    image

    I have to paste an image here since my blog software won’t recognize the “To Do” box from OneNote as an image…

     

    Now you can use the Search feature in OneNote indirectly to look through all your pages to find tagged notes. Click the Show All Tagged Notes command from the Tag dropdown. This is also on the view menu (I wrote about this a bit differently in August).

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    And there will be a task pane that opens and shows all the check boxes you have:

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    When search runs, it will find both the checked and unchecked items. If you only want the unchecked items to show, the Tag Summary pane has a box near the top to only show the unchecked items:

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    This also filters out all the other tagged notes so you can see what you still have to do. You can refresh the results and create a single summary page by using the two buttons at the bottom of the tag summary pane:

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    The summary page is especially useful if you have items scattered all over the place and want just one place to see a master list.

    OK, that is the whirlwind tour of the feature. Since this is based on search technology (that is what is used to find the tagged notes), there are some standard test cases which are obvious. Installing Windows Desktop Search (built into Vista and Windows 7) onto Windows XP will allow an index of all your notes to be built. Then when the search is triggered the index is searched rather than going page by page through all your notes to build the list.

    In turn, that leads to some other testing. If the index is not done, the pages get searched one by one. This ensures that you get the data you want when you are trying to get the list created. Either search method will also get re-triggered if you click the "Refresh Results" button.

    You can also see the amount of time the search takes by looking at the top of Tags Summary - there is a "Searching…" with a clickable Stop link, or a "Search Completed" string. This gives you a visual indication of whether the list you have is complete or is still being built.

    There is a lot more to testing this feature with tags and searching. For now, though, I just wanted to explain the feature here since it has bubbled up a little this last week. Have fun with applying and searching tags!

    Questions, comments, concerns and criticisms always welcome,

    John