OneNote on Windows 7

Today, Windows 7 finally arrives in stores. In my personal opinion, it’s Microsoft’s best-ever operating system.

I’m not saying this because I work at Microsoft. I’m saying it because I’ve been personally using and thoroughly testing Windows 7 ever since its early builds were made available. The improvements that Windows 7 offers over its predecessor, Windows Vista, are plentiful, and the industry’s collective praise for them has been difficult to miss.

Though I must admit that I’ve personally had only very few issues with my various Vista computers at work and at home, I’ve sure had many an earful from my friends and family about it. Thankfully, with the arrival of Windows 7, we can usher in a new era of personal computing. I’m very happy about the immensely positive buzz about Windows 7 because it’s truly well-deserved. Hats off to the Windows 7 team. A job well done, guys!

As Windows 7 hits the stores today, I wanted to share a few tips about using OneNote 2007 on a Windows 7 PC. Whether you’re planning to upgrade now or later, I hope some of you will find this information useful.

Does OneNote 2007 run on Windows 7?

I’ve been asked this question quite a bit since the Windows 7 Beta and Release Candidate were released for public testing. Now that the final version of Windows 7 has been released, let me officially confirm that OneNote 2007 runs great on Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate Edition. (I have not personally tested it on Windows 7 Starter Edition, so if anyone out there is running that, please share your experience by posting a comment here.)

The higher the edition that you purchase and install, the more functionality will be available to you in Windows 7. Wikipedia has posted an article with details about what’s included in each edition, so be sure to take a look before you make a purchase.

32-bit or 64-bit Windows 7... why should I care?

Feature-based editions aside, Windows 7 also comes in two different technical flavors — a 32-bit version and a 64-bit version. Up until recently, nearly all computers in the world ran 32-bit operating systems. Windows Vista Ultimate was the first edition of Windows to come with both 32-bit and 64-bit versions, the latter for early adopters who could afford the then-costly hardware. Over the past year, mainstream PCs have gotten much more powerful and have begun to sell with considerable higher amounts of system memory, and more and more of these machines came with 64-bit Windows Vista pre-installed.

As of today, October 22, 2009, stores such as Best Buy as well as online retailers like Amazon, Dell, Alienware, HP, Gateway, and others will sell almost all of their PCs with a 64-bit version of Windows 7 pre-installed. This is because only 64-bit versions of Windows can take full advantage of higher amounts of system memory. If your computer comes with 4GB RAM or more, it’s a good idea to use a 64-bit version of Windows.

(If you can stomach a lot of geeky technical jargon, you can learn more about 64-bit computing over at Wikipedia. But don’t say I didn’t warn you!)

Does OneNote 2007 have any issues on a 64-bit version of Windows?

While OneNote 2007 works nearly as great on 64-bit versions Windows as it does on 32-bit versions, there is one notable exception: OneNote 2007 is a 32-bit application and its popular “Send to OneNote” print driver feature was not designed to run on a 64-bit operating system, no matter what version or edition.

A quick glance at the OneNote 2007 box spine confirms this:

Excerpt of OneNote 2007 system requirements

Back when OneNote 2007 was first developed, there was a technical reason why this could not be supported. It wasn’t much of an issue then, mainly because most everybody was happily running a 32-bit version operating system like Windows XP or Windows Vista. Now that 64-bit computing has reached the mainstream at the same time as the popularity of OneNote is at an all-time high, this single feature limitation is something to be aware of.

If you’ve been using OneNote 2007 for a while and you’ve fallen in love with the Send to OneNote feature, then you may want to either opt for the 32-bit version of Windows 7 or try the Send to OneNote 2007 print driver solution for 64-bit Windows workaround that I previously documented here on my blog. Note that if you purchase Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional, or Ultimate Edition, you’ll get both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions in one package, which means you can always opt to upgrade to 64-bit Windows 7 in a few months when the 64-bit versions of Microsoft Office 2010 programs will be released.

You can stay informed of development news, feature details, and eventual availability of OneNote 2010 by joining our Facebook group.

Now, let’s have a look at revealing a couple of useful OneNote 2007 features in Windows 7.

Unhide and use the OneNote 2007 taskbar icon on Windows 7

If you previously ran OneNote 2007 on any edition of Windows XP or Windows Vista, you may have never even noticed the so-called “OneNote 2007 Screen Clipper and Launcher,” a small startup program that keeps the OneNote icon in the notification area of the Windows taskbar active. In the later Service Packs on Windows XP and in all editions of Windows Vista, icons that appeared in the notification area would eventually and automatically disappear from view, as it was assumed that they would clutter up the Windows task bar. Rightfully so, because most programs place needless icons there, many of which have little (if any) functionality.

However, in the case of OneNote 2007, the little icon in the notification area is actually quite useful. It provides easy shortcuts to launch the OneNote program window, or perform any number of tasks without starting OneNote itself — including opening a new Side Note, starting an audio recording, creating a screen clipping, and setting the user’s preferences for controlling the functionality of the icon.

Like its predecessors, Windows 7 helps you reduce taskbar clutter by hiding passive icons. However, whether or not you already knew about the OneNote taskbar icon before today, the following procedure will restore the OneNote 2007 Screen Clipper and Launcher back where it belongs. Give it a try!

If you haven’t already done so, install OneNote 2007 on Windows 7, and then follow these steps:

  1. In Windows 7, click the Start button, click All Programs, and then click to expand both the Microsoft Office folder and the Startup folder.
    OneNote 2007 icons on the Windows 7 Start menu
    Here, you should see the regular Microsoft Office OneNote 2007 icon in the Microsoft Office folder. This is the main program icon for OneNote 2007. Whenever you click this icon, OneNote starts.
    You should also see the OneNote 2007 Screen Clipper and Launcher icon in the Startup folder. This is the little program that provides quick access to OneNote functionality from the notification area of the Windows taskbar.
  2. On the Windows 7 taskbar, click the small upwards-facing triangle icon (to the left of the clock on the far right side of the taskbar).
    Hidden taskbar icons in Windows 7
    This will reveal any hidden icons in the notification area.
  3. In the popup window that appears, look for the small OneNote icon.
    Hidden OneNote icon in Windows 7
    Although you can right-click the OneNote taskbar icon here and use its features, the extra click to unhide it each time can become cumbersome. Let’s permanently unhide it.
  4. At the bottom of the popup window, click Customize.
    Customize notification icon display in Windows 7
  5. In the window that appears, you can modify the OneNote notification icon. In the drop-down menu next to Microsoft Office OneNote Quick Launcher, select Show icon and notifications, and then click OK.

    Notification area settings in Windows 7
  6. Now the OneNote Screen Clipper and Launcher features are available by right-clicking the small OneNote icon that now appears near the clock on the Windows 7 taskbar.
    OneNote taskbar icon menu in Windows 7
    While the icon is active, you can also use the Windows key shortcuts that are shown on this menu.
    Whatever command is listed in bold text on this menu is the command that will execute whenever you left-click the OneNote taskbar icon.
    The default setting for clicking the icon is to open a new Side Note (watch this video demo to learn more about this great OneNote feature), but you can replace this behavior with any of the other commands that you may use more frequently.
    To learn how to change the settings for the icon, read Set the default action for the OneNote taskbar icon.

Unhide the Send to OneNote button in Internet Explorer 8

Windows 7 comes with the free Internet Explorer 8 Web browser. I understand and respect that users all over the world are free to choose alternate Web browsers, but I wanted to point out that Internet Explorer 8 has a very nice OneNote integration feature that you may not have known about. Because Internet Explorer also hides icon clutter, it’s easy to miss this feature. Thankfully, a few simple steps is all it takes to make this discoverable.

  The following procedure only works on 32-bit versions of Windows, for the reasons mentioned earlier in this blog post.

If you haven’t already done so, install OneNote 2007 on Windows 7, and then follow these steps:

  1. Launch Internet Explorer 8 in Windows 7 and maximize the browser window.
  2. Near the far top right corner of the browser window, click the chevron symbol ( » ) on the toolbar to reveal the hidden Send to OneNote button.
    Showing hidden commands on the Internet Explorer toolbar
    Although you can right-click the Send to OneNote button here to send the contents of the current Web page directly to OneNote, the extra click to unhide it each time can become cumbersome. Let’s permanently unhide it.
  3. On the Internet Explorer taskbar (under the Search box), right-click in a blank spot near the left side of the Home icon.
  4. On the menu that appears, click to toggle (in this case, un-check) the Lock the Toolbars command.
    Unlocking the toolbar in Internet Explorer
    When you have done this, a toolbar handle (a vertical dotted line) will appear near the left side of the Home toolbar icon.
  5. Click and drag the toolbar handle towards the left and watch the chevron symbol ( » ) on the toolbar disappear once you have fully revealed the hidden Send to OneNote and Research buttons.
    Unhiding the Send to OneNote button in Internet Explorer
    Now you can easily click the Send to OneNote button whenever you want to send a Web page directly into your OneNote notebook.
    Tip  Some Web pages are formatted in ways that change their appearance outside of a Web browser. If this happens with a Web page that you want to import into your notes, you can capture information as a screen clipping instead of sending the whole page to OneNote.


As always, your feedback is welcome. I’d love to hear your impressions of Windows 7 and about your experiences with using OneNote 2007 together with Windows 7. I hope you’ll enjoy the combination as much as I am.