As a Writers I Consider OneNote My Most Important Tool, and You Should Too.

Photo by Frederick Medina on Unsplash

With the OneNote application I can “Collect Once Read Many Times on Many Devices,”


The collection opportunities comprise typing, talk to text, scan, grab a screenshot, take a photo, draw, or grab sound, there might be other things I’m forgetting.

This article is not a how to but a why I use OneNote and why you as a writer should use OneNote too.

Give a lazy man a hard job and he will find an easy way to do it. -unknown

I’m lazy and want to maximize what I do with my time. I like to have stuff organized and have ready access to information, sometimes by searching.

The OneNote application/app works on all platforms Android, Apple, Microsoft.

You can access your OneNote notebooks from your desktops, laptops, phones, and tablets. Sharing an entire notebook, a section, a page with others is possible.

Analog Notebook Experience

Over many years I have tried every version of analog notes, books, every system, even analog notebooks with digital pens, and digital notebooks that require software to guess what you were writing.

From my analog experience with notebooks, I ended up being frustrated, disappointed, and not happy.

I liked the analog version of notebooks, used them for years. Keep them with me whenever I go to meetings, events, off by myself to think and write, etc.

The one thing that changed my mind was the times I miss placed them, and there were many, and then the agony of calling around or sending out an email blast, “Did you find my Black N Red notebook?”


Digital Notebook Experience


My early attempt at digital devices and notebooks meant I’d try most any invention that did not have a hefty price take.

Here are some that I remember. Tried the Rocket book Wave. You wrote on a special notebook page and then had an app on your phone that you would take a picture and the software would attempt to figure what the heck you might be writing. They only came close, but not close enough to convince me to stick with them, I donated the goods to someone else.

Tried Digital Pen. These you wrote on special paper and then plugged in the pen to an USB port. Again software tried to figure out what you were attempting to say and where punctuation should be. Close again, not that I kept that setup either. Donated it to another.

I’ve tried phone software that would scan a business card and create a database.

In early 2000, companies were making notebook type software. Apple Notes, Lotus Notes, others like Evernote, ZoHo also had one and Google with Keep. None of them worked the way I wanted notebook software to work. I wanted it to work like an analog notebook, but with the ability to make corrections, move pages around into other sections, and other notebook if I wanted to.

I have tried all the other options what were available and still today Nothing compares, NOTHING to OneNote!!

When I tried to replace OneNote with another online application, none had this feature of OneNote that were most important to me, including the then popular Evernote. One piece of software may today have the feature, but I’m not interested in converting any of my OneNote Notebooks.


OneNote Digital Experience.


I started using OneNote in 2007 now and then as I was experimenting. By the time the 2010 version came out ramped up my use a point that everything I thought was a crazy idea I put into one note.

It’s funny sometimes I put crazy thoughts into OneNote and then search for that idea only to find years ago I had the same crazy idea.

I journal in OneNote almost daily. It the first thing I do in the morning, and every time I think of writing ideas. Sometimes I use paper and pencil, and then if the most of the time transcribe then into OneNote.

I use OneNote on my phone to write notes, take photos of things I want to comment on later right into OneNote.

Business cards are a thing of the past for me, scan them into my business card section.

I can sit at my desktop computer, review notes, add comments.

I am now writing this article in OneNote from notes and thoughts I’ve collected over several months.


OneNote File Structure and Access.


Notebooks are files, so you can have several notebooks. You can share online notebooks with others who have Microsoft account. We cannot share desktop Notebooks. The desktop application can open and edit an online notebook. That online notebook is accessible from your phone, tablet, and a browser.

The notebooks contain Sections, Section Groups and Pages for the organizations structure.

Pages contain content and can be in the root folder, in sections, or section groups. This one feature was the most important to me.

Section and Section Group provide a way to organize pages in the OneNote file. 


My OneNote Configuration Today.


Today I have OneNote installed on my Windows 10 15 inch laptop that’s docked and connect to a 32 inch monitor, a 10.1 tablet, and my phone. Today I most use my desktop for collection and editing. I use my phone for collecting pictures, thoughts by sometimes talk to text, and referencing previous notes and thoughts. 

These devices have access to the same OneNote Notebook file. I have several notebooks, one that is the main file that I use most of the time. I share two of the other notebooks out with others. I have several archive notebooks that have old information or copies of sections I want to go back at look at original material.

I from time to time on my desktop create new Notebooks and copy large chunks from my daily working Notebook to an Archive Notebook. And that goes up on my OneDrive.


I just read the Microsoft Product Lifecycle page and the extended support date for OneNote 2016 is 10/14/2025, so I’m good for 5 years. A lot can happen in 5 plus years.


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