OneNote 2007 and Outlook: Best Buddies

How doth OneNote 2007 love Outlook?

Let me count the ways…

From the beginning of OneNote we've had a lot of requests to deepen our integration with Outlook. In 2003 we had several connection points: you could email notes directly from OneNote if you had Outlook 2003, and you could create tasks from OneNote items. With SP1 of OneNote 2003 we added more Outlook integration features, such as "Insert Meeting Details", and the ability to create Outlook Appointments and Contacts.

When we did 2007 planning, it was clear from our user surveys that anything we could do to integrate better with Outlook would be most welcome. So here it is, my long-awaited post on all the great things OneNote can do with Outlook (and some additional goodies at the end).

First let me says that unless noted otherwise, all the features below work with Outlook 2003 and Outlook 2007. Some features may also work with older versions of Outlook but we don’t support that. And a couple of things work with any mail program as noted below.

Starting from Outlook

  1. Outlook now sports a button to send the email you are viewing to OneNote. This is useful if you are collecting research in the form of web pages, emails, documents etc. into one place in your notebook. The screenshot shows this in the Inbox view and also the ribbon (in Outlook 2007) when you open the message. By default these messages are sent to the "Unfiled Notes" area in OneNote. From there you can drag/drop them to where you want them to go. You can also adjust where these messages are put by default using Tools/Options/Filing Rules. In fact you can adjust where all the things sent to OneNote are put using that tab in Options.

    From the Inbox:

    From the message:

  2. In the Calendar view there is now a "Meeting Notes" button. Notice that the icon for this button shows a "link". That's because when you select a meeting in the calendar (or open one up) and use this button, a page is created in OneNote that has information from this meeting, and a link to that page is placed in the meeting notes for the Outlook item. Even better, as you can see, the page created in OneNote includes a link back to the meeting in Outlook:
    So if you like to review your week by going through your calendar it is easy to find the notes in OneNote related to each appointment - clicking that button again takes you to the note page you created earlier. Likewise, if you start from the notes for a meeting in OneNote you can jump to that item in your Outlook calendar. Note that the link is resilient, so if you move that page around in OneNote to different notebooks the link will still work.

    From the Calendar:

    From the Appointment:

  3. In Contacts, there is a button very similar to the one in Calendar. You can use the Contact Notes button to open up a page in OneNote that is linked to the selected Contact. In this way you can build up a whole file on a person (perhaps a customer) including photos, maps, meeting notes, follow-ups, etc. This turns Outlook and OneNote into a very basic Customer Management system. As with meetings, there is a link placed in the Contact pointing to the page in OneNote, and there is a link on the page in OneNote to take you back to the Contact in Outlook.

    From the Contacts folder:

    From the Contact form:

From OneNote

  1. A top request for Outlook Task users was for OneNote to integrate better. Yes, we had the ability in 2003 to make a selected or flagged item into an Outlook task, but this simply copied the text into an Outlook task form and marked the item in OneNote as "moved to Outlook". In OneNote 2007, we now have true Outlook Task integration. You can apply Outlook tasks to items in your note book just as you can apply note flags. Following the Outlook model, these tasks can be "today", "tomorrow", "next week", etc.:

    Even better, these tasks are automatically created - After you use "Ctrl-Shift-2" you do not then have to go deal with the task dialog - the due date and task text are already set. And to top it off, we have two-way status synchronization. That means when you check a task as done in Outlook, it will show as done in OneNote, and vice versa. So you can look at meeting note in OneNote and see which action items are done if they have been checked off in Outlook.
  2. Email notes. In 2003 we supported emailing notes directly from OneNote if you also used Outlook 2003. Now we support this for *any* MAPI mail program, so that includes any version of Outlook, Outlook Express, Lotus notes mail, etc. The behavior is a little different depending on what tool you are using. If you have Outlook 2003 or 2007 you will get an HTML message body showing the notes and an attachment in OneNote format that the recipient can use if they also have OneNote for 100% preservation of the OneNote information. If you have another mail client, there will be no HTML message body, just the attachment. We're experimenting with a single attachment in OneNote format or two attachments - one MHTML and one in OneNote format.
  3. Send notes as PDF. Using "File/Send To" you can send any selection of notes as a PDF attachment. We'll automatically create an email for you and also create and attach a PDF of the notes you had selected.
  4. Insert Meeting Details. This feature hasn’t changed from 2003 but I love it so I will plug it here again. Use this feature to select a meeting from your Outlook calendar and insert details of the meeting such as attendees, location, agenda, and so on into your notes just before the meeting starts - a sweet way to gets your notes going by collecting all the "obvious" stuff so you don't have to.
  5.  Create Outlook Appointment or Contact. This is also unchanged from 2003 but people often ask me if we can do this. Yes, you can!
  6. Send a sharing invitation via email. OneNote has two kinds of sharing:
    • "Live Sharing Sessions", which are real-time mass multi-user freeform synchronous editing sessions designed for meetings, and
    • "Shared Notebooks", which are permanent asynchronously shared notebooks which any number of people can edit simultaneously, online/offline, like a super-wiki for team knowledge.

You can use the command "Send Shared Notebook Link to Others" on the Share menu to invite people to a shared notebook you have set up. If you create a live sharing session, the task pane has a button called "Invite others" which sets up an email for you to send the invitation.

Other nice integration tidbits

  1. OneNote Import Printer Driver. I discussed this back in September, but this is a printer driver that OneNote installs to your system to allow any application that can print to send those printouts directly to OneNote. OneNote "sniffs" the text in the output stream and tucks that in "behind" the printout images it gets to allow you to search the printouts. When you print images rather than text (e.g. many PDFs are actually scans of brochures and not actually text), OneNote will OCR the images to get the text out of them if any and tuck that "behind" the image as metadata so you can search those too: the goal here is for you to never realize how smart we were…it just works
  2. Send to OneNote button in Internet Explorer. OneNote 2007 includes this functionality which previously was available only as a PowerToy. This is a little different from the various PowerToys for 2003. It sends either the page or the selection on the page to the Unfiled section of your notes (this can be changed in Tools/Options/Filing Rules). And of course it includes the URL of the page the web clipping came from.
  3. Copy/Paste from office docs now includes the link back to the document where the text came from. People love the way we include the link back to the source web page when you copy/paste from IE or FireFox. Now we do it for Office doc types too such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint.

BTW, Darren Strange, "our man in the UK" did a webcast a few weeks ago that shows many of these features and other OneNote 2007 capabilities in action. You should check it out:

And in case you are living under a rock, beta 2 of Office 2007 and OneNote 2007 is now available for download - so go try this stuff out!