Survive the holidays with OneNote

Happy holidays with OneNote!

Dealing with the frenzy that is all around us during the holiday season can be a challenge for anyone. Regardless of our diverse, individual backgrounds and beliefs, chances are that most of us have some amount of holiday shopping to do. Even if gift-giving isn’t on your radar, holiday gatherings with family and friends will likely require planning of some sort — whether it’s for a dinner party or a trip back home to visit the family.

If you’re frantically scribbling lists on Post-It® notes everywhere you go — stop! Put the pen down and take a quick look at the following tips. I’ve provided some ideas for making sense of all of your holiday-themed tasks, including gift-giving, event planning, and trip planning.

A notebook for all seasons

The original version of OneNote came with only one notebook, so you had to rely on the sections within to keep information separate and grouped by project, event, or subject. Although you can create as many sections and pages within a notebook as you want, scrolling through dozens or hundreds of them can quickly became tedious.

OneNote 2007 has the ability to create multiple notebooks, so you can better manage all of the information that you gather and collect. Once you’ve created a notebook dedicated to a specific subject, project, or seasonal event, you can then use notebook sections to further categorize the information within that notebook.

Keeping multiple notebooks has a few hidden benefits. You can use a completely different way of organizing specific notes without messing up your usual note-taking system in your main notebook. Also, when searching notes, you can specify which notebook OneNote should search for information, which can be considerably faster than searching everything all at once. And, in the case of seasonal notes, you can easily pick up where you left off in the previous year.

Try it! To start your own holiday planning with OneNote, create a new notebook.

  1. In OneNote 2007, click File New Notebook.
  2. In the Name field, type “Holiday 2007” (or whatever you want) and then click Next.
  3. Under Who will use this notebook? , click I will use it on this computer, and then click Next.
  4. On the next screen, click Create.
    OneNote creates the new notebook and then places a shortcut to it on the Navigation Bar.

OneNote Navigation Bar 

Tip Creating separate notebooks isn’t just useful around the holidays. Use them to collect, organize, and refer to information during other seasonal events (for example, at tax time or during a summer vacation). You can click and drag your open notebooks to position them anywhere on the Navigation Bar. When you’re done with a notebook, you can right-click it and close it. And don’t worry: Notebooks aren’t deleted when you close them; you can re-open them again at any time.

Use sections and pages to organize your notebook

Running out of time to plan and shop? Put things in order quickly by using sections for categories and pages for people:

Section and page tabs in OneNote

Tip You can right-click section tabs to create additional sections, rename them, change their color, and more. You can also click and drag section and page tabs to put them in any order you want. If you’re planning an event (for example, a holiday dinner party), you can use a similar approach to keep track of dietary preferences and seating arrangements for every person on your guest list. For larger, catered events, you can even add sketches or drawings of the venue and of the individual tables.

Bring everyone’s wish lists into your notebook

Once your holiday notebook is set up with the names of your family members and friends, you can import each person’s wish list in any of the following ways:

Copy and paste There’s nothing wrong with a low-tech approach if it does the trick! If you received someone’s short-and-sweet wish list in a plain e-mail message, simply copy and paste the text into OneNote.

Send to OneNote If you’re using Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 as your e-mail program, getting information into OneNote is even easier: Right-click a message in your Inbox, and then click Send to OneNote on the shortcut menu. Alternately, you can open the message, and then click Send to OneNote on the Ribbon toolbar.



Send to OneNote menu command
(right-click a message in your Outlook Inbox)


Send to OneNote button
(open a message from your Outlook Inbox)

Print to OneNote OneNote 2007 comes with a special print driver which, instead of printing items to an actual printer, lets you “print” documents and other files directly to OneNote’s electronic pages. For example, if your friends’ and family’s wish lists arrived in Microsoft Word documents, open the file(s) in Word and click the Print command. In the Print dialog box, select Send to OneNote 2007 as the printer’s Name (as shown below).

OneNote 2007 comes with its own print driver

Scanned images Importing scans of paper notes and drawings is useful when you want to keep everything together in OneNote. If you own a scanner and you’ve received a handwritten wish list that you want to preserve in its original format (for example, a child’s handwritten note to Santa or the scribbles on a cocktail napkin), consider scanning it right into OneNote. Click Insert Pictures From Scanner or Camera. Next, follow the steps in the wizard to complete the scan.

Audio Clips Did someone leave you their wish list in a voicemail message? Not a problem! In OneNote, click Insert Audio Recording. Point your computer’s microphone at your phone and record the message to OneNote. Click the Stop button in OneNote when you’re done. If you want spoken words in audio clips to be included in your notebook searches like typed text, you can turn on Audio Search. Click Tools Options Audio and Video. Under Audio Search, click the Enable searching audio and video recordings for words checkbox.

Research and compare items, prices, and locations

Looking to buy gift items, researching the availability of holiday venues, or planning a trip? Until it’s time to buy, all you need is OneNote, your Web browser, and your favorite armchair!

Insert hyperlinks The easiest way to find Web pages with important information again is to paste their Web address (also called URL) into a list. Hyperlinks pasted into OneNote are automatically clickable, so you can easily refer back to the pages you’ve visited. You can add a description to any link by typing text next to it. Or, you can change the link text to something more meaningful. Right-clicking a pasted hyperlink, and then click Edit Hyperlink on the shortcut menu. In the Hyperlink dialog box, type anything you want into the Text to Display box (leave the Address box alone), and then click OK.

Link information in the Hyperlink dialog box

Send to OneNote If you’re using Windows Internet Explorer 7 on Windows XP or Windows Vista, you can use the handy Send to OneNote feature. Bring up any Web page that holds information that you want to save for later (for example, a side-by-side comparison of two products), and then click the Send to OneNote button on the Internet Explorer toolbar (located just below the Search box near the top right side of the browser window). Pages that you copy in this way are automatically placed in the Unfiled Notes section on OneNote, from where you can move or copy the page to another place in your notebook.

Send to OneNote from Internet Explorer

Capture screen clippings Some Web pages contain complex scripts that make them unsuitable for exporting to other programs. This often happens on search results pages, shopping sites, and with information that rapidly changes (for example, flight availability and prices). If the Send to OneNote feature doesn’t work well for a particular Web page, or if you want more control about the information you want to save, try creating a screen clipping instead. From your Web browser, switch to OneNote. Click Insert Screen Clipping. When OneNote minimizes and the Web page appears dimmed, click and draw a rectangle around the part of your screen that you want to capture. When you let go of the mouse button, the clipping is placed on the current page in OneNote. Although you can’t overtype the text in a screen clipping image, you can annotate it by clicking and typing over the picture. You can also easily replace an outdated screen clipping with a new one.

Tip Screen clippings in OneNote aren’t limited to your Web browser or a single program window. Whatever you can display it on your computer screen, you can capture it all with OneNote. For example, to see how you can research and capture flight information from competing airlines using side-by-side windows, check out the video demo, “OneNote 2007 — An Executive’s Best Practices.” The example about screen clippings begins at around 3:30 minutes into the demo.

Bringing it all together

When you’ve done all of your research and consolidated your shopping and planning lists, it’s time to do something with them!

Holiday shopping If your primary goal was to research and gather ideas for your holiday shopping, you should be all set. For things you need to get at the mall, print out your master list or download it to your mobile phone. For things you prefer to purchase online, refer back to your product and price comparisons and click the links in your notebook to recall and order the items you’ve decided on.

Event planning If you used OneNote to plan a holiday dinner party or similar event, you can easily share any part of your notes (for example, the menu, seating arrangement diagrams, maps with driving directions, etc.) with your guests. To send the information via Microsoft Outlook e-mails, create a summary page in your holiday notebook with the information you want to share, and then click File E-mail. Fill out the message envelope, and then click Send a Copy. You can also save a copy of any notebook page as a Web page by clicking File Save As, and selecting the Single File Web Page format from the Save as type drop-down menu. And if you’re printing invitations in Microsoft Word, you can export any page in your notebook by click File Send to Microsoft Office Word.

Trip planning If holiday travel was your subject, review your screen clippings of flight/hotel/car rental information and go back to the sites that offered the best rates. Because this type of information changes rapidly online over even a few hours, be sure to verify the availability and final prices by performing new live searches before you book a flight or a hotel. When you receive your confirmations and itinerary in e-mail, bring it all into OneNote to keep everything together in one place. If you can’t take OneNote with you (for example, on a laptop computer), you can e-mail your notes to your Hotmail account and refer to the information from hotels and local Internet cafés wherever you go.

Give the gift of OneNote

Need a last-minute gift idea this holiday? If you’re already using OneNote 2007 for yourself, you know it’s the perfect companion for the computer users on your list. It’s available as a standalone program and as part of two versions of Microsoft Office 2007. Use the links below for more information:

OneNote 2007 (standalone version for Windows XP or Vista)

Microsoft Office 2007 Home & Student Edition (includes OneNote 2007)

Microsoft Office 2007 Ultimate Edition (includes OneNote 2007) (full version for PCs without any version of Microsoft Office) (upgrade version for PCs with an earlier version of Office)

And if that special someone on your list is lucky enough to get a brand-new computer, choose one that comes with OneNote 2007 pre-installed!

By the way, if you think you need a portable computer to use OneNote, think again. Sure, laptop and Tablet PC owners love OneNote because of its mobility and handwriting support. But OneNote 2007 works great on any PC — including the one sitting on your desktop!

Plan ahead for the New Year

If all you have left to do is to begin planning for the New Year ahead, you can download the newest OneNote calendar templates for 2008 (they’re free). See for more information.

Got some time-saving tips of your own for the holiday season? Please post a comment here to share your tips with other readers. Thanks!

I’ll be back in January and hope to see you then. Happy holidays and a Happy New Year to you and yours.

— Michael