Introduction to OneNote Tips (plus Screen Clipping tip)

OneNote's user base has been steadily increasing over the years.  So I thought this would be a good forum to share some of the useful tips and tricks in this fantastic software application that have made people's lives more productive.

OneNote is a software product that is part of the Microsoft Office family of products. It was originally introduced as a standalone application in 2003, but has since been included in the Office Home and Student 2007 and Office Ultimate 2007 suites.

Now, if you're a regular user of OneNote, you already have a taste of it's many flavors of productivity. However, if you're new to OneNote, you might be asking yourself, "what can OneNote do for me?". I hope to answer this question and many more through this blog.

OneNote was originally conceived as a digital note-taking application. A way to take notes on your computer so you can easily find them again. It was designed to make your experience as close as possible to a real paper notebook and still retain all the digital advantages of a computer. With that in mind, there are many more features that let you capture your thoughts, ideas, research, class notes, journal and much, much more. So stay tuned to this blog and hopefully you'll discover new ways to use OneNote that'll promise to make your life more productive.

My intent is to appeal to both the new user, the seasoned veteran and everyone in between who's interested in using OneNote. So I hope you enjoy this blog. I'd also be interested in hearing some of the ways you've found to make yourself more productive with OneNote.

Now, on to the first tip:

  • Capture Screen Clippings.

It's easy to capture a Screen Clipping in OneNote. This is essentially the same thing as taking a picture of what's on your screen and storing it in OneNote. Then you can add your notations above, below, to the side or right on top of it.

This is useful for a number of reasons, but to put it into an easy-to-understand scenario, let's say you're a college student and are currently in a biology class. On the big screen, your professor navigates to an internet site that contains a picture of EscherichiaColi, also known as E. coli. He requests the students in the classroom who have computers to also navigate to the site. Then he begins explaining its genetic makeup.

After you navigate to the site, you open OneNote and take a Screen Clipping of the picture he's explaining by clicking on the Insert menu, then on Screen Clipping and then you draw a rectangle around the picture. The picture appears on your page in OneNote and you begin taking notes, pointing your notes to the area of the picture he's explaining. After the class is over, you head to your next class.

A few weeks later you're preparing for a biology exam. You're trying to remember some of the terms the professor used to describe E. coli. You open OneNote, type "E. coli" in the search box and just like that you're taken to the notes you took on that day. Now you have all those notes and the picture you took from the Screen Clipping. What's more, the internet address from which the clipping was captured appears beneath the picture so you can easily navigate back to it.

Tip: There are a few ways to capture a Screen Clipping:

  1. From the Insert menu in OneNote click Screen Clipping -> draw a rectangle around the area of the screen you wish to capture. Once you release the mouse button, the picture is dropped right into your OneNote page.

  2. Right-click on Side Note in your Windows System Tray -> Create Screen Clipping:


    This will put you into Screen Clipping mode and you can draw a rectangle around the area of the screen you wish to capture.

  3. You can also press the Windows + S keys on your keyboard to activate the Screen Clipping feature.

Note that this will only work if you currently have Side Note running in your system tray:

Additional information: You can customize the Screen Clipping feature to do any of the following:

  1. Copy the image to the clipboard only, (useful for when you want the picture to be dropped into another application).

    This is done by right-clicking the Side Note icon in the Windows System Tray -> Options -> Screen Clipping Defaults -> Copy To Clipboard Only.

    When this feature is enabled, it only works when capturing a Screen Clipping via the Side Note icon. When accessed through the Insert menu in OneNote, it places the picture on your page in OneNote in addition to copying it to the clipboard.

  2. Disable Screen Clipping notifications, (the little bubble that appears above the Side Note icon in the Windows System Tray when the Screen Clipping feature is activated).

This is done by clicking the Tools menu in OneNote -> Options -> Other -> Disable screen clipping notifications.