Note Tags

  1. A friend of mine recently got a new Tablet PC and decided to show off some of it's cool features. He also knows that I work for the OneNote team and so he decided he was going to impress me with his knowledge of OneNote. He told me he loves the idea that he can use OneNote like a to do list. So he pulled out his stylus and began drawing a small box of ink on his page, then he proceeded to write a note next to the box. He said "look, once I finish this item, I just check off this box" as he drew a checkmark inside the box he had just made.

  2. I found myself intrigued that he had not yet discovered the note tag feature, given that it is one of the most prominent features in OneNote. So I said, "yeah that's cool...but wouldn't it be great if there was a way you could search your notebook and find all the little checkboxes that have not been checked off yet?" His eyes got big and the wheels started spinning as he began thinking of all the different possibilities he could use that for.

  3. Note Tags:

  4. Note Tags are interactive checkboxes Unchecked Tag that can be applied to your notes in OneNote. They can be applied to text, ink, pictures, drawings and much, much more. What's more, you can search your notebook for any and all checkboxes and filter your search based on the checked status, type of tag, date applied, etc.

  5. You can apply a note tag by pressing <Ctrl + 1>. This places a checkbox on your page. Then you just begin typing or writing your note. If you want to add another checkbox, move to a new location on the page and press <Ctrl + 1> again, then take your next note. Once you've accomplished your task, you just click on the checkbox Checked Tag and it marks it as complete.

  6. Tips:

    1. Use the <Ctrl> key in conjunction with the numbers 1…9 to access additional predefined tags.

    2. There are also many other available tags in OneNote:

      Alternate Tags

    3. If you don't find a tag that suites your needs, create your own

        • Click View -> Customize My Tags -> New Tag, then give it a name and choose from any of the available formatting options.
  7. Now, let's say you have multiple projects going on at the same time. So you may have multiple notebooks or sections you use to take notes and track your work. You might be using note tags across many of those notebooks and sections. So, now you want to roll up all the unchecked tags into one easy to see view so you can determine what you have left to accomplish. To view a list of all your tags click View -> All Tagged Notes.


    1. To display only the unchecked items, place a checkmark in the 'Show only unchecked items' checkbox'.

      Tags Summary
    2. To broaden or limit your search scope click the Search dropdown menu then select the desired scope.   Group Tags By:
    3. To sort the list, click the Group tags by dropdown menu. 4. If you need more context to understand what that note was about, just click on the note in the summary pane and you will be navigated to the page where you originally took the note.   Search Scope

5. You can also create a new summary page of all the tagged notes found in the summary. Click the Create Summary Page button. With the new page you can print out a copy of your to do list and take it on the run with you.

Note: It's important to understand that when you create a summary page, all the tags that are currently in the Tags Summary pane are duplicated onto the new page.  This means you will have exact copies of these tags and once you refresh the results of the pane, you could potentially be seeing double, (depending on the search scope you have selected).

So, what's actually happening here?  Well, tags have several properties associated with them, one of which is 'archived'.  When a summary page is generated, all the original tags become archived, while the new duplicates are active.  Now, generally, this doesn't really mean anything, other than the behavior described above.  However, OneNote has some tag settings that allow you to utilize this little known feature.

You can cause the original, (or archived), tags to appear dimmed once the summary page is created, giving the appearance of a disabled tag, (even though the tag is still enabled).  To do this, click Tools -> Options -> Tags -> mark Show original tagged notes as dimmed.  By the very nature of the note tags being dimmed, they will be excluded from the search results in the summary pane.  But suppose you don't want them to be excluded.  Easy.  Just place a checkmark in the Show dimmed tagged notes in the Tags Summary pane of the Tools -> Options -> Tags settings.