Frequently Asked Questions about OneNote 2016 for Mac

Note: The information in this article applies to the most current version of OneNote 2016 for Mac. Like most modern software, OneNote is frequently updated to add new functionality and to improve existing features. Please check back periodically for new and recently updated questions and answers.


Why do I have to sign in to use OneNote on my Mac?

OneNote 2016 for Mac continually syncs all of your notes with OneDrive. This lets you open, view, and edit your notebooks on all your devices so they’re always up-to-date.

To create or open notebooks in OneNote, sign in with your Microsoft account or the organizational account you’ve been given by your work or school. A Microsoft account is an email address used to sign in to Microsoft services.

You already have an account if you use any of these services:

  • Outlook.com

  • OneDrive

  • Xbox LIVE

  • MSN

  • Messenger

  • Office 365 subscription


If you don’t already have a Microsoft account, click here to sign up for free.


Can I work offline in OneNote?

While signed in to your Microsoft account, OneNote continually keeps all of your notes in sync. Whenever you work in shared notebooks, OneNote manages your own changes with that of any other authors editing the notebook to make sure that everyone’s work is saved automatically and reliably.

If you temporarily disconnect from the Internet for any reason (for example, while traveling on an airplane), you can keep working offline in the cached (locally saved) copy of the notes on your Mac. While you work offline, OneNote will warn you that it cannot sync the notebook. As soon as you reconnect to the Internet, OneNote will automatically sync your changes to the notebook on OneDrive. After syncing shared notebooks, you’ll be able to see any notes from the other notebook authors that were added or changed during the time you were offline — and they will be able to see the changes you have made.


I used to get updates for OneNote, but they seem to have stopped. What’s wrong?

We’ve changed the minimum system requirements for OneNote 2016 for Mac to take advantage of the latest capabilities in Mac OS X Yosemite. In order to continue getting new OneNote updates from the App Store, your Mac must be running OS X 10.10 or later. To check what version you have, click the Apple menu on your Mac, and then click About This Mac. If you’ve made sure that you have the latest version of Mac OS X but are still having trouble getting app updates, see Check for updates in OneNote 2016 for Mac.


There seems to be no way to copy text from a picture I’ve inserted. I thought this was possible?

OneNote 2016 for Mac supports Optical Character Recognition (OCR), a process that recognizes text shown in pictures. OneNote can extract the text it recognizes in pictures so you can paste it elsewhere in your notes (or into another app), where you can edit and format the text as needed.

Depending on the complexity, legibility, and the amount of text shown in the picture you’ve inserted, the Copy Text from Picture command may not be immediately available on the menu that appears when you Control-click the picture. If OneNote is still reading and converting the text in the image, wait a few moments and then try again.


I’m searching my notebooks, but OneNote isn’t finding what I’m looking for.

If you’re certain that the keyword or search term you’re entering in a notebook search should be found in your search results, make sure that the section containing those notes isn’t protected with a password. OneNote excludes the contents of password-protected sections from a notebook search in order to keep your protected notes secure. To include the pages in protected sections in a notebook search, you must first unlock those sections before searching.

Note: OneNote automatically locks each password-protected section after a few minutes of inactivity. Be sure to initiate a notebook search immediately after unlocking your password-protected sections.


I password-protected a section in my notebook but can’t seem to open it.

Passwords are case-sensitive. Make sure that the Caps Lock key is off before you apply or enter the correct password. If you recently changed the password for the affected section, try remembering and entering the password that you used previously to protect that section. Passwords to protect notebook sections in OneNote are not the same password you use to sign in to OneNote. Be sure you’re not accidentally typing the password for your Microsoft account.

Unfortunately, if you forget your password, no one will be able to unlock your notes for you — not even Microsoft Technical Support. Learn more about password protection in OneNote 2016 for Mac.


Can I password-protect just a single page?

You can apply passwords to individual notebook sections, but not to an individual page. However, you can create a new section in your notebook and then move the single page you want to protect into that new section before locking it with a password. For more information, see Move or copy notes in OneNote 2016 for Mac.


Can I password-protect an entire notebook?

You can apply passwords to individual notebook sections, one at a time, but not to all of the sections in a the same notebook all at once.


My question isn’t answered here. What can I do?

If you need additional assistance with OneNote 2016 for Mac, please try any of the following:

  • On the OneNote menu bar, click Help > Search to enter a keyword or a phrase that describes what you’re looking for. You can send us feedback about our documentation by answering the short survey provided at the end of this article.

  • View and post questions in the OneNote for Mac Community forums to get free technical assistance from experienced OneNote users and members of the OneNote product team.

  • Visit the OneNote for Mac UserVoice site to share your ideas and suggestions for how we might improve OneNote for Mac. You can also vote on ideas already submitted by others.

  • Visit the Answer Desk for a list of additional Support options.

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