Find my lost notes in OneNote for Mac

If you can’t find some of your notes in OneNote for Mac, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re gone. Notes can end up in several places, especially if you’ve used them across different computers or devices or if you’ve shared your notes with other people. Here are a few ideas to help you find lost notes.


  • This article assumes that you’re using the newest version of OneNote for Mac. If you originally installed the app from the Mac App Store, click Apple menu > App Store, and then click Updates to see if a newer version of OneNote for Mac is available. Be sure to always keep OneNote and all of your other apps from the Mac App Store up to date.

  • If you installed OneNote as part of an Office for Mac subscription, see Check for Office for Mac updates automatically.

Step 1: Use the Search feature

The quickest and easiest way to find anything again in OneNote is by searching for it. OneNote can find words in text, in handwriting, and even in pictures and screenshots.

  1. On the OneNote menu bar, click Edit > Find > Search All Notebooks.

    Note: If you prefer using keyboard shortcuts, you can press Option + Command + F to search for notes in all open notebooks.

  2. In the search box, type a keyword or phrase to search for.

  3. As you begin typing, OneNote begins returning search results that match your word or phrase. Click any item in the search results list to retrieve the matching note.

  4. When you’re finished your search, click Done or press Esc on your keyboard.

Step 2: Re-open closed notebooks

If your notes might be stored in any notebooks that you’ve previously closed, you’ll need to re-open these so that their notes are included in your search.

  1. Choose File > Open Recent.

  2. From the Recent menu, choose the notebook you want to open.

  3. Repeat these steps to open any additional recent notebooks, and then look through the sections and pages of your reopened notebooks to see if you can spot what you’re looking for. If necessary, perform another full search through all notebooks.

Step 3: Check your OneDrive folders

If you suspect that your notes are on OneDrive and searching for them in OneNote hasn’t worked, try to locate them in your OneDrive folders directly, without using OneNote.

  1. Using the same account that you use with OneNote, sign into OneDrive from the OneDrive home page or by using the OneDrive app for Mac.

  2. Browse through all of your folders to search for the information you’re looking for. Check other documents and files in case your notes might be located there instead of in OneNote.

Step 4: Manually sync shared notebooks

If you’re working in one or more shared notebooks, OneNote may not be correctly syncing to its shared locations. Attempting to manually sync such notebooks can help you figure out if there’s a problem.

  1. Open the shared notebook where you expected to see your missing notes.

  2. Do either of the following:

    • Click File > Sync This Notebook to sync just the current notebook.

    • Click File > Sync All Notebooks to sync all open notebooks at once.

If you see any error messages for any of the shared notebooks in your list, search for the error code online to begin troubleshooting the problem. Unless you resolve sync errors, you won’t see notes that others may have added or changed in a shared notebook, and you won’t see notes that you’ve added or changed from your other computers or devices.

Step 5: Check for Deleted Notes

If you’ve tried all the steps above and you still haven’t found your notes, perhaps you — or someone else with access to your shared notebooks — deleted them. Fortunately, OneNote automatically saves notes for up to 60 days after they have been deleted from shared notebooks so you can try to recover them.

  1. Open the shared notebook where you expected to find the lost notes.

  2. On the menu bar, click Notebooks > Deleted Notes > View Deleted Notes.

If you find your notes here, you can recover them by moving the pages back to their intended locations:

  1. In the Deleted Notes section, Control-click the name of any page that you want to recover, and then choose Restore to.

  2. Choose the notebook section where you want to restore the deleted page, and then click Restore. If you want to restore the page to a section in another notebook, first click the arrow next to that notebook in the list, and then select a section under that notebook’s name.

  3. Repeat these steps for any other pages that you want to move out of the Deleted Notes section.

More help

If the suggestions in this article didn’t help you recover notes that you’re sure you’ve lost, consider reporting the issue on the OneNote forums on Microsoft Answers. A member of the OneNote product team may be able to help.

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