Find my lost notes

If it appears as though you’ve recently lost some notes, don’t panic. Notes can routinely end up in any of several places that you might not have come across before. Listed below are a few suggestions to help you try and find notes that might have been misplaced.

Note: If you’re using a computer running Windows 8, you might not be aware that there are two versions of OneNote: The desktop app, OneNote 2013, and a version that's deeply integrated with Windows 8 and is simply called OneNote. Launch OneNote 2013 to see if your notes are there before following the steps below.

Step 1: Use the Search feature

The quickest and easiest way to find anything again in OneNote is searching for it. OneNote can find keywords you’re searching for in text, handwriting, pictures, and even audio and video recordings.

Do the following:

  1. On your keyboard, press and hold the Ctrl key and then press E.

  2. In the Search box, enter the word or phrase you want OneNote to find. The less specific the text you enter here, the better your prospects for finding the right page.

  3. Using the mouse, click the page or section icons in the results list to visit the locations that might contain the notes you’re looking for. To pin the results list to the side of the OneNote window, press Ctrl+O.

Tip:  If no results are found, be sure that the search scope is set to “Search all notebooks” and that your search keywords are spelled correctly.

Step 2: Re-open closed notebooks

You may have closed notebooks that you’ve used previously. If you suspect that the notes you’re looking for might be stored in such a notebook, reopen any of your previously used notebooks.

Do the following:

  1. Click the File tab, and then click Open.

  2. Under Recent Notebooks, click to open any of the notebooks that are listed.

  3. Look through the sections and pages of your reopened notebooks, or perform another notebook search.

Step 3: Check the Quick Notes section

If you upgraded to OneNote 2013 from a previous version, some notes may have been collected in a special section called Quick Notes. Prior to OneNote 2013, this section was called Unfiled Notes. In either case, check to see if such a section exists in your default notebook.

  1. Open the Notebook pane by clicking the name of your current notebook, shown on the left side just underneath the ribbon. (Skip this step if you have the Notebook pane docked to the screen.)

  2. At the bottom of the Notebook pane, click Quick Notes.

  3. In the Quick Notes section, click the section tabs at the top or the page tabs on the right to browse through any notes that OneNote may have collected here.

Typically, random notes stored in the Quick Notes section are included in an all-notebooks search (see Step 1 in this article). However, we’re calling this out as a location to consider in case you previously moved this section to another notebook that you have since closed.

Step 4: Manually sync shared notebooks

If you’re working in one or more shared notebooks that are stored “in the cloud” (for example on OneDrive), OneNote may not be syncing correctly to such shared locations. Manual syncing shared notebooks will tell you if there’s a problem with downloading such notes.

  1. Open the shared notebook in which you expected to see the notes you lost.

  2. Click File > View Sync Status.

  3. In the Shared Notebook Synchronization dialog box, make sure that the Sync automatically whenever there are changes option is selected.

  4. Click Sync All.

If you see any error messages for any of the shared notebooks in your list, click the Get Help button next to each to begin troubleshooting the problem. Unless you resolve any sync errors, you won’t see notes others have added to the shared notebook, and you will not see notes that you yourself may have added from other computers or devices.

Step 5: 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 the OneNote interface.

Do the following:

  1. Sign in to your OneDrive account from the OneDrive home page or via the OneDrive app for Windows 8.

  2. Browse through your document folders and open notes, documents, and other files to search for the information you’re looking for. Perhaps the notes you lost were stored in a document or another type of file?

Step 6: Check the Notebook Recycle Bin

If your search has not yet found the notes you think you’ve lost, it’s possible that you or someone else who has access to your notebooks may have deleted the information you’re now missing. The good news here is that OneNote automatically saves notes for a limited time after they have been deleted from shared notebook.

To check if there are deleted notes you may be able to recover:

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

  2. Click History > Notebook Recycle Bin > Notebook Recycle Bin.

    If deleted notes are found here, you can recover them by moving the pages back to their intended locations:

  3. Right-click the tab of any page that you want to recover, and then click Move or Copy.

  4. In the Move or Copy Pages dialog box, click the notebook section where you want to move the selected page, and then click Move. If you want to move the page to a section in another notebook, first click the + (plus) sign next to that notebook in the list, and then click to select a section within it.

  5. Repeat steps 1-2 with any other pages that you want to move out of the Notebook Recycle Bin.

More help

If none of the suggestions in this article helped you to recover notes that you’re sure you lost, consider reporting the issue on the OneNote forums on Microsoft Answers. Another customer may have run into the same issue, and a member of the OneNote product team may be able to help.

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