Find my lost notes

If you can't find some of your OneNote notes, it doesn't mean they're gone. Notes can end up in one of several places.

What version of OneNote do I have?

If your application looks like this, choose the OneNote for Windows 10 tab below for instructions on how to find your notes.

Show the most recent OneNote window

If your application looks like this, choose the 2016 or 2013 tab below for instructions on how to find your notes.

Shows the OneNote Windows desktop window

To learn more, see What's the difference between OneNote and OneNote 2016?

If you're having trouble finding your notes in OneNote for Windows 10, try any of the following:

The quickest and easiest way to find anything again in OneNote is by searching for it. OneNote can search typed text, handwritten notes, and words that appear in inserted images.

Your browser does not support video. Install Microsoft Silverlight, Adobe Flash Player, or Internet Explorer 9.
  1. On your keyboard, press Ctrl+F, or click the magnifying glass icon near the top of the Page list.

  2. In the Search box that appears, enter a search word or phrase, and then press Enter.

  3. Just below the Search box, click the arrow to adjust the scope of your search, if necessary. You can search All Notebooks, the Current Notebook, the Current Section, or the Current Page.

    Shows search drop down with scoping options, current page is active.

  4. If your search text was found in any of your notes, click to select any page in the list of search results that appears. OneNote will open the page you select and then highlight all occurrences of your search text on that page.

If your notes are stored in a notebook that you've previously closed, you'll need to re-open it so those notes are included in your searches.

  1. On any page, click the Show Notebooks button Show Notebooks button .

  2. Choose More Notebooks and select the notebook or notebooks you want to re-open.

    Note: If you're not seeing the notebook you want, click Add Account, and then sign in with the account where the notebook you want is stored.

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

If you’re working in one or more shared notebooks that are stored on OneDrive, OneNote may not be syncing correctly to such shared locations. Syncing shared notebooks manually will help you figure out if there’s a problem.

  1. On any page, click the Show Notebooks button Show Notebooks button .

  2. In the pane that appears, right-click the name of the notebook you want to sync. (On a touch device, press and hold the notebook name.)

  3. Select Sync, and then choose to Sync This Notebook, or Sync All Notebooks.

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. Sign in to your OneDrive account from the OneDrive home page or by using the OneDrive app for Windows 10.

  2. Browse through your OneDrive folders (for example, Documents or Notebooks) for any notebook files you're looking for.

  3. When you've found the notebook you want, click to open it in OneNote Online.

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 notebooks—deleted them. Fortunately, OneNote automatically saves notes for a limited time after they have been deleted.

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

  2. Choose View > Deleted Notes.

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

  1. Tap and hold, or right-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 move the page, and then choose Restore.

    If you want to move the page to a section in another notebook, first click < next to the notebook name, select the notebook, and then select a section within it.

  3. Repeat steps 1-2 with any other pages that you want to move out of Deleted Notes.

More Help

If the suggestions in this article didn't help you recover notes that you’re sure you lost, consider reporting the issue on the OneNote forums on Microsoft Community. Another customer may have run into the same issue or a member of the OneNote product team may be able to help.

If you're having trouble finding your notes in OneNote 2016, try any of the following:

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

  1. In the search box in the upper-right corner, select the arrow to the right of the magnifying glass icon, and in the list that appears, choose All notebooks.

    Note: If you prefer using keyboard shortcuts, you can press Ctrl+E to expand your search to all notebooks.

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

    Use Search to look for notes anywhere in OneNote.

  3. As you type, OneNote begins returning page results that match your search word or phrase. Choose a search result to retrieve the matching note.

  4. When you’re finished your search, press Esc.

Search for words in audio and video clips

OneNote can recognize spoken words in audio and video recordings if Audio Search is turned on. This option is turned off by default because it slows down searching.

To turn on Audio Search:

  1. Choose File > Options > Audio & Video.

  2. Under Audio Search, select the Enable searching audio and video recordings for words check box and click OK.

If your notes are stored in a notebook that you've previously closed, you'll need to re-open it so those notes are included in your searches.

  1. Choose File > Open.

  2. Under Recent Notebooks, choose the notebook you'd like to open.

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

If you upgraded to OneNote 2016 from a previous version, some of your 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, choose Quick Notes.

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

Note: Typically, random notes stored in the Quick Notes section are included in an all-notebooks search. However, if you've moved this section to another notebook that's since been closed, it won't be included in the search results.

If you’re working in one or more shared notebooks that are stored on OneDrive, OneNote may not be syncing correctly to such shared locations. Syncing shared notebooks manually will help you figure out if there’s a problem.

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

  2. Choose 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. Choose 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 won't see notes that you've added from other computers or devices.

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. Sign in to your OneDrive account from the OneDrive home page or by using the OneDrive app for Windows 10.

  2. Browse through your OneDrive folders (for example, Documents or Notebooks) for any notebook files you're looking for.

  3. When you've found the notebook you want, click to open it in OneNote Online.

  4. In OneNote Online, click Open in OneNote.

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 notebooks—deleted them. Fortunately, OneNote automatically saves notes for a limited time after they have been deleted from shared notebook so you can try to recover them.

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

  2. Choose History > Notebook Recycle Bin > Notebook Recycle Bin.

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

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

  2. In the Move or Copy Pages dialog box, choose the notebook section where you want to move the page, and then choose 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 select a section within it.

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

More help

If the suggestions in this article didn't help you 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 or a member of the OneNote product team may be able to help.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.
 

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?

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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