OneNote 2016 Quick Start

OneNote is a digital notebook that automatically saves and syncs your notes.

  • Create or insert information in your notebook.

  • Collaborate with others in shared notebooks.

  • Take handwritten notes and convert them to text.

  • Use highlighting and tags.

  • Access up to date info from almost any device.

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Download OneNote

If you don't already have OneNote, and need to install it, visit the OneNote Download site.

OneNote logo

Sign in

Whenever prompted, sign in to OneNote or Office using your Microsoft Account or work or school account.

Being signed in allows you to:

  • Create notebooks on your OneDrive for anywhere access.

  • Share notebooks with other people.

  • Access your notes any time, from any device.

For more information, visit the OneNote site.

OneNote app sign in screen

Use OneNote on any platform

OneNote is available for PC and Mac operating systems, and has mobile apps for Android, iOS, and Windows devices.

The images and instructions in this Quick Start are specific to OneNote on a PC. For information about OneNote 2016 for Mac, see Basic tasks in OneNote 2016 for Mac.

OneNote 2016 for Mac Quick Start Guide

Get OneNote on your mobile device

Click to set up Office and email on Android devices

Android phones and tablets
From Samsung to Nexus, you can use OneNote on your Android.

Click to set up Office and email on iOS devices

iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch
Easily use OneNote almost anywhere with your iOS mobile device.

Click to set up Office and email on Windows phones

Windows phones or tablets
Set up your Windows Phone or Windows 10 device with OneNote.

Create a notebook

The first time you start OneNote, it creates a notebook for you. You can create additional notebooks for whatever you want.

  1. Open OneNote.

  2. Select File > New.

  3. Select a cloud storage location such as OneDrive or SharePoint.

  4. Type a name for the notebook in the Notebook Name box.

  5. Select Create Notebook.

Screenshoit of how to create a new OneNote notebook.

Open a notebook

  1. Select File > Open.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Select the notebook in the Open from OneDrive pane.

    • Select the notebook in the Recent list.

    • Select the notebook storage location in the Open from other locations list, and then navigate to and select the notebook.

Screenshot of the Open From OneDrive area of the Open page of the Backstage view.

Create a section

  • Select Create a New Section Create a New Section button to the right of the existing section tabs.

  • Right-click an existing section tab and select New Section.

Rename a section

  • Double-click the section tab, type the new name, and then press Enter.

  • Right-click the section tab, select Rename, type the new name, and then press Enter.

Change the section color

  • Right-click the section tab, select Section Color, and then select the color you want.

Add a new section in OneNote.

Add a page

  • Select Plus sign in circle Add Page at the top of the right pane.

  • Point to the left margin of the pages in the right pane and select the location where you want to insert a new page.

Add more pages to your notebooks.

Rename a page

  • Select the page title at the top of the page and replace it with the page title you want.

  • Right-click the page title in the right pane and select Rename. Then replace the page title.

Right-click a page tab to give your page a new name.

Type notes

  1. Click anywhere on the page, and then start typing words of wisdom.

    A note container appears around text as you type, and is a way to move notes on a page.

  2. Keep typing within the note container, or click elsewhere on the page to create a new note.

To add notes in OneNote 2016, just start typing on a page.

Switch among open notebooks

  1. Select the current notebook at the left end of the section tab area.

  2. Select the notebook you want to switch to, from the list of open notebooks.

Screenshot of the open notebook list.

Create a page from a template

  1. Select Insert > Page Templates.

    (Select the button, not the arrow.)

  2. Expand the categories in the Templates task pane.

  3. Select a template name from the list to create a page. Press Ctrl+Z if you don’t want the page you created. Repeat until you find one you prefer.

Tip: You can't apply a template to an existing note page. Instead, add a template page and then copy your notes to it.

Screenshot of a notebook page created from a meeting template. The Templates pane is open.

Share your notebook

  1. Select File > Share.

  2. Select Share with People.

  3. Type the names or email addresses of people you'd like to share your notebook with.

  4. Select Can edit to assign read/write permissions, or Can view to assign read-only permissions.

  5. Add a personal note, if you'd like, and then select Share to email a sharing invitation to the specified recipients.

Screenshot of the Share With People area of the Share page of the Backstage view.

View recent edits

  1. Select History > Recent Edits.

  2. Select the date range you want to see edits for.

    The Search Results pane lists each page changed in the specified timeframe. Changes are highlighted on the active page, and each changed page in the current section is highlighted in the page list.

  3. Select a page title in the Search Results pane to move to that page.

Note: To see who made specific changes, you can show authors in a shared notebook.

Screenshot of the Recent Edits button in OneNote 2016.

Get help with OneNote

  1. Press F1 to open the Help pane.

  2. Do either of the following:

    • Select a topic from the Top help topics list.

    • Select Search help at the top of the Help pane, type the task or feature you want help with, and then select Search Help pane Search button .

Screenshot of the OneNote Help pane displaying search results for Tag Notes.
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