Take and format notes in OneNote 2016 for Mac

OneNote 2016 for Mac has many advantages over writing notes in a paper notebook. In OneNote, your notebooks won’t run out of paper — you can create more space at any time by adding more pages and sections when and where you need them. On any page, you can arrange, organize, and format your notes however you like. To keep track of important notes, you can tag or time-stamp them, and you can organize information in lists and tables. In OneNote, you’re free to experiment with any aspect of taking and formatting notes, and you can change your mind with a simple click of a button.

Basic formatting commands

If you’ve been using your Mac for a while, you probably already know the basics — like formatting text in different fonts, sizes, and colors. And you probably already know how to make text bold, italic, or appear underlined. OneNote supports all of these basic formatting commands, which you can find on the Home tab of the ribbon and on the Format menu.

Select any text you want to format, and then click the command that you want to apply to your selection. If you make a mistake, click the Edit menu, and then click Undo (or press the Command-Z keyboard shortcut). Not finding a command? Try Control-clicking a selection of notes on your page for additional options.

Listed below are step-by-step instructions for working with some specific formatting options that you have available in OneNote.
 

What do you want to do?

Type or write notes on a page

Move text on a page

Create a new page

Change the order of pages

Insert the current time and date

Create a bulleted or numbered list

Create a bulleted list

Create a numbered list

Add or edit a link

Add a link

Edit a link

Remove a link

Tag notes for follow-up

Add a tag

Remove a tag

Save notes

Type or write notes on a page

Do the following:

  • Click wherever on the page you want the notes to appear, and then type your text.

    Tip: To keep adding more notes to your page, you can click the text in an existing note and keep typing, or click anywhere elsewhere on the page and then type a new note there. You can create additional writing space within a note you’re editing by pressing the Return key a few times — much like you might do in any text editing app on your Mac.

Move text on a page

Do any of the following:

  • To move text within the same page, move the mouse pointer over the text. When the note container appears, click the top edge of the container frame, and then drag it to a new location on the page.

    Tip: While dragging a note container across a page, you’ll notice that it slightly snaps to horizontal and vertical lines of an invisible grid. This is intended to help you more easily align the note container with other elements that may already be on the page, such as pictures or tables you’ve inserted. You can temporarily disable the snap-to function by holding down the Option key on your keyboard while dragging the note container with the mouse. Doing so lets you position the note container to the exact position you want.

  • To copy or move an entire block of text from one location to another (either on the same page, or from one page to another), move the mouse pointer over the text, Control-click the top edge of the note container that appears, click Copy or Cut on the menu that appears, and then paste (Command-V) the notes where you want them.
     

Create a new page

In OneNote, a single page can scroll virtually forever, but it’s a good idea to use pages and sections effectively to keep your notebooks organized, especially if you’ll be sharing some of them with other people at some point. When you want to add a blank new page, do the following:

  1. Click the tab of the section in which you want to add more pages, and then do any of the following:

    • On the menu bar, click File > New Page.

    • At the top of the page list near the right side of the OneNote app window, click (+) Add Page.

    • On your keyboard, press Command-N.

  2. Apply a page title when the new page appears. Click the line shown over the page creation date/time stamp at the top of the page, type a description of the notes the page will contain, and then press Return.

Change the order of pages

New pages are automatically added to the bottom of the page list in the current section. To arrange the order of your pages, do the following:

  • On the right side of the OneNote app window, click and hold any page tab, and then move it higher or lower in the list of page tabs by dragging the selected tab up or down to the location you want.
     

Insert the current time and date

Whenever you create a new page in OneNote, it is automatically stamped with the current date and time to indicate when the page was created. This date/time stamp appears near the top of the page, just under the page title. Depending on how you use OneNote, you can also insert your Mac’s current date and time into your notes, for example, whenever you want to keep a record of timed or chronological events in your notes, such as a log of daily phone calls or the completion dates of tasks on your to-do lists.

In your notes, place the cursor where you want to insert the current date and time, and then do either of the following:

  • To insert the current date, click Insert > Date (or press Command-D).

  • To insert both the current date and the current time, click Insert > Date Time (or press Shift-Command-D).

OneNote uses the date and time format specified in your Mac’s regional settings. If you want to change the appearance of these formats, click the Apple menu > System Preferences. Next, double-click Date & Time, and then click Open Language & Region > Advanced > Dates (and/or Times).
 

Create a bulleted or numbered list

Create a bulleted list

Bulleted lists are a great way to list items in random order, such as a shopping list.

Do the following:

  1. In your notes, place the cursor where you want to begin a bulleted list.

  2. On the Home tab, click the Bullets button.

  3. Type the text for the first bullet, and then press Return to create the next bullet.

  4. Press Return twice in a row to end the bulleted list.
     

Tip:  You can also begin a bulleted list by typing * (asterisk) at the beginning of a new line of text and then pressing the Spacebar.
 

Create a numbered list

Numbered lists are a great way to list items in chronological order, such as step-by-step instructions.

Do the following:

  • In your notes, place the cursor where you want to begin a numbered list.

  • On the Home tab, click Numbering button.

  • Type the text for the first item, and then press Return to create the next item.

  • Press Return twice in a row to end the numbered list.
     

Tip:  You can also being a numbered list by typing 1. at the beginning of a new line of text and then pressing the Spacebar.
 

Add or edit a link

OneNote automatically creates links (also called hyperlink) whenever you type or paste an Internet address or World Wide Web URL into your notes. Alternately, you can also use the Insert > Link command to create a link from text in your notes.
 

Add a link

Do one of the following:

  • In your notes, type or paste the Internet address that the link should point to. For example, to add a link to the OneNote site, type http://www.onenote.com (or just www.onenote.com) and OneNote will automatically format the text as a clickable link.

  • On the ribbon, click Insert > Link. In the Address box, type the Internet address that the link should point to, and then click OK.
     

Tips:  To create links to other pages in your notebook, Control-click the tab of the page that you want to link to, click Copy Link to Page on the menu that appears, and then paste the link wherever you want it to appear in your notes. 

To create links to other sections in your notebook, Control-click the tab of the section that you want to link to, click Copy Link to Section on the menu that appears, and then paste the link wherever you want it to appear in your notes. 

To create links to other notebooks you have open, click the name of the current notebook (to the left of the row of section tabs under the ribbon). In the list of notebooks, move the mouse pointer over the name of the notebook you want to link to, click the Expand button that appears, click Copy Link on the menu that appears, and then paste the link wherever you want it to appear in your notes. 

Edit a link

To change the Internet address of an existing link in your notes, do the following

  1. Control-click the link whose address you want to change, and then click Edit Link on the menu that appears.

  2. In the Link dialog box that opens, replace the URL in the Address box with the new one you want. If necessary, you can also change the text that appears in the Text to display box to better describe the destination of the new link.

  3. Click OK.
     

Remove a link

To delete a link in your notes without deleting the text from which it was created, do the following:

  • Control-click the link you want to delete, and then click Remove Link on the shortcut menu.
     

Note: The Remove Link command only works with links you have manually created with the Insert > Link command, not with text that OneNote has automatically recognized and formatted as a link.

Tag notes for follow-up

OneNote provides several tags — visual markers — that you can apply to any part of your notes to help you visibly prioritize or categorize marked notes. For example, in a list to plan for an upcoming trip, you might apply the Critical tag (visualized as a red exclamation point) to the line item “Renew your passport” to let you easily remember its importance the next time you glance at the list.
 

Add a tag

Do the following:

  1. In your notes, click or select the text that you want to tag.

  2. On the Home tab, in the Tags gallery near the right, click the icon of the tag that you want to apply. For example, to tag the text as an important question that you’ll need to remember to find an answer to, click the purple Question icon. Use the arrows that appear in the Tags gallery to scroll through tags or to display menu of all available tags.
     

Note: The To Do tag is interactive. After tagging a note with it, the tag will appear as a blank check box. You can click this box and OneNote will place a red check mark in it to show the item as completed. It’s a handy way to visually track your progress in any to-do list.

Remove a tag

To delete a tag you no longer need, do the following:

  1. In your notes, click or select the text whose tag you want to remove.

  2. Click the Home tab, move the mouse over the Tags gallery, and then click the down-facing arrow that appears at the bottom of the gallery box.

  3. At the bottom of the menu that opens, click Remove Tag.
     

Save notes

OneNote doesn’t have a Save button. That’s because you never have to save your work in OneNote, like you do in other apps.

As you work in your notebooks, OneNote automatically saves everything for you — no matter how small or large the changes you’ve made. This lets you think about your projects, thoughts, and ideas instead of worrying about your computer files.

You can freely shut down OneNote at any time and as soon as you’re done taking notes. When you next start OneNote, it will automatically open the last page you were looking at and your latest notebook changes and additions will be instantly recalled.
 

Need more help?

If this article wasn’t quite what you were looking for, 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.

  • Review the most current answers to Frequently Asked Questions about OneNote 2016 for Mac.

  • 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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