Find my lost notes

Applies to: OneNote for Windows 10, OneNote 2016, OneNote 2013, OneNote for Mac, Office for business, OneNote for iOS.

If you are struggling to find some of your OneNote notes, it doesn’t mean they’re erased. Notes can turn up in one of numerous locations.

OneNote 2016

What version of OneNote do I have?

If your application looks like this, choose the OneNote for Windows 10 tab above for instructions on how to find your notes.If your application looks like this, these instructions are for you.
Shows the OneNote for Windows 10 windowShows the OneNote Windows desktop window

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

If you’re struggling to find your notes in OneNote 2016 or 2013, try any of the following:

Use the Search feature

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

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

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

  1. In the search box, write a keyword or phrase.
Use Search to look for notes anywhere in OneNote.
  1. As you type, OneNote starts returning page results that correspond to your search word or phrase. Select a search result to acquire the matching note.
  1. Once you’ve completed your search, press Esc.

Note: Password-protected sections are excluded in notebook searches. To include a protected section in a search, you must unlock the section first.

Search for words in audio and video clips

OneNote can identify spoken words in audio and video recordings if Audio Search is switched on. This option is automatically deactivated since it slows down searching.

To turn on Audio Search:

  1. Press File > Options > Audio & Video.
  1. Below Audio Search, click the Enable searching audio and video recordings for words checkbox and press OK.

Re-open closed notebooks

If your notes are kept in a notebook that you’ve recently closed, you must re-open it to ensure those notes are applied to your searches.

  1. Click File > Open.
  1. Below Recent Notebooks, select your desired notebook to open.
  1. Scan through the sections and pages of your reopened notebooks, or conduct another notebook search.

Check the Quick Notes section

If you upgraded to OneNote 2016 from a previous version, some of your notes may have been harvested in a special section called Quick Notes. Before OneNote 2013, this section was named Unfiled Notes. In either case, check to see if this specific section exists in your preset notebook.

  1. Access the Notebook pane by selecting the name of your current notebook, displayed on the left side right beneath the ribbon. (Skip this step if you have the Notebook pane docked to the screen.)
  1. At the bottom of the Notebook pane, select Quick Notes.
  1. In the Quick Notes section, pick the section tabs at the top or the page tabs on the right to browse through any notes that OneNote may have gathered here.

Note: Typically, random notes stored in the Quick Notes section are contained in an all-notebooks search. However, if you’ve moved this section to another notebook that’s since been closed, it will be omitted from the search results.

Manually sync shared notebooks

If you’re working in one or more shared notebooks that are stored on OneDrive, OneNote may be syncing incorrectly to these shared locations. Syncing shared notebooks manually will help you uncover any problems.

  1. Enter the shared notebook where you anticipated to see your missing notes.
  1. Click File > View Sync Status.
  1. In the Shared Notebook Synchronisation dialogue box, ensure that the Sync automatically whenever there are changes option is picked.
  1. Press Sync All.

If you see any error messages for any of the shared notebooks in your list, press the Get Help button beside each to start troubleshooting the problem. Unless you resolve any sync errors, you won’t observe notes others have added to the shared notebook, and you will miss notes that you’ve added from other computers or devices.

Check your OneDrive folders

If you believe 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 the use of OneNote.

  1. Sign in to your OneDrive account from the OneDrive home page or by using the OneDrive app for Windows 10.
  1. Browse through your OneDrive folders (for example, Documents or Notebooks) for any of your target notebook files.
  1. Once you’ve found your desired notebook, press to access it in OneNote for the web.
  1. In OneNote for the web, select Open in OneNote.

Check the Notebook Recycle Bin

If you’ve tested every preceding step and you still haven’t gotten your notes, maybe you—or someone else with access to your notebooks—removed them. Fortunately, OneNote pre-emptively saves notes for a short time once they have been erased from shared notebook so you can aim to recover them.

  1. Enter the shared notebook where you suspected your lost notes would be.
  1. Press History > Notebook Recycle Bin > Notebook Recycle Bin.

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

  1. Right-click the tab of any your desired page(s) to recover, and then pick Move or Copy.
  1. In the Move or Copy Pages dialogue box, select your preferred notebook section to rearrange the page, and then press Move. If you want to move the page to a section in another notebook, start by pressing the + (plus) sign beside that notebook in the list, and then click a section within it.
  1. 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, you can report 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.

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