Get started with the new OneNote

Applies to: OneNote for Windows 10, OneNote for Mac, OneNote for the web, OneNote for iOS.

In response to feedback we’ve received from our customers, we’ve made several updates to the navigation interface in the newest versions of OneNote. This article contains tips to help you get going quickly.

Note: The new navigation features outlined below are currently rolling out to OneNote for Windows 10 and OneNote for Mac, and will be coming soon to OneNote for the web and OneNote for iPad. If you don’t have automatic OneNote or Office app updates enabled, be sure to check manually for any available updates. If you always want the earliest access to the newest OneNote features, consider becoming an Office Insider.

A simpler layout — with more room for your notes

The OneNote app window in the Windows and Mac versions now provides greater note-taking space by giving a simpler way to manage the navigation interface. You can select to reveal the notebook, section, and page navigation panes anytime you need them, and then cover them again after you’re finished — leaving you to address your work, thoughts, and ideas.

Navigation bar in OneNote for Windows 10
  • The Navigation button switches the navigation panes on ( Navigation button turned on in OneNote for Windows 10 ) or off ( Navigation button turned off in OneNote for Windows 10 ). Press it to present your current notebook’s hierarchy, to toggle between pages, sections, and notebooks, or to design and structure sections, pages, and notebooks. Select the button again to conceal the navigation panes and jump back to your current page.
  • The Search button offers an entry point to search for keywords and phrases in precise locations in your notes — or within all of your notebooks. Apart from text, you can even search for any tags that you’ve set to chosen notes. Choose any search result in the list to skip to its location in your notes.
  • The Recent Notes button shows a chronological list of pages that you’ve recently viewed or amended, and also the sections and notebooks they’re based in. This is useful whenever you must swiftly alternate between pages in various sections or numerous notebooks, or once you seek to easily proceed with note-taking on a different computer or device.

Tip: The Recent Notes button is presently exclusive to OneNote for Windows 10. However, if you’re using OneNote for Mac, you can quickly browse and access recent notes by pressing File > Open Recent on the menu bar.

Get quick access to your notebooks/sections and pages

If you’ve formerly used OneNote on your computer or device, it will launch the last notebook and page that you most recently edited.

To see the hierarchy of your current notebook, select the Navigation button Navigation button turned off in OneNote for Windows 10 beside the upper left of the OneNote app window. Your current notebook’s pages and sections two navigation panes — sections (left), and pages (right). To change to any other section or page, pick its title.

Sections and pages in OneNote for Windows 10

Tip: You can right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac) any page or section title and then select from extra options on the launched menu.

To toggle to another notebook that you’ve opened before, press the Notebooks drop-down arrow that displays above the section and page lists.

Expanding the Notebooks list in OneNote for Windows 10

In the Notebooks list that pops up, select the notebook name. Pick More Notebooks to access any additional notebooks that are available in the cloud account linked to that you’re currently signed into OneNote.

The Notebooks list in OneNote for Windows 10

Tip: If your desired notebook is on a different account, see Switch between your home, work, or school accounts later in this article.

Add new sections/pages and notebooks

In OneNote, your notebooks have limitless capacity. You can effortlessly insert further pages or sections to any notebook — and you can create new notebooks to divide your work by your subjects and projects, or by the note locations (for example, at home, at school, or at work).

Start by clicking the Navigation button Navigation button turned off in OneNote for Windows 10 to display the navigation panes, and then do any of the following:

  • To produce a new section in the existing notebook, select the Add section button at the bottom of the section list.
  • To form a new page in the current section, press the Add page button at the bottom of the page list.
  • To produce a new notebook, pick the Notebooks drop-down arrow that displays above the section and page lists. In the Notebooks list that appears, choose the Add notebook button.

Note: OneNote for Mac users can also apply the File > New commands on the menu bar to design new sections, pages, and notebooks. In addition, both OneNote for Mac and OneNote for Windows 10 enable you to produce new items by using keyboard shortcuts. For more information, see the related links at the end of this article.

Make navigation panes as wide or as narrow as you want

You can easily expand or shrink the navigation panes to make them wider or more narrow. This is helpful if your section and page titles often display truncated, or if you want to optimise your note-taking area while the navigation bars are shown.

Resizing the navigation panes in OneNote for Windows 10
  1. Move the mouse pointer beyond the vertical edge to the right of the desired navigation pane that to adjust its dimensions.
  1. Once a double-headed arrow pointer displays, select and drag the edge of the pane to the left or right to make it as wide as you prefer, and then let go of the mouse button.

Find your notes instantly, no matter where you’ve put them

OneNote’s top secret is its capability to promptly scan the whole contents of any notebook — or even all of your notebooks.

Search pane options in OneNote for Windows 10

Begin by pressing the Search button to reveal the search pane, and then do any of the following:

  • In the search box at the top, write a keyword or a phrase to search for. You may be presented with suggestions of Recent Searches that you can click again based on past similar searches.

Tip: In any version of OneNote, you can use quotation marks around a phrase that you type into the search box. Doing so finds all occurrences of that exact phrase instead of the individual words.

  • Automatically, OneNote will search for the text you typed in All Notebooks that you now have open. However, you can set the search definition to just search in only the Current Notebook, in only the Current Section, or on only the Current Page. In OneNote for Windows 10, select the list drop-down arrow below the search box to choose your search scope. In OneNote for Mac, press the funnel icon, and then pick the search scope from the menu that emerges.
  • Beneath the search box and search scope selection, pick Pages to view search results situated in the text of your notes, or press Tags to search only amongst the descriptive text of note tags you’ve defined to particular notes (for example, “Important” or “Question”).
  • If your search text was found, it will display in the search results list. Choose any desired result to review and OneNote will skip to that page. Once you’re done reviewing search results, select the Search button once more to exit the navigation and return to your current page.

Tip: Not finding what you’re looking for? Make sure you’ve signed into the correct account and then open the notebooks that you want to search on that account. For more information, see Switch between your home, work, or school accounts in the section immediately below.

Switch between your home/work/school accounts

For a notebook to display in your Notebooks list, or for its pages to be highlighted in notebook search results, you are required to be signed into the account that has that notebook, and you must have entered that notebook one time before. You must either add or switch to a different account if your sought notebook is not listed.

OneNote for Windows 10 users can stay signed in with multiple personal, work, or school accounts and navigate between their notebooks with ease.

  • To see or alter the accounts you use with OneNote for Windows 10, select the Settings and More button Settings and More button in OneNote in the upper right corner of the app window, press Settings, and then pick Accounts. Verify your specific account that shows in the account list which appears, and select Add account should you prefer to insert a new account.
  • To erase an obsolete OneNote account, pick to select that account in the list, and then press Sign Out. To stop opening these notebooks repeatedly, we recommend deleting them from your Notebooks list. To do this, right-click the preferred notebook name to close, and then press Close Notebook.

Tip: To change accounts in OneNote for Mac, press OneNote > Sign Out on the menu bar to sign out of your current account, and then select OneNote > Sign In to sign into your desired account.

Customise OneNote with your app preferences

If you use OneNote on a PC or on a Mac, you can comfortably customise your OneNote experience by selecting from available app preferences.

  • In OneNote for Windows 10, press the Settings and More button Settings and More button in OneNote in the upper right corner of the app window, select Settings, and then press Options.
  • In OneNote for Mac, click OneNote on the menu bar, and then press Preferences.

Got feedback about OneNote? Share it with us!

Many of the feature updates described in this article were the direct result of feedback we’ve received from OneNote users like you! Once you’ve had a chance to experiment with these features, please take a moment to tell us what you like about your OneNote experience, and what suggestions you have for making it even better. Your product feedback is sent directly to the OneNote team and it can help shape the future of our favorite note-taking app.

  • In OneNote for Windows 10, pick the Settings and More button Settings and More button in OneNote in the upper right corner of the app window, press Settings, and then select Feedback. In the Windows 10 Feedback Hub app that appears, follow the on-screen prompts to type and send your feedback.
  • In OneNote for Mac, press the smiley face icon in the upper right corner of the app window, and then adhere to the on-screen prompts to input and send your feedback.

Additionally, if you have any feedback about this particular Help article, please let us know by clicking your response to the question “Was this information helpful?” that appears as you scroll to the end of the text.

Thank you for your feedback and thanks for using OneNote!

Next steps

Ready to get started with OneNote? Learn the basics for your preferred version:

See Also

What’s the difference between OneNote for Windows 10 and OneNote 2016?

Keyboard shortcuts in OneNote for Windows 10

Keyboard shortcuts in OneNote for Mac

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