Crabby sings the praises of OneNote 2007

Crabby Office Lady: (c) Microsoft Crabby Office Lady

Yes, yet another OneNote column. So, what of it? So what if I'm all atwitter about the new features and changes made? After reading this column, you might be too.


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You know I love OneNote. Heck, I wrote two or three columns singing its praises.

 Note   Regarding the recent use of the word "heck," my last editor, Kevin (who is from Kansas), used to add that expression into my writing...and often. Nice guy, good editor. And since I'm from a neighboring state, Colorado, I think I'll keep it, even though Kevin has left the building...

But I digress.

OneNote is a program I use every single day, and that ain't no bull. I could tell you that InfoPath or Access are the meat and potatoes of my daily work, but frankly folks, it's OneNote that keeps me organized. I honestly don't remember how I kept track of everything before they ("they" meaning the good folks who do their work in the top-secret, inventing areas here at the company) came up with the idea that a program might do a better job than ten thousand sticky notes all over one's office (not that I don't still have a special place carved out in my crabby heart for sticky notes).

However, as nice as sticky notes are, they tend to get lost, and, by nature, stick to one another, and, well, just don't cut it. I use OneNote to keep track of upcoming columns, ideas, other projects (yes, I do other things around here, things that aren't so in the spotlight), book ideas, notes from my manager. And I also use it on my home computer — what summer camps are available for my daughter, my dog's medical records (old dog = lots of records), birthday present ideas, and so on...

In last week's column, I talked to you about one of my favorite new features in Excel 2007 — charts . This week I'm going to point out what I think is ridiculously exciting to me (and thereby should be to you too) and also shoot you toward some resources that will help you get better acquainted with what the new OneNote 2007 is all about.

Favorite new feature #1: Yee-haw! The Content Lasso tool

This new tool offers a way to select and move text and images a lot easier than the old cut-and-paste method.

Content Lasso tool

You just gather up any container or image and move it where you want. Nice 'n easy.

Favorite new feature #2: Better drawing tools

In the old OneNote, sure, you could change pen color and font and all that stuff, but with OneNote 2007, the drawing tools are much more sophisticated, letting you express yourself more creatively. So go on: Let out some of that steam. Doodle, draw, work the way you want. Add lines, add shapes, make your drawings three-dimensional...and then erase it all and start over.

Improved Drawing tools

By default, the Drawing toolbar is located at the bottom of your OneNote window, but of course you can pick it up and move it to wherever your colorful and creative heart desires.

Drawing toolbar

Favorite new feature #3: New navigation pane

I don't know about you, but before OneNote 2007, I often had a little bit of a hard time trying to figure out where I was. Was I in the right section of my notebook? Could I make more than one notebook? Where were all the sections? What was the difference was between a notebook, a section, a section group, a page, a subpage (and so on).

Now, with the new navigation pane, you can see, at a glance, which notebooks exist (and yes, you now can have multiple notebooks — another great new feature I though I'd toss in here for free). Then, by clicking on that notebook icon, it expands to show you what sections are where, and then you can figure out the whole page/subpage thing. Everything is right there in front of you. (Well, that's not exactly true; if it were in front of you, you wouldn't be able to see your work. It's actually on the left side of your OneNote window, which I think is a very good place to put it.) And you have a few options:

  1. You can look at the small and narrow version, which just shows the names of your notebooks and takes up less room.

Navigation bar minimized

  1. You can click the double arrows to see, at a glance, every notebook you have and all the sections contained within each notebook.

Navigation bar expanded part-way

  1. And, if you have many notebooks, like I do, you can expand it even further by clicking All Notebooks. (No image here because I need to keep some things private, you know...)

Favorite feature #4: Hyperlinking

I know, it sounds dangerous  — some sort of strange new extreme sport that involves ropes and pulleys (and hopefully lots of body armor), but it isn't. With the hyperlinking feature in OneNote 2007, you can now insert links and jumps between OneNote pages, and you can do it in the same notebook or in other notebooks. You can even create hyperlinks to any location or document from within OneNote. And it works the other way too: You can link to OneNote from any other location or document.

And here's the bonus: You can link to just portions of other documents, presentations, or Web pages. You can also insert links to individual contacts, e-mail messages, and calendar items in Outlook 2007. In other words, everybody knows where everyone else is at all times (which, in this case, is a good thing).

Favorite feature #5: Any notebook, anywhere

Now you can pop your notebooks anywhere you want, including on a network file server. If you have file folders on a local disk that you use for work with specific clients or projects, you can put the OneNote 2007 notebook associated with that client or project in the same folder. Your notebooks are always available, regardless of where you store them — on your computer or somewhere on a network. If you expect to use different computers at different times, storing your notebooks on a network helps ensure that you can always access your notebook, regardless of the system you use to access it.

One other cool thing about this is that if a notebook is regularly stored on a network location, OneNote maintains an offline copy of the notebook on the computer where you opened it. This is helpful if you travel and need to have the most updated version of your notebook with you. Then, when you get back to the office, OneNote automatically merges any changes you made when you reconnect with the network. Cool, huh?

Other cool new things...

There are many new and improved features in OneNote 2007. Here are just a few to whet your appetite. And remember, if you want to know more (which I know you do), refer to the See also box at the top right of this page to link off to all sorts of glorious information and resources.

  • Improved table support
  • Insert color printouts from other applications
  • Improved integration with mobile devices
  • Import/export application programming interfaces
  • Next-generation ink parser
  • Search for content in images, audio, and video files

Of course, there is an entire document and a whole host of other resources you can look at to get an idea of what to expect with OneNote 2007. Today, I just highlighted a few of my favorite new or improved things.

Join me in a little OneNote Kum Bah Ya

Before I forget, someone here at Microsoft (a software tester, no less), someone even more enamored of OneNote than I am, wrote a song about the program. (Gosh, no one has written a song about Crabby and I'm a real person, not a piece of software.)

If you want to hear Mike sing his heart out about his "favorite application" and how "no other software can make me feel this way," take a listen to My One and Only OneNote. (And you thought I was a bit over the top about OneNote.)

"He listens well who takes notes." — Dante Alighieri

About the author

Annik Stahl, the Crabby Office Lady columnist, takes all of your complaints, compliments, and knee-jerk reactions to heart. Therefore, she graciously asks that you let her know whether this column was useful to you — or not — by entering your feedback using the Did this article help you? feedback tool below. And remember: If you don't vote, you can't complain.

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Applies to:
Access 2007, OneNote 2007, Access 2003