Handy One Note shortcuts to create checklists

While OneNote is a great notetaking tool, and I spend most of my time in it, if you’re using it only as a place to store meeting or work notes you could possibly be missing out on some of its immense power.

OneNote is a great tool to create checklists, and thankfully, incorporates some shortcuts that make it even easier.

To create a simple check list, use Ctrl + 1 (i.e. hold down the control key and press the number 1) to create to do items.

OneNote: Sample to do list

OneNote: Tag OptionsThere are lots of other tagging options for you to choose from as you can see from the list here, and if this is not enough, you can also create customized tags.

If you use the highlight feature to color your text, consider using a highlighting tag, such as Remember for Later, or Definition, or create your own. You can add any available Shortcut keys to your custom tags as well.

If you later want to get a quick list of all the tags you’ve created, right-click on one of the tags, and choose Find Tags. That will generate a panel on the right hand side of all the tags and the content tagged for each type of tag.


Password Protecting a Section in OneNote

We have a special treat coming up as we have several presenters around the division sharing with us how they use OneNote in their daily work lives.

In preparation for the presentation, I had asked each presenter to share their OneNote file with me so that I could have them all available on my laptop as we presented today. I knew the enormity of what I was asking, as they were sharing their notebooks with me, some parts of which were very much confidential. The fact that my colleagues were willing to trust me with their very private documents was very humbling, and also a little scary, both for them and for me.

I was afraid I would accidentally reveal one of their private pages to the audience and that would not be good at all. Thankfully, OneNote has a way to protect sections of a document from prying eyes, and it’s actually very easy to do.

How to password protect a section in your OneNote

Simply right-click on the name of the section, and choose Password Protect This Section.

OneNote: Password Protect this Section

A panel will appear on the right hand side.

Click the Set Password button to set the password.

OneNote: Set Password

Please be aware that if you forget your password, there is no way for anyone to retrieve the information from this section, so be sure you use a familiar password.

OneNote: Password Protection Screen

Setting the password doesn’t actually lock that section from being seen. You then also need to click the Lock All button for those sections to be locked. They are locked from you as well as any other user.

OneNote: Password Protection Panel

You will need to hit Enter, or click on the text in the locked section in order to display the password screen to show the section.

OneNote: Password Protected Section

You can keep the password on the section for as long as you want, or you can use the Remove Password button to remove it. You will again be asked to enter the password, and then you will have unlocked your section completely.


  • You might not be able to view password protected sections on all devices.
  • Audio and Video recordings aren’t protected in the OneNote 2007 section format.
  • To search password protected sections, you need to unlock them first.

Use Case: Collaborating in the Cloud

Collaboration is everywhere, and Cloud Services are proving to be a wonderful collaboration tool. Take this weekend for example. I was helping a husband and wife team with some marketing for their business. They had cards with their customer contact information, they had some printed articles written by a colleague, and copies of old brochures that they wanted to refresh with a new look.

While one of them entered the contact list into a cloud spreadsheet, the other used the text-to-voice feature on a smart phone to dictate the articles and brochure content into a word processing document that was located in the cloud. After dictating the content from the phone, he edited the content directly in the online document on his computer. While they were doing the data entry and copy creation, I worked on making the brochures, using the content that had been edited in these documents.

We were working on three separate machines, all in the same room. My team’s knowledge of computers was fairly basic, and thus the cloud experience offered a very calm space where we could all see the work at the same time and talk through the work, without the need to talk through the steps of transmitting the work or walking around the desk to view someone’s monitor. I was able to access the content without the pesky need to email or upload files, and it was almost pure heaven.

When a field was missing in the contact list, I was able to add it to the spreadsheet in my browser, and when it showed up on her end, she could enter the necessary information. When he needed bullets in his content, I could just give him bullets without needing to talk him through how to create them, or walk over to his machine to add them.

Before working in the cloud, we would have needed a local server, USB sticks, or sent copious emails to each other, wasting a lot of time, a lot of bandwidth, but most of all, causing a lot of confusion. Work would have stopped every time another person needed to review the files because having more than one person in the same file was almost impossible.

Another benefit of working in the cloud is that the content is saved every few seconds. That meant that if someone accidentally closed a browser, the work just waited for them to return whenever they were ready. There was no panic of having forgotten to save the document. Remember those days of panic? Yea, me too.

This was their first experience truly working in the cloud and I think they were impressed. From my standpoint, I enjoyed not having to take over someone’s machine to fix issues here and there. Whenever I have to do that, I feel like I am in someone’s space, invading their computer. And while I am always happy to teach anyone what they need, sometimes all that learning can be overwhelming and take away from the creativity needed to develop content. Being able to resolve things from my own machine while leaving them in their space and their own thoughts was an added benefit of working in this collaborative environment.

OneNote: extract words from pictures!

One wonderfully handy tool in OneNote is the ability to extract words from a picture.
Take this image for example, a random motivational quote I found on Google.

One Note: Picture of a quote that says "Your mind is a powerful thing. When you fill it with positive thoughts, your life will start to change.


To pull the words from this image, right-click on the image and choose Copy Text from Picture from the drop down. Then click somewhere in your file, and paste.

OneNote: Copy Text from Picture

Here is what it gave me:

So, while the result is not perfect, it can save you lots of time in typing the content.
Images with a solid background work better for this feature.

Try this feature and let me know how it works for you by entering a comment. Where do you find the best success? In what cases does it fail? What’s the funniest result you’ve seen?

Creating and using email templates in Outlook

When you have to send the same content in an email over and over again it can be helpful to create an email template that you can use to save you time.

This tutorial can also be used for when you frequently need to send an email to a the same group of people, and you need to place some of them in the TO field, and other people in the CC field.

You can leave the body blank in that case and just pre-fill the To and CC fields. I hope this helps.

The Scenario

As I am working with the Housing & Residence Life team to get their Resident Adviser Duty Schedule site up and running we’ve identified a number of users who need to activate their Office365/SharePoint user licenses. Sending a mass email to the group did not quite yield the results we were looking for, and so we’re now sending individual emails to the users. So far I have sent 43 individual emails to these users, and I am sure there are more to come. Sending these emails manually involves copying and pasting the subject line and content 43 times and adding the copied recipients 43 times.

The solution

To help me get these 43 emails (and others like it) sent a lot faster, I created an email template so I don’t have to do all this copying and pasting.

Create the template

Templates are easy to create: you simply draft the email like you normally do. In other words, click New Email from the New Group on the HOME tab, type the message, adding any attachments, pictures, formatting you need. If you always carbon copy certain people, you can add them as well.

Outlook Email Template - Sample Email

When the email is ready, click the FILE tab and choose Save As in the left pane. In the dialog box, give your file a name, and choose Outlook Template (*.oft) from the Save As Type drop-down.
Click Save and close the mail window. You may be prompted to save it again. You don’t have to.

Outlook Email Template - Save Template

Using the template

When you’re ready to use the template, instead of using New Email, use the New Items drop-down from the HOME tab, choose More Items, and then Choose Form

Outlook Email Template - Retrieve Template

From the Look In: drop-down choose User Templates in File System

Outlook Email Template - User Template

Select your template, and then click Open. From here, add your recipient, a greeting, edit your message if need be, and hit send. While it’s a tad tedious to retrieve the templates sometimes, in the end, it does save you quite a bit of time if you’re needing to send the same message over and over again.

Outlook Email Template - Select Template

Using OneNote to track and manage your timesheet adjustments

OneNote can be used for a lot of different purposes, including managing timesheet adjustments. For those who are wage employees, if you’ve ever had to email your supervisor to request a timesheet adjustment, there tends to be a delay between your email and their updates to the timeclock system.

In the meantime, you may want to keep track of what your actual hours are so you can budget the remainder of the week according to your agreement. You may also want to keep track of the requests that you have sent, and then review that the requested changes were made on your behalf.

I created a sample spreadsheet, which you can download and then save to your OneDrive, or you can insert it directly into your OneNote document for future reference.

To keep track of your emails, you can create a category for time sheet adjustments and then go into your sent box and mark those emails with the time sheet adjustment category, which you can then use to filter your emails.

Or, you can click on the email and use the Send to OneNote button which will place your request into OneNote and will keep it in one place for you to review your timesheet requests against your timesheet system to ensure your supervisor made the changes as requested.

Either way, keeping track of timesheets is the bane of any hourly worker’s existence and when you’re not able to make adjustments yourself, then you have to create your own tracking system, whether it’s printing them out or using one of these electronic means. I hope this made your life a little bit easier.

Using promoted links in your SharePoint pages

Promoted links are a way for us to display our links in a pictorial format. I like promoted links because they are a little interactive when you mouse over them. It’s also nice to use an app to link pictures, so we don’t need to handle this through uploading images and linking them individually through HTML.

SharePoint: Promoted Links Example

There is a bit of a trick to setting them up. You need to upload the images into a Picture Library or SiteAssets Library and then keep that library open while you’re creating the promoted links so you will know the URL for your image. However, once it’s set up, the more enhanced user experience makes up for any issues you might have with creating it on the front end. The above links look so much more pleasant than the links below, don’t they?

Keystone Experience
High-Impact Practices