5 cool features in OneNote

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In this blogpost I will show 5 cool features in OneNote you may not know but will help to increase your productivity. OneNote is a great product to keep notes and more. Many professionals use it in various ways. Among other things, you can take handwritten notes in it, but also convert them to text (ink to text). But there are many other useful features in OneNote that most people do not know about. In this blog post, I have compiled my top 5 of cool features in OneNote.


Ink to Text

If, like me, you sometimes use a tablet or smartphone to take handwritten notes, it may be useful to convert them to text. The “Ink to text” feature allows you to manage this. Before using this feature, you must first install the proper handwriting pack. Otherwise you will get the warning below:

To install the handwriting pack go to “Settings” -> “Time & Language” -> “Preferred language” -> “Add Language”. Select the language you want to install and make sure “Handwriting” is selected. After handwriting is installed you need to restart OneNote.

To convert handwritten text, select the “Draw” (1) tab and select “Lasso Select” (2). Draw a circle around the handwritten text by holding down the left mouse button. When the circle is complete release the mouse button, the text will now be selected (3). Use the right mouse button on the text and select “Ink to Text” (4). To convert the text.


Text from pictures

One of the big advantages in Onenote is Optical Character Recognition (OCR) support. This makes it possible to use the search function to find text in images. For example, if I search for “Headquarters,” the text in the image of Microsoft headquarters will be discovered.

In addition, it is also possible to copy text from an image and paste it into OneNote. This makes it possible, for example, to take a picture of a presentation and copy the text later and not have to retype everything. Select the image and press the right mouse button. Select “Copy Text from Picture” (1). The text from the picture is now copied. Press the right mouse button anywhere in the OneNote and select paste. The text from the picture is now pasted (2). As you can see, the text is not always extracted correctly.


Outlook Tasks

OneNote’s Outlook integration allows you to create Outlook tasks in OneNote, among other things. By the way, these tasks are also visible in Microsoft To Do. This is a handy feature to link tasks to your notes. For example, if your various actions are related to your notes. The option to create Outlook tasks only appears if you have Outlook with a configured email account.

If this is not the case you will not see the option.


To create an Outlook Task, go to the “Home” (1). Select the text of the task (2) and select when the task should be completed (3). A flag (4) will now appear in front of the line to indicate that it is a task. When the task is complete, the flag will change to a green check mark.

After you create an Outlook task, you can see it in both Outlook and Microsoft To Do.


Dictate Text

As in most other Office products, dictation is also present in OneNote. It allows you to quickly and easily add notes, comments and more into OneNote. Dictation is available for over 30 languages including English, most European and Asian languages (Some still in preview). In addition to words, you can also dictate punctuation, symbols, emojis and more. It is also possible to edit, format and create lists/tables. All you need is a microphone and a reliable internet connection.

In the “Home” tab, select “Dictate”. This adds a panel with 3 buttons. Press the cog (2) to enable and disable the spoken language, microphone and to enable and disable auto-punctuation/sensitive phrases. Press “save” to save the settings.

Select the dictate button (1) to begin dictating. A red dot (2) appears at the top right of the dictation function to indicate that the dictation function is enabled. The spoken words appear in the opened OneNote (3). Press the dictate button (1) or (2) to stop dictating.



Smart Lookup

When you are in the process of taking notes in OneNote, sometimes you want more information on a particular topic. For this, you can open a Web browser and look up the topic in it, or you can use Smart Lookup.

Select the topic in your OneNote (1) and open the review tab (2). In the review tab, select “Smart Lookup” (3). A search window will open on the right side of your OneNote (4). This search window contains all the search results Bing can find on the topic. You can select whether you want to search web or media by clicking “more” (5). Clicking on a result opens the full article in a web browser.


Bonus: OneNote Web Clipper

OneNote Web Clipper allows you to capture entire Web pages or regions/articles from Web pages in your Web browser. OneNote Web Clipper you have to install yourself, this extension is not installed as part of OneNote or Office. Go to the web page https://www.onenote.com/clipper to install the extension.

Select the OneNote icon and login with your Microsoft 365 account to proceed.

First, select what you want to clip (1) and then select the notebook (2) you want to clip to. Press “Clip” to complete the action.


If you have many Notebooks in use, the location may take longer to load. In addition, the loading may fail due to an API error related to the document library size.


Bonus: OneNote Tray

By default when you install OneNote on a computer, a OneNote icon appears in the taskbar. When you left-click this icon the default action is performed. When you right-click on it, then under “OneNote icon defaults” you can configure the default action. In addition, you can choose to create a quick note, open OneNote or create a screen clipping.


I hope you got something out of my list of cool features in OneNote. If you miss anything else or have a great tip, let me know by leaving a reply.

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