Cloud Attachments In OneNote – Game Changer For Educators

Recording courtesy of Crispin Lockwood - Learning Delivery Specialist

OneNote remains one of the best tools in the classroom and, when used in combination with MS Teams for Education, it can be a real game changer. In late October a blog post referred to new "Cloud Attachments" for OneNote and I've been waiting to see what this actually means.

The idea expressed in the original blog post was:

When you attach a file stored in the cloud (i.e. on your OneDrive) to your OneNote page your file will be synced with the latest changes through OneDrive. You can attach cloud files simply by enabling it in Settings and clicking Insert > File. Once your cloud attachment is on the page, OneNote will upload the file into OneDrive, which makes real-time editing and collaborating on the file easy. Your notebook will display a live preview if it is an Office document, so you can see changes made to the file in real time.

cloud attachements

An example of an embedded document with live changes displayed directly inside OneNote

Whilst the instructions on the blog post reference uploading to OneDrive, if your OneNote is actually a Class NoteBook, then this file is uploaded directly into the Teams for Education "Files" tab - with permissions set to allow students to edit by default. To see this in action, check out the YouTube clip at the top of the page (acknowledgement to Crispin for recording this for me!)

Note: This is does require a setting change under the Options in OneNote so follow the instructions on the video, otherwise this feature may not be available for you just yet.

My Point of View:

This is an awesome addition to OneNote and really shows the value of using MS Teams for Education as the platform for all classroom interaction, including the hosting of the OneNote Class Notebook. In particular:

  • This will improve the syncing speed of OneNote Notebooks with students because large files are not being saved inside the notebook itself, but rather being saved in a more permanent storage location - inside of Teams.
  • Improved read/write access control by using the underlying SharePoint Online permissions to control which groups of users in your Team have access to editing the document.
  • Quicker viewing for Team members - with the real time embed option there is no need to double click an attached file to launch it: you can see the content immediately. In a classroom situation where you may have multiple students co-authoring a document, a teacher can easily see these live updates through the embedded view in the OneNote notebook itself.
  • In the same way that Known Folder Move helps protect key documents from being lost or accidentally deleted by being saved in the wrong place, Cloud Attachments in OneNote will ensure documents are stored in the most appropriate location - Teams!
  • You can, of course, grab the sharing link of an existing file in your OneDrive or Teams Files section and paste that into OneNote to embed the content inside the Notebook

I love the continued evolution of the product in this space and this latest "Cloud Attachments" should be a big win for educators and students alike.

Comments (6)
  1. ozhelp says:

    nice work. should we update onenote manuelly or it will roll up automatically for all web?

    1. Sam McNeill says:

      The update will roll out for all users in due course. You can opt to get on the Windows Insiders track if you wanted to.

      1. CliveNorton says:

        Hi Sam, Really looking forward to seeing this feature, I am a teacher in the UK using Teams and OneNote and as you say this could be a game changer. I have the latest version of everything I can get my hands on (both Windows and Office insider previews) but still no sign of the Cloud Attachments settings.
        Can I ask what is the version number of OneNote that you have?
        Many thanks

        1. Sam McNeill says:

          Hi Clive,
          Yes this will be a great feature and will be awesome for teachers like yourself who use Teams and OneNote. It’s still rolling out to many users so you’ll probably have to wait a bit longer for this to arrive at this stage.
          Could be an early Christmas present đŸ™‚


          1. CliveNorton says:

            Thanks Sam. I guess I will have to write a letter to Santa! Many thanks from the UK. Clive

  2. Luke Gackle says:

    This is fantastic news and is a great start towards integrating Microsoft’s applications and cloud ecosystem more closely together, however this still needs to be developed further to enable the following:
    •Inserting a file into OneNote from OneDrive
    •Inserting a file into OneNote from SharePoint
    •For OneNote documents that are saved in Microsoft Teams I’d also like to see documents uploaded to the Teams SharePoint rather than individual team members personal OneDrive

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