Microsoft Office OneNote is one of the most invaluable tools in my productivity toolbox. Outside of Outlook, it is the app I use most often on my PC to collect thoughts, research topics, store reference information and take notes during meetings.
One of the challenges I have though is that I have multiple PC’s that I carry depending on the goal of the meeting I will be attending.
- A desktop PC in my office for managing media likes music, movies and such.
- A workstation caliber laptop that I use for Hyper-V which is useful when demonstrating product capabilities to a customer
- A TabletPC as my general productivity PC that I carry to customer meetings for taking notes.
The issue this introduces is keeping my Notes synchronized across those various PC’s since I use OneNote so religiously. Previous to OneNote 2010, I have tried various file synchronization tools to address this issue such as Groove, Windows Live Mesh and Windows Live Sync.
All of these tools provided a way to ensure Notes taken on one device would appear on another device and each provided various benefits. OneNote 2010 improves the story by providing a very elegant solution that is a great showcase of leveraging Software + Services to provide an enhanced productivity experience by integrating with Windows Live SkyDrive and the Office Web Apps (described below).
One of the great new enhancements to Microsoft Office 2010 is the introduction of the Office Web Apps. These are lightweight extensions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote delivered via the browser. The Web Apps allow you to accurately render an Office document on the Web and even provides lightweight editing capabilities so you can make changes to a document even when you don’t have access to the rich client applications.
In the case of OneNote, not only can you render a OneNote Notebook on the Web and make edits to it, you can also synchronize the Notebook offline into the OneNote rich client. Coupled that with the Co-Authoring capabilities that were introduced in Office 2010 and you have a very rich canvas that can be shared in the client application or on the web by multiple users to view/edit simultaneously.
To get started, open OneNote 2010 and open the file menu. Under “New” you will see the option the store the notebook on either the web, the network or your computer. If you choose to store the notebook on the web, you will get the option to sign into Windows Live SkyDrive (25GB of free online storage – everyone should have this) and choose the folder you want to store your shared notebook in.
Once OneNote is done creating the notebook, it will be available via the Web on SkyDrive and will be synchronized offline into the OneNote client.
Now that you have the Notebook stored online and cached locally, you can visit SkyDrive to witness the very cool Co-Authoring capabilities of Office 2010. If you drill down on the two images below, you will see that I was able to make a change to the notebook in the Web App and that it automatically synchronized into OneNote 2010. This makes it possible to share your Notebooks with your colleagues even if they don’t use OneNote and they can add their thoughts and ideas to yours.
|OneNote 2010||OneNote Web App|
You can also store an existing notebook on SkyDrive by by going to the File Menu and choosing Info where you will see a listing of all of your existing notebooks. You can then choose to either share a Notebook on the web or invite other users to a workbook you have already shared.
Now that you have a OneNote notebook stored on the web, you can make it available on any other PC you want to have your notebooks available on. Simply go to SkyDrive, open the folder containing the Notebook you want to make available offline. You will see a listing of the files that are available including your notebook. When you hover over the name you can click the option to “Edit in Browser”. When the OneNote Web App pops up on the screen, click the button on the very top right of the ribbon that says “Open in OneNote” and voila, you are now synchronizing your online notebook to another PC. Any changes you make online or in the client on any of your PC’s will automagically be sync’d to the others.
As you can see, together with the Office Web Apps, Microsoft Office OneNote 2010 embraces the cloud to give you the best productivity experience across the PC, phone and browser (the topic of Office Mobile to be covered in a future post ).