Changes I’d pay to see added to OneNote

I love OneNote. I have all of my Notebooks running in the Cloud, all of my devices connect to the same notebooks (including my Windows Phone 7) and an update from any of them is reflected in all my other devices. Stuff I load into OneNote at work I then go home to read / use – this means I’m more efficient in my job as a consultant. I can even share a specific Notebook with other people – and I do, for a couple of different target “groups” of people I interact with regularly (My Parents “log” their IT support calls through a Custom OneNote Notebook – and can then use it as an “issues Knowledgebase”,  saving me repeating myself… and I’m using another one to collect ideas from different business areas within Oakton on our new portal’s taxonomy and Information Architecture).

However… there are a couple of features that I think would make OneNote a Killer App, and they are specifically targeted towards the user who uses OneNote to “collect” information and IP (like me).

I’d like to see OneNote come out with a feature that facilitates the “Auto-Relocation” of information (pages) based on keywords identified while the content is crawled by the OneNote Search engine – In my OneNote world, I capture a lot of information from Blogs and Wikis that I believe I will need in the future – OneNote is perfect for this because it’s a one-button browser action. However, I then have to go in and “Tidy Up” the stuff I’ve captured on a regular basis, by assigning it to the right category – This is a maintenance pain.

The other nice feature would be if OneNote offered an “Auto-Tagging” function along with metadata navigation – This might be similar to the search “Refiners” and Metadata Navigation in SharePoint Search and SharePoint 2010 document libraries. Then the “Notebooks”, “Sections” and “Pages” in OneNote become a three-level metadata hierarchy and the Search Engine could “Associate” a page with a particular section. If we then take this one step further, you could assign a single “page” of information to multiple “Hierarchy” locations, based on the keywords it contains.

This company has a OneNote-like system called DevonThink:; some of the nicer OneNote features are not present (like indexing of image text), but it auto-organises the information for you… which is really sweet. It’s Mac-only though, which counts me out.

Finally, for those people who would be concerned about a “page” disappearing forever because the engine assigned it to the wrong place, 2 features: OneNote Search will still work in the same way… and if the engine assigns something and you then reassign it somewhere else, it could “learn from its mistake” and assign information with a similar “pattern” to your preferred location in the future. There could be visual cues to highlight areas that have been changed by the Search Engine (like there is now, where the Notebook / Subject / Tab / Page turns Bold if someone else has updated it).

Finally, I’d like to see a feature that alerts you when you add information into OneNote that already exists there – It could do this by simple String pattern Matching on the “Inserted from” information… eg if there was a page that already had “Inserted from <>” at the bottom, it would let you know “There may be a Duplicate” and “Your existing copy of this info is here: Personal –> From the Browser –> Resolve Accounts across Multiple Domains”


About Brad Saide

I'm a SharePoint consultant. I'm also slowly going bald, seem to have a permanent spare tyre around my waist and enjoy socialising with friends over a beer or 10. The last 2 may possibly be related. Started working with SharePoint when the first version was in limited beta release (participated in the Technology Adoption Program while at Woolworths) and have been committed to the adoption of the technology as a business enabler ever since.
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