Service Pack 1 for OneNote offers more than bug fixes

SP1 for OneNote 2003 doesn't just address problems and improve performance. It adds a host of features to simplify your note-taking tasks, such as interoperability with core Office apps, real-time sharing, and more control over the scope of searches.

Service packs for applications are usually not very exciting; they fix a few bugs and perhaps enhance performance. With Microsoft's recently released Service Pack 1 for OneNote 2003, though, there's more going on. SP1 does fix a host of issues, but that's not all it does. It also adds a number of features in response to customer requests, making OneNote even more functional. In this article, we'll take a look at these new features and see how OneNote—especially when installed on a Tablet PC—can make your note-taking life easier than ever.

Installing the service pack

Installation is straightforward. I installed SP1 on several computers, both Tablet PCs and desktop machines, without any problems. Although you can download the service pack from Microsoft, the easiest way to get it is to use Office Update on the Office Online Web site. Just click Check For Updates or click the OneNote 2003 link under New Updates.

You can even install the service pack to the 60-day trial version of OneNote. You'll be able to try out all the SP1 features, but the evaluation version will still expire after 60 days.


Be sure to uninstall the preview version of SP1 before installing the final release. For information on how to uninstall the preview, see Knowledge Base article 873206.

To determine whether SP1 has been installed on your copy of OneNote, pull down the Help menu and select About Microsoft Office OneNote. If it has, you'll see the notation SP1 at the top of the dialog box after the version number.

Dress up your notes with multimedia files

With SP1, you can create multimedia-enhanced notes and more easily transfer information into your notes from a variety of sources. A great feature for those of us who gather information on the go is the ability to copy notes that you take on your Pocket PC or Smartphone into OneNote. This includes not only written notes, but also recordings. Just click Tools and select Copy From Pocket PC Or Smartphone.

You can also add video notes made with a digital camcorder or Web cam, and you can synchronize the video with your text (typed or handwritten) notes. Click Tools and select Audio And Video Recording. Likewise, you can import screen captures into OneNote (with time and date stamps), and you can dress up your notes by importing digital photographs, as shown in Figure A. Just click Insert, select Picture, and then select From File.

Figure A

You can add photos, screenshots, video, and recordings to your notes.

Interoperate with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook

Here's another handy feature: You can insert an Office document (from Word, Excel, or PowerPoint) into a note as a picture. Just click Insert and select Document As Picture.

The document appears in the note (and the document's filename is automatically inserted as the note's title). You can even annotate the document by drawing on it, highlighting portions, or inserting typed or handwritten text, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

You can annotate an inserted document.

You can also import information about meetings from Outlook by clicking Insert and selecting Outlook Meeting Details.

Interoperability goes two ways, too. You can create contacts and appointments and send them to Outlook 2003 by clicking Tools and selecting Create Outlook Item. To send notes to Word, click File and select Publish. Then, in the File type drop-down box, select Microsoft Word Document (.doc).

Sharing—and not sharing—your notes

SP1 allows you to collaborate with others by sharing your note pages in real time. Multiple users can see and even make changes to a page of notes. Just click File and select Share With Others. This invokes the Share With Others task pane, shown in Figure C.

Figure C

You can share OneNote sessions with others in real time.

You can send your notes via e-mail. The recipient doesn't have to have OneNote installed to see them. You can take notes with others in a live session by clicking either the Join A Session or the Start A Session button. When you start a session, you'll be asked to set a password so you can control who else participates. You can also share your notes by sending them to a SharePoint Web site.

Even if you aren't sharing your notes, you may still want to password-protect them and encrypt the data in your notes. To do this, click File and select Password Protection. You can set passwords on specific sections of a notebook and lock sections that you've entered, as shown in Figure D.

Figure D

You can password-protect your notes if they contain sensitive data.

Other new features

In addition to the enhancements we've looked at so far, Microsoft has made several small but important changes to OneNote with SP1.

For starters, you can easily create customized flags to go along with the default flags (To Do, Important, Question, and Remember For Later), such as those shown in Figure E. Just click Format and select Note Flags. Then, choose Customize My Note Flags.

Figure E

SP1 makes it easy to create customized flags.

SP1 also offers a selection of new stationery options to dress up the background of your notes (and make it easier to organize and identify particular notes), as shown in Figure F. To access the options, click Format and select Stationery.

Figure F

You can choose from a selection of new stationery options.

If you want to have a record of when a note was created, you can insert the date and time on a note page. Just click Insert and select Date And Time or use the [Alt][Shift]F keyboard shortcut. You can also change the date and time on page headers. Just click the date or time to select it, and a calendar or clock icon will appear. Click the icon and select the new date or time you want to appear in the header, as shown in Figure G.

Figure G

SP1 lets you change the date or time on a page header.

With SP1, you can assign names to subpages. In addition, the search function has been improved to allow you to change the scope of a search so that you can search an individual section, in a selected folder (with or without including subfolders), or in the entire notebook. To access these options, click the down arrow next to the search text box, as shown in Figure H.

Figure H

These options enable you to set the scope of a search from the current section to the entire notebook.

If you have a Tablet PC, you'll find that it's easier to erase specific text using pen gestures, and you have more selections for customizing pens and pen colors.

Easier note-taking

The recently released Service Pack 1 for OneNote 2003 is much more than just a bug fix. It does take care of a number of issues, but it also adds features and functionality, making it easier to incorporate information from various sources, organize, search and protect your notes, and share them with others.

About Deb Shinder

Debra Littlejohn Shinder, MCSE, MVP is a technology consultant, trainer, and writer who has authored a number of books on computer operating systems, networking, and security. Deb is a tech editor, developmental editor, and contributor to over 20 add...

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