OneNote Hack: Easily Sharing Items Across Multiple Devices

OneNote Hack: Easily Sharing Items Across Multiple Devices

I have written before about my use of OneNote and how integral it is to my daily work flow from both a personal and professional approach.

Several years ago, after attending an in-depth OneNote session during one of the MVP Summits I attended at Microsoft, I shifted my entire podcasting process over to OneNote. No more stacks of paper being printed out and recycled each and every week for show notes. Now everything is electronic and accessible on multiple devices but that has recently become a bit of a challenge that I wanted to overcome.

Today I want to share with you a recent hack I came up with using OneNote to better manage my shared items which I collect throughout the day for podcasting each week.

My Scenario

When I come across an interesting article I might want to include in my weekly podcast I pull it up in Microsoft Edge and then use the Share Dialog to send it to OneNote.

Windows 10 Share Dialog

After selecting the OneNote target you then see this dialog:

OneNote Share Dialog in Windows 10

This is all great however, by default the sharing target in the above dialog is set to the last Notebook and Section you accessed in the OneNote UWP app. Since I had a dedicated Notebook for my podcast, I always tried to remember to select that Section before leaving the app however, I would forget to do that more times than not.

That meant I ran into an issue when sharing an item to my OneNote for the podcast because I would not be pointing at the right spot when the sharing dialog popped up. I would then have to close this sharing dialog, open the OneNote UWP app, and then select my Podcast Items Section in order to share the item to the right spot in that Notebook.

As you can imagine, that can get a little irritating over time.

OneNote does have a feature that requires each instance of a OneNote installation to have a designated Quick Notes Section and that is always available in the drop down of the OneNote sharing dialog shown above by default. My thought was to create a new OneNote Notebook, make it the location for the default Quick Notes and then use that same Quick Notes Section for all of my devices (two desktops, two laptops, and one small tablet).

That would give me a central folder to share items to that would also always be available in the OneNote Sharing Dialog across all of my devices. Or at least that is what I thought would happen.

However, as soon as I started opening that OneNote Notebook up on my various devices and making it the default location for my Quick Notes, a list of folders started to propagate across all of my devices in that Note Book like this:

-- Quick Notes
-- Quick Notes 1
-- Quick Notes 2
-- Quick Notes 3
-- Quick Notes 4

In other words, the single Quick Notes folder could not be shared across all of my instances of OneNote as a single Quick Notes target.

My Solution

I decided one way to overcome these limitations was to create a new Notebook for each of my devices which was called QuickNotesXXX with XXX being a designator to ID the device and then designate that Notebook as the storage location for Quick Notes on that system.

This would also insure that I would always have access to that area for sharing in the OneNote Sharing Dialog in the drop down box shown above.

After that I decided to open each of these Notebooks in OneNote across all of my devices plus open my podcast Notebooks so that I could easily move shared items from the various Quick Notes into my Podcast Items for use during my weekly podcast.

Here is what that list of Notebooks now looks like on my devices with this setup:

OneNote Notebooks and Quick Notes

Since the OneNote UWP app has become so robust there are full capabilities including moving items between Notebooks from within the app. use that option at the end of each week when preparing my podcast show notes. In fact, I no longer use the desktop version of OneNote at all these days because it plays no role in my collection and management of podcast items for each weeks show.

I will also add that it is nice to have eliminated that frustration of realizing I did not have the right Notebook section selected when I last left the OneNote UWP app. Now the right target is always available when I am sharing items from Microsoft Edge and my workflow is much smoother now.

While I understand this usage scenario is unique to me, the real lesson here is that we can always come up with alternative methods within the technology that we use to make it work for us. Having that kind of flexibility with technology is what I love about technology itself.

So, in what ways are you using technology in a unique approach to fit your own work flow?


But, wait...there's probably more so be sure to follow me on Twitter and Google+.

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