Using OneNote with Microsoft Outlook

Microsoft Office OneNote is a digital notebook where you can easily store your unstructured data. It's great for writing notes during a meeting or for storing research data. You can think of OneNote like one of your old paper notebooks that has colored tabs to help group your notes. In OneNote, these tabs are called sections; they can include multiple pages and store data such as pictures, text, and so forth. OneNote 2003 SP1 introduced enhanced integration with Outlook, and this integration has been improved in OneNote 2007. Let's take a look at how you can share your Outlook information with OneNote.

You can copy content such as meeting information and email messages from Outlook 2003 SP1 and Outlook 2007 to OneNote. However, during OneNote setup, make sure you install the Outlook Integration add-on; if you don't, the OneNote buttons won't appear in Outlook. I made this mistake when I clicked through the Microsoft Office 2007 system setup and was left wondering where the buttons were.

When you launch OneNote, you'll see the Notebooks pane on the left; you can create multiple notebooks, and each will appear in this area. When you select a notebook, it appears in the center pane with tabs along the top to indicate its different sections. In the right pane, you'll find tabs for the different pages within a section.

From Outlook, you can copy email messages directly to a OneNote notebook. This is an easy way to add references or additional information to a OneNote section. If you've successfully installed the add-on, you'll see the OneNote button on the Outlook toolbar whenever you select an item that you can copy; you can also open an email message and click the Send to OneNote button. The default target OneNote section for all email messages, appointments, and contacts is Unfiled Notes, a special section you'll find at the bottom of the Notebooks pane. If you want to modify the default location, select Tools, Options in OneNote, then select Outlook Integration in the Category pane; you can change the locations for meetings, contacts, and email independently.

You can copy appointment information from your Outlook calendar to OneNote. When you open an appointment in Outlook and click the Meeting Notes button, a new page is created in OneNote including the information from the appointment (i.e., the subject, the date and location, the attendee list, and the message body of the appointment). You can also add additional notes to the page. Use this for taking your meeting notes; you'll be amazed at how easy it is. The OneNote page includes a link so you can quickly access the original appointment in Outlook.

Outlook contact information also integrates easily with OneNote. Just open the contact in Outlook and click the Contact Notes button to create a OneNote page that includes the contact's name, business phone number, and email address. You can add additional notes or other information that might go with the contact. For example, you can build a file about one of your customers, storing all related information there—contact information, scheduled meetings, personal information, pictures, and so forth. Even if you move the OneNote page to a different section or notebook, the link will still open the original Outlook information. It's important to note that you're only copying information; the OneNote page includes a link back to the original Outlook information, but it doesn't sync the pages. That means that if you make changes to a contact in Outlook after copying it to OneNote, you'll either have to copy it again or make the update manually in OneNote as well.

Finally, you can copy Outlook tasks to OneNote by opening the task and clicking the Send to OneNote button. Similar to copying an email message, this procedure adds the information to your OneNote notebook as a new page. If you're using Business Contact Manager with Outlook, tasks you create will be configured to link to it instead of OneNote. However, you can still copy flagged items that appear in your task list to OneNote. Task coordination between OneNote and Outlook is much more sophisticated from the OneNote side—which I'll discuss in my column next month.

Outlook Internet Site of the Month
I recently discovered a small command-line tool called ListPSTs that can scan your local hard disk for PST files. It lists your PSTs with their type (ANSI or Unicode), encryption level (none, compressible, or high) and file size. The tool is especially useful in helping you find old PSTs in the ANSI standard that can cause problems if they grow to more than 2GB. You can download this freeware tool here.

As always, if you find a link for an interesting new freeware tool or add-on for Outlook, let me know! Send me a message at [email protected].

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