Using OneNote with Microsoft Outlook: Additional Features and Limitations

Although this isn't my main topic for today, I thought it worth mentioning that Microsoft recently released the first service pack for the Microsoft Office 2007 system. It includes more than 100 fixes to problems in Microsoft Office Outlook 2007. If you haven't download it yet, make sure you do so and install it as soon as possible to keep your system up to date. You can download Office 2007 SP1 from Microsoft's Web site.

OneNote and Outlook
Meanwhile, let's take a look at some additional benefits of using Microsoft Office OneNote together with Outlook. In my last two columns, I explained how you can integrate OneNote with Outlook ("Using OneNote with Microsoft Outlook," October 26, 2007, and "Using OneNote with Microsoft Outlook: Task Integration," November 30, 2007). As a reminder, OneNote, which is part of the Microsoft Office suite, is a digital notebook that lets you easily store your unstructured data. There's no difference in functionality between Outlook 2007 and Outlook 2003 in the features I describe in this column.

You can email pages directly from OneNote using any MAPI-based email program, but you'll get enhanced integration with Outlook 2007. To send a OneNote page as an email message, you select File, E-mail, which creates a new email message with the current OneNote page as either the HTML message body or an HTML attachment, depending on your system settings. The message also includes the page as a OneNote (.one) attachment to preserve the original information (e.g., buttons). If you use any other mail program, such as Outlook Express, you'll receive just the attachment, not the HTML message body. You can email only a single page with this method; you can't select multiple pages or sections.

You could instead choose to email the OneNote page as a PDF attachment using the Send To option on the File menu. This method is especially useful for sending meeting notes. Whenever I take meeting notes, I enter them in OneNote, then email them as a PDF attachment to all the attendees. OneNote creates a nice layout using the template you've defined. For instance, you could create a layout in OneNote using your company’s logo for a very professional look.

You can also insert meeting details into OneNote directly from your Outlook calendar. In OneNote, select Insert, Outlook Meeting Details, then choose the date and the specific appointment you want to add. Click the Insert button, and the appointment details will be added to the current OneNote page. You can only use your default calendar for this feature; any other calendar that you’ve added to your Outlook profile won't show up. To add appointments from additional calendars to OneNote, switch to Outlook, open the appointment, and click the OneNote button.

Here's another useful feature: You can create Outlook contacts and appointments from OneNote. For example, to create an appointment, select some text on a OneNote page, then select Tools, Create Outlook Item, Create Outlook Appointment. A new appointment opens in Outlook with the selected text as the appointment’s details; you'll have to update the date, time, and other elements as appropriate. This handy feature lets you easily add specific meeting notes from OneNote to appointment invitations.

OneNote Mobile and Its Limitations
I recently had an interesting discussion about OneNote’s PDA integration—and limitations—with a reader of this column, Robin Penny. We lamented the fact that OneNote Mobile is available only for Windows Mobile devices; unfortunately it's not available for other mobile OSs such as Palm OS. We also discussed that OneNote Mobile lacks some required functionality: You can't select which OneNote pages to synchronize to your mobile device, nor can you "handwrite" notes; you have to use the touch-screen keyboard, which can be really annoying!

Robin and I also discussed Outlook Notes. We both use them frequently, and agreed that they aren't integrated neatly into OneNote—even when Outlook notes are stored in a central, accessible place such as a mailbox protected with a mailbox password. It would be great if your Outlook notes were integrated with OneNote sections and could have 2-way synchronization with Outlook. Although you can't natively synchronize Outlook notes with OneNote, check out this month's Outlook Internet Site of the Month below for a helpful third-party tool.

OneNote is excellent for taking notes, and it integrates well with Outlook—which is great as long as you're working on a desktop PC or a laptop, but it's certainly less convenient with a mobile device. Hopefully, Microsoft will continue to enhance Outlook and OneNote integration—especially the mobile version of OneNote so that we can have a full-featured version to use everywhere. As Robin mentioned during our conversation, "Notes are of no use at all if you don't have them when you need them."

Outlook Internet Site of the Month
This month’s tool goes perfectly with the column's topic: a tool you can use to export Outlook Notes to OneNote. This tool requires Outlook 2007, and you need to install Microsoft .Net Framework 2.0 before you run Setup. This tool gives you a button on your Outlook Notes that lets you export to the Unfiled Notes section in OneNote. Unfortunately, this is only a one-way copy tool, and it creates duplicates if you copy multiple times. You can find it on Daniel Escapa's OneNote Blog.

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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