Password protect sections of notes in Microsoft OneNote for extra security and privacy.

Microsoft has added a new feature to OneNote that enables you to lock whole sections of notes with password protection. Now you can securely store information in notes. Here’s how it works.

I will be using OneNote on Android for this guide, but notes are synced across computers and devices and they can be locked and unlocked on iPhones and Windows PC too. The menus are slightly different on each device, but locking notes works everywhere.

Why lock notes?

Your phone, tablet and computer should be locked with a password, so is another password lock really required on your notes?

Yes, because someone else might be able to access them. For example, my other half knows the PIN for my phone so she can use it if necessary, or if I get run over by a truck crossing the road.

Tablets like the iPad are shared family devices that everyone can use, so anyone could open OneNote and read my notes. Not that there is anything particularly secret about them, but I like a bit of privacy.

You could put your phone down on the table and a friend might pick it up when you aren’t looking and before it has locked. They may just want to post something funny on Facebook or Instagram as you, but they may also be tempted to snoop around in OneNote.

Password protecting notes makes them more private and stops anyone else from accessing them.

Create a new section in OneNote

Password protection applies not to individual notes, but to sections and these can contain multiple notes. Any number of sections can be password protected, but you may just want to have one with your most private notes like bank details, login names and passwords and so on.

Press the plus button at the bottom of the screen to create a new section and enter the name for it. I am going to name it Secret notes.

 Microsoft OneNote app on Android Create a new section in the OneNote Android app

Protect a section

Press and hold on a section until a menu appears. Press Protect section at the bottom of the menu. Now enter a password for the section. Read the warning: If you forget the password there is no way to get into the locked section!

 Protect a notes section in OneNote for Android Set a password for a section in OneNote on Android

Lock and unlock notes

When a section is password protected a lock icon is displayed at the right hand side. It can be one of two and the lock can be open or closed. When the section is first password protected, it is unlocked.

Press and hold on a password protected section until a menu appears. Among the options is Lock All. Press this to lock all notes with locks. Those without locks are unaffected.

 OneNote for Android with a locked note Lock all notes in OneNote on Android

Most of the items on the menu can only be accessed when the section is unlocked. For example, a locked section cannot be deleted unless it is unlocked. Also on this menu is the option to remove the password or change it.

When the lock is closed, tap the section name to open it and before the notes are displayed, you are asked to enter the password.

I found that when notes were unlocked I could switch to another app, switch back and they were still unlocked. You need to remember this because someone might be able to access your locked notes if they got hold of your phone.

Lock the section before switching apps or go to the home screen, press the app switcher and swipe away OneNote. This causes unlocked sections to lock. When the app is restarted you need to enter the password to view locked notes.

OneNote syncs with computers and other devices, so when you access a locked section on another device, you see the same padlock icon and must enter the password.