Get started with Microsoft OneNote on the Apple Mac

Notebook

Apple’s Notes app is a useful tool for storing notes for personal or work projects, but it locks you in to Apple kit. If you don’t want your notes locked into to Apple hardware, Microsoft OneNote is a good alternative.

There are several reasons for choosing to store your notes in Microsoft OneNote and the main one is that it is a cross-platform tool that is available on almost everything. This includes OS X on the Apple Mac, iOS on the iPhone and iPad, Windows PCs, Windows phones, and Android phones.

This is great for people that either use multiple platforms or might possibly do so in the future. You have to think whether you might use Windows or Android at some point. If you build up a large library of notes for various projects in Apple Notes, you might not be able to get them out very easily. With OneNote you can access them from almost anything.

Another advantage of OneNote is that it is free. It works better if you have a Microsoft Office subscription, but it works quite well for free too. OneNote stores notes in OneDrive and this is free cloud storage that can be accessed on Macs, PCs, iOS and Android.

I don’t like being locked in to a platform, even one as good as Apple’s. I use all sorts of hardware and don’t want to be tied to one brand.

OneNote has broadened support for other platforms and has been simplified to make it easier to use everywhere. It is still a bit over-complicated for simple note-taking and it has some powerful features that you really don’t need in an app like this. However, it is simpler than it used to be, or it may be because I’m just getting used to it.

OneNote is free in the Mac App Store, so fire up the Store app on your Mac, enter OneNote into the search box and install the app. It’s straightforward.

Run the Microsoft OneNote app in the Applications folder and you are prompted to sign in or create an account. Any Microsoft account will do, such as Outlook, OneDrive, Xbox and so on. Create one if you need to, it’s free.

If you already have an account, click Sign In.

OneNote on the Apple Mac

Enter your email address, such as an Outlook.com email, old Hotmail account, or whatever you use with your Microsoft account.

OneNote on the Apple Mac

There is an odd double sign in, and another sign-in form is displayed. This time it asks for your password.

OneNote on the Apple Mac

There is a choice of interface and it can be colourful or classic. Choose the colourful one.

You are now logged in and the OneNote window appears with a sample note that provides some useful tips.

It did not go so smoothly for me. I had tried OneNote some time ago when it wasn’t as good and had uninstalled it. Now it was displaying an error and wouldn’t work because of old account and file information.

Here’s what to do. Click the folder icon in the top left corner of the window. In the next window, click your photo. This displays a pop-out panel showing Connected Services. Click the plus button

OneNote on the Apple Mac

You can then select either OneDrive or OneDrive for business.

OneNote on the Apple Mac

This displays the OneNote notebooks on OneDrive if you have any (I have two), or you can click the New button and create a new file. Select a OneNote file to use.

OneNote on the Apple Mac

OneNote should now be up and running. Underneath the ribbon toolbar are one or more tabs. These are used to organise notes. Create tabs for work and personal notes, or a tab for each project you plan to work on by clicking the plus button at the end of the tabs.

OneNote on the Apple Mac

Each tab has one or more pages. A page can contain a single note or multiple notes. The pages are listed on the right and there is an Add Page button to add new ones. OneNote syncs with all devices and this note was saved on an Android phone by using the share facility in LinkedIn (see the last line of text above). It works like Apple Notes and OneNote appears in the sharing options on devices like phones and tablets.

To create your first note, select a tab at the top or create a new one with the plus button. Select a page on the right or use Add Page to create a new one. Click in the page and type in the text. Right click on the page and select Paste to paste in whatever is on the clipboard - text or image.

Select the Insert tab and choose Picture, PDF Printout, File Attachment, Link, Equation and so on. There is even an Audio Recording button to record and insert sound files.

Each element on the page has a header bar and you can click this and drag it anywhere on the page. Click and drag the borders to set the width. Click an image to select it and drag the handles (boxes on the corners and sides) to resize it.

The ability to resize and reposition elements on the page could be useful for mock-ups for documents, newsletters and reports.

Using your notes is straightforward. Text can be selected and copied, then pasted elsewhere, such as in a document. Images and other objects can be right clicked and saved or copied.

If you have not tried OneNote, it is worth taking a look at what it has to offer.

 

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