Microsoft’s most impressive software

With all of the college students these days having laptops, one of the little known accessories out there is Microsoft OneNote.

With all of the college students these days having laptops, one of the little known accessories out there is Microsoft OneNote.

I would recommend it highly for any college student who intends to use their computer for serious work.

OneNote is one of the most impressive pieces of software made by Microsoft but ironically is one of the least used.

I personally think that’s because most people don’t understand it; it is often included with new computer purchases and many copies end up sold on eBay because people think it is not software they would ever have a use for.

Simply put, OneNote is designed to collect notes, maintain information like a file cabinet and quickly retrieve it.

However, the notes need not be in written form. OneNote notes can be web pages, photos, video clips, and emails; basically if you can call it up on a computer you can stick it in OneNote.

If you consider OneNote as a collection of file folders, that may help. You can set up a bunch of file tabs for various subjects (in college, perhaps courses or assignments) and start collecting the information that is in support of that subject.

In my own corporate world, I have created folders for various topics and projects and as emails come in and meetings are held, each folder can be filled with items that related to that project. When the project or topic is filed, they can be moved to the archive. Microsoft makes this easy by integrating OneNote with Word, Outlook, PowerPoint and more so you can easily move items to OneNote from the other Office apps.

Printing also is easy but I also find OneNote has eliminated a lot of printing for me.

Learning how to use OneNote is easy; there is a built-in tutorial that everyone skips but is well worth the time to go through it. The Microsoft Office website also has some excellent training materials available for free, including a downloadable PowerPoint presentation and a QuickStart guide. I like to leave mine docked to the right pane of Windows 7 so it is always there for daily note-taking.

It has helped eliminate about 50 per cent of the Post-It notes on my desk so far because I can also use reminders in OneNote to “tickle” myself to do things. (Insert your own joke here.)

OneNote 2010 costs US$79 retail but is included in some versions of Microsoft Office 2010, so do check if you already have it. (The Home and Student version of Office 2010 does include OneNote and that is the version that most college students should get.) If not, you can order it from any number of retailers or very cheaply from eBay.

(The earlier version, OneNote 2007, is not all that different and is well worth the investment for a college student.)

You can also download a trial version of Office 2010 and try out OneNote for yourself and see if it can make your life a little easier.

I am betting it will, even if you don’t stick with the whole Office suite. The trial version of Office is available from “”

James Derk is owner of CyberDads, a computer repair firm and a tech columnist for Scripps Howard News Service. His email address is