Inside OneNote 2010

  • 9/27/2010

Navigating in OneNote

At the beginning of this chapter, we described the basic organization of OneNote, which consists of pages arranged into sections within notebooks. You don’t need us to tell you how to use the basic navigation tools—section tabs along the left and top of the page contents, page tabs on the right. In this chapter, we focus on some of the more subtle navigation elements, especially keyboard shortcuts and hidden tricks that you’ll value when your collection of notebooks grows too big to simply scan.

Opening and Moving Between Notebooks

Every open notebook has an entry in the Navigation bar. The icon to the left of the display name provides clues about the notebook’s status and its location: a notebook with its covers open indicates which notebook you’re currently working with, and separate icons differentiate locally stored notebooks from those that are stored in a shared folder and synced to a local copy.

Normally, clicking a section in another notebook replaces the page shown in the contents pane with the most recently opened page in the new section. If you want to open a second notebook without losing your place in the current one, switch to the View tab and click the New Window option on the Window menu (or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+M). If you’re using Windows 7, you can open a new OneNote window by holding down Shift as you click the OneNote taskbar icon.

If you prefer keyboard navigation to mouse clicks, here’s how to switch to a different open notebook. Press Ctrl+G to move the focus to the first open notebook on the Navigation bar. Press Tab to move down the list of open notebooks (use Shift+Tab if you go too far and want to move back). When you see the selection highlight on the notebook you want to open, press Enter.

Working with Sections and Section Groups

OneNote displays the names of all sections for all open notebooks in the Navigation bar. (Click the up arrow to the right of the display name to collapse the list of sections for a notebook; click the down arrow to show the contents of a previously collapsed list.) You can also see a list of section tabs for the current notebook along the top of the contents pane. Click a tab to switch immediately to that section. To move quickly between sections in the current notebook, in order, press Ctrl+Tab (use Ctrl+Shift+Tab to move through the sections in reverse order).

The simplest way to create a new section in the current notebook is to click the Create A New Section button (the asterisk) at the rightmost edge of the section tabs at the top of the contents pane. Alternatively, you can use the Ctrl+T keyboard shortcut. In either case, the new section’s default name (New Section 1, for example), is selected so you can start typing immediately to replace it with a descriptive name. To rename a section, double-click its tab and begin typing.

New sections are automatically added to the bottom of the section tabs list. To change the order of sections, drag tabs up or down. You can also drag sections out of one notebook and into another to move them. Hold down the Ctrl key as you drag a section to make a copy in another notebook. If you prefer using dialog boxes for move and copy operations, right-click the section name and choose Move Or Copy from the shortcut menu. Choose a section from the list of open notebooks, as shown in Figure 15-10, and then click Move or Copy to complete the operation.

You can also combine the contents of two sections using the Merge Into Another Section option on the right-click shortcut menu. Choosing this option has the same effect as moving all pages out of the first section and into the second one and then deleting the first section.

Figure 15-10

Figure 15-10. To move or copy a section, use this dialog box. You might need to click the plus sign to the left of a notebook name to see its list of sections.

If the number of sections within a notebook starts to become unmanageable, the easy solution is to create one or more section groups. The advantage of section groups is that they can be collapsed and expanded in the Navigation bar. Although you can manually adjust the order of section groups by dragging them in the section tabs list, section groups always appear after sections that are not part of a group, as shown here.


To create a section group, right-click the notebook name and then click New Section Group. Give the new section group a descriptive name and drag sections into it (or create new sections). Note that section groups can be nested within other section groups.

There’s nothing magical about section groups. They’re actually nothing more than subfolders within the folder that contains the notebook. Creating a section group creates a new subfolder, and moving sections to that section group moves the corresponding OneNote Section files (with the .one file name extension) to that new subfolder.

Working with Pages

The techniques for working with pages are similar to those for working with sections. If you right-click any page name in the page tabs bar, you can use options on the shortcut menu to create a new page, delete the selected page, cut or copy the current page to the Clipboard, or paste a page from the Clipboard to the current section.

To move quickly between pages in the current section, use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Page Up (use Ctrl+Page Down to move through all pages in reverse order). To jump to the first or last page in the currently visible set of page tabs, press Alt+Page Up or Alt+Page Down, respectively.

To rename a page, select the page title box and adjust the text there. You cannot directly edit the title text shown on a page tab.

To change the order of pages in a section, drag the page tabs up or down in the page tabs bar, or use the keyboard shortcuts Alt+Shift+Up Arrow/Down Arrow. To move a page to a different section in the same or another notebook, drag the page to the Navigation bar and drop it on a section tab. (Hold down Ctrl while dragging to create a copy and leave the original page intact.) You can also right-click any page and choose Move Or Copy (or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Alt+M) to choose a destination from a dialog box.

Selecting a page involves a few subtle techniques that can be confusing at first. For example, if you click a page tab, the focus shifts to that page, and the insertion point appears on the page at the point where it appeared when you last edited the page. If you’re picking up where you left off with a set of meeting minutes or research notes, you can simply start typing. If you click that page icon a second time (or use the Ctrl+Shift+A keyboard shortcut), the entire page is selected, as indicated by a thick blue border around the page in the contents pane. You’re then free to cut or copy the page to the Clipboard or press Delete to send it to the OneNote Recycle Bin.

To create a new, blank page, click the New Page button at the top of the page tabs bar, or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+N. In either case, your page is added at the end of the current list of page tabs. To add a new page just below a specific page, click its page tab and press Ctrl+Alt+N. To create a new page at a specific location using the mouse, move the mouse pointer up and down the page tabs bar. As you do so, you’ll see a small new-page icon and a small black arrow alongside the page tabs bar. When that arrow points to the location where you want to add the new page, as shown here, click the page icon.


Navigating on a page is a straightforward process, with one twist. Although every page has a paper size assigned to it for printing purposes, pages aren’t restricted to a fixed size; instead, they expand as needed, in both width and depth, to fit the content you add. If you plan to add a significant amount of new content in a specific location, you can manually add space to a page. Click the Insert Space button at the left of the Insert tab, and then move the mouse pointer over the page. As you move up or down, the pointer changes to a two-headed arrow. When you reach the spot where you want to add space, click and drag in the direction you want. A large blue arrow, similar to the one in Figure 15-11, shows you the dimensions of the new space you’re about to add, with a ghosted image of any existing note containers appearing in their new position.

You can also use the Insert Space button to add space at the left side of a page (click in the left margin and drag to the right) or to remove unwanted white space from a page (click and drag up or drag from the right margin to the left).

When editing a page, you can use any of the following shortcuts:

  • To scroll up or down in the current page, press Page Up or Page Down.

  • To move to the top of the current page, press Ctrl+Home. To move to the bottom of the note container that’s lowest on the page, press Ctrl+End.

  • To move down the page, from one note container to the next, press Alt+Down Arrow.

Figure 15-11

Figure 15-11. Click Insert Space and drag down to add new space above an existing note container.

As in OneNote 2007, you can create subpages that are indented beneath a main page. For notebooks saved in OneNote 2010 format, these subpages are linked to the main page. The group can be collapsed or expanded and can be selected and moved or copied as a group. To create a new subpage below the current page, press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+N

To increase or decrease the indent level of the current page tab (or a group of adjacent page tabs), click and drag right or left, or right-click and use the shortcut menu options Make Subpage and Promote Subpage. You can also use the keyboard shortcuts Ctrl+Alt+] (right bracket) and Ctrl+Alt+[ (left bracket) to increase or decrease the indent.

Using the OneNote Recycle Bin

When you delete a page or section from OneNote, the object doesn’t actually disappear for good. Instead, OneNote moves the object to that notebook’s Recycle Bin. The Recycle Bin, a new feature in OneNote 2010, is stored in a special folder called OneNote_RecycleBin. This folder is added to every notebook you create using the OneNote 2010 file format; if you convert a notebook to OneNote 2007 format, this folder is deleted immediately.

When you delete a section from a notebook, the entire section file is moved to the OneNote_RecycleBin folder. When you delete one or more pages, those pages are moved to the OneNote_DeletedPages file, which is stored in OneNote Section format in the OneNote_RecycleBin folder. To recover deleted pages or sections, right-click the notebook icon in the Navigation bar, and then click Notebook Recycle Bin. In this read-only notebook, you’ll see all pages and sections you’ve deleted in the past 60 days. (An information bar appears at the top of the contents pane to alert you that you’re working in the Recycle Bin.)

Figure 15-12 shows the Recycle Bin folder for the Travel notebook. It contains two deleted sections (Czech Republic and Vacation Research) and an indeterminate number of pages in the Deleted Pages section. Note the Read-Only label in the title bar and the information bar that indicates you’re working in the Recycle Bin.

Figure 15-12

Figure 15-12. To restore a previously deleted section or page, right-click the section tab (above the contents pane) or the page tab, click the Move Or Copy option, and select a destination.