Power up OneNote with Outlook tasks.

    General discussion

  • For me 2011 is the year of discovering last years technology ironically enough. After giving up on OpenOffice (now 'LibreOffice') I've started evaluating Word and Excel and in the mean time re-adopted OneNote as well (OneNote 2003 was preinstalled on my laptop when I bought it, it was love at first sight). And although long postponed I ended up test driving and liking Outlook 2010 as well.

    We all (hopefully) know OneNote: Store notes, store screenshots (even extract text from pictures if you need to), store any kind of information you want. Looking for a "post it" application then look no further; OneNote has you covered, yet doesn't limit itself to text alone. Graphics, pictures, sound snippets. You name it.

    And I'm sure we all know Outlook: While it may seem overwhelming and perhaps feels a bit like"overkill" for small office usage (at first anyway) I can assure that its not. It can be as extensive or simple as you want it to be. And even "simple usages" will most likely quickly enjoy and benefit from the enhanced features (its search capablities are almost unmatched when compared to regular e-mail clients in my opinion).

    Sorry, but: If you like and use Outlook to keep your (home-)office organized then you'll love Business Contact Manager. Freely available Microsoft product, yet a totally invaluable tool to keep your business organized. A full fledged Customer Relationship Manager ('CRM') running completely embedded within Outlook. This is a beast.

    So; up to now I heavily used OneNote individually whenever I needed to jot something down. Say a customer calls (so I'm unprepared) and tells me that he needs a few extra mailboxes setup. No problem: Win-N to open up OneNote's "Sticky note" (as I like to call it) and I type it all in.

    Now all that's left to do is pay attention to those "sticky notes" later on. But do you really need to?


    If you have Outlook installed then the Outlook capabilities also find their way into other Office applications. Enter the "OneNote Outlook tasks":

    Almost every item in Outlook can be "followed up". In other words; you can quickly set a reminder so that you'll get a message not to forget about the current item. Sent an e-mail to a customer or supplier and you need to remind yourself to look into a possible response tomorrow? Use 'Follow up' while writing the e-mail to set an alarm for tomorrow, this week, next week or customize it all together. Your e-mail gets sent and you don't have to worry about forgetting stuff.

    This week I discovered that this also works for OneNote entries.

    Adding to the previously mentioned example: You hit Win-N to bring up a new 'Sticky note'. After writing it all up simply put the cursor on the title of the note (if you have any, otherwise the first line will do just as fine). Now, open the 'Start' ribbon (I like to keep all ribbons folded in OneNote) and you'll find the option "Outlook tasks":

    Now its easy...  Do you need a reminder tomorrow? Select the option or hit the keyboard combination control-shift 2. This week? Control-shift 3. And so on. And obviously you can also easily customize the follow-up if you want to, the sky is the limit.

    When you're done you'll see a flag icon in front of the line of text the cursor was on (just like a label) and when you check back in Outlook you'll see that a new task has been created.

    Now, while this is versatile enough by itself things get better. If you're using Business Contact Manager and are taking notes for a customer then it gets really easy to embed this into the regular workflow. Simply customize the task you setup ("Control-shift K" for example), then in the new Window find the option "Link to record" in the 'Task' ribbon. Now you can link your task, thus also the OneNote entry it refers to, to a contact person. And that will eventually help you to keep track of what has transpired with the contact.

    While OneNote does an excellent job to make sure that you don't have to lose important information, Outlook adds to this experience by making sure that you also don't have to forget about it.

    Best of both worlds IMO.  And to make things really easy you can also add the "Outlook task" option into your quick bar (see screenshot). Take makes it even easier to set something up. You will find this entry in the "Popular commands" section.

    Right, as said I discovered this myself last week and as such I felt a quick share of information was in order; hope this is helpful for someone.


    With kind regards, Peter
    Wednesday, December 21, 2011 2:56 PM

All replies

  • Hi,

    Thank you for sharing your solutions and experience here. It will be very beneficial for other community members who have similar questions. Have a good day!

    Tony Chen

    TechNet Community Support

    Monday, December 26, 2011 9:44 AM