OneNote for Mobile Productivity


I’ve talked about OneNote before, and I’m going to do it again because we can’t have mobile productivity week without a salute to my personal favorite productivity app, can we? And no, Microsoft isn’t paying me for this. In my previous posts I have focused on uses for students, making digital chore charts for your kids, and some of my favorite uses for the software. Today it’s about using OneNote for mobile productivity. And, keep in mind this app is free, whether you subscribe to Office 365 or not.

How it works:

OneNote’s has the ability to organize all your lists, and ideas, and notes from all sorts of sources (documents, spreadsheets, internet searches, photos, etc.) and a large part of this über organization capability comes from the fact that you can use the OneNote app on your phone or tablet. It takes productivity and organization to a whole new level. Why? Because all of your devices automatically sync.

OneNote ToDo List

So, I can create my errand list on my laptop, and then when I’m out and about, I can open the list on my phone and, voilá, the most current version of my list is before me. It doesn’t matter what device I last used to update or change my stuff, I can pick up where I left off with any device I have at hand (as long as there is an internet or mobile data connection so the list can sync—might not work if you are in rural China).

This is especially great if you want to use some of the OneNote touchscreen features, but your PC or laptop lacks a touchscreen. Also handy if you need to take pictures with your phone and add them to your OneNote page, like I do when I’m making a menu, but I am using a recipe that’s in an actual cookbook, instead of online. It happens.

For me, this ability has meant an end to the innumerable paper lists I had floating around my desk, my purse, computer, and car. I no longer lose them in random places or forget to bring them when I need them. I always have my phone or a tablet.

What it looks like:

I’ve given an overview of what OneNote looks like for PC, but it’s a little bit different for your device. Here are some screenshots from my Android phone.

OneNote Notebook  OneNote Tabs  OneNote Pages

Instead of showing the notebooks, and tabs and pages at the top of your screen, you will find those on the left hand side bar. Just tap on the notebook/tab/page you would like to view or edit, and tap the <OneNote icon in the top left of your screen to back out of a page/ tab/ notebook.

OneNote Add Photo 1OneNote Add Photo 2

To add photos, tap wherever on your page that you want to insert the photo and then tap the camera icon at the top. You will be given the choice to add an existing photo from your gallery, or to take a picture that will be added.

OneNote Formatting Options

Formatting options aren’t quite as numerous in the mobile format, but there are still plenty of things you can do, like Ink (writing with your finger or digitizer pen), adding audio clips, making bulleted lists, numbered lists, increasing and decreasing indents, plus your basic font formatting options.

How to get it:

OneNote Google Play Store

  • First of all, you will need a device running Android Jelly Bean or higher (4.1…+), and Apple users need iOS 7 or higher. Pretty sure that all Windows phones come with it already installed.
  • Second, you’ll need to have a Microsoft account. If you don’t have one, it is free and easy to set up, but you will need to be able to log in to your Microsoft account for syncing purposes. It gives you access to OneDrive, Microsoft’s cloud storage. Also, you get 15 GB free storage space. If you have Office 365, you get 1 TB. For those of you who use Office 365 and Office Online, just use that same log in.
  • Go to the Google Play Store, or the App Store and search for OneNote (all one word). Should be the first result to pop up. It’s free!

And that’s how you take the miracle of OneNote mobile!


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About the author

Cecilia Harvey

I'm a technological enthusiast with a completely unrelated degree in English Literature. I've also been known to dabble in photography and DIY furniture refinishing, with occasional stints of fitness sprinkled among all of the above.

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