Microsoft adds searchable handwriting to OneNote for iPad

Can't remember what you wrote when taking notes during the latest meeting or in a brainstorming session? Now you can search for it on your iPad as OneNote gains a key feature.

Perhaps the best feature in Microsoft OneNote is now available for the Apple iPad. With the latest software update, available on Thursday, Microsoft added the ability to search through handwritten text in OneNote for iPad.

Microsoft gave a glimpse of the power feature back in February.


Back then, the company included OCR -- or optical character recognition -- technology for text in images. If you snapped a picture and included it in your OneNote notebook on an iPad, you could later search for any text in the images.

With today's software update, available in the iTunes App Store, the OCR functionality is extended to handwritten notes and text. That brings the iPad version of OneNote nearly on par with its Windows counterpart and far more useful.

Taking notes during a meeting and need to go back and find out what you wrote about a certain topic? You can do that. Can't remember the details of some project brainstorming ideas you doodled? A quick search for any of the words you wrote will get you back up to speed.

Searchable notes has long been a primary staple of OneNote for more than a decade; at least on Windows where the software has lived most of its life.

The app debuted way back in 2003 and was core app for the old Tablet PC computers that launched around that time. If there was ever a "killer app" for those devices, OneNote was either it, or at least in the running to be it.

I used OneNote so much after buying my first Tablet PC in 2004 that at one point I said it was the best software Microsoft had ever released. I still think it's right up there from a productivity standpoint so if you have an iPad and haven't tried it -- the app is free -- now's the perfect time.

The "killer app" for taking notes on your tablet just got one of the most powerful features.