Microsoft: Here are the new features coming to OneNote on Windows

Microsoft's OneNote on Windows isn't unified yet, but it is getting updated with new inking and AI-powered dictation and annotation features.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer
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Microsoft has detailed some of the changes coming to its OneNote note-taking app.

Microsoft this month has rolled out new inking capabilities, page-sorting options, and the ability to update the app while the device is locked. It's also flagged upcoming features, AI dictation, as well as the ability to insert a picture from the camera and a new sharing experience. 

Microsoft, however, hasn't completed the unification of its two OneNote apps available for Windows. One of them is installed with Office while the other OneNote for Windows 10 app is available in the Store. The idea is to create a single OneNote app for Windows, as ZDNet reported last August, but this is happening gradually over a 12-month period. 

"We are unifying the two apps so you'll have the simplicity of a single OneNote app on Windows. The OneNote app on Windows continues to get new features while absorbing key unique features of OneNote for Windows 10," Microsoft explains in a blogpost.

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The latest OneNote app is available as part of Microsoft 365, comes pre-installed with Office on Windows 11, and can be downloaded as a free standalone app. 

The improvements Microsoft shared today are solely for OneNote on Windows.  

OneNote got a Windows 11-inspired visual refresh including rounded edge windows in December, along with other Office apps. The May updates expand that to OneNote's navigation panes and full screen mode. It also gains the Windows 11 theme and desktop wallpaper in the app window. 

"We obsessed over every rounded corner and animation to bring a new level of polish to the app," Microsoft says. 

There's a new unread indicator to show which pages and sections have unread changes. An optional 'simplified ribbon' (versus 'classic ribbon') allows users to create more space for content. Ribbon options are available from a dropdown menu on the right of the shortcut toolbar. 

OneNote users can soon capture more ideas with voice, ink-drawing tools, camera and AI-enhanced voice commands for formatting, editing, and organizing text. For example, users can say "delete that" to edit text or "pause dictation". 

Upcoming features bring transcription and ink together in Office. The combination allows users to record audio, while the user annotates the document. When reviewing a document, ink is played back in sync with the recording. OneNote will also gain an auto-punctuation feature in dictation settings.

The page sorting feature allows users to sort pages alphabetically, by date created, and date modified or via the existing drag and drop functionality for manual sorting.    

Meanwhile, the new sharing experience allows users to Share Entire Notebook or Copy Link to Notebook. There's also an option to Email Copy of Page to share a single page without sharing the entire notebook. 

The insert picture from camera and updated sharing experience are currently available only via the Office Insider Program. 

Microsoft notes the only features it described in the blogpost that available today are: 

  • Ink to shape
  • Ink to text with font size awareness
  • Page sorting
  • Update under lock 
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