Back in 2018, I wrote about the only way to move section tabs to the left at the time and, unfortunately, it meant that you’d have sections on the left AND the top. Now, thanks to continuing development of OneNote, we have a new view setting called Tabs Layout that fixes the issue and moves your notebook, section, and page navigation panels to the left of your OneNote desktop app.
Now it’s simple, and you don’t even have to open the Options menu. Here’s how to move your section tabs and pages to the left:
Select the View ribbon menu
Select Tabs Layout and then
Choose Vertical Tabs or Horizontal Tabs (default).
Here’s a video demonstration of these steps with additional info:
It’s worth noting that if you select Vertical Tabs, your display settings (File | Options | Display) are restricted since it cancels out other options. For example, pages can’t be moved back to the right side.
And, lastly, f you don’t want to move pages to the left or if you ONLY want to move pages to the left, please check out my previous post for instructions on that setting.
When using OneNote (Business) in a Power Automate flow, you may be attempting actions such as Create section in a notebook, Get sections in notebook, or Create page in a section but getting errors when trying to select the relevant notebook and section.
And depending on what you’re using as the Notebook Key and/or Notebook section value(s) you may get any of the following specific errors:
Error; the requested notebook or section may have been deleted or is otherwise inaccessible.
Invalid notebook key
The specified resource ID does not exist.
The section id is invalid. If a custom value was entered, please try selecting from the supplied values.
I’ll show you how you may be able to solve this issue in this blog post by using a custom value for Notebook Key. To insert a custom value for Notebook Key, use the dropdown arrow in the Notebook Key field and select Enter custom value.
Now you can type text freely. You’ll need to format your notebook key one of two ways, depending on whether it’s a personal (OneDrive for Business) notebook or a shared (SharePoint/Teams) notebook. Both solutions are below.
Solution #1: OneNote Notebook key API format for your own notebooks (stored in OneDrive for Business)
For OneDrive notebooks, such as the default one you get like Nate @ Contoso, format your notebook key as seen below, replacing highlighted parts with your own notebook name, organization URL, and email address (with underscores instead of the usual symbols).
Solution #2: OneNote Notebook key API format for shared notebooks (stored in SharePoint and used there or in Microsoft Teams)
For shared notebooks, such as the default one you get with every Microsoft Teams team or SharePoint team site, format the notebook key as follows. Be sure to replace bold components of the key with your own notebook name, organization URL, and notebook location:
Notebook Name|$|https://COMPANY.sharepoint.com/sites/SITENAME/NOTEBOOK LOCATION/NOTEBOOK NAME
For example, all default notebooks are stored in a SharePoint site’s Site Assets folder so a complete Notebook key for a notebook like that may resemble the following (yes, you can leave the spaces in notebook names):
Mark 8 Project Team Notebook|$|https://contoso.sharepoint.com/sites/Mark8ProjectTeam/SiteAssets/Mark 8 Project Team Notebook
Or if it’s not the default notebook, and it was created in a document library a couple folders deep, it might resemble the following. Just replace Shared Documents with the name of the library, and replace the folder structure as appropriate:
Policies and Procedures|$|https://contoso.sharepoint.com/sites/Compliance/Shared Documents/Folder 1/Folder 2/Policies and Procedures
As long as you enter the key correctly using either solution, your flow will connect to the notebook properly and, when relevant, the Notebook section dropdown will refresh and allow you to simply select the section you want rather than entering an API URL.
Additional troubleshooting when sections are still not appearing
If you are certain you followed the instructions above correctly, made no typos, and you used the correct type of key format based on the notebook’s location (OneDrive or SharePoint), and you’re still seeing “Could not retrieve values…” for Notebook section, it might be a simple fix.
Just cut (Ctrl+X) and paste (Ctrl+V) the Notebook Key you entered into the field again and it may refresh and fix the second dropdown.
It’s not often I need to “print” OneNote. However, today I had a section I wanted to convert to a PDF document and printing is the way to go in OneNote for Windows 10 (the version that comes pre-installed on Windows 10 machines). I found, however, that the file created through this method didn’t maintain its links (links weren’t clickable in PDF).
After trying Adobe, SnagIt, and Microsoft PDF print abilities to no avail (using both OneNote versions – Windows 10 and desktop/2016), I found success using OneNote (desktop) > File > Export > PDF. Detailed instructions are at the bottom of this post.
Thankfully, OneNote (desktop aka 2016) allows us to “Export” notebooks, sections, or pages to PDF. We can print to PDF as well, but using “Export” specifically is the key here to maintain the clickable links. OneNote for Windows 10 doesn’t currently have a similar export ability.
If you don’t have OneNote (aka 2016) already installed, you can still download it here. Once you have it, proceed with the following steps to export your OneNote notebook, section, or page to PDF with clickable hyperlinks:
1. To open a new notebook, select File > Open. You may need to switch account if not seeing your cloud notebooks right away.
2. Once your notebook is opened and you’ve opened the specific content you wish to print, click File (upper left).
3. Choose Export > Content Scope (page/section/notebook) > PDF > Export as shown in the following screenshot.
4. Choose a location and filename, then click Save.
Now check the resulting PDF and you’ll find your OneNote notebook content with clickable hyperlinks in tact.
Bonus tip: One small thing to note is that OneNote for Windows 10 has a nice feature where you can print a section group. OneNote (desktop) does not – it’s only exportable by page, section, or the entire Notebook. So if you don’t need clickable links in the resulting PDF, you may wish to choose OneNote for Windows 10 for your “Print to PDF” needs to simplify printing several sections at once from the same section group.
The wiki tab that is added to every Team and each of its channels is convenient, but not robust and its content is not easily migrated and shared. I typically recommend new Team owners (or admins setting up new Teams) delete the ‘Wiki’ tab that comes with the Team and insert a new OneNote tab called ‘Notebook.’
Why replace the wiki with OneNote?
OneNote has a dedicated app.
Notebooks and Wikis are both stored in SharePoint (not Teams)
Notebooks can be moved, migrated, archived and accessed later more easily as a standalone OneNote file.
Wikis are folder structure document libraries in your site’s Site Contents folders. Individual sections are saved as .mht files. This can get messy reassembling and manipulating.
OneNote is easily searchable and can have password protected areas. Try searching your wiki or restricting certain parts without creating a private channel.
OneNote supports drawing/writing with styluses (styli?)
OneNote supports audio/video
OneNote integrates with Outlook
There are more reasons, like how robust you can get with formatting text, but I think you get the picture.
Why you might keep the wiki
While I’m suggesting that OneNote be used for your Team’s note-taking, collaboration, and regular information sharing in a highly mobile and flexible medium, there is still a case to keep wiki alongside OneNote. Matt Wade suggests renaming the wiki tab to ‘About’ and using it as a reference/resource for the Team itself in his Definitive Guide to Everyday Etiquette in Microsoft Teams. So then you’ll have a simple ‘About’ tab for Team information and a ‘Notebook’ tab for ongoing collaboration and work.
How to replace wiki with OneNote
Use the dropdown menu for the Wiki tab and select Remove
Click the plus sign (+) to add a new tab and select OneNote for the tab.
Select the Notebook, and if for a channel other than general, perhaps a corresponding section in the Notebook. (I recommend mirroring your notebook’s sections to your Team’s channel structure)
Use the tab dropdown menu to rename the probably-very-long name to something simple like ‘Notebook’ for a cleaner user experience.
That’s it! Just a few steps and you’ve substantially increased the productivity potential and collaboration superpowers of your Team. You’ll want to repeat these steps for each new channel you create and, as mentioned, consider creating a new notebook section for each channel to keep things simple, organized, and easy to navigate.
Still aren’t convinced?
Bob Morris has done a very impressive and thorough job of comparing the two. His thoughts on the matter may help you decide whether wikis or notebooks are the best fit for your Team(s).
One year ago today, I announced and released my first-ever email course. To celebrate its birthday, I’m giving it away for FREE! I enjoyed building the course and I’m confident there’s something new and exciting in it for everyone, even a year later.
This email course delivers a healthy serving of OneNote each day, for seven days. Topics include:
Flavors of OneNote (multiple devices, multiple versions)
Audio tips and tricks
Working with files in OneNote
Image magic in OneNote, like searching text within images
Keyboard shortcuts to maximize your efficiency
OneNote + Outlook
Tags and Tag reports (summary pages)
Includes GIFs and relies on images to demonstrate tips so must support HTML message formats
Must allow emails from MailChimp (check spam/junk if you don’t get your first email within 24 hours of signing up)
A colleague of mine from LMH Health, Andrew Brookens, and I set out to deliver an hour’s worth of efficiency hacks using OneNote and Outlook this week. It was the first time we’d tried such a thing, and it was a hot topic. We had 40+ show up in person, and a few people online have asked for handouts or recordings so I’m sharing it all here.
We knew we were setting out to share a lot of demo, and a lot of info from TWO products in FIVE topics in an hour or less. So we devised a handout that would help attendees along the way, and after. You can download it below. In-person attendees also got free access to my OneNote 101 7-day email course.
Because we don’t all have an hour to watch the recording, Andrew and I agreed that sharing smaller, digestible videos would probably work best for busy professionals on the go. Here are brief teaser videos introducing each of our five concepts:
Many of us have been there. You have an awesome notebook, your committee wants access, but you stored it on your OneDrive for Business or local machine. How do you move it to your team’s SharePoint site?
In the following tutorial, I’ll show you how to replace the “default” Notebook on a SharePoint site with your pre-existing notebook.
Delete default notebook in SharePoint
(if applicable, and if unneeded. You could also just “overwrite” it by saving your new notebook with the same name, in the same location.)
Go to the library in which the SharePoint site’s notebook is stored (e.g. Site Contents –> Site Assets)
Delete Existing Notebook (check and delete, or use the ellipses menu)
Move pre-existing Notebook
Copy URL from Site Assets or library in which you’re placing your notebook
Open existing notebook on desktop (client)
File –> Share –> Other Web Locations –> Browse
Paste copied URL in save dialog’s address bar, deleting everything after the library’s name
Hit enter to navigate to the library
Rename notebook if you wish
Update any navigation links
Depending on your settings, there are two ways you might update a URL. If you don’t see “Edit Links” on the menu where you’re placing this, you’ll need to go through site settings:
Copy URL of new notebook
Site Settings –> Navigation
Select Notebook –> Edit
Paste new URL
Copy URL of new notebook
Click “Edit Links” on the menu on which you’re placing the link and modify the existing Notebook link (or add a new one)
It can be tricky when you have many notebooks to keep track of where they all live. And nobody wants to be maintaining multiple copies of the same notebook in a save-as nightmare.
Take the time to learn where your notebook is actually saved, and move it if that’s not where you want it without needing to create a copy or break your client’s cached connection.
Open the Notebook in your OneNote client (desktop app)
Click “File” in the upper left
Note the location that matches Notebook name
If you “Share on Web or Network” you’re actually moving the Notebook and its location will be updated immediately. You can still use your Desktop/client OneNote application to edit as usual. Others will just be able to access it now as well.
Note: If you’re moving your Notebook to SharePoint, make sure you save to a complete URL location like above and not a “synced”/OneDrive for Business-type location mapped locally.
This post illustrates how you can accomplish adding sections to the left pane, and moving the pages pane from the right-hand side to the left as seen above.
Move Sections from Top to Left
In a recent training session, I was asked if it were possible to move sections from the top to the left in OneNote. The answer is “sort of”. We can get sections on the left also, but we can’t get rid of them from the top. There are two ways to accomplish this: