OneNote for iPad tips to make you more productive

Take advantage of handwriting, scanning, and OCR features to make your favorite tablet an indispensable office tool.

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Rob Schultz

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More people than ever are bringing their iPads to work, and the quickest way to make the tablet ready for business it to outfit with Microsoft’s powerful productivity tool, OneNote. The time is never better, as a recent feature update brings OneNote for iPad up to par with its cross-platform cousins. Here are a few cool ways the app can make you more efficient around the office.

Scan whiteboards

Whiteboards are now as much a fixture of corporate conference rooms as speakerphones and glazed-over eyes. But, unless you can take notes with a stenographer’s speed, the products of your meetings and brainstorming sessions may never make it back to your desk. With OneNote for iPad’s scanning feature, you can easily capture the contents of the whiteboard.

Start with a new OneNote page, tap the Insert tab, then tap the camera icon to photograph the whiteboard. There’s no need to line up edges; OneNote will automatically crop and rotate the image, courtesy of Microsoft’s Office Lens technology. Along the bottom of the screen, you’ll see three scanning options: Whiteboard, Photo, and Document. Select the first one, and OneNote will enhance the image to make those colored-ink scribblings jump off the white background. Next, tap the check mark in the bottom right corner to save the image to One Note, so you can annotate and share it with your colleagues later.

Hand write notes

For many, iPads have replaced paper pads for capturing notes from meetings and presentations. But typing on the iOS keyboard is a tedious exercise for even the most fleet-fingered. Earlier this year, Microsoft brought relief by adding handwriting capability to OneNote for iPad.

onenote for ipad handwriting

OneNote for iPad’s Palm Rejection feature keeps your hand from smearing your writing.

To write notes using your finger or a stylus, tap the Draw tab on the OneNote ribbon and select a pen, marker, or highlighter, as well as ink color and thickness. If you’re using a stylus, you should also tap Palm Rejection from the ribbon and select the image that best resembles the way you hold a pen. This will prevent the iPad from mistaking your palm resting on the screen for digital input. From here, you can jot down notes, draw a draft of a flow-chart, or doodle in the margins of your meeting agenda while your coworker blathers on.

Annotate images

Say you get back from a meeting and you want to turn some of that whiteboard brainstorming into action items and share it with your colleagues. Or you get a screenshot of a webpage mockup that requires your feedback. Ordinarily, you’d have to create a whole new document or email message to convey your comments. But using OneNote for iPad’s drawing tools, you can just make notes directly on these images and forward them to the appropriate parties. Just open the note with the image, and tap the Draw tab to access the drawing tools. It saves you time, and the marked up files minimize any confusion over your instructions.

onenote for ipad annotated image

Use the drawing tools to mark up images with your feedback.

Search scanned documents, web clippings, and other images

Microsoft also recently added OCR to iPad for OneNote. This feature makes text in any images you’ve captured searchable. Now you’ll be able to search for specific content in a web clipping or a specific item in a scanned receipt.

onenote for ipad ocr Microsoft

OneNote for iPad’s new OCR feature lets you search for text within images.

To make sure an image can be searched, just add it to a notebook saved on OneDrive. Once it’s indexed, you’ll be able to search for it from any OneNote client.

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