Tip o’ the Week 336 – Onetastic Update

clip_image001As has been covered repeatedly on previous ToWs, OneNote – for some people – is a life-blood app that is more heavily used than many others, and when people depend on it, they tend to care about it. And though there are a variety of addins and templates available for OneNote users to get more from the tool, the best addin is Onetastic, and has just been updated.

clip_image002The  version 3.0 of Onetastic introduces some subtle improvements to the OneCalendar function – possibly the most obviously useful part of Onetastic, as it shows a calendar view with a list of which pages were updated on each date, hot-linked so you can jump straight to each. If you have lots of different OneNote pages, sections, notebooks etc, then this can be absolutely invaluable.

The OneCalendar function is activated from the toolbar in OneNote, though you can create a shortcut to the separate executable if desired:

· Press WindowsKey+R and enter %appdata%\Onetastic

· Right-click on the OneCal.exe file and choose Create shortcut

· clip_image003Right-click on the new shortcut and choose Cut, then try running %userprofile% and Paste the shortcut in there.

· Rename the shortcut to just “OneCal”. Right-click it to Pin to Start if you like, or open the app and right-click on its Taskbar icon to Pin it there if you’re truly devoted

· Now, you can quickly start it by pressing WindowsKey+R and entering OneCal

· Or you can install just OneCalendar on its own, should you insist.

Anyway. Whether or not you want to do the above steps, you can still find some cool stuff in the new Macroland functionality within Onetastic. The author, @Omer Atay, has completely rewritten the macro language to make it more like a number of regular programming environments. There are hundreds of macros to carry out everything from minor text formatting to wholesale changes like colouring or changing sections of the notebook.

Some of the most  useful macros include the ability to create tables of contents, breadcrumb links or even lists of all the notebooks currently open.

If you’re a OneNote user and you don’t have Onetastic installed, you’re missing out.

Tip o’ the Week 331 – OneNote Clipper Edge Extension

clip_image001Ever since the Edge browser appeared with Windows 10, there have been calls from some quarters to allow extensions of some kind – ad blocking, the main one, though the practice of blocking ads in web pages is turning into a pitched battle between content owners and readers. Oh, and the advertisers too.

With the latest versions of Edge that are available to Windows Insiders, and due to be generally released with the Windows 10 Anniversary Update on July 29th, it’s now possible to try out some preview extensions (including a couple of ad blockers – though be careful, don’t use more than one at a time or you might cross the streams).

See the list of preview extensions here, noting the minimum version of Windows you need to be running to use them (try pressing WindowsKey+R and entering winver to see what you’re currently using).

One extension in preview is a version of the OneNote Web Clipper application, which allows for a simple button to be added to the Edge toolbar, making it a quick click to grab the current web page and save it into OneNote. View more about the extension here.

If you’re not yet on the right version of Windows, there are other ways to save web pages into your OneNote notebook…

  • clip_image003Edge – if you click on the Web Note icon on the Edge toolbar, the intent is that you can annotate web pages (eg. with your stylus if you have one), and you clip_image004can then save the annotated page to OneNote. You could skip the “annotating” bit and just go straight to the “saving”.
  • Print – you could just print from any application to OneNote, using the installed dummy printer driver that sends a copy of your app/page/doc to a new page in OneNote instead of physically printing.
  • Snip on your own – the desktop version of OneNote will let you capture an area of the screen by pressing clip_image006WindowsKey+SHIFT+S – grab that, paste it manually into OneNote or set it to go straight there – look in the Desktop OneNote under File | Options | Send to OneNote and you can set the default behaviour.

Anyway, get into the habit of saving stuff from your browser into OneNote and you’ll wonder how you managed to run your life beforehand.

Tip o’ the Week 321 – Quick Access Toolbar customisation

Most of us will have used the Quick Access Toolbar in Windows Office apps – clip_image001even if only to click the floppy disk icon to save documents, which, like many others, makes no sense to modern life. The QAT (not to be confused with other, phonetically similar terms) lets you dock commonly-used commands to be constantly available on the top corner of your favourite Office apps.

clip_image002Click the downward arrow to the right of the QAT and you can quickly add extra commands, either chosen from a common list or by selecting pretty much any command from the gamut of menus offered in the Office application.

clip_image004A common QAT command is the Touch/Mouse mode option that changes the spacing between menu items and the like, but there are many other useful commands that can quickly be added to the toolbar, that make it easy to do repetitive stuff or just things that are normally buried deeply in other menus. Let’s try a couple of examples.

In Outlook, try opening a message that someone else sent you (this one would be a good start); go to the QAT and click clip_image006the down arrow to the far right side, choose More Commands… and then select “Developer Tab” from the Choose commands option. Now, pick the Design this Form option from the list and Add to the clip_image008toolbar. Then press OK.

This will now add a new icon to the QAT, which will let you “design” whichever form you have open. In Outlook, a “form” is used to display clip_image010Items such as email messages, contacts, calendar appointments etc. The QAT is content-sensitive to different forms, so if you add it to email, it won’t show up on appointments unless you add it there too.

In fact, adding to appointments is the best place to do it, since you can show the date and time that an appointment was created in your calendar; if you just find an appointment that you can’t remember the context of, you could quickly show the date/time you created it and that might help figure out how valid it is. If you have a meeting that someone invited you to, you’ll easily see the date/time it was sent, but if you’re the organiser, you won’t – unless you use something like Design This Form, then navigate to All Fields and choose Date/Time fields to show all the common date or time attributes of that form.

For more context, this topic was covered some time ago on the Electric Wand blog and a previous tip, #102.

clip_image012Another example of QAT goodness is in OneNote – if you’re routinely using OneNote for account planning or clip_image014status reporting, it’s quite handy to be able to colour cells or rows in tables to show their status, but the menu option to set the colour would need you to go into the table menu. To quickly add to the QAT for future easy access, click the down arrow / More Commands… / choose the Table Tools tab and look for Shading, then Add>> and OK.

Whilst you’re playing with any application’s QAT, it’s worth having a look through the other commands you might want to add – like while still in OneNote, try your favourite OneTastic macros, for example.

clip_image016On the topic of OneNote (and we’re still talking about the desktop one, not the Modern App version), there have been some updates shipped out to Office365 users that could be interesting – especially the ability to search handwriting, not just scribbled using a Surface stylus or similar, but grabbed from a photo by OfficeLens. There’s a promise of a future update that will be able to search handwriting in any picture that’s dropped into OneNote.

This opens the door to being able to scan in old paper notebooks for easier reference/shelf space clearance, and ditch the dead tree notebooks for digital. If you’re like controversial car design Chris Bangle, you may beg to differ.

clip_image018To check you’re on the latest version of OneNote via O365, go to the File menu, look under Office Account and the Office Updates section, and choose Update Now from under Update Options.

Tip o’ the Week 320 – Give Modern OneNote a chance

clip_image001OneNote is an application that inspires love from some of its devotees, even drawing one to start a  “IHeartOneNote” site (now defunct – maybe love knows some boundaries after all). Still, the OneTastic addin has enough to keep the true disciples busy.

If you really embrace note-taking when having meetings or phone calls, OneNote is an awesome way of collecting your thoughts for future recollection. Sometimes, reading back your notes might seem like jibberish, but at least you wrote something down.

There are basically two versions of OneNote on PC – the full-fat, Office app with all the menus and ribbons and clip_image002toolbars and stuff, and the modern app/Windows Store version which is now a Universal Windows Platform app (store linky), so runs on both PC and Windows 10 Mobile, and is also more usable for tablet-toters. [What will come of those when the sugar tax hits, who knows?]

Most hard-core OneNote users would default to using the Desktop version since, from the outset, the trusted/modern/metro version was considerably less functional. Over time, however, successive updates to the Store variant have improved its feature list, and added elements that have never been applied to the Desktop version, even if the overall look and function of the UWP app is lighter.

So, if you’re a OneNote user stuck in the world of Desktop OneNote, there are a few reasons to give the Modern version a whirl, if you haven’t recently.

  • It’s a rather good application. Now with >15k reviews on the Store, it’s averaging 4.4, which isn’t shabby
  • clip_image004It’s got automatic shape conversion – if you like to doodle on your screen with your stylus/pen/pencil, you’ll be able to get it to turn your vague approximations of geometric shapes into more defined ones. There’s still a bit of a lack of editing capability (like straightening squinty sides), but it’s neater than the alternative.
  • It’s not an either-or decision – you could run both Desktop & Store apps against the same notebooks
  • You can use the Modern app as a target for Sharing in other Windows apps. Remember the Windows 8 “Share” charm? It still lives to a degree in some Windows apps – like the Store. If you want to send your friends a link to a cool Windows app you’ve discovered, clip_image005for example, there’s a Share option within, and OneNote is one of the target apps you can send links to. Quite handy, really.
  • It’s been updated. There are new Mobile versions of Office apps, like PowerPoint, Excel and Word, and OneNote too

To to see if you’re running the latest version, try going into the Mobile/Modern app and click clip_image006the hamburger menu, choose Settings | About, and you should see 17.6769.1776x.0 if you’re running the current release (at time of writing, obvs). If you’re not seeing that release (or later), then try going into the Store app and kicking off the check for updates process.

Tip o’ the Week #291 – A few handy date handling tips

clip_image001Sometimes, the Tip o’ the Week is all about one topic, and sometimes it’s a theme that spans several things. Today’s is just such a smörgåsbord of stuff, spanning a number of apps that are concerned with dates.

Windows 10 dates

This is not a new topic for ToW – the swish new Alarms & Clocks app that ships with Windows 10 was covered in #280, though the UI has changed a little since then. If you hover your mouse over the date/time on your taskbar, you’ll see a clip_image003familiar preview that tells you a bit more detail. If you click on that section, you’ll see the new calendar view, with a link to Date and time settings which will take you to the system Settings > Time & language > Date & time options. In here, under Related settings, you can add clocks for an additional couple of time zones, if you need to – give them a label, then you’ll see those additional timesclip_image005 displayed atop the calendar and the larger display of the current time.

Hovering on the system tray shows a simple view clip_image007of the same thing. Handy for those of us who regularly work with people from all over the world, and want to make sure you’re not booking conference calls in the middle of the night. Outlook allows you to easily show a second time zone in your calendar – just right-click on the border to the left of the calendar itself, choose Change Time Zone and in the resulting dialogue box, tick the box to show an additional time zone and give it a label.

OneNote page dates

clip_image009If you use OneNote (the desktop version – does anyone prefer the Store app?) in a shared fashion, then you’ll see coloured blocks when other people update sections of the textclip_image011, though it’s not so easy to figure out when you last edited a page (in short, you can see the date you edited a page by looking under History tab, Recent Edits or Find by Author, but it’s not always that obvious).

If you’re using a template repeatedly (Sales Account Plans, for example, where you take a copy of a pro forma plan then complete it), or if you’re updating pages of old notes, you may want to adjust the date/time that’s displayed at the top of the OneNote page, to show yourself (and other readers, maybe) that it has updated content.


clip_image015Click on the date under the title, and then the calendar icon which appears to its side, and you’ll be able to use a date picker to change the date – or simply click the Today button to set the current date. The same process works with the time field, too – click on it, then on the clock icon, and you can set the time – with the default being the time now.

clip_image017OneNote has a couple of other neat date tricks that have also featured before on ToW – like the ability to insert today’s date or time, on the Insert tab – if you hover over the first two, you’ll be reminded that ALT+SHIFT+D or T inserts the Date or the Time, but hovering over Date & Time doesn’t remind you that ALT+SHIFT+F, does.

Tuck that away in your sporran for future use, as it’s supremely handy when adding notes (eg from a phone call) to the end of an existing page.

Other Office apps

Excel has a similarly handy shortcut – CTRL+; adds the current date to the selected cell, and CTRL+: adds the time. Word has a different way again; you can go to the Insert tab and look under Text > Date & Time which then displays a dialogue box to ask how you’d like it formatted. The same box can be got to more quickly by holding ALT then pressing N and then D, which is basically jumping to the menu using keyboard shortcuts. That same combo works in Outlook when editing an email, too.

While on the topic of Outlook, there’s one last tip and it’s a belter. Every time Outlook gives you a date & time control – like when you’re editing an appointment, for example – you can select the current value and replace it, either by typing in the new date/time or by using the date picker or time drop down.

clip_image019But the date control also has some other smarts – you can put  additions to dates, for example, so you could type the end date to be “tomorrow” and it will automatically figure out the offset from today and set it appropriately. The duration of the meeting will also be set, so if you subsequently went back to the start date and typed “tomorrow”, the end date would be a day further out. Clever eh?

Here are some others to try – just type a number in the date field and it sets to that number of the current month, or type next month to set the date exactly one calendar month away from the current value (or 2 months, or 1 year…). The most useful ones are often things like next Monday or in 3 days (or just 3d if you don’t want to wear your keyboard out; next mo, 2mo, 1y do the same). There are lots of special dates too – Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Independence Day, Halloween etc. You can even combine them, so could say 2nd Monday in January or 3 days after Christmas. Maybe Outlook will integrate with Cortana one day, and you could enter “Steve’s birthday” or “my wedding anniversary”…

Tip o’ the Week #288 – When I’m reinstalling Windows


Now that Windows 10 is here, Whether you’ll be waiting for a new machine that comes with Windows 10, or whether you’ll be one of the millions that will upgrade, there’s lots to be thrilled about or to quietly look forward to, depending on your personal level of excitability.

If you’ve been running a preview version of Windows 10 then it may be best to install a clean  build of the RTM, just to be sure there’s nothing left behind that might clog your machine up. Some say it’s probably best practice to wipe your PC every year or two, and reinstall only the stuff you need.

clip_image003Fortunately, with OneDrive and Office365, reinstalling isn’t the major effort it used to be – with a  huge mailbox, nobody should need PST files anymore and fret about whether they’re backed up properly. No need to worry about My Documents when OneDrive (on your home machine) can accommodate Terabytes of data, and OneDrive for Business (on your work PC) will sync all of your stuff too.

If you’re linking your MSA (Microsoft Account, ie Hotmail/MSN/Outlook.com etc address) then lots of other settings will be replicated between machines too.

There are a few things that don’t automatically get sorted out – Outlook Signatures being a particular annoyance, though moving them into OneDrive has been covered in ToW #267. Another is the list of notebooks which OneNote is configured to open – you may be able to select from your commonly used notebooks when you start the desktop version of OneNote up, but wouldn’t it be nice to have a quick shortcut to where they’re all stored, to make it easy to find them again?

OneTastic again

ToW regular contributor Stuart Leeks once again recommends a particularly neat trick, courtesy of the awesome OneTastic suite of extensions and addins to OneNote. OneTastic and OneCalendar come from the hand of Omer Atay, who’s part of the OneNote team but has built these tools on his own. There is form for home-grown extensions making it – more or less – into the product… maybe Omer’s product group will follow suit.
[Outlook Thread Compressor is long dead, btw; don’t bother trying to download it now]

Anyway, if you use OneNote in anything more than a cursory capacity, go to http://www.omeratay.com/onetastic/?r=download immediately and download the app.

clip_image005OneTastic adds loads of functionality, including a macro language and the MacroLand repository of useful extra commands. One such downloadable is the List Notebooks macro which will generate a page at the current section, listing each of the notebooks you currently have open and with a hyperlink to reference the book directly. So when you rebuild your machine, even before reinstalling OneTastic, just click on each link to reopen the notebook.

The genesis of OneTastic was OneCalendar, an amazingly useful applet which shows you each page you’ve visited in OneNote arranged by date – so if you know you took notes on a call last week, you don’t need to navigate to the page or search for it… just go to OneCalendar, and the page will be listed on the day in question. If you’re using shared notebooks, then OneCalendar will even embolden pages that other people have updated – a feature which could be super-handy or super-annoying, depending on how collaborative your co-workers are.

clip_image007If you use lots of notebooks, there’s a neat feature in OneCalendar, which might help – take a look in Settings clip_image009and you can specify which notebooks OneCalendar will show you changes from – so you might want to restrict it to the less busy notebooks and all your own personal stuff, or maybe even get into the habit of turning some on & off when required.

There are lots of shortcut keys in OneCalendar, for the power user – CTRL and + / – will make the text larger & smaller, CTRL+ Left / Right arrow moves back and forth between days/weeks/months (depending on what level of zoom you’re viewing), CTRL+ 1 / 2 / 3 switches between the days/weeks/months, and CTRL+ S jumps to settings. CTRL+ 0 jumps to Today, and CTRL+ F lets you “find” so it will filter the view based on keywords.

Tip o’ the Week #269 – Clip to OneNote, once more


Time moves on. Things that are news soon turn into things in history: 20 years ago, Microsoft Bob came into the world. Bob was ahead of its time in some ways, foretelling some UI principles and ideas that later became more refined. It also indirectly gave us Comic Sans, too (though the font never shipped with the software – it was too late).

clip_image003Bob featured an animated mutt, the precursor to Clippy, aka the greatly-maligned Office Assistant.

Recalling Clippy, ToW has covered a few clip-related topics before, notably #219 (almost a year ago), which included a section on a new tweak that could grab web pages into OneNote notebooks.

clip_image004Well, the OneNote Clipper v2.0 has just been released, and is much-updated – the point being that you can easily add a “Clip to OneNote” button to your browser (drop into desktop IE or Firefox, addin to Chrome).

Use the shortcut to quickly clip whole pages or, new in this version, sections of web pages, to a location in your OneDrive storage – offering the choice of the multiple OneNote notebooks that you may have saved there.

You can clip “products” too – handy as you do shopping or browsing and want to remember what you’ve been clip_image005looking at.

It also recognises recipes as a specific content type, so you don’t need to snap all the clutter that might be on the web page, instead only grabbing the detailed instructions.

This is a great bit of non-work productivity software that really showcases the power of OneNote and OneDrive. Installation is a breeze, over at http://www.onenote.com/clipper.

Tip o’ the Week #265 – Sorting pages in OneNote

clip_image001As has been mentioned before on ToW, OneNote is the kind of application that lots of people really love; it has a legion of fans who take to getting things done & their stuff in order, and are increasingly able to access it from all sorts of places. OneNote has built-in sync capabilities with OneDrive (in fact, ‘Note was One when ‘Drive was still a figment of SkyDrive’s imagination…). OneNote is also now available on fruity devices, Macs, Googly fonez and of course, Windows Phone and browsers of all sorts.

On the primary OneNote 2013 desktop app on PC, there is a free & fabulous suite of add-ons which has also been covered on ToW passim: OneTastic. Produced by Omer Atay of the OneNote team, but released as his own work, it’s a smörgåsbord of great extensions to OneNote, especially OneCalendar (which shows you which pages you touched and when), and also has a powerful macro language to add functionality.


After installing OneTastic, you’ll see a bunch of additional commands on the Home ribbon in OneNote, and if you add any others from Omer’s extensive collection of downloadable macros, they’ll show up here (or on a separate tab, if you prefer) – some neat ones include the quick ability to insert horizontal lines across the page.

clip_image005Did you know, to add a quick horizontal line in Word or in Outlook, all you need to do is press the minus/dash key three times (“—“) and press Enter? Well OneNote doesn’t do that out of the box, so you may find Omer’s macros a clip_image007good solution.

Maybe one of the most useful macros, though, fixes something of an annoyance if you take loads of notes in OneNote – maybe a page for every customer you talk to, or every topic in a given section? There’s no built-in way to sort all your pages, short of manually dragging them around.


If you download the Sort Pages macro from Macroland, the problem is solved with a couple of clicks. The macro will sort all your pages in a given section, and sub-pages under each page too. Perfect for keeping an orderly notebook, and there are other sorting macros that will tidy up the order of sections, paragraphs, to-do lists & more.

clip_image011There are loads of other macros: from setting colours quickly, to creating tables of contents (listing every page in a notebook or section, with links directly to each page). Have a good look through Macroland, and if you’re a OneNote power user, you’ll be like a dog with two tails.

Tip o’ the Week #260 – Scan cards to OneNote


Business cards are still a big part of business culture – even if many of us primarily communicate via email, the ceremony of handing over a little card with your name on it, at the start of a face-to-face meeting, is still quite important. Some countries, such as Japan, have very particular etiquette rules surrounding business cards, so it could take a long time for them to become obsolete.

What better time to institute a resolution to digitise the pile of business cards you may have lying on your desk, than the new year? And to routinely add new business cards to your Outlook contacts folder when you get them, without waiting ages? Well, an update to the amazing Windows Phone app, Office Lens, can help out.


clip_image006The Lens app (install from here) now has an ability to scan business cards as well as photos, whiteboards & documents. Just tap the option on the top right of the app to choose the mode, then select business card. Now, point the phone at the business card you want to scan in, tap the screen to focus and press the on-screen camera icon or the phone’s camera button, to “scan” the card.

It helps if there’s a contrast between the card and the surface it’s on, so if you have a light desk then try getting a piece of coloured paper, and you don’t necessarily have to angle straight down – try to avoid casting a shadow over the card. The software will try to identify the edges of the card and will scale it as if it was flat, and fills the image.

clip_image008Once you’ve photographed the card, you can choose if you want to select & use it, delete it and try again, or possibly add another image – so if your card has info on both sides or you want to batch people from the same company up in one go, then you can have multiple images per contact page.

After tapping the save icon, you can choose which section in OneNote you want to save the resulting info – it may be worth setting up a new section in your notebook on OneDrive, just to catch all the contacts while you decide what to do with them. It works best if you have a pile of cards to just scan them all in as one production line, then go through them and edit/tidy up as appropriate.

Each card will produce a single page in OneNote, with the image(s) of the card embedded, and OneNote will try to identify the text off the card and also figure out the key fields (such as name, address, telephone, email etc). The title of each page might not be all that helpful (by default, it’ll be something like “05/01/2015 13:01 Office Lens”) , but it will be possible to search across the whole notebook, so you can find the contact details from each scanned card without necessarily having to do any more. You can always rename the OneNote page later, if you like.

If you want to add the resultant scan to Outlook’s contacts, then each OneNote page that can successfully identify enough key information from the scan will show a “BizCard” attachment, which opens a vCard of the contact information. Simply open, make any final tweaks, hit Save and it’ll be added to your Outlook contacts folder.

Finally, you’ll probably want to delete all the scanned images from your phone – they’ll be cluttering up your SkyDrive/OneDrive Camera Roll folder if you have automatic upload still enabled, so the quickest way would be to use your PC to delete all the card scans from that folder and let it sync back to OneDrive.

Tip o’ the Week #219 – OneNote takes flight

clip_image001In case you missed it, OneNote had some interesting news a few months ago. The application has a great following amongst fans who crave being organised (at least some GTD aficionados too), more so than maybe any other application (even Outlook). If you’re a user of OneNote, make sure you check out the brilliant & free OneCalendar and OneTastic add-ins.

OneNote is now free, on all platforms. That’s right – free download on Windows (desktop and “Modern”), Windows Phone, iPhone, iPad, Android, Web and even now, Mac. It is worth noting that the free Windows version isn’t quite as functional as the regular full flavour OneNote, and it’s for home/school use only.

A change to the way add-ins are surfaced online also coincides with the release, with extension apps providing additional functionality like the ability to snap a web page with a single click and add it into OneNote. There are a bunch of Featured Apps listed, including others like mod, a company selling Moleskin-style paper notebooks that include a service of scanning them in when you’re finished, and uploading them to OneNote for you.

clip_image003Clippy is back

To set up the Clip to OneNote feature, see this page. Essentially, it adds a snippet of script to your Favourites bar, one click of which will snap the current web page to the “Quick Notes” section of OneNote. If you don’t use the Favourites Bar (or you’d like to use the feature in Modern UI IE), then add it to any regular Favourites folder, and you may have to use 2 clicks…

clip_image005The snip just drops an image of the web page into OneNote, however once you have the page, then OneNote can extract text from the image and can be indexed to make it searchable too. It’s a quick and easy way of grabbing whole web pages; perfect for when doing online research, price comparisons and others when copy & paste is a little hit & miss.