FeralBoy2 (feralboy2) wrote,

Best Software Program Ever?

I've been using Microsoft's OneNote note taking software since shortly after it's release in 2003. It's part of the Office Suite, but more an adjunct than a full-fledged member. For my money, it's the most wonderful piece of software I've ever used. Bar none.

If you're not familiar with it, well, it's an electronic notebook which uses a tabbed, multi-subject notebook metaphor. You create tabs for all your main subject areas, then sub-tabs and pages within each top-level tab to organize your LIFE. I've got a submissions tab, for instance, where I keep all of my submission history stuff. Oh yeah, like a notebook, you write/type ANYWHERE you want -- there are no margins to worry about, and pieces of text can be easily dragged from one "column" of text to another.

There is NO SAVE option in OneNote. Just like when using a Notebook, what you "put" in your notebook is just there, unless you erase it. When researching on the net, you can drag and drop content from the web to you notebook and it automatically appends a link to the source page. Need to input a PDF file, or any other type of file for that matter? You can "Print to OneNote" and include it. Printing to OneNote creates an IMAGE of the document that can be annotated, but in the current version, not searched.

When working in other programs, like my novel in Word, and I want to write a note about something that needs to be done, or researched, I just tap the OneNote icon in the system tray and a post-it like version of OneNote pops up and I can compose my note. This little window always stays on top, so I can continue to work in Word with the window open and topped...the taskbar OneNote icon also allows me to take quick screen captures that are sent to OneNote or the clipboard or both...

Searching is one of the joys of OneNote...since there's no saving, when you search in OneNote it searches for instances of your term in your entire notebook...and highlights the term, even when it's in my own handwriting on my tablet. It never ceases to amaze me.

Audio notes are also mighty impressive -- when in meetings, I now often turn on audio notes and record the meeting when I know there's stuff I'll need to revisit. The cool thing is that as I'm recording the audio and writing or typing notes, the notes I write are synched with the audio. So if I have an incomplete or confusing note, I just tap it and it plays the audio portion that was going on when I took that particular note. It's even smart enough to back up about 20 seconds fron the time the note was actually written, to pick up a bit of the stuff that was going on prior to actually typing/writing the note!

You can also attach a web cam to take video notes!

Okay, the reason I'm bringing this up now is that Microsoft just made some announcements about the next version of Office, and though they haven't talked about OneNote, a few tidbits have leaked out...

First, they're adding 3 OCR engines...Now, when you print a PDF or scanned file to OneNote, it OCRs it in the background so that the document is completely searchable along with all of your other notes. Even text in photographs will be searched. Can you say SWEET? I can (:

Next, and I find this pretty amazing, the new version will take your audio and video notes and convert that content to text in the background, so not only are your text-based notes searchable, but so are audio and video...you will actually be able to find that section of an audio meeting note, for instance, where "deadlines" were discussed.

Okay, this has been a long post, but this piece of software runs my life, and does a much better job than I do. If you've never tried it, Microsoft has a trial available on their web site...I totally recommend you give it a try and see if it doesn't take over your life, too. By the way, it is the killer application for tablet pc users, but it is in NO WAY limited to Tablets. In fact, it was in development before the tablet pc, and works as well, if not better, on a desktop or laptop. My pages are littered with both text and handwriting and little doodles, but again, this is not a tablet pc specific application, despite how well it works with tablets.
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