26 March 2014

Microsoft OneNote for the Mac

As part of my involvement with the Microsoft Office 365 group, I'm getting some great opportunities to network with other Office users around the country. I've particularly enjoyed conversations about math and Excel in my day job (quality assurance), but that doesn't fit too well with what I write about here. However, I was really excited at the recent announcement about the release of OneNote for the Mac desktop. Even better, it's free.

As faithful readers know, I've been an Apple user since 1983, though I've also been using Windows, OS/2, various flavors of Unix, and other more obscure operating systems throughout, and I've been using Mac versions of Microsoft applications for decades now. OneNote is a note taking application that syncs with your free Microsoft account. What this means is that you can edit the same document on your desktop, iPhone, iPad, or even via the web on any computer connected to the internet. On top of that, you can share documents for collaborative editing with other people. It's not like Word or PowerPoint, but is more of a virtual whiteboard where you can jot notes, post photos, highlight items, make to-do lists, etc.

Here's an example of a way I was able to use OneNote in my blogging life to build my Monday post. I took photos with my iPhone and added a photo of the bottles to a note. Later when doing the initial sips, I jotted simple tasting details on the desktop app. I got the idea for the Portuguese mussels and added a shopping list, which I was later able to check off on my phone while at the grocery store. Then I was able to take the photo of the dish with the iPhone and later have a basic set of jottings with which to build the bigger article.

My desktop MacMini is upstairs, the laptop tends to live downstairs (or travels with me when I leave town), and the iPhone lives in my pocket. I can easily work on any note wherever I am and not have to constantly e-mail documents back and forth to myself.

Once you get used to working with the program, it's as easy as dealing with an index card, except that the index card can be multimedia (music, hyperlinks, photos, video, etc.) and is backed up in cloud storage, so you don't have to worry about leaving your tasting notes on the restaurant table or accidentally throwing away that pile of envelopes that contained important musings. I've lost physical tasting notes and photos in the past, and look forward to using OneNote for a more modern and efficient workflow.

This is one way to use OneNote for wine blogging, but in my group I've gotten to hear about how people use this for taking notes in college, handling schedules for children, building sermons, and coordinating weddings. My parents have installed it on all of their Apple devices, and Mom and Dad are already testing it out with the to-do lists and having a blast.

Like I said, it's completely free on all platforms, so give it a whirl and let me know what you think.

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