I have been using Microsoft OneNote since 2007—long before I found other genealogists extolling its virtues for family history research. I have almost two dozen different OneNote notebooks for various projects, hobbies, and personal information. For my family history, I have a general Genealogy Notebook and one for each of my four grandparents’ surnames−Williamson, Buisch, Duthie and McEvoy and another notebook called Research that is a temporary holding place for information until it is ready to be organized.

One of the best features of OneNote, for me, is ease of access. I have access to my OneNote notebooks anywhere. Everything I store in OneNote is automatically saved for me on OneDrive (formally SkyDrive). The screen shot below shows a view with the Home Ribbon visible and a list of my Notebooks than can be pinned in place if you want to see all your notebooks at once. Normally, I work with both those things hidden in a drop-down menu so I have more white space to work with.


Because of where I might be staying any given week, there are times when I do not have Internet access. I can still use OneNote on my laptop during those times when the Internet is not available.


I can also view and edit my notebooks on my Windows phone. Being able to use Microsoft Office on my Windows phone was a main consideration when I chose it. However OneNote is now available across multiple platforms, so it no longer matters what kind of phone I have.

access3(Yes, it is 69°F at 6:16pm on 4 February 2015 here while the east coast is getting slammed with snow.
The weather is ridiculous.

When I am back in a location with Internet service, OneNote will sync my files with OneDrive when I open it. Because OneNote is storing my files on OneDrive, it will sync with my other computers and mobile devices also.


Since my notebooks are stored on OneDrive, I can view and edit my notebooks in my web browser.



What if you don’t have Microsoft Office on your computer or use a Windows 8 phone? There are options available for almost everyone, I think. Visit the OneNote page for free downloads for the following devices:

    • Windows 7 & 8
    • Windows 7 & 8 phones
    • Mac
    • ipad
    • iphone
    • Android

While the free versions may not have all the features of the paid versions, you can’t beat free if you want to give OneNote a try!

Sign up for OneDrive here.


This post was updated on 4 February 2015 with screenshots from OneNote 2013 and a few changes in wording.

Cite This Page:

Erin Williamson Klein, “Access OneNote Anywhere.” My Family History Files, 1 April 2014 (http://myfamilyhistoryfiles.com/organization/access-onenote-anywhere: [access date]).

Please do not copy without attribution and link back to this page.

10 Responses to Access OneNote Anywhere

  • Your blog post now has me interested in OneNote. I have it on my computer but never knew what it was. There are a lot of things I could use a program like this for. Thank you for the information.

  • Hmm..One Note, eh? Never heard of it until now. Sounds very useful :) Have fun A-Z

    Christine London

  • LadyJai says:

    Never thought to use OneNote. But then, I have been using Family Tree Maker. :) Haven’t gotten back into it since I hit a major block (language and distance) and having the time. :)
    I’ll definitely keep it in mind though.
    Jamie Dement (LadyJai)
    My A to Z
    Caring for My Veteran

  • anneyoungau says:

    I use Evernote but not in as structured way as you do. I also collate all my findings in an ancestry.com tree / Family Tree Maker.

    I am really enjoying your screenshots. Thank you for sharing


  • Marcy says:

    Never thought to use one note for organizing things. I’ve just always made a zillion MS Word files on a million flash drives (or now obsolete floppy drives back in the day) I’m just starting to explore storing my stuff in the cloud. Are you familiar with https://familysearch.org/ ?

  • katcay says:

    I’m familiar with most of the Microsoft Office programs but for some silly reason I just didn’t learn One Note. I’m determined to now. Thank you for this fantastic blog and for sharing all of this terrific information!!

  • Mary says:

    I’m thrilled that you are keeping this A-Z OneNote updated. I’ve been wanting to do this for my genealogy, but couldn’t make up my mind on organizing the most useful structure. I love how you organized yours… exactly what I had in mind, with a few tweaks & additions. I have an online tree & FTM, but wanted my own “central” database using MS Office. Thanks for your inspiration & guidance.

    • Erin says:

      Hi Mary,
      You are welcome. I’m glad you are finding my posts useful and are able to tweak my ideas to suit your needs! I have made a few changes to my original plan since beginning the Genealogy Do-Over hosted by Thomas MacEntee. I’m hoping to post more this week.

  • Irma Andtrew says:

    Hi.I have used OneNote back from version 2003 and 2007, but unfortunately they were in my Windows XP laptop, which got corrupted few days after they stopped the security support, and I was afraid to turn it on again.. Then I started to use OneNote 2010, which I found out was free, but I realized it was missing a lot of features from the old versions that I really liked I also found out that the only way to sync is using this version, 2010. So, what I did is to install in my new Windows 8, both OneNote 2007 and 2010. In 2007 I write, edit, draw, format, etc. and then if I want it in One Drive I print it to OneNote 2010. (I checked what version I have, and I don/t know how but I have the 2016 one. Probably through an automatic update).
    I understand you use OneNote 2013, and that it syncs to OneDrive. Is that right? Is it a paid version? Which version do you like more?
    Thank you for sharing all this information in your blog.

  • I have used OneNote for wedding planning ideas, house hunting ideas, gardening, but never for genealogy … until NOW! Thank you

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A bit about me

Erin Williamson Klein
New York to Nevada
Started my research in 1993

Aside from my own family history research, I also have 2 Surname Studies: Colepaugh mainly in the US and Schraven worldwide.
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Following the GPS!
Sourced Database Statistics:

57 direct ancestors through 5x great grandparents
2 of 2 people identified in 1st generation
3 of 4 people identified in 2nd generation
6 of 8 people identified in 3rd generation
12 of 16 people identified in 4th generation
20 of 32 people identified in 5th generation
14 of 64 people identified in 6th generation

# people properly sourced
# remaining to be sourced
% completed
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