Musings of a PC

Thoughts about Windows, TV and technology in general

WP7: Synchronising OneNote with Windows Live

After yesterday’s appalling attempt on my part to document my first impressions of using my new Windows Phone 7 – in that I didn’t actually really document any impressions as such but rather recount my journey to getting the phone – I realised that part of my problem was:

  1. Using the phone
  2. Discovering something that I wanted to share via my blog
  3. Promptly forgetting about it Smile

So I’ve decided to use OneNote on the phone to jot down notes or even full paragraphs as I continue to use the phone. That way, I’ll have a log of things that I want to talk about, share, etc and I hopefully won’t forget what the notes mean by the time I get to blog about them!

One of the reasons I picked OneNote over, say, Word, which is also on the phone, is the simplicity of the tool. You create a new note, give it a title, write what you want to write and that’s it. The phone automatically saves the content to memory. No manual save operation.

In fact, with OneNote on the phone, you aren’t just limited to writing – you can also incorporate photos or audio recordings.

The other main reason for wanting to use OneNote, and the reason for this blog entry, is the ability to synchronise OneNote pages between the phone and my Windows Live home site. If you’ve already got a Live ID and configured the phone to use it then setting the phone up to synchronise OneNote contents with the web site is really easy:

  • Go to the Office hub on the phone
  • Go to the OneNote section (this is normally where the hub starts) and press the All button
  • The display will change to show the list of pages on your phone. Press the Refresh button at the bottom of the screen
  • The phone will ask Synchronise with SkyDrive? – press Yes

The phone will then sign in with your Live ID and create a new OneNote notebook file called Personal (web). If you open a web browser on a computer, you can then go to and open the file in OneNote 2010.

Please note that the Microsoft help page (referenced at the bottom of this blog) states that you must not change the name of the file, and you must not change the name of the Unfiled Notes section within the file.

Each page that is created on the phone is represented as a page within the Unfiled Notes section of the notebook. If you open the notebook on a computer and change the content, it is necessary to manually refresh the phone to get it to pull that content back down. However, if you change the content on the phone, it is automatically refreshed back to SkyDrive when you leave OneNote Mobile. If you want to force a refresh, you can do by pressing the Refresh button.

The process is really simple and Microsoft deserve some credit for making it so. In fact, simplicity really does seem to be the hallmark of using Windows Phone 7 and I’ll try to point out some other areas where the simplicity really shines through. It almost becomes effortless using the phone at times.

UPDATE: If you have the notebook open in OneNote 2010, it looks as if changes made will synchronise back to SkyDrive fairly quickly. If you have a page open in OneNote Mobile and you want to get the updated copy back from SkyDrive, you can press the Refresh button within the page rather than having to step back out and refresh the whole notebook. Neat!


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