OneNote team announces future APIs, wants your feedback

OneNote APIs

Last week the OneNote team at Microsoft was very busy. On Monday they announced a handful of new products and changes. OneNote is now available (and free) for the desktop on both Windows and Mac. Office Lens is a new OneNote application for Windows Phone. And finally, the team introduced a host of new APIs for both hardware and software products to tie into OneNote. Those APIs were just the beginning. The OneNote team is already working on additional APIs to expand functionality even more.

Head on over to the OneNote blog and you’ll see a list of upcoming APIs the team is working on. They plan to have these available to developers in 3-6 months from now. But they also want your feedback. Like the APIs? Want different ones? Let them know on their UserVoice page.

Here’s the list of upcoming APIs the OneNote team hopes to have available:

  • PDF Rendering
  • Improved error codes
  • API to create in a specific notebook and section
  • API to create a notebook
  • API to create a section
  • API to do whole page replacement
  • API to get default location
  • Checkbox and other tag support
  • API to delete a notebook, delete a section and delete a page
  • API to recall list of pages
  • API to recall page content
  • API to recall images across notebooks or within a notebook

Office Lens

The OneNote team has an idea of which APIs to prioritize over others, but they’d love to hear what you want too. Be sure to hit up that UserVoice and let your voice be heard.

As a user, what features would you like to see soonest? Sound off below!

Source: OneNote


Reader comments

OneNote team announces future APIs, wants your feedback


Well, I don't know. MS is currently pushing OneNote hard, but I have yet to discover any real use beyond a glorified shopping list. Then again, that's possibly just me.

I used it as a digital tech for a photographer. When clients see our images, and ask if I can PhotoShop a mistake, I just take a quick photo of what they're talking about, and draw all over the photograph, so I can be sure I know exactly what they want. Since I am a visual person, one note is becoming increasingly invaluable. Plus I always use I for brainstorming, and even sketching out initial concepts for drawings, or photographs. (Also, I have a shared grocery list with my GF that is amazing.) It is THE MOST used program on my computers.

Its a brilliant tool.

Work life:

Task lists

Save web page content to notebooks for research



Print PDFs natively into OneNote, so no longer need OneNote

Encrypted / passworded sections

Sync to OneDrive (and it only syncs changes/deltas not the whole notebook or tab)

Touch Friendly Metro version

Save all your serial numbers for products into it

Scanned copies of important documents in case you lose them

Outlook to OneNote feature. I empty my email, and now have much more structure in OneNote.

There are so many things you can do with this tool, but its something you have to discover.


Do you take notes on a regular basis for your job, or are you a student? Sounds like neither since you can only think to use it for a shopping list- you probably aren't the target audience.

OneNote is great as a corporate Wiki - I also love it for personal not taking, I store everything in there and have it synced via OneDrive to my phone, tablet, laptops and desktop. It has a much better organizational structure than evernote and its search works great across a ton of data.

It is the one MS App I couldn't live without.

Great tool for brainstorming , working on university assignments. A feature that would rock would be to have a realtime shared note environment.

Oh gosh I use OneNote for taking notes in class- it's such a dream. Keeps everything super organized... And the best part is- I can review notes on the go with the app for WP...
I'm a big on note-taking in the first place though.
I love OneNote. Excited to see it getting some upgrades.

I use a lot OneNote online, and the thing I would like most is to export a section or note to word or pdf.
Pdf renderinf looks interesting.

And also, sending photos to the WP OneNote before uploading it... Its kinda crazy, to send pics to the server, then back to your phone.

Don't forget we can now email to our Notebooks as well. For me, no more digging through email to find install codes, important documents. Really slick. Write the name of your page in the subject line and you can either email information to your notebooks or forward messages from others. Great!

I like the idea of being able to save a recipe from an app like Allrecipes directly to my notebook in OneNote with in the app. Saves a bunch of steps.

  • API to create in a specific notebook and section

That will do the trick. Though it may require the 3rd party app to support it. Unless it's enabled in the OneNote share panel (e.g. a drop-down or favourites list).


the inability to choose the destination notebook/page currently prevents me from using OneNote in a lot of scenarios.

Also link to notes to contacts within People.  This, combined with the above functionality would *almost* put it on par with Moreinfo application on the Newton.  Of all personal assistant apps I have used over the years, this add-on to a Newton 2000/2100 is by far the best, imho.  That level of integration would be brilliant - or with those apis, an app that does just that!

I use OneNote everyday, it's my digital hand notes, todo list, ideas, thoughts, etc...
PDF rendering and able to delete sections.

I wish you could set reminders on notes like you can with other note taking apps (Springpad, Evernote). Otherwise very good. I use it daily.

1) Would be great to have a Business Card Mode on OfficeLens --> contact details staight into people hub and as attachment into OneNote.


2) Would be great if it would be possible to send stuff directly to your 'active page'. To illustrate: 

  • I use my Surface for note taking 
  • Then use my Lumia for making a picture (Whiteboard, Business Card, Document etc).

For now I have to sync both devices (on Surface it's hard to do so because it syncs automatically and you never know when exactly) and than move the OfficeLens inserted page to the right position.

Would be nice if OneNote knows which is the most active page you've be working on (regardless the device) to be able to send stuff directly to the right position.


I still don't get what oneNote is even for, that I couldn't do faster in Notepad or an actual physical notebook.  Maybe college kids taking notes in class?   How bout buiding in To-Do List functionality, with priorities and due dates?  I'd love for Microsoft to give me a reason to drop Toodledo.

Your perspective is understandable since you have apparently never been expose to the true power of OneNote.

5 minutes with a real OneNote power user might have you drooling, particularly if you work in a fast paced, high pressure, high profile role.
Insightful use of OneNote has allowed our company to provide a constantly growing knowledgebase system for worldwide teams that rivals (or as I see it, surpasses) things like Lotus Notes.
We were able to grow it organically over time, without any high dollar software deployement project.

I have used OneNote since 2002/2003 when it first appeared on plaforms like the Motion Computing M1200, which were the real tablet computers.

Try sharing your written notes from your "actual physical notebook" with team members in South Africa, Brazil, Australia, Chile, USA.....
I do that automatically every day when I enter information and make hand drawn diagrams on my Windows 8 penabled tablet.

Buy that is just my opinion.

I would like to see MS add the ability to use a pen/stylus in the Windows Phone version of OneNote for scribbling down quick notes instead of typing them out. Imagine using that capability with the potential of Nokia (or even Samsung) creating a Galaxy Note-ish device that comes with a digitizer ready stylus. That would be a big seller IMO, and good competition to Samsung's Galaxy line.

I agree, but unfortunately that is a hardware issue with Windows Phones, and has nothing to do with OneNote. (Unless you want to try using one of those psuedo finger tip styli, which are a joke).

Up to now MS has not been willing to expand pen support past Windows 8 Pro devices. Not even the standard Surface machines (aka RT) have been allowed to have pen support.

Extensive support of the pen in phablets and mid-range tablets is the only place where I find myself liking Samsung...   (did I say that out loud.... I feel so dirty now....)

A behavioral change (although not an actual API request):

Use Case:
A line of text is selected; 
A "link to that paragraph" is created;
The link is place onto a different OneNote page;
The link is later used to return to the original location;

Undesirable behavior:
The original text is then programmatically re-selected (highlighted) by the OneNote app;
The user presses any key (by accident or inattentiveness);
The original text is replaced by the first key that the user presses.
Data is lost.

Alternate behavior:
Create some other method of showing position on the destination page, that does not involve selecting (highlighting) the original text.

Examples/ Ideas:
Place the cursor at the beginning or end of the line, with a transient special coloring of the line,
perhaps based upon a variation of the functionality that currently highlights unread text when user A opens a page that has "unread content" created by user B.

Larger context:
Several dozen notebooks, shared across field support personnel for automation systems, worldwide.
These notebooks provide Wiki' suite; problem tracking; as builts; red lines; task lists; documentation creation; etc...
(All notebooks are about to be moved to Office 365/  OneDrive Pro/ hosted SharePoint.)

Thanks for the feedback opportunity, and the awesome product.

A second thought, if you will indulge me.

I know that this is an old and broadly voiced lament.

In our extensive use of OneNote the shapes tool has proven worthless to us, to the extent that we have actually had to proactively teach our users not to use it.

As you know, when a shape is placed over text or screen clips, its relative location has no persistence.

Use Case:
A page of documentation is created by combining text, tables, and screen clips.
OneNote shapes are place onto the page to enhance readability or emphasis.
The documentation requires modification at some later date.
Lines of text are added to the upper part of the page, which causes the text and screen clips to move downward on the page.

Undesireable Behavior:
The OneNote shapes float above the other content, and so, do not move down the page as the underlying content does.
If the OneNote shapes on that page are to remain useful, they must then each be manually repositioned.
This magnifies the complexity maintaining documentation to the point that we have banned the use of OneNote shapes.

It has been well stated by MS that the underlying code for OneNote shapes precludes giving them a sticky behavior.

Work Around:
Our most commonly used work around is used when adding clarifying arrows and boxes to screen clips.
That work around consists of:
From an active OneNote window:
Use OneNote screen clip tool to capture a section of screen from another window;
   The clip tool places the "original" clip onto the active OneNote page;
Switch to a running instance of MSPaint (or a tool like it);
Paste the clip into MSPaint (using the copy of the clip that is still present the Windows clipboard);
Use MSPaint to create the shapes onto the pasted image that is in MSPaint;
Switch back to OneNote;
Use the clip tool in OneNote to capture a clip of the modified image that is in MSPaint;
Delete the original clip that is present on the OneNote page:
(Return to MSPaint and delete the image)
(Return to OneNote, or to the process that is being documented)

(there is the obvious variation of this where the <Windows><S> key combination is used to capture the clip, usually to the clipboard)
(Of course this is problematic on Windows 8)

Alternate Behavior:
Perhaps a solution could be built that would:
Use an alternate OneNote clip tool, (or alternate clip tool mode, invoke by something like <CTRL><left mouse click> on the clip tool) that would;
Pass the clip directly into an alternate app, such as MSPaint:
Allow the addition of shapes while in that intermediate app,
Then provide some optimized method of triggering the OneNote clip tool from within intermediate app;
Which would return to the original OneNote window, while also pasting the newly clipped image onto the active page.

Icing on the cake would be if it:
   also left the intermediate app running, 
   and either:
       cleared its contents, to be ready for the next cycle,
       or selected the contents, so that it would (typically) be replaced by the ciip in the next cycle,

Or something a lot cooler than I can dream up...           
A guy can dream can't he?

(There is insufficient ROI to my group for our programmers to build this,..... but maybe your group, or people at OneNoteGem.com can)

Thanks again for your efforts.