Microsoft shows off unified OneNote with redesigned look for Windows 11

Microsoft OneNote
(Image credit: Microsoft)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft is working to unify the OneNote and OneNote for Windows 10 apps into a single experience.
  • The company recently discussed its progress in the unification process.
  • The updated OneNote has a refreshed visual interface, an optional simplified ribbon, and new features for inking and input.

Microsoft is on a mission to unify the OneNote experience on Windows. At the moment, there are two OneNote apps on Windows. Microsoft plans to bring the feature sets of those apps together to create a unified OneNote with the best of both worlds. A recent Tech Community post (opens in new tab) from the company outlined the changes that have rolled out as well as features that are on the way.

The app simply called "OneNote" is the one that will receive new features, including imported functionality from the other OneNote app. "OneNote for Windows 10" continues to function, but the future of the platform is elsewhere on Windows.

The updated OneNote should help users better capture, organize, and share content, according to Microsoft.

The refreshed OneNote has a new navigation pane and full-screen mode. The page list, section tabs, and notebook dropdown all have a new look to align with Windows 11. The app uses the Mica effect, which is a type of blur that's used throughout Microsoft's OS.

Much to the delight of corner enthusiasts, the updated OneNote has rounded corners throughout the app. Microsoft said that it " obsessed over every rounded corner and animation" when redesigning the app.

Microsoft OneNote

(Image credit: Microsoft)

The updated draw tab of the app now works similarly to those in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. The new OneNote supports Ink to shape, a ruler, and Ink to Text. Tactile signal support allows OneNote to provide feedback when writing on the Surface Slim Pen 2 on the Surface Laptop Studio or Surface Pro 8.

OneNote also has an optional simplified ribbon that takes up less room than the standard one.

Note that some of the features are available now while others are on the way.

Here are the features that are already available for OneNote users in the Current Channel:

  • Ink to shape
  • Ink to text with font size awareness
  • Page sorting
  • Update under lock  

Microsoft OneNote

(Image credit: Microsoft)

The ability to insert pictures from a camera and the updated share experience are available now for Insiders. Microsoft also has plans for more writing features, including pencil, ink replay, and a new pen focus view.

A transcription and ink tool is also on the way. The feature allows you to annotate, write notes, and highlight while the app transcribes someone's speech. OneNote will also have new dictation features in the future.

The latest version of OneNote (the one gaining new features) comes preinstalled as part of Office on Windows 11. It can also be downloaded as a standalone app through Microsoft's website.

Microsoft OneNote
Somewhat confusingly, there are two versions of OneNote available on Windows. This one is the version that will receive new features and visual updates going forward. (opens in new tab)

Microsoft OneNote

Somewhat confusingly, there are two versions of OneNote available on Windows. This one is the version that will receive new features and visual updates going forward.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).