OneNote’s new ‘Pen Focused View’ now rolling out to Insiders, gets a deep dive

OneNote Pen Focused View
Surface Pro 9 5G with new Pen Focused View. (Image credit: Daniel Rubino)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft is detailing its new ‘Pen Focused Mode’ in OneNote on Windows.
  • The new feature is a full-screen option when inking, so there are no distractions.
  • The new ability is rolling out to some Office Insiders in the beta channel.

With the launch of the new Surface Pro 9 today, Microsoft is also releasing its new ‘Pen Focused View’ for OneNote on Windows. And Pratik Das, Product Manager on the Office Natural User Interface team, gives an in-depth look at the new feature in the latest blog post (opens in new tab).

The tl:dr of Pen Focused View is it is effectively a full-screen inking mode in OneNote. 

Whereas OneNote is known chiefly for keyboard notetaking with the ability to add ink, it was never designed to be an “inking first” type experience. Instead, Microsoft has things like Whiteboard and Journal, but neither is explicitly focused on notetaking per se.

Now, users can enter a full-page view with a simple toggle under the Drawing tab. Even more, the view is set by default when you open OneNote and your Surface Pen is undocked, e.g., double-click the top button. Of course, like all things, this feature is an option, and it can be disabled under Options > Advanced > Pen.

What Pen Focused Mode looks like fully enabled. (Image credit: Daniel Rubino)

Even the Pen Toolbar can be hidden, giving a very full-screen effect.

Microsoft suggests this new feature can be used for jotting down “notes with your pen during a meeting, lecture, or training session,” “brainstorm a concept with ink,” and pasting “a screenshot and use ink to add ink annotations.”

One catch to this is Pen Focused View is only available to those enrolled in the Office Insider program, specifically the Beta channel. You’ll need Version 2210 (Build 15724.10000) or later to get the feature (the current Beta build is 2211). And even then, Microsoft remarks that not everyone gets the feature due to them “slowly releasing to larger numbers of Insiders.”

The new feature is only available to Office Insiders (Beta Channel). (Image credit: Daniel Rubino)

Enrolling in the Office Insider Program is easy, especially with our quick guide, which explains everything.

Overall, this new OneNote feature seems especially useful for those who love to ink for taking notes but didn’t care for the compromised experience with OneNote.

Surface Pro 9 | From $999 at Microsoft (opens in new tab)

Surface Pro 9 | From $999 at Microsoft (opens in new tab)

Microsoft's latest flagship 2-in-1 is available with either an Intel or ARM processor. No matter which chip you choose, you should see a performance boost when compared to the previous generation.

Daniel Rubino
Editor-in-chief

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.