How to organize notes with tags in OneNote

Once you start using OneNote on your various devices, notes add up quickly and after a couple of months, it may be difficult to find the one you took about skydiving for instance. This is where tags play a simple and useful role. Tags are somehow self-explanatory. In OneNote though, they are kind of cool because they associate a friendly name, format and an icon, and you can customize them as you wish, create your own, and of course search notes that have been tagged. Let’s first see how to apply tags.

Apply Tags

This is damn easy. Click on the note you want to tag, then go to the Home tab, in the Tags menu, click the drop-down and click the tag you want to apply.

Once tagged, the note gets an icon in front and it’s format can change. Look at the notes below, the last one is highlighted because the tag used applies a yellow highlighter to the tagged note.

You can use existing tags, customize them or create new ones to suit your needs. Let’s have a look.

Create Tags

To create new tags, click Customize Tags at the bottom of the tag drop-down list. In the Customize Tags window, you can select an existing tag and click Modify tag, or you can just click New Tag to create a new one. The New Tag Windows appear and allows you to define four characteristics of your new tag: its display name, its symbol, its font color and its highlight color. Note that symbol, font color and highlight color are optional. Notice you cannot create new symbols nor define customized colors, may be an enhancement in a next version. Once defined, click OK.

You can delete existing tag as well as sort them. It may be convenient to put at the top the most common used tags. To do this, click on the tag you want to move and click on the up and down arrows.

Search Tagged Notes

The power of tags is the search function. By clicking the Find Tags function in the Tags menu, the Tags Summary pane appears on the right hand side. It actually searches automatically all existing tags that have been applied and will group the results by tag name by default. You can group by section, title or date, but I personally find the name grouping more convenient. You see in the screenshot below that you can search in a Notebook, or all notebooks, a section, notes taken on a certain date, to restrict or expand the search area.

Of course, the text that is tagged and displayed is clickable to go directly to the page containing it. Finally, you can create a Summary page that will display all tags and notes on a single page, which can be very convenient when your notes span multiple pages, sections and notebooks.

Tags have other useful usage, like creating To Do lists for instance, or creating Outlook tasks automatically, this will be for another post. In the meantime, enjoy tags and get more productive everyday with OneNote!

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