If you have a Microsoft Windows Mobile smartphone or Pocket PC, you can use the OneNote Mobile program to take notes on your mobile device and then synchronize these notes with a section in the full version of OneNote 2007. This is useful when you want to:
- Capture business card pictures on your phone and bring them into OneNote, where the text in the images can be searched
- Take short text notes and voice recording reminders on your phone (for example, ideas for a project, prices, reference numbers, names, recommendations, and so on) and they will be synchronized with OneNote
- Prepare travel information in OneNote and then transfer it to your mobile device where it will be available to you on the road
These are the sorts of things you can expect from OneNote Mobile – seamless integration of notes between your Pocket PC and desktop. Pictures, voice recordings and text all get synchronized nicely. There is one caveat though – handwriting or scribbles will not transfer over from the desktop.
Here is a comparison as to what the notes might look like on your desktop vs. mobile device:
After installing OneNote on the desktop, you must select Tools > Options to install the mobile version onto your Pocket PC. Just hit the Install button and the application will be Activesync’d over without much trouble.
However, after installation I found that the notes were not syncing. For a
long time I found myself wondering why it wasn’t working as advertised,
but as it turns out the solution was quite simple – in Activesync, go
to Tools > Options and put a checkmark next to "Microsoft Office
OneNote." After that there was no trouble in synchronizing!
Your notes can be sorted by name or date modified.
OneNote Mobile includes the basic formatting options such as bold, underline, italics, and
strikethrough. A nice touch is that to edit a whole word, you only need to place the cursor in the middle of the word — there is no need to highlight the entire word.
Inserting a photo from your camera is quite simple. Simply choose Menu > Take Picture; alternatively Menu > Insert Picture will browse your PDA for existing pictures to insert. Here I have taken two photos with the built-in camera and have also recorded a brief sound clip. The floating bar in the middle of the left picture is the recording toolbar.
When you select and enlarge pictures inside OneNote, a slideshow-type display allows you to scroll through all the pictures inside.
Your notes are stored in Application Data\Microsoft\OneNote Mobile. A separate folder is automatically created for each note to house all the JPEG photos, their respective thumbnails and recordings. Recordings are done in the .WAV format.
The audio search feature and image OCR may come in handy for capture of business cards. After turning this feature on for the first time, you must let OneNote search and index your notes. The program states that an hour of audio may take two or three hours to get indexed!
Every Pocket PC user with any previous versions of Outlook already had the capability to sync their "Notes." OneNote Mobile adds the ability to attach pictures and photos, but adding voice recording is not a ground-breaking feature by any means. The true innovations are a) the automatic grouping of all attachments inside one physical folder; and b) OCR and speech-recognition technology built into the desktop app.
Still, for OneNote Mobile to completely replace Notes, there are several areas for improvements:
- Support of free-hand doodles! Notes has supported this for years, why take it out?
- Support for more than one section. As it stands now OneNote Mobile will only recognize the 1st section from the desktop version.
- More than one text box on a desktop note = multiple notes on your mobile device. If you are pasting multiple text snippets into a note, for example, you may need to take extra time to amalgamate them into one text box.
- Subpages not recognized in the mobile version – it will just create a completely new note.
Overall, OneNote Mobile is a nice free addition to anyone who already owns and uses OneNote 2007 — but a few very minor caveats prevent it from being perfect.