Remember a time when groups of people – families, study groups, various teams and departments in an office – shared a notice board or white board or a large notebook to make sure everybody was, literally, on the same page? Then came email and endless mail trails that left you wondering where something had originated, and why. When it comes to working together, and getting things done within a deadline, nothing beats collaboration, especially in real time. And that’s where the new OneNote – a part of the new Office 2016 suite of applications – can make a real difference.
Speaking about the app at the launch of Office 2016 in late September, Tyler Bryson, GM Marketing & Operations at Microsoft, reminisced about how his family used a notebook near the front door to make shopping lists, inform each other about their schedules, and leave notes for each other. OneNote moves that convenience online. You can create a different tab for each different purpose or category and save it online on OneDrive, which means the notebook can then be accessed by each user from any device anywhere.
Beyond syncing family schedules, OneNote can significantly boost real-time collaboration. Take Arunabh Kumar and his team, for instance. They were discussing ideas for an online show, but everybody was in a different location. Ideas were jotted down and discussed threadbare. Some were dropped and others taken forward. Everyone could see the additions and changes being made by others on the document, in real time. When they hit a dead end, or temporarily ran low on creative juices, one of them put a photo of a pitcher of beer on the document. It was time to rest and recharge. Slowly, many ‘pitchers’ later, a structure emerged and from that structure came TVF (TheViralFever), arguably one of India’s most successful web series ever. The canvas for their brainstorming? OneNote 2016.
It’s more than just a blank notebook. OneNote can get you super organised and is easily searchable. Each tab can be colour-coded and save text, photos, videos, audio clips and even scanned images by dragging and dropping files onto the pages. It also puts in the source URL when you paste in these elements so that you don’t have to hunt for the source later on.
Consider, for example, if you wanted to organise a road trip. Put in a screenshot of a route you like, and add comments using quick notes. Share the notebook with your travel buddies and get their views. If you want to really sell them the idea, throw in some breathtaking images of the landscape from that area, or a video clip. Can’t find the right image? Try sketching one directly on the page. Got a bird lover in the group? Add a clip of the call of a rarely seen bird. Let your friends add their comments and questions and alternatives and watch your trip plan come alive.
If you tend to be forgetful, OneNote can actually search for text within images and videos. And yes, it can read your handwriting if you sync your actual notes, written with a stylus, into a notebook. If you’re reading something online, and have to stop in a hurry, you can use the ‘web clipper’ bookmark feature to save whatever you were reading. Even when you’re not working on OneNote, you can use a couple of nifty keyboard shortcuts to save screenshots or quick notes, which are then automatically saved into OneNote.
Once a notebook is saved to OneDrive, each person with whom the file is shared can open it simultaneously and make changes. These changes are visible to other users in real time.
Think of classroom projects – a group of students needs to work together to submit a project on what banks do. They have to interview a bank manager, find out about all the types of loans the bank gives out, what the interest rates are on loans and deposits, how the bank makes its money and about instant and online payment systems. The deadline is just a few days away so they decide to split the topics amongst themselves and need an area where they can dump everything they discover. OneNote is the answer – they can key in their data over a laptop or a tablet or a phone and save the notebook on OneDrive. A Mac or Windows or Android OS doesn’t make a difference – access is seamless across operating systems. Then each team member can access it from anywhere. They can even forward messages and link to your OneNote.com address.
If one student finds out more on forex rates (not his topic), he can add the information to the tab on forex that someone else is working on. Once the information is collated, it can be easily ‘sent’ to PowerPoint (or Excel, if they want to generate charts) for the final touches and submission.
Office 2016 (and Office 365) come with 15 GB of free storage space on OneDrive, Microsoft’s Cloud offering. You can add files already on your PC to OneDrive by either copying them over or moving them from the PC. When you save new files, you can choose to save them to OneDrive to access from anywhere, any device and on any operating system. If your PC has a built-in camera, you can automatically save copies of your photos to OneDrive for backup. If you use up the 15 GB of space, you can rent some more for $1.99 a month for 100GB or $6.99 a month for a whopping 1TB.
#TheNewOffice OneNote is a powerful tool for a variety of uses and gives users at home and the office the chance to collaborate seamlessly and take the work out of working together.
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